Is Anderson one of the good guys? was Re: Hartwig on Daly [?] on Petras on Anderson

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at
Thu Mar 20 14:58:43 MST 2003

>James wrote:
>Anderson's record on Ireland for 30 years was abstentionist; as
>somebody put it to me [as an excuse] recently, Anderson "played with"
>Tom Nairn's two nations theory which advocated a national right to the
>six counties on the part of Irish Protestants. Is he doing the same
>kind of thing again?

Two things here James.  Anderson's recent writings including his long
scholarly piece on Iraq reflect a deep pessimism of both intellect and
will. In the case of his work on American imperialism he seems to have
bought the notion that we are dealing with a totally new era in terms of
military strategy.  His reading of the Afghanistan adventure has led him to
conclude that military resistance to the Americans is no longer possible.

I personally think that this is a variation of technological determinism
and that he has neglected the careful analysis of the targets that the
Pentagon has chosen.  Invariably these are regimes without a popular base
to sustain prolonged resistance.  The Taliban and Saddam Hussain have all
led governments which were and are loathed by substantial numbers of their
own citizens.

What Anderson cannot see is what the Secretary General of the Japanese
Communist Party has repeatedly pointed out.  In the case of America we are
dealing with power without virtue. At the second level of the Bhaskarian
dialectic such power is weak and ripe for negation. At the third level
-that of totality we can see that the opposition to America now reaches
from Versailles to  Vanuatu.  It is the fourth level, that of agency, which
also stresses that action against imperialist oppression is always possible
- no matter how smart the bombs are claimed to be.

The second point is really a comment on what I suspect was the major
influence on Anderson namely the Stalinist historian Hobsbawm.  He almost
single handed created a pro-imperialist Marxism.  For such an
accomplishment he deserves to be reviled in perpetuity. The main trick that
Hobsbawm pulled off was to identify nationalism with reaction. to do so he
had of course to ignore the work of Marx - but hey a war was going on and
many British Leftists were eager for a fig leaf to cover their inaction.

An allied question which I hope one day to into with Phil and Andrew is why
Trotskyists are so vulnerable to the influence of Stalinists.  It is as if
we never completely broke away from the thought that maybe after all Stalin
was the legitimate heir of Lenin. On that 'orrible thought
I bid you all

warm regards


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