Hurtful words

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at
Sat Jun 8 15:39:35 MDT 1996

On Sat, 8 Jun 1996, Karl Carlile wrote:

> Karl: Our nasty Louis is being sarcastic again. Obviously he has some
> personal difficulties that he needs to sort out.

Louis: You make me laugh, Karl. You, Malecki and Rodwell throw the words
"Menshevik", "opportunist" and "reformist" more than anybody on the list.
This is what hurts, not the occasional sarcastic jibe. When I call you an
odd duck or Malecki some silly name, this should not stick to you because
it has no political significance. When, however, you throw words around
like "opportunist", you are acting in a much more vicious manner than I
ever have toward you.

I have been fighting for socialism for nearly 30 years and have put my
life on the line on more than one occasion. When you and others throw
these types of epithets around in an unthinking manner, you are putting an
equal sign between me and traitors to the labor movement. What I find
interesting about cyberspace is that creeps like you, Rodwell and Malecki
don't have to establish their own credentials before they rip into others.

For all I know, you have never lifted a finger in your life to build a
single struggle against capitalist oppression. So you then have the
audacity to label me as a reformist. You, Malecki and Rodwell don't seem
to have the slightest ability to be self-critical. For somebody
who wants to change society, this is a real handicap. How can you
establish democratic links with the masses if you can not conceive of
yourself as being capable of error?

Your readiness to denounce other people's "reformism" is something new for
you. In the past you seemed content to write very high level, almost
philosophical, reflections on Marxist theory. Now, like Torquemada, you
can't wait to find an excuse to cast me down to reformist hell.

When I have functioned in the various mass movements of the last 30 years,
there are always hangers-on who are all too happy to label an entire
meeting or demonstration as "opportunist". The Spartacist League, a tiny
Trotskyite sect which has never led a single mass demonstration or strike
in its existence, has no competition in this arena.

On this list, however, what you get are individuals who like to label
other individuals as reformists. You don't think twice about putting a
subject heading of "OPPORTUNIST PROYECT" on a post. You don't even think
twice about using it a second time after I tell you that I regard you as a
principled revolutionary.

The reason you can do this is related to one of the flaws of cyberspace.
It allows people to type words on a screen without witnessing their
impact. You can't see the expression on my face when I see "OPPORTUNIST
PROYECT" in my incoming email. If you could, you would never use a term
like this again.

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