Reply to Michael Berube

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Sep 16 15:44:09 MDT 2002

Michael Berube wrote:

> Dear Mr. Proyect,
> I find your letter persuasive from the opening sentences.
>> Christopher Hitchens and Marc Cooper chastising the left from the
>> pages of mass circulation bourgeois media such as the LA Weekly, the
>> Boston Globe, etc. Years ago, when people like John Reed spoke on
>> behalf of the left, they had ties and accountability to a largely
>> working-class base. Nowadays, we find all too often that journalists
>> and college professors speak only for themselves and through the
>> auspices of the very publications that are beating the drums of war.
>> On side of the op-ed page, we get snarling attacks to remove Saddem
>> Hussein. On the other, we get rueful professors striking Orwellian
>> poses against the radical movement. Sort of a hard cop/soft cop
>> combination if you gather my drift.
> Yes, I get it.  The people advocating war and the people opposing it
> are the same, if the latter dare to criticize the "radical movement."
> Quite clear.

Michael, the best way to understand this is in terms of anti-antifascism
in the 1930s. You are anti-antiwar in the same sense as people were
anti-antifascists. For an elaboration on this, you should read  Lillian
Hellman's "Scoundrel Time".

>> On to the substance. You are troubled by the wing of the left that
>> another "opposes all military interventions regardless of their
>> objectives." Since you were only five years old when the Vietnam war
>> started, it is entirely possible that you missed out on the rather
>> rich discussion that involved historians like Gabriel Kolko who
>> questioned whether the USA ever intervened overseas for the right reason.
> My apologies.  You're right, I'm too young to know that this had
> already been proven.

Postmodernist irony? I'm impressed. Makes me want to go out and rent a
Madonna video.

>> Unlike yourself, they have an analysis of imperialism. You say that
>> "The antiwar left once knew well that its anti-imperialism was in
>> fact a form of patriotism - until it lost its bearings in Kosovo and
>> Kabul, insisting beyond all reason that those military campaigns were
>> imperialist wars for oil or regional power." My dear professor, there
>> is abundant evidence that the USA only fights for raw materials or
>> regional power.
> I'm very sorry I wasn't aware of this.

You got to ease up on the irony stuff. That's what makes shows like
"Seinfeld" such a bore.

>> Reading Howard Zinn, you would know that diplomat Sumner Welles
>> assured the French that they could hold on to their colonies after
>> WWII. He said, "This Government, mindful of its traditional
>> friendship for France, has deeply sympathized with the desire of the
>> French people to maintain their territories and preserve them intact."
> I've read Howard Zinn, my dear correspondent, and I do know this.  But
> I don't proceed from it to the conclusion that we should not have
> opposed Hitler.

We should not have opposed Hitler? I am not sure how much of an
opposition there was considering that we were selling him oil even after
WWII started. Or that IBM sold the Nazis the tab machines that they used
to keep track of my relatives. Sorry if this does not demonstrate a
playful sense of irony.

> Au contraire, it means a great deal to me.  On one hand, it suggests
> to me that on the subject of fighting WWII, you have strange
> affinities with Pat Buchanan.  On the other hand, it suggests to me
> that I should advise you not to accuse others of ignorance so
> ignorantly.  You know nothing, nothing, nothing about me, Mr.
> Proyect.  But if you read, e.g., Life as We Know It (Vintage, 1998,
> always available at, you can educate yourself a little
> about my education and about my "postmodern leftism."

I have strange affinities with Pat Buchanan? No, I have affinities with
the leaders of the SWP who told the ruling class that their war was
about profits and nothing else. They went to prison for 4 years for
their independence of mind while New Deal liberals like yourself were
wrapping themselves in the American flag.


Louis Proyect

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