Violence, verbal and physical

Jukka Laari jlaari at kanto.cc.jyu.fi
Thu Nov 23 10:44:32 MST 1995


Chris, 

thanks for clarifying your point. Unfortunately I don't master this 
English language so good that I could put my point clearly on your 
screen. But I try to clarify some of my concerns. 

First of all, I believe I do understand your concern on violence. 
Perhaps we should agree some basic rules concerning it? 

But 

(1) "The way Ralph gives himself licence to use the most violent 
intimidatory language, is connected with his analysis that all the 
violence in the international communist movement is to be seen as the 
responsibility of one individual, Stalin. Ralph takes no responsibility 
for his own extremely violent tendencies." 

?

(2) "The only excuse I can see for Ralph's intemperance is that to have 
800,000 men come to his home city under the leadership of the man he 
detests, would probably have felt deeply penetrative and assaultative - 
virtually political gang rape." 

For me that is part of the context, as you obviously guessed. Same goes 
for this list as Marxism-list. I mean that there are several broad 
definitions of Marxism on this list. And we usually stand behind our 
conceptions, especially when it comes to such personal, perhaps even 
'intimate', questions as our politico-theoretical views. Questioning 
one's views might be felt harsh attack. 

But (for me) there's more to it: If we think societal polarization of 
U.S.A. - that has happened during last couple of decades; rich people 
get richer, poor ones poorer - and how class antagonisms related to it 
are deeply combined with ethnic or 'racial' questions, then it's no 
wonder that black people might be very hostile towards white, academic, 
usually middle class people, despite that they might represent 
themselves as marxists. - In addition to what I've read, I've heard some 
very rough stories from people I trust, so I accept that class 
antagonisms are pretty sharp in U.S.A., though not all U.S. Americans do 
think them as class but rather as racial or some other confrontations. I 
think that in Ralph's discourse these antagonisms burst clearly out. 

What about those 'million men'? Someone posted fresh figures to this list 
couple of days after the march. Nearly half of the gang made $ 50,000 in 
a year (in 1992). And the rest? They weren't Lumpenproletariat neither. 
(We wondered here that it was more of a million middle-class men 
marching...) My problem is that I don't know exactly, where Americans 
draw the line between classes - or do they really think they're one happy 
middle-class with minor variation (lower/upper middle-class)? But surely 
I would be very angry if some ideologist (with nearly fascist overtones) 
asks me to join his middle-class rebellion gang. And I would be suprised 
if fellow marxists would be ready to co-operate with that ideologist. 

So I get a slightly different picture when I'm combining my own notes. 
There are hot class relations, continuing polarization of society, and 
there are cultural or intellectual expressions for all that (in U.S.A.). 
I've thought that some of that could be seen on this list, too. But 
perhaps I'm just imagining? However, that's the context I had in mind. 
I've understood that Ralph takes someone to present hostile, middle-class 
views on Marxism-list and acts accordingly. But hey, I'm just dump 
sociologist. 


(3) "Ralph's use of genital language is so frequent that in psychiatric 
terms, one would start to wonder whether Ralph had in the past been a 
victim of sexual abuse. If so, I would not press him to discuss this on 
the list, but sexual abuse and other childhood abuse is a cruel fact of 
life, and this list cannot necessarily be hermetically sealed from it." 

There might be some social and cultural differences concerning this 
question? I don't buy supposition that every phrase-like word is 
necessarily connected to our psychic structures in a sense you are 
implying. 

Youngsters on the streets don't necessary mean everything what they 
are saying. Nor are there necessarily any traumatic events behind the 
fact they develop several habits (at least that's what happened to me 
and my friends) which they carry sometimes the rest of their life. And 
what are the questions behind that? I'm not sure about that na dI'm too 
tired to figure it out right now. Obviously there is some kind of 
'identity politics': 'We are not (like) those people.' Belonging to some 
special group means not belonging to some other group. And that 
distinction is marked by, for example, vocabulary. 

Yours, Jukka Laari 


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