[Marxism] re: A critique of the 2005 Left Forum

M. Junaid Alam mjunaidalam at msalam.net
Tue May 10 20:37:21 MDT 2005

"Many are and dont really feel any connection to leftist graduate 
students. "

You missed what I'm saying. Not that no young people outside grad 
schools are engaged *in* politics, but that no young people outside grad 
schools are engaged *by* the academic left, broadly speaking on an 
organizational-political level.

But besides that, I don't agree with the sentiment behind your statement 
of "feeling no connection" with leftist grad students as some kind of 
fixed rule, nor do I agree with the similar kind of contempt behind your 
other statement, "All the young radical activist I know would never be 
interested in going to such an event even if those academics pleaded and 
begged them."

Such militantly workerist posturing has never moved things forward an 
inch. Never ceases to amaze me how much Right ideology and attitudes 
penetrates the "Left" : Basically, you end up with this snickering 
contempt for existing leftists because they're often in the refugee camp 
of academia, as if this is the cause and not the symptom of leftist 
weakness. Ironic thing about this workerism, ie. doctrinaire Marxism, is 
that it shares with anarchism a kind of anti-intellectual attitude that 
insists on the uselessness of most analysis and the romanticization of 
simply "going among the people."

This is an extremely ahistorical view. In the present period, we need 
only look at Venezuela, where the leftist military elements are 
radicalized in part because the junior officers enrolled in civilian 
college courses and linked up with those eggheaded leftist professors 
and intellectuals who helped supply them ideas and historical knowledge. 
Conversely, what kind of results did all the attempts of leftist 
grouplets to enter into the unions produce? Mainly, suicide and 

You start at where you are, not where you want to end up. Not all the 
academics are useless. The field imposes its own set of limitations, but 
above all it is the broader political climate which causes paralysis. 
And you're seriously mistaken if you think that ideology - that is, the 
battle over ideas - is not  a major part of the problem.

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