Ousmene Sembene

David Welch david.welch at st-edmund-hall.oxford.ac.uk
Sun Apr 29 20:08:33 MDT 2001

On Sun, Apr 29, 2001 at 08:41:42PM -0400, Louis Proyect wrote:
> Are you really this thick, or are you putting on an act?
I could ask you the same question when you make statements as absurd as
the one I quoted earlier.

> As far as the specific issues are concerned, I stand with the revolutionary
> wing of the Second International that fought Eduard Bernstein over the
> issues of whether forced economic and cultural assimilation of
> precapitalist society was a good thing. Bernstein, citing the Communist
> Manifesto, urged support for French colonialism in Morocco. That is the
> logic of your position as well. People like Bernstein and you are basically
> defenders of the capitalist system. At least with Bernstein, he had the
> guts to say he was revising Marxism. With you, you get backhanded support
> for Shell Oil slathered with democratic-centralist jargon.
The Marxist critique of imperialism is not that imperialist countries
force development on their colonies, rather that because of the structural
limitations of capitalism it is unable to expand evenly across the world,
instead less developed countries are held as sources for raw materials and
for superexploitation. Claiming that if you support development then you
must support capitalism is nonsense, it's precisely because social
progress under capitalism is uneven and limited that socialism is

> But I don't really need to defend my position. It is out on my website
> under the heading "Marxism and the American Indian."
> (http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3) I invite you to explain why you favor
> forced assimilation of indigenous peoples. The Africans and American
> Indians on this list will eat that up, I'm sure.
Who said anything about forcing? What I object to is capitalism forcing
the peoples of colonial and semicolonial countries to stay in poverty,
preventing the development of native industry and so forth. And what I
also object to is people like yourself who effectively apologize for
capitalism by glorifying poverty and backwardness as 'honest' and

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