[Marxism] "Blackshirts and Reds..." response to Chris Brady

David Walters dwalters at lanset.com
Sun Nov 23 11:43:47 MST 2003


  From Carlos Rivera (sks)...

> "sks" presents what appears to be an academic elitist critique of
> Michael Parenti's popular history. <unnecesary explanation of people's
history snipped>

Except for where I describe Parneti's book as a light read, I see 
nowhere
else you can draw such a conclusion. I am a firm believer in partisan,
passionate, side-taking history. The rich do it, why the hell can't we?
Even my post was such an example, in which I provide no bibliographies, 
no
refferences, drop names, and explain situations in a partisan way.

My problem with parenti's book is not that it is a people's history, but
rather that it isn't. It is a lazy, badly done example of partisanship
gone wrong. People's History of the United States (or even The 
Radiclaism of
the American Revolution) it ain't. It is rather the commie equivalent 
of a
supermarket cash register pop star bios. Hell, I agree with most of
parenti's political points, but for a book obviously target a leftists,
it is extremely self-evident, full of stuff we should all have leant 
from
party school back when we were int he youth groups or something. And 
then, it
is highly innacurate. To compare the solidly historical accuracy of 
ZInn's
work with the pulp-bio style of Parenti, seems to me like a very bad
argument.
Dunno...

> Nonetheless, the integrity of his history remains
> unquestioned by the consensus of leftist historians.

If you reffer to ZInn's work, no doubt. But Parenti's? I just exposed 3
(and just the tip of the iceberg) very innacurate things in the book 
(and
just in one chapter).

> Need I get into
> the politics of history? (That could be a source of attacks on Parenti
> who has been more sympathetic of the Third International than the
> mainstream.)

One thing is being sympathetic to the Comintern (hell, I think the
non-agression treaty was brilliant!) and another is to even today,
after the fall of the soviet union, applaud what were evidently 
blunders on the
part of the comintern. I can explain to lenght why in 1932 the "After 
Hitler,
Us!" line was a very serious proposition in Germany, but I can likewise,
with the benefit of perspective, see were the cracks in that line were.
Last I check, materialist history require that approach.

In the end Parenti's positive points, his popular style (something that
I resent, because it goes in line with the elitist line that workers 
must
be spoon fed shit), his partisanship, his unrelenting and passitionate
insistance on the class question as a foremost question in the light of
fascism, etc, get destroyed by the fact that he was lazy at checking
facts, and is guilty of simply taking up things as conventional wisdom, 
that
perspective show not to be entirely correct. His good intentions pave
the way to hell... and all to common thing in the liberal (or liberal
influenced) left.


> I certainly do not mean to disparage the contribution offered by
> "sks". His/her contribution, however, is on a wholly different level.

I disagree profoundly. My criticism is precisely in the spirit of a
people's history. After all, most of "the people" in germany were not 
in the KPD
in 1933, but in the NSDAP. And at one point in the NSDAP history, it was
indeed a dynamic part of the working class movement against the SPD's 
sell-out
policies. There are many lessons to learn from the german experience,
specially in the light of the reemergenc eof NSDAP-like organizations
such as the FN, BNP, and NPD. After almost 50 years of the
italian/spanish/portuguese fascism being the mayor expression of
fascism, the 90s saw the rebirth of the german version. And hence, our 
lessons
must be the correct one, lest we do the same erros all over again.

> I continue to insist, as well, that if we could make our contributions
> additive rather than reductive, they would do more to enhance our
> movement.

My criticism were additive, not reductive. They stem from an attempt by
an organic intellectual, with street figthing experience against 
fascists,
who has actually seen fascists go commie and, I am sad to say, vice 
versa,
to see our people's history written as accurately as possible, in order 
to
both correctly identify the different strains of fascism, and our
catastrophic failure to stop it early on (of course, as glorious 
stalingrad
testifies, we ultimately did stop them for the most part). If this 
perspective is not
"additive", you could be so kind as to define the term for me, because
it might be a language barrier since I am a native spanish speaker...

sks





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