[Marxism] Get real!

LouPaulsen LouPaulsen at comcast.net
Fri Jun 18 06:56:43 MDT 2004

----- Original Message -----
From: "Philip Ferguson" <plf13 at student.canterbury.ac.nz>

> I would have thought everyone on this list had more serious things to
> do, and discuss, than trying to distort something someone said when the
> meaning was quite clear and carried no racial or ethnic slur.

Actually, Philip, there are two sets of issues.  The first is what someone
means when he refers to "criticizing China" or cites the cartoon caption "on
the Internet nobody knows you're a dog" etc.  That's not what I was

The second is how Marxists in oppressor nations (genders, etc.) should react
to charges of chauvinism, insensitivity, etc., from persons of the oppressed
nations (etc.).  This was the topic of my earlier post, which I will try not
to repeat or belabor.  Here in the US at least this issue comes up literally
all the time.  It is not just an internal Marxmail issue.  It is an issue
that can arise in every meeting and even in every conversation.  It is a
make-or-break issue for Marxists in the U.S. and I don't apologize for
expressing my opinion on the point.  Marxists of oppressor groups who cannot
come up with the right answers on this point will be severely hindered in
their ability to reach out to the most oppressed and will, to that extent,
be condemned to irrelevance.  We have seen here what kind of results we get
when we raise all our porcupine quills and attempt to prevent such criticism
by administrative order.

When the oppressed are suspicious of our utterances and actions and give
them the most negative possible interpretation, it is not generally because
they are naturally suspicious people or because they are conniving people
playing a dirty game and trying to shut us up in an argument by "playing the
race card" (to quote that most contemptuous and racist phrase).  It is
mainly because their life experiences have predisposed them to believe that
members of the oppressor group, even on the left, are haughty and
contemptuous people who are liable to revert to the oppressive habits to
which we were brought up.  And sometimes, you know, they have a point.  We
all know how to repeat the phrase that "being determines consciousness", so
why do we reject the idea that the "being" of privilege and oppression
continues to affect "consciousness" and behavior even among Marxists?  Lenin
wrote that "we, nationals of a big nation ... commit violence and insult an
infinite number of times without noticing it."


(I hereby incorporate Lenin's entire argument by reference)

I realize that citing Lenin from 1922 doesn't automatically win an argument
in 2004, but then I am not convinced that the US in 2004 has advanced to
being a "color-blind society" and has become qualitatively different from
the "prison-house of nations" in 1922, or that all of our practice on the
national question is so superior to the Bolsheviks' that we don't have to
think about the things that Lenin did.  When my position is called
'liberalism' (citing another response), that doesn't bother me because Lenin
was accused of "national liberalism" in his time.

Lou Paulsen, "unreconstructed M-L"
member, WWP

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