[Marxism] White chauvinism and the list

Jose G. Perez elgusanorojo at bellsouth.net
Fri Jun 18 11:56:18 MDT 2004


Carrol wrote: "Concretely anything a u.s. citizen says in "criticism" of
Cuba is _objectively_ (willy-nilly) support for a future u.s. invasion
of that nation. It matters not the intentions of the would-be critic....
Criticism is only criticism if it potentially can make a difference in
the policy of the persons/organizations criticized. Otherwise it is
_objectively_ merely an attack, and an unprincipled one at that."


I wasn't talking about things that are "objectively" racist in the sense
you mean, Carrol. That is just a silly exercise because, objectively,
everything can be transformed into everything else. Dialectics will do
that for you and then you can take the end result, apply formal logic to
it, and say, for example that it is "objectively" counterrevolutionary
to complain about the state of transport in Havana, whereas I understand
that this is one of a number of problems that wears people down and is
manipulated by counterrevolutionaries therefore the *failure* to
complain about the transit system, bringing pressure thereby on the
apparatus to do it better, is --as you say-- "objectively"--
counterrevolutionary. 

Not every criticism of Cuba is "objectively" counterrevolutionary, not
even if it is wrong. And in Cuba, the operative word isn't "objectively"
but "respect." The idea that white people from the United States,
especially of the male persuasion, have no "right" to criticize Cuba or
whatever is goofy. That's really a form of r... oops, I almost said the
"r" word, let's just say paternalism. 

But stance and tone are very important in politics, more important often
than "positions" viewed abstractly, for tone and stance indicate and
attitude and engagement towards forces in motion. 

José

José

-----Original Message-----
From: marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu
[mailto:marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu] On Behalf Of Carrol Cox
Sent: Friday, June 18, 2004 10:16 AM
To: Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition
Subject: Re: [Marxism] White chauvinism and the list




"Jose G. Perez" wrote:
> 
>
> I think Louis's stance on this is a *political mistake.*  Much more is

> involved than comity and civility, essential as those may be to the 
> functioning of a list like this.
> 
> Nobody wants to talk about the elephant in the room, as a friend of 
> mine in Atlanta, a sometimes lurker on this list, likes to say, but it

> is there nonetheless.
>

There is an old bit of left jargon that (terribly misused as it often
was) nevertheless served for clarity in such debates as this, the adverb
"objectively." For one things it discriminates 'merely' personal
attitudes or language from the powerful social relations which both
generate such attitudes _and_ make those attitudes dangerous. It avoids
detouring the debate into the personal psychic purity of those involved.

I think that some of the positions expressed in this thread have indeed
been _objectively_ racist and western-chauvinist. I really think it
impossible to say with any confidence how those positions reflected or
manifested the 'souls' of those expressing them.

Abstractly, nothing is immune to criticism. Concretely anything a u.s.
citizen says in "criticism" of Cuba is _objectively_ (willy-nilly)
support for a future u.s. invasion of that nation. It matters not the
intentions of the would-be critic. He/she has not in fact uttered
criticism of Cuba but provide grist for the imperial mills. _If_ the
attack (perhaps truly intended as criticism) were (a) valid and (b)
remotely capable of changing Cuban policy, then its objective force
might be overlooked. But those on the left in this nation (whether in
New Politics or the Marxism list) must know that nothing they might say
about Cuba can actually enter into the internal debates in Cuba -- that
in fact the only way such "criticism" could be effective is if enforced
by the u.s. military.

And though the political situation in China is radically different,
still the kind of "criticism" leveled against it in this thread (a)
cannot effect any policy decisions in China (hence is not criticism) and
(b) will be heard (willy-nilly) by anyone who hears it (say quoted in
other contexts) as part of the rhetoric of the "Yellow Peril."

Criticism is only criticism if it potentially can make a difference in
the policy of the persons/organizations criticized. Otherwise it is
_objectively_ merely an attack, and an unprincipled one at that.

Carrol


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