Broadest, deepest, yummiest (to Mark L)

Philip Ferguson plf13 at it.canterbury.ac.nz
Sun Feb 3 17:30:33 MST 2002


Mark L wrote:
> I think Epstein's giving us her version of the old SWP's
>hallucination about "the broadest and deepest and yummiest radicalization
>which
>can't be reversed without posing the question of power."

Yes, that really was quite inane.  Still, it was quite sane compared with
the current Barnes idea that the Gulf War began WW3 and fascism, that the
US lost the Cold War and that there is an East German workers' state still
extant.


>If Marxism had been center stage in the Sixties, our present politics
>would look
>very different. Notwithstanding the experience of participants in this list,
>libertarian, individualist and, ultimately, anarchist assumptions were
>much closer
>to the heart of the radicalization at that time.
>
>There are many reasons for this, especially in the US.  And I'm not
>entirely sure
>it's a bad thing.


I have quite a strong libertarian bent myself, but I would say it is a bad
thing.  The reason is that these ideas were actually much more digestible
by the system than Marxist ideas.  In NZ, the neo-liberal onslaught of the
1980s was authored by 60s new leftists.  And I don't mean one or two
ex-rads like Joschka Fischer.  I mean the whole friggin' Labour government
and a chunk of the ruling class, who were into all that 60s stuff.

This is perhaps a different experience to the US where the 'new right'
seems to have been more into traditional morality and so on, but here the
most extreme 'new right' economic elements were generally pro-gay,
pro-abortion, pro-Treaty industry.  Their liberalism on social issues
fitted seamlessly with their neo-liberal economics.  And, indeed, there was
no reason why the fit should have been uncomfortable.

A lot of the restrictions that people rebelled against in the 60s were
actually obsolete anyway.  So a chunk of what the 60s generation did was
bring the superstructure back into alignment with the material base, which
required a much freer and more diverse labour market, a new consumer market
(or set of niche markets), much freer and more diverse middle class and a
much more diverse political establishment.  So they could now include
middle class women and middle class people of colour.  Meanwhile the
working class would continue to get shafted.

The absence of Marxist class politics among so many of the 60s/early 70s
New Left was crucial to ensuring this outcome.

NZ today is run by people who protested the Vietnam War, btw.  And not just
prime minister Helen Clark, deputy-PM Jim Anderton and co.  But also actual
members of the ruling class.  And, from the standpoint of capital, they are
doing a pretty good job.

Clark, Anderton and the rest of course voted "full support" in a
parliamentary motion for Bush after Sept 11, carefully pointing out how the
war on Afganistan was "different" from Vietnam.

Philip Ferguson













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