fascism and MMM; purity and ambivalence

Jon Beasley-Murray jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu
Fri Oct 20 15:30:45 MDT 1995

Rakesh, *Now* who's not been reading their posts?  I didn't (and
wouldn't) call Ralph a racist.

But I was trying to point towards other drives for purity, and I think
wholesale condemnation and blanket refusal can be similarly reactive
moves for purification.

You call my moves against purifications a "categorical imperative."  I'm
thinking of it as a rule of thumb, but don't see anything wrong with that.

However, I think the following is perhaps the point at which we diverge most:

On Fri, 20 Oct 1995 owner-marxism-digest at jefferson.village.virginia.edu wrote:

> From: djones at uclink.berkeley.edu (jones/bhandari)
> Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 03:02:06 -0800
> Subject: Re: fascism and MMM; purity and ambivalence
> Of course there should be mobilization of men and women, of all ethnic
> groups for such things as an end to racism, sexism, war, toxic dump sites,
> unemployment, wage slavery.  However, there is nothing good that could have
> come out a phalanx of 400,000 Black men (with class contradictions among
> them) marching in the first place. Where were the women? What are the
> radical demands, Jon, that were demoblized, that could have been put
> forward by Black men of opposing classes?

Where are you going to find a march or a movement or a mobilization of
anyone (5, 50 or 400,000) without class contradictions?  Or without
gender, sexuality, ideological contradictions...  It seems to be
precisely the populism of the march that you are here disparaging most.
I don't know about this [and by the way, to Jerry, I think the march
*was* more than populist, though I am still wary of calling it fascist.
But the NOI even seem to have something of a fascist aesthetic down; but
we (I) need to think more about this].  I think that populist elements in
any movement that deserves the name (ie. that is not, for example, some
cipher typing manifestos into cyberspace) are inevitable.

Populist movements also seem to me to express legitimate demands, if only
by implication.  Even "Hands Across America" or whatever Perot's group is
called points to the bankruptcy of the US party system, though it is
misrecognized and demobilized from being an effective critique or
platform for serious change.

But, perhaps more importantly still, I'm not sure that politics is or
should be a matter of formulating the correct line or program which would
then win some kind of majority consensus (though I'm possibly reading too
much into your position here).  The left is all too good at this (the
forumations, that is), and all too bad in large part at producing the kind
of affective solidarity demonstrated by those on the march.  Any decent
movement *has* to be able to articulate this kind of mobilization, and
cannot be in the business of condemning it out of some kind of

> >I think ambivalence is a key category for any marxist criticism.
> We should not be ambivalent about at least this: that the the emancipation
> of the working class must be the conquest of the working class itself.  I
> have been reading the inventor of Marxology M. Rubel's five essays on Marx.
>  He persuasively argues that this is without doubt the core of Marxism.

Well, I think you're using ambivalence in a different way in which I
was.  And I'd like to hear more about Rubel and the "conquest of the
working class itself."  I'm not sure I'd agree, but would have to hear more.

> Rakesh

Take care


Jon Beasley-Murray
Literature Program
Duke University
jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu

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