Open and Closed Minds.

Carrol Cox cbcox at rs6000.cmp.ilstu.edu
Mon Jun 26 22:33:41 MDT 1995


    I am not too bothered about any names anyone wishes to call Stalin, though
it would be more interesting to see an exploration of how future disastrous
vicories or victorious disasters might be avoided. A revolution (of any sort)
puts power relations in a state of confusion, and one will not guarantee
"democracy" merely by shouting slogans or damning Lenin. There must be
innumerable ways, not yet experienced, that revolutionary movements may go
wrong, and hysteria over Stalin may be merely analogous to the habit of
generals of fighting the last war and hence not seeing what lies before them.

    I have read Laclau and Mouffe, and I have little to add to what Ellen Wood
has to say of them in her *The Retreat from Class: A New 'True' Socialism*. It
is really sad that the same battle has to be fought over and over and over
again--Laclau and Mouffe were answered nearly a century and a half ago in a
little book called The Poverty of Philosophy.

    "Radical" democracy (or mere democracy of any kind) will never bridge the
antagonisms enshrined in race, gender, skill. Only a class perspective can ever
break those forces of disunity. But there is a more formal problem that
exponents of radical democracy must handle. Suppose the world does, to some
extent, move as they wish it to: various struggles develop, the future opens.
Such a situation will also, as it always has in the past, generate a Leninist
current. How are those Leninists to be handled? How can radical democrats avoid
falling into the trap of seeing "Leninists" (like me for example) as a more
serious danger than the capitalist enemy? Because that either/or choice will
appear: either cooperate with Leninists or with capitalists (and the Leninists
will be saying, loudly, that they are quite willing to cooperate with the
radical democrats on a principled basis, and the radical democrats will be
suspecting or claiming that the Leninists have a hidden agenda, etc. etc. etc.

    Right now I am working to link people in Bloomington, Decature, Clinton,
and Peoria Illinois in circulating petitions demanding a new trial for Mumia
Abu-Jamal. Am I really sincere, or is it just one of those nasty Leninist plots
to massacre people in the future?


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