Doug Henwood, Pen-l and POMO

Craven, Jim jcraven at SPAMclark.edu
Wed Dec 20 13:14:23 MST 2000


I have never discussed the differrent/differeing views on the work of Doug
Henwood with my dear friend Louis, for whom I have the greatest respect, and
therefore I feel free and obligated (in a Blackfoot way) to add my comments.
The following are my own thoughts and my own thoughts only.

First of all, Doug had me on his program on WBAI twice talking about
genocide and some other very serious issues in Indian Country. He took some
serious risks having me on as the subject matter was guaranteed to bring on
some more special surveillance and possible pressure on the station. He took
on the issues and asked some insightful and penetrating questions--questions
that allowed me to launch into distinct anti-capitalist (not merely
reformist or whining Indian) directions. I'm sure it was the first time
people on WBAI had been turned on to Indian issues from the inside from a
radical and anti-liberal perspective. At all times he reinforced rather than
tried to mitigate, a serious radical analysis of the contradictions,
dynamics and trajectories of Indian Country. I and my fellow Blackfoot will
always be grateful for allowing some expositon of Indian issues on his
program.

Secondly, when someone calls himself/herself a "Marxist", or a
"Marxist-Leninist", or a "Red" or even a "radical" openly in print, that is
an act that immediately triggers more intensive scrutiny and harassment
(widening and deepening FBI, CIA, NSA, DIA and local police files and
surveillance). For that reason, I am hesitant to call into question
someone's self-declared intention and commitment, although I may and often
do disagree with that person's understanding of Marxism, version of Marxism
or "priorities, levels and forms of struggle." If Doug is trying to become
"mainstream", or a "mainstream-acceptable" left critic as some have alleged,
self-describing oneself as a Marxist is not the way to do it--especially in
this climate of proto-fascism and the extremely sophisticated technologies
of surveillance, marginalization, demonization, mind control and repression
of the "National Security State".  I have read "Wall Street" and gained some
valuable insights and knowledge for our own work in Blackfoot country and in
Indian Country--insights and knowledge that were distinctly radical and not
liberal or reformist. I don't know about all the quabbles and the basis for
them, but I am obliged, in a Blackfoot Way, to add my perspective from my
own personal experiences and the basis for that perspective.

On pen-l, I left pen-l not because of the rantings, racism and
neo-imperialism of the likes of Brad DeLong (taking him on is easy as he is
basically a narcissistic punk, grossly overrated, an opportunist, lacking
command of even basic formal logic--dialectical logic would be an
impossibility--and lacking command of basic history etc) but because I found
the exchanges basically masturbatory, devoid of any real useful content and
basically irrelevant for any real issues and struggles in anything
approximating the real world. It was just a waste of my time. Although I
work on Blackfoot and Indian issues, I am also involved in WTO/globalization
issues/protests and other issues such that any few gems on pen-l are simply
not worth the "opportunity costs" of lost time and possibly elevated blood
pressure.

On POMO: I can just write what I truly believe--take it or leave it.
Although I have not read widely on the POMO and Judith Butler stuff, I have
read some, and I find the POMO types, with particular reference to Judith
Butler, and their tortured, narcissistic, acaemic-elitist and pseudo-elegant
syntax--and apparent fetish and delight with the sounds and convolutions of
their own words--to be essentially irrelevant (except in the roles that they
play in mystification and obfuscation on and diversion from real issues),
self-indulgent, petit-bourgeois, narcissistic, myopic, callous, and
unreadable by/unaddressed to the objects and victims professed to be of
concern in their rhetoric. I really see no difference between Butler and
Delong except in the nominal differences in the content and focus of their
respective "market niches"; but I see them both as Ivory-tower academic
elitists, removed from the real struggles of real people, who have latched
on to their own little market niches supported by compliant and adoring
sycophants as intellectually and radically bankrupt--or perhaps even more
so--than their high priests and priestesses of POMO and
neo-liberalism[imperialism].

Jim Craven






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