Hot Pursuit - Louis Proyect comment

bernie wool bernard.wool at
Fri Oct 8 16:16:42 MDT 1999

Louis P. re your post earlier today,

It strikes me from just a very brief experience of this list that it has
a history, and that it has 'regulars' who have survived or persevered.
Some on it seem to also be involved with other lists of the unmoderated
kind, and no doubt have been engaged in all manner of skirmishes.  It
must be small for individuals to become a kind of negative icon, or
anti-role model, who use forms of words that make a sort of
trainspotting a regular pastime.

You have had 'workerists', 'Serbophobes', 'Eurocentrists' and probably
others, and it does seem, to my amusement that there is a manual of
office practice that allows more of the same to be identified by the
more experienced netter.  That is 'Bollocks', and every office has it.

No, today is not the same as the 30s when any Soviet worker that a
trades unionist might have met would have been a carefully selected
creature of the bureaucracy, and indeed such a meeting would only have
taken place in the SU under strict control.  Our dear
worker-correspondent of those days would equally have been well chosen,
and only allowed the privilege on the say so of the CPGB CC or the
like.  These days, most of the meetings of which I spoke are very
different, and there is the opportunity, physically risky though it
might be, to return a visit to see for one's self.  I haven't had that
opportunity, but know enough who have, well enough to accept their
honesty and perceptiveness.  But that's a long story, which they would
account for themselves, save to say that a number of them are Serbian
oppositionists.  There are sufficient accounts that don't make it to the
likes of the Guardian, to be able to see any threads of truth or
otherwise in whatever unspiked wordage does appear in the widely read
press.  It is a wierd historian who more or less says no reportage is
worthy of our attention.  For me the account of a shop steward sent by
his or her union to see what's up is worth ten times that of the gossip
collection of shady bystanders such as the LM (what a hoot that outfit
is, dear oh dear) or journalists (but there are such beings as honest
journalists).  Make what you will of that.

But all rattling on around this kind of thing is like pitching for
evolution against creation.  What is more to the point is just what does
the present regime in Beograd constitute?  How can we learn something
about the economic changes in the former Yugoslavia on which it rests?
Without that we cannot begin to understand just what forces are at play
in the Balkans.  It simply is not good enough for some contributor - JI?
but I have such a log-jam of posts from this list that in writing I
can't find the damned source - to say that Milosevic is resisting
privatization.  Ye gods, a Greek led mining house has just bought mines
in Kosova after protracted negotiations with Beograd, and half of
Thatcher's former cabinet were cuddling up to Milosevic not so long
ago.  It's a wonder he didn't get a medal from Elizabeth II like
Ceaucescu.  That is not to say that the Bosnian miners are not equally
pissed off that the Sarajvo regime is trying to do the same with Bosnian
coal! And so it goes in Romania, Hungary and the entire FSU.

So, please, enough of this bloody trainspotting and lets get to the
issues.  Scholarly research that Dave Bruce agrees with is all well and
good, but history marches on without that luxury.  All this about the
archives regarding many-decades old events in the Albanian environs is
no substitute for the now.  It is like angels on pinheads.  When we come
to the KLA, I accept that sections of it are in the hands of extreme
nationalists and that they have waged terror against minority groups.
But what is its content, and what is the position of working class
Kosovars, particularly the miners who worked and lived multiethnically,
towards it and within it, for many tooks its arms as the only means of
defence in recent events.  Likewise, Marxists surely should be focussing
on the illusions that Kosovar workers had and may still have in the NATO
occupying force - according to reports that I have read, it is NATO that
continues to enforce the lock out in the Mitrovica mines in the
interests of the, I believe, new owners.  Unless, like JI, you want to
write off entire Kosova as completely on the side of reaction, then
every attempt needs to be made to establish communications, and that for
Marxists is with and through the working class not via the Ed
Vuliamy's.  The same goes for Serbia, and any direct assistance to the
one must be matched by the same to the other - that is elementary
internationalism in the manner of the locked out Liverpool dockers who
went to Turkey and spoke out about what they found.  I understand that
they hope to do the same as regards Iran.

Hey, what have you got against the self-organization of the class - did
you have in mind some kind of specially endowed 'cyber-leadership' or
'Communist Think Tank'?  It is rank to write this off as 'empty
workerism', and to do so is essentially non-Marxist.

I speak for no-one but myself, and the same goes for anyone on the net,
so at the end of the day it could all be just hot air.  What I or you
_do_ is a different matter; one of responsibility and choice and one of
allocating time, I do believe.


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