marxism-digest V1 #5652

Richard Harris rhh1 at
Mon Mar 31 17:49:19 MST 2003

> Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 17:21:04 -0500
> From: "Stuart Lawrence" <stuartwl at>
> Subject: Re: The De Genova affair
> Louis, you raised this matter in terms of "threats to antiwar
> professors" but both Foner and Bollinger asserted that academic freedom
> wasn't at issue, only the political stupidity and insensitivity of De
> Genova's statements.

As a fifty year old recently fired academic, fired for exercising what I
thought was an enforceable right to free speech i.e, academic freedom, let
me assure you Stuart that I think Louis's sensibilities here are right on
the money.  De Genova is not tenured.  There is no way he should even have
been criticised for expressing a view, however difficult for some of his
auditors.  The way to deal with a view you oppose during a university event
is to challenge it.  Already, the public statements of Foner and Bollinger
have gone beyond the bounds of academic discourse. [Let me add, before
anyone starts a campaign, that I did not open my mouth about a 'political'
issue, but about academic standards - which is a political issue to me.]

Liberal democracy always tries to define itself, and the university above
all, as a social space in which freedom of expression and freedom of ideas
are given free reign.  We are still here within the realms of bourgeois
discourse; although within that realm bourgeois society has only a sham
democracy to offer us, fronting its sham society, the state.  The acme of
alienation from our own social humanity is this war, and its loons Bush
Blair and Saddam Hussein.

The many contributors to this list who have observed that we are seeing
Vietnam in fast forward are telling us (well, me) something important.  We
should not be tail-gating the liberal media or even the liberals.  They are
only so prominent because of the speed of events i.e. we have all been there
before (and the movement we see in the media - NY Times, Mirror and Guardian
newspapers in the UK - are against the war because they see this is a rerun
that can only evolve into gross instability for the whole world system.)  In
the UK & many parts of Europe, the unity of the state and the interests of
capital (the very conjunction that was Marx's Damascus road vision: i.e.
Moselle wine growers) could not be more apparent than in this war.

I am not suggesting that everyone world wide follow the same tactics, far
from it.  But I do think we ought to be the Mountain of the movement - not
outside the movement, or pointlessly alienating working people (I can't see
the point of sitting in a road at hometime - it will just encourage workers
to think we are loons and they will not trust us when it comes to reading
our views - but that is this week in my town - in your town it might be the
thing that shows working people this is a serious fight.)

All of us must speak up against the imperialist invasion (that is a minimum
demand.  If anyone finds themselves in territory where that is still too far
left for the movement, well, you have not yet got a movement worthy of the
name.  And if that means using a graphic image to call for the defeat of the
imperialist invading armies  (for heavens sake, it was a Columbia
teach-in!), so what?  Was the image any less horrifying than the image of
the family of a mother and three children that was cremated in their car in
front of desperate onlookers in the first Baghdad bombing?  Yet the shit
intellectuals of the right are calling for the troops to take the gloves off
i.e. a million Baghdad marketplace bombings - and who in the mainstream is
blanching or shouting disgrace!?

They just have not called for fast forward to Dresden or Nagasaki - yet.

Canterbury, UK.

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