[Marxism] Re: Kolko lashes out at "socialism"

John Gulick john_gulick at hotmail.com
Sun Nov 26 02:40:23 MST 2006

Carrol Cox wrote:

>This is simply a lie. Yoshie has not 'switched.'

>She sees u.s. imperialism as an insuperable barrier to socialist 
>revolution, and thus sees imperialism >vs. the rest of the world as the 
>main contradiction now facing us. On Pen-L Lou dismissed my >attempt to 
>briefly theorize this as mere opinion. Whether that reflected Lou's 
>anti-marxist >empiricism or merely a loss of temper I do not know.

>Yoshie may be wrong in her estimation of the strength of u.s. imperialism, 
>but it is either stupid or >dishonest to call that concern with imperialism 
>"shiite radicalism." _If_ that premise is correct (and
>I'm not interested in arguing that here), then whoever or whatever is a 
>_serious_ threat to that >imperialist hegemony is, _at this time_, a friend 
>of humanity and of the future of humanity. Given >tha perspective, Yoshie 
>for about 8 months now has been exmaining in great detail all the
>_possible_ threats to u.s. hegemony. The charges made against her are as 
>ridiculous as the various >charges still being made against the Mao of the 
>1930s for focusing on the Chinese peasantry as >the chief revolutionary 
>force in China.

I now write:

Lou of course can speak for himself but I think he would be the first to 
admit that he sometimes resorts to exaggerated caricature when what he 
regards as matters of socialist commitment are at stake. What is critical 
here is not his occasional tendency to distort his interlocutor's argument 
-- usually quite humorously I may add! -- but why his switch was flipped in 
this and many previous instances.

I personally agree, Carrol, that the issue Yoshie appears to be raising -- 
that of US imperialism as the "main contradiction" to revolutionary progress 
as you mechanically frame it -- is worthy of serious consideration and 
discussion in all its dimensions and should not be brushed off out of hand. 
In my own thinking and writing on today's PRC and the maturing Sino-Russian 
strategic partnership (when I actually get around to thinking and writing on 
these matters!), it is constantly in the forefront. Lou may or may not feel 
the same way; if this is an issue he is dismissing _a priori_ then I believe 
it is to his discredit. But I think what really gets in his craw, and it 
increasingly bugs me too despite my great respect for so much of Yoshie's 
work, is her emergent habit of dishonestly portraying domestic politics in 
Iran, China, and other states that putatively represent challenges to US 
primacy. In order to make the "US imperialism as 'primary contradiction'" 
position more palatable to skeptics and naysayers, it seems she too often 
paints a sunny picture of the actual situation in such states. This 
basically amounts to cynical sophistry. But it is also intellectually 
unnecessary: if what really matters for now is the strengthening of big 
powers that curb US dominance in Southwest Asia, East Asia, and globally, 
then why go to the trouble of twisting beyond recognition what is occurring 
internally in these places? Stick with the logic of the position and the 
warts of these regimes in all their complex beauty and ugliness. If it makes 
you uneasy, live with your discomfort; if you fear it is not credible, 
change your position.

There are many more nuances to my take on this and to be truly fair to 
Yoshie I'd have to develop them further... but I ain't got the time.

John Gulick
Akita, Japan

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