Russell R. Menard on Eric Williams

Michael Hoover hoov at
Mon Oct 23 21:02:09 MDT 2000

> Genovese's work on slavery is a premature Gramscian analysis wrapped in
> Weberian language. His treatment of  black slaves as "paternalistic" beings
> has nothing to do with Gramsci or
> Marx in common. It is just a bad Marxism or a culturalist study at most. If
> he
> had really wanted to do good Marxism, he should have struggled to prove how
> in
> fact slavery plundered  the value and cultural system of black people rather
> than positing culture as an obstacle to efficieny.
> He is Weber at his apogee here!  So he can
> still
> be considered a *new left* for breaking away with historical materialism.
> >
> > Re. Engerman, can any listers confirm New Left background?
> Mine

With all due respect, I *knew* upon reading EG about 26 years ago that
he was wrong.  And I didn't - and don't - need to refer to weberian
language, pre-mature (or is that immature) Gramsci, bad marxism,
intellectual whatever, to know that he was wrong.

Crux of my post was brief response to Lou P's comment that Genovese &
Engerman began as new leftists. I *knew* that EG had not started out
as NL and my post offered evidence to that effect.  I have my doubts
about SE and provided a couple reasons for why I have such doubts.
But I asked (you included my question in your post) if any listers could
confirm whether or not Engerman has new left orgins.

Unsurprisingly, no one has responsed to my question.  Apparently no
one knows answer (of course, I long ago grew accustomed to my posts
to e-lists eliciting no responses so maybe few people read my
question).  My e-list experience tells me that getting an answer to
questions such as one I posed about SE pales beside willingess of
folks to express their opinion about anything and everything.  Of
course, having such answers and being correct about such
characterizations may not be important to others.

btw: I'm sure Louis will correct me if I've misunderstood him but I took
him to mean 1960s New Left that Genovese held in contempt.  Your
assertion that Genovese can be considered *a new left* is actually
quite postmodern in suggesting that words are fickle "things" that
may be put to many uses, including ones unintended by their authors.

Michael Hoover (who guesses he'll try to find out about Engerman on his own)

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