Hitchens and the Left

Austin, Andrew austina at uwgb.edu
Sat Sep 29 19:09:17 MDT 2001

Maybe I am responding to the wrong list. This was my perception anyway. In
any case, this is the developing critique across listservs. You can't tell
me you don't see it.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Farmelant [mailto:farmelantj at juno.com]
Sent: Saturday, September 29, 2001 7:48 PM
To: marxism at lists.panix.com
Subject: Re: Hitchens and the Left

At the risk of particpating in a piling on Andy, I must say he is wrong
I don't recall seeing any posters to this list attempting to justify
either explicitly or implicitly the attack on the WTC (with the possible
exception of person who seems to have rather eccentric notions
concerning the class composition of the victims).  Much of
the analysis of the attack has focused on the blowback resulting
from former US support for the Taliban and bin Laden back in
the 1980s when they were fighting the Soviet Union.  Also,
the roots of clerical fascism in the Islamic world have not
been ignored either.  Andy may want to read or reread
Sam Pawlet's post on "Political Islam"  which links this
to the decline of the secular left in the Islamic world.

Also, I think that most people people here have been
careful to note that an explantion of terrorism does
not equal a justification for it, not even implicitly.
This past week Doug Henwood's LBO-Talk list
featured a debate over this very issue when a
Nathan Newman took up some of Hitchens'
arguments.  I think it is fair to say that he was
quite roundly demolished on this point.
There are undoubtedly stupi leftists about, but
they seem to have largely absented themselves
from this list.

Jim F.

On Sat, 29 Sep 2001 15:31:44 -0500 "Austin, Andrew" <austina at uwgb.edu>
> Marxism list,
> Whatever else Hitchens may be or think, he has a point about some on
> the
> left. Much of what I'm seeing pass on these listservs is knee-jerk.
> Not only
> does the discussion end with a "critique" of U.S. foreign policy
> (accompanied by a lot of irrelevant history), but it makes the leap
> from
> inadequate and one-sided explanation to an at least implicit
> justification
> for the attack on the WTC. The history of U.S. imperialism is a
> woefully
> insufficient theory for the events on September 11, 2001. And it is
> certainly no justification for mass murder. Whatever the U.S. has
> done and
> continues to do in the world, those people killed in the WTC did not
> have it
> coming to them.
> The Nazis had grievances, too, and these were in part rooted in real
> policies imposed on the Germans by other states in the aftermath of
> WWI. But
> those policies, even coupled with the world economic situation in
> the
> 1920s-30s, are insufficient to explain the rise of Nazism in Europe.
>   What
> needs to be explored is the TOTAL character of the ideology
> underpinning the
> actions of terrorists and extremists. Where is any of this
> considered in
> what is being passed off as objective analyses on these lists?
> There must be no sympathy for the fate of clerical fascism (call it
> what you
> will, the analogy works). Our sympathies must be for those who are
> oppressed
> by atavistic, religiously fundamentalist, and brutally patriarchal
> regimes.
> The stealth heroicizing of terrorists by many on the current left is
> reminiscent of the heroicizing of the street criminal by the New
> Left in the
> early 1970s. It was inexcusable then, and it is inexcusable today.
> To be sure, the right is stupid (though malevolent) for translating
> any
> explanation of terrorism as justification for terrorism. But is even
> more
> stupid for leftists to effectively justify terrorism with half-assed
> theory.
> It is amazing and frightening that much of the left "critique"
> parallels
> that of the North American white supremacy cells (go check out their
> web
> sites).
> We don't have much, comrades. Is the plan now to destroy our
> credibility?
> Andrew Austin
> Green Bay, WI
> =======
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