Class analysis? Or "Disloyalty"?
Louis N Proyect
lnp3 at columbia.edu
Sun Sep 29 14:02:43 MDT 1996
On Sun, 29 Sep 1996, Vladimir Bilenkin wrote:
> You find BK's position "troubling." And you now ask me what gives me
> the right to denounce him, et al? But why now? Why not then, a few months ago
> when I "denounced" him, et al. THEN you just wrote me a sweet congratulatory
> note. THEN you expressed POLITICAL agreement with me, no questions asked.
> Nothing has changed in my personal circumstances since then. I still live
> in the US and have a tenure-track teaching position. So why now?
Louis: We should not be in the business of "denouncing" anybody on the
Marxist left, particularly someone like Boris Kargalitsky who has
contributed much to the Marxist understanding of the current crisis in
Russia. Some years from now, when we have had a chance to evaluate the
political culture of "Marxism-Leninism" dispassionately, some attention
must be paid to the whole "betrayal" theme. When you denounce somebody,
this assumes that you have the moral high ground. How presumptuous. We
need to move away from this attitude. It is highly destructive. It
destroyed the US left in the 1970s and 80s and has destroyed M1.
> I have already provided the answer to this question in my previous post.
> The reason is your "DISLOYALTY," i.e. you failure to subordinate Louis as
> a "merely human" being to Louis as a Marxist politician. The first Louis
> is a very complex, neurotic, highly talented narcissistic personality who
> needs recognition and pampering above all. And Louis-politician fails to
> control his narcissism. Nay, he has become its slave. When you are attacked
> politically, your first gut reaction is to destroy your opponent as human
> being, to humiliate, to deny him his human dignity. This is what, in human
> terms, underlies your opportunism in politics, your disloyalty. And this is
> what, in human terms, you share with "stalinists" as a product of the same
> social-cultural formation. Both are politically disloyal because they remain
> within the limits of the "merely human," i.e. the ethos of the bourgeois
Louis: You have touched a sensitive nerve here. I am very sensitive about
my neuroses and attempt to keep them well-hidden, you naughty thing.
> PS. As to a Volvo and the Bahamas, this is exactly what a number of Russian
> educated Philistines accused me of, in bewilderment that I take part in
> Russian communist movement. At least, they could claim ignorance. You cannot.
Louis: Vladimir, you invite this sort of rude behavior from me when you
say I am part of the "bourgeois" left. The next time you speak to people
at Monthly Review, as them if you think that is a fair assessment. I am
about as closely identified with MR politically as you can get.
I am also a working-stiff and have been one since 1968. I don't know any
limousine liberals. All of my friends and comrades are people like Louis
Godena and Jon Flanders, working-class to the core. There is a bougeois
left in the United States and I can name its members: Barbara Ehrenreich,
Christopher Hitchens, Bogdan Denitch, numerous trade union officials and
academics, etc. I have nothing in common with them. It is only in the
rarefied world of cyberspace or in the insular world of American
Trotskyism that somebody like me can appear "bourgeois".
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