[Marxism] Libido, Religion, and Western Leftists (NY Times edit: More troops needed in Afghanistan)

Yoshie Furuhashi critical.montages at gmail.com
Sun Jul 23 09:33:40 MDT 2006

On 7/23/06, Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu> wrote:
> The ruling class has been unified on this from before WW2: The U.S.
> _must_ exert hegemony over the Mideast oil, and given the geography that
> means having troops there. The present war began with the overthrow of
> Mossadegh. And given the stakes, _of course_ the ruling class can afford
> the cost!

Probably true (though I hate to think they can probably even afford an
Iran War*, too), but the domestic political cost so far to them has
been less than ZERO, and that's the part that Western leftists* need
to (but generally refuse to) reckon with.

> In battles which we _have_ to fight (and we certainly have to fight this
> collection of wars) but can NOT win we need to focus on using them to
> build for the future. This is one reason why the "single issue" slogan
> of the '60s is so pointless in the present context.

The problem is that it's hard to motivate anyone to get involved in
battles we have to fight but cannot win.  Acquiring and training
"cadres" for a future movement that may or may not come (as opposed to
this or that existing sect) is not exactly an easy goal to work for.
Maybe you can write an essay that lays out your thoughts on how we
might go about doing that.

* If Western leftists had the sense of honor and shame that Japanese
gangsters were said to have, we would be all committing collective
harakiri or something like that if we let Washington destroy Iran**.
But honor and shame are alien concepts to most Western leftists, whose
utter lack of consciousness of how they appear to others is

** According to my inner great nation chauvinist sense of hierarchy,
destroying Iraq, a modern country, is worse than destroying
Afghanistan which had already been close to FUBAR*** before Washington
invaded it finally, and destroying Iran, a promising modern country,
will be a bigger crime than both.

*** That's probably an overstatement.  Daniel Davies says this about
the value of the Taliban:

On 7/23/06, Lüko Willms <lueko.willms at t-online.de> wrote:
> On Sun, 23 Jul 2006 00:17:15 -0400, Fred Feldman wrote:
> > We shouldn't lose contact with the material world in our
> > criticisms of the antiwar movement.  It is very difficult
> > to build or sustain a mass antiwar movement without
> > serious divisions in the ruling class opening
> > up serious fissures.
> Well, I don't know if that is really the main problem. I think more
> importantly it is because there is a) not a clear cut confrontation of a
> whole nation with US imperialism, and b) no force one would like to
> identify with.
> Both conditions have been different in the Vietnam war.

Ain't that the truth!  (a) is a general problem that affects the
objective condition, and (b) is a peculiar problem that afflicts
Western leftists' subjective condition.

Western leftists want secular leftists on the other side they can
identify with.  They get excited if the leaders of the other side are
handsome like Che or look saintly like Ho Chi Minh -- they go WILD
when they see cute women carrying rifles!  Oh, simpletons!

They have managed to come to like Chavez, though it took a long time
for them to overcome their initial ambivalence toward Chavez's
military background and eclectic intellectual influence, though both
are actually Chavez's strengths.

They couldn't get that libidinous energy going, though, for Slobodan
Milosevic and Saddam Hussein -- for good reasons, to be sure -- and
for Serbs (who were successfully demonized as collective rapists) and
Iraqis (who didn't look cute in their eyes).  Their political
principles alone were not enough to compensate for the lack of libido.

I had some hope for Iran.  After all, Iranian cinema has attracted a
leftist following recently -- surely they don't wanna let Washington
kill people who make art like that?  The quality of Iranian exiles is
on the average higher than the quality of Iraqi exiles (though that's
not saying much).  It's not as easy to demonize Ahmadinejad as it was
to demonize Milosevic and Hussein (there are no massacres that can be
even marginally credibly chalked up to him -- after all, he was only
the mayor of Tehran till last year, and nobody knew about him until
his election).  But religion is still an obstacle: secular leftists,
if pressed, intellectually understand why religious working-class
people might prefer a religious populist to secular neoliberals, but
they still can't relate to them at all.  They secretly hate them.  As
far as they are concerned, "The Iranian people have lost the
confidence of Western leftists; Western leftists have decided to
dissolve the people, and to appoint another one for Iran," to
paraphrase Brecht.


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