Various and Sundry Items

LeoCasey at aol.com LeoCasey at aol.com
Sat Oct 28 16:05:05 MDT 1995


1. Adolph Reed and the MMM
I finally got a free minute to pick up a copy of the _Village Voice_ and read
the much-touted (at least by some on this list) Reed article. I was
underwhelmed. Far from the definitive analysis that some have suggested, at
is quite brief, and impressionistic to say the least. In classical Reed
style, a good portion of it is devoted to acting out his barely disguised
envy of other radical African-American intellectuals who receive a great deal
more attention than him. And the quality of his analysis has not improved
much from his days in sectarian Trotskyism and the intellectual cesspool of
_Telos_, I believe that the introduction of Reed into the debate on the
nature of MMM was an appeal to authority, and I am less impressed with the
authority.

2. Louis and the List
There is no need for Louis to go on sabbatical. My view is that neither the
volume nor the content of his postings harm interaction on the list. If he
wants to change anything, my suggestion would be to ease up on the use of the
royal 'we' when discussing the nature and character of the list. I don't
believe that anyone of us is the authority of the list (certainly no one
selected any one of us in a democratic election), and each of our own
perspectives is precisely that -- our own view. I don't see why Louis vision
of Marxism and of the Marxism list is any more valid than Tim W. or anyone
else. So my advice, for what it is worth Louis, is just lighten up on the
pontiffcation.

3. Class Analysis
Class analysis is an essential element in any radical analysis of American
society, and its place in the larger global system. The problem is not that
some on this list are engaging in class analysis, but rather, that they are
advocating the most vulgar and reductionist forms of it. If the individual
"class" origins and locations of individuals is the key and substance of
understanding the class nature and pertinence of the ideas being expressed or
the movements being led, as some on this list who drape themselves in
"proletarian" clothing would have us believe, than much of what has been
developed _within_ the Marxist tradition, starting with the capitalist
Engels, would have to be dismissed.

4. A Concept of Race
Paranthetically, the posting which criticized me for saying that we needed to
develop a critical analytical concept of race touches, in a strange way, upon
the theme I discuss above with respect to class. The point of developing a
critical concept of race and racial discourse,  just as the point of
developing a critical analysis of class, is to place in reveal the workings
of racial oppression (and class exploitation). To give up the concept of
race, as that writer suggests, is really to do the same as all of the
neo-conservatives and neo-liberals who argue that if we pretend we are a
'color blind' society we will be so.

4. Poulantzas and orthodox Marxism?
Poulantzas' works (I have read them in some detail) are not one homogeneous
view being reproduced in different episodes, but a fascinating intellectual
development over time. His book on fascism was early on in his work, and
overly structuralist and functionalist (this being the height of his
Althusserianism) for my taste. His later work is far more fruitful and
interesting in my view, for pretty much the same reasons that Wood finds him
so threatening -- he is engaged in a conversation with non-Marxist radical
theoretical strains, such as Foucault. He believed himself to still be a
Marxist, as he believed the essence of Marxism to lie in the belief in the
primacy of class struggle. That seems a reasonable definition to me.

5. Fascism
Two random thoughts: I happen to like C. Vann Woodward's history, but I think
it is positively bizzarre to characterize it as an orthodox Marxist analysis.
He is a good Southern liberal, and nothing more. A more general thought: when
fascism first appeared, Marxists insisted upon integrating it into earlier
forms of right-wing authoritarianism such as Bonapartism, and thus failed to
see many of its new, distinctive features. Certainly, there was historical
continuity with the earlier forms, but there was also something radically
new. My fear is that we are doing the same thing with many of the forms of
right-wing authoritarianism and nationalism, from Serbia to Crotia, from the
Nation of Islam to the militias, we see today. Is obsessing on whether or not
they are fascist, we may be missing what is new and distinctive about them.

6. Ralph and Feminism and Lisa
I don't really disagree in any fundamental way with what Lisa said on my
original posting on this subject. As a general rule, I don't see it as
particularly fruitful to impute racism or sexism to a person who is, in some
general way, on the same side of the struggle. At the same time, I believe it
is important to criticize specific acts which are, often unconsciously,
sexist or racist. To do otherwise is to eliminate the struggle against racism
and sexism. What I found dusturbing about Ralph's posting was the use of
language classic in its subordination of women at the same time he was
proclaiming his feminism. It is my belief we need to be a little more
reflective than that.


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