Criticisms and contradictions

Chris, London 100423.2040 at compuserve.com
Fri Nov 24 14:22:30 MST 1995


Ralph:
------
In the apportionment of blame as to what might be going wrong with
this list, instead of self-righteous hand-wringing over who is
disruptive of an otherwise smooth flow of communication, why not
worry instead about content, i.e. whether there is any integrity
at all to be violated?  And by this I mean not only the moral
turpitude and hypocrisy of those who would materially support
real, material gangsters like Mao or Farrakhan while
sanctimoniously mobilizing over "hate speech"; but just as bad,
the intellectual bankruptcy and utter boredom of people who can
find nothing better or more imaginative to occupy their time than
hackneyed old topics and arguments, e.g. the charges against
Engels's dialectics of nature and Lenin's MATERIALISM AND
EMPIRIO-CRITICISM.


Chris:
------

While I regret the timing of my accidentally delayed post to Jukka, that in
context Ralph might have found provocative, I conclude
it would be unwise now not to draw swords with him more precisely and more
accurately. It is better now to go into the contradiction rather than to walk
away
from it.

(I am not provoked in turn by the remark about being a piece of shit. As
I do not feel at all like a piece of shit at the moment, I do not 
introject this remark, but had a good laugh over it.)

The passage above by Ralph is closer to an objective statement of his 
position. There is not a single vulgarity in it, nor a single profanity. It is 
high intellectual discourse. 
Vulgarity and profanity are not in themselves the source of the conflict. 
The source of the conflict is the 
attempt to deal with disputes by annihilation, by liquidation.

Thus the "intellectual bankruptcy and utter boredom of people who"...

I have not  checked the argument. I might in fact on content 
agree more with Ralph, because I tend to like Engels. I accept that any 
subscriber to this list has a right to say annihilatory remarks but the 
problem is that they are so common from Ralph, so violent and so total. 

Now to address the charges against me. Moral turpitude. I do not think 
I can take that very far. I generally believe it is better for people
to cooperate than not, but they often get there by a process of argument.
I find this criticism a strange one to deal with on a marxism list.

Hypocrisy is nearer the essence of the complaint. That I give the appearance
of being against violent language on this list, but actually support 
violent gangsters like Mao and Farrakhan. 

I thank Ralph for pinpointing the criticism this precisely, but I do not 
accept the charge. In turn I consider that Ralph's handling of 
contradictions is unmarxist.

There is no evidence that I support Farrakhan or Mao as gangsters. 
Ralph's position is an unanalytical undialectical one. Farrakhan is a 
phenomenon. The material, economic, social, and ideological basis for 
this phenomenon needs to be analysed and analysed dialectically. In terms 
of practice, little is achieved by fuming against Farrakhan.He cannot
be wished away, or burned at the stake in imagination.  What is
needed is an analysis of his supporters: how their concerns can be 
addressed, and in some ways united with, while drawing them 
from looking to Farrahkan for leadership. 

If Ralph has gone for a long weekend away from Washington at the time 
of the million man march, I would have sympathised in view of his feelings.

But the most positive marxist action, would have been to mingle with the 
march, and talk to as many people as possible to analyse what were their
preoccupations, so that more relevant propaganda and agitation could
be discussed.

 Did not any progessive groups leaflet it?

On Mao, I have suggested a debate needs to take place on Mao's crimes and/
or misdeameanours. I think he started to go wobbly in the middle 50's.

But I have argued that Mao explicitly argued that contradictions among
the people should be handled non-antagonistically. He was controlling 
and arbitrary, but specifically against killing people.

1. His doctor's book, surely a witness for the prosecution, shows him
clearly arguing against the shooting down of Lin Biao after the latter's
excape in a plane.

2. The same source describes him subsequently going into a depression, and 
paying his respects on the death of attacked veterans.

3. Mao saw re-education in the countryside as a preferable policy to 
the Gulag and executing political opponents.

4. The massacre near Tien Anmen could never have happened if the 
People's Liberation Army had been equipped with water cannon and 
tear gas,, and if virtually everyone did not believe it to be 
a people's army that could never fire on the people.

I am calling for a dialectical and materialist analysis of Chinese history,
and economy, in the way a number of reputable Marxist publications 
have been taking up. I dislike Ralph's attempt to inhibit the 
list from doing so by intimidatory remarks, that people who might 
wish to argue that Mao's misdemeanours outweighed his crimes, are 
to be denounced as hypocrites whose purpose is to support a gangster.

The debate will be complex but it must take place, and Ralph has little 
chance of stopping it. He might confuse it. That could be avoided
if the debate organises itself in terms of those who wish to emphasise 
Mao's crimes versus those who wish to emphasise his positive contributions.


My position is far from that the list should "go smoothly". I think the list
is a mass of teeming contradictions. I think the contradictions should 
be attacked strongly; I think people while being held responsible for 
their positions should be attacked lightly, and criticised only as 
specifically as possible, so they can decide how, if at all, they wish to 
respond.


Chris, London.



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