Cockburn and Women

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Nov 12 15:00:20 MST 1999

>Here is Katha Pollitt's response to Cockburn's letter.

For people on this list who do not have the "privilege" to be in the same
country as Pollitt, Cockburn, and Henwood, let me try to explain what the
feuding is about. All these people--Henwood, Christopher Hitchens,
Cockburn, Jeff St. Clair, Ken Finkelstein, Kathe Pollitt, Wendy Kaminer and
Adolph Reed--travel in the same general circles. They are leftist
journalists with tangential connections to Marxism, who most often publish
in venues like the Nation, where Doug serves on the editorial board and
where Pollitt, Hitchens and Cockburn have regular columns. They also pick
up spare change writing for glossy commercial magazines like Harper's,
Vanity Fair and Newsweek, although Doug has not cracked into that world--to
his credit. None of them ever belonged to radical groups, or if they did it
was a moment in their writing career. They don't know what it takes to make
a leaflet, organize a forum, get candidates on the ballot, build a
demonstration, etc. Neither do they have much knowledge of literature in
the Marxist tradition. My experience with Pollitt on the Auto-Sys mailing
list (Negri, Deleuze, etc.) was a real eye-opener. She, like Doug, makes
all sorts of sweeping generalizations about Marxism based obviously on lack
of familiarity.

They all have very large egos and are constantly feuding with each other.
Hitchens is universally despised by the rest, but has much more worldly
success. He was a constant companion of White House aide, who he "ratted
out" during the Monica Lewinsky hearings.

They occupy a large space in leftist discourse, because the socialist left
has gone through such a shattering experience. If this left does revive--as
surely it will--it will generate its own intellectuals and writers who will
have much more to say. When one compares the blatherings of all these
Nation Magazine celebrities to the work of CP or Trotskyist intellectuals
in the 1930s, it is no comparison. Read Dwight MacDonald. Read Kenneth
Burke. Read Christopher Caldwell, who died in Spain. There is no comparison.

Louis Proyect
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