[Marxism] An exchange on Jared Diamond from unrepentant.blogspot.com

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Apr 18 14:36:32 MDT 2005

Carl Davidson (carld717 at aol.com) wrote the following:
http://www.haloscan.com/comments/lproyect/111334814960190218/  I think the 
strong point in Diamond's 'Malthus' argument about Rwanda
is that it wasn't just Hutu slaughtering Tutsi, which you could trace to 
the legacy of Belgian imperialism, but also Hutu killing other Hutu, often 
in their own family groups. I know little about Rwanda, so he may have 
cooked the books on this information. But if it's reasonally accurate, it 
does bolster his argument. Or am I way off base?

As for Kerela and other Indian provinces, my understanding is that after 
the partition with Pakistan, many of the provincial boundaries were redrawn 
to be more in tune with language groups, and this helped local political 
stability, CPs coming to power, and progress somewhat
in some areas, unlike Africa, where the boundaries are mainly drawn by the 
former imperialists for their own market purposes, and have little to do 
with political realities.

I agree Diamond is a liberal and not a Marxist, and I'm sure there are 
better works out there, but I've learned a good deal from his books 


My reply:

On Saturday, as I mentioned in my blog entry on Left Forum 2005, I heard 
Richard Smith, Neil Smith and John Bellamy Foster critique "Collapse". 
Although John described the book as terrible for the same reasons as me, he 
did have kind things to say about "Germs, Guns and Steel". He said that 
despite the environmental determinism, it had the merit of making the case 
that the rise of the West was not a function of racial superiority. It is 
anti-racist book.

However, John and Neil were quite adamant about a streak of racism that 
permeates "Collapse", a point that I haven't even tried to make. They 
singled out the treatment of Haiti mostly, which Diamond argues became a 
failure because it was too "African" while the Dominican Republic absorbed 
European influences.

John also said that he had relatively high hopes for "Collapse" before it 
was published. He read an article by Diamond on the Easter Island that 
eventually became a chapter in "Collapse". This chapter blamed the ruling 
class for the collapse of the island. Labor and resources were wasted 
building stone statues in a kind of vain display you see today in houses in 
the Hamptons.

He hoped that "Collapse" would adopt this approach to contemporary 
capitalist society which is also plagued by short-sighted, despotic class 
rule. However, the book refuses to apply the same lessons to the USA as it 
does to Easter Island. That's a point that Neil Smith drove home as well.



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