Old *MacDonald* had a line...eii eii o....

Mohammad J Alam alam.m at neu.edu
Sun Feb 3 11:40:59 MST 2002

MacDonald's defense of Milosevic, as represented in his response to Travis,
lies somewhere in the realm between the pathetic and the absurd. Let us see
how his argument stands, or rather limps (to use a Marxian phrase), upon
further examination of his latest post:

MacDonald declares at the outset that all of Travis' evidence is rubbish,
without even having taken a look at any of it, all contained on various
Marxist websites. On what grounds? That all of these websites--and not
Macdonald, the man who is apparently above looking at possible
evidence--are "sectarian"! Brilliant.

The rest of that paragraph blabbers on about how great the socialistic
economy of old Slobo is, and how the evil imperialists have destroyed
everything once again. Reality check: the USSR and Eastern Bloc are already
dead; one can spend time "defending" ideas long ago cast in coffins and
delivering never-ending eulogies at the funeral, or analyze and confront
the trends and patterns of modern imperialism in order to arrive at a
genuine alternative to its madness. This is unfortunately akin to the
Palestinian situation (although their situation deserves much more sympathy
than Macdonald's), whereby the occupied, while rightly condemning the
Zionists for their atrocities, have failed to form a coherent leadership
for liberation and thus stick to glass shields for their defence, ie.

But to respond more directly to the "Serbia was socialist" line: In "In
Defence of Marxism", Trotsky clearly stated that the importance of property
relations in Russia (in this case, Serbia), is subordinated to the
interests of the international position of the proletariat. Moroever, in
the same document, he pointed out (in reference to an Eastern European
country, I believe) that property relations, as an identification of a
workers' state, was not indisputable if other factors were quantitatively
serious enough to suggest a qualitative change in its nature. But to point
out that Trotsky said or wrote something is not definitive in its own
right; let us prod further.

Macdonald, trying to pose an ultra-anti-imperialist stance, inevitably
winds up resorting to bourgeois arguments. Why do we defend Serbia? Because
of its "territory" and "sovereignty"; in other words we defend it because
of its bourgeois boundaries as carved up by the bloody knife of imperialism
after WWII, in order to prove how anti-imperialist we are now--splendid.

Then Macdonald, and especially Stainsby, try to cover up for all these
serious errors by pretending that Milosevic is an innocent man. That the
Kosovars faced an ethnic cleansing campaign, although indeed not of the
epic proportions once touted, has been made clear by the demographic
changes and resulting attitudes in that region, along with several mass
grave sites. The idea that NATO simply invented this notion for their own
hegemonic purposes (not to say they didn't exploit it afterwards) is
refuted by the fact that they waited months, during which period the Muslim
side was prevented from arming itself in the early 90's, to take any
action--and then only hesitantly did so.

For all this "defense" of what Macdonald pathetically defines as "some form
of perhaps distorted socialism", the workers seem to disagree. While he and
Stainsby are still weeping over their great loss, the Serbian workers
quickly moved to dismantle the regime. Of course, they ended up with a
bourgeois, non-socialist leadership, but so didn't the Polish in the
aftermath of Solidarity and the Iranians in the aftermath of Khomeni. The
movement of the masses against one tyranny is not an event than can
necessarily be judged by whom they empower next. In this case, like the
rest of the Bloc, Serbians are now exposed to the process of Capitalism as
explained by Marx, who is now suddenly more relevant to the people of the
region than he ever was during the process of "deformed socialism".

Finally, Macdonald enters presidential mode and demands "who's side are you
on?". Half-expecting him to implore, "Don't mess with Texas!", we receive
only the following canard: "We must stand with Slobo in order to defend our
own self-interest *in opposition to the imperialists*. (added emphasis)
Notice that he is not fully sure that it is *really* in our self-interest,
so he adds the anti-imperialism bit at the end. By this standard, we should
support bin Laden (a former agent of imperialism that is now only a pretext
for its advancement). But aside from that, how does it help the world
proletariat, or rather the advancement of the interests of the world
proletariat as a politically-conscious class, by defending a man discarded
of by his people, representing Stalinism (at 'best'), and perceived as a
vicious murderer by all? The very maddening force with which MacDonald
argues that we should defend Milosevic suggests theoretical lunacy; even if
the man was decent, how the hell would he be worth defending, giv
en far more important events in the world? Stainsby follows the same silly
tone, expressing the shock of a religious follower at peace with her
illusionary God, instead of making a sustained argument, after having
reading Travis.

Milosevic and his historical role in the world are finished. To blame all
this on "imperialism" changes nothing. Anyone who calls himself a Marxist
understands that there are new contradictions rising and old contradictions
deepening in the system that open the way for an appealing alternative to
capitalism, and does not waste time defending that which has been swept
away into the ocean by the wind of historical materialism.

M. Alam

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