FW: Re: The Relevance of the Western Left

Xxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
Tue Feb 13 19:46:05 MST 2001


   ops! correction.
it should be "communitarian" not communication.  

 Their anti-statist rhetoric largely slides into a communication/utopian vision
of socialism occupying the western left after the collapse of communism (Robert
Hahnel  variety of socialism)      

----- Original Message ----- From: Alan Bradley To: marxism at lists.panix.com
Sent: 2/13/01 7:14:37 PM Subject: Re: The Relevance of the Western Left

I am a little reluctant to criticise Henry's post given the information that has
been provided about its context, but there are a couple of elements that I think
that he has overstated.   First, the very concept of an "Asian left" is
problematic, given the sheer diversity of "Asian" nations.  To at least some
degree I think Henry has universalised the Chinese case beyond the point where
it makes sense.   Secondly, and following on from that, the anti-liberalism of
the "Asian" left is not universal.  The Indonesian left, for example, has taken
an approach to revolution that involves being the most determined and consistent
defenders of liberal democratic (yes, *bourgeois* democratic) values.  In doing
so, they hope to force aside the cowardly and elitist liberal forces that are at
the moment stronger than them while at the same time challenging the more
traditional conservative forces.  This method has not been proven to work, of
course....   The Philippines left is a mixture.  There are both
"anti-liberalism" and "pro-liberalism" currents amongst the revolutionary left.  A
South Korean left is emerging from the now massive working class there,
independently of the North Korean state.  (They are pro-reunification, of
course, but only on a socialist basis.)  The East Timorese left have established
themselves as the only consistent democrats, opposing the maneuvers of the
aspiring bourgeois forces.   Significant elements of the Pakistani left are
waging a determined struggle against the military junta in order to force a
return to (bourgeois) civilian rule.  The Indian left is a massively complex
issue in its own right.   And so on...   I have only been talking about
revolutionary forces.  In a range of Asian states, the road to revolution
passes, at the moment, through the defence (or achievement) of "liberal" values.
  This does not, however, give "Western" leftists the right to play the fool
with respect to China, Vietnam, Laos and so on.  In that, I agree with Henry.  
Alan Bradley alanb at elf.brisnet.org.au     > From: "Henry C.K. Liu" > The same
attitude runs strong among the Western Left about their Asian > counterparts.  This
notion of the universality of leftism appears to be > the main obstacle to
universal leftist solidarity.   The Western Left > came out of a tradition of
the Enlightenment, from the rise > individualism, personal freedom and
representative democracy.  In Asia, > the modern Left rose from a background of
violent struggle against > Western imperialism, sucking on the open sores of
decrepit feudalism and > bureaucratic capitalism.  Western imperialism arrived
in Asian under the > guise of individualism,  personal freedom, and
representative democracy, > terms that carry specific coded meaning for Asian
revolutionaries.  To > combat Western imperialism, the Asian Left has long
recognized that the > goals of nationalism, rather than individualism, class
liberation, > rather than personal freedom, and dictatorship of the proletariat,
> rather than respresentative democracy, are the guiding lights of > revolution.  Neo-imperialism
is now hiding behind the same slogans > through neo-liberalism.    

  --- Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx Ph.D Student Department of Political Science SUNY at
Albany Nelson A. Rockefeller College 135 Western Ave.; Milne 102 Albany, NY
12222        

  --- Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx Ph.D Student Department of Political Science SUNY at
Albany Nelson A. Rockefeller College 135 Western Ave.; Milne 102 Albany, NY
12222        



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