[Marxism] Moderator's note

Haines Brown brownh at hartford-hwp.com
Fri Jul 25 05:54:23 MDT 2008

What an extraordinary exchange! I find it disheartening. Let me review
its latter portion.

1. Abu Hartal asks Louis Proyect about the humanitarian implications
of Karzai not countering the Taliban, suggesting the movement lacks
the justification of being either Marxist or broadly popular.

2. S. Artesian not only misrepresents the question a bit by drawing an
analogy with U.S. intervention in Vietnam, when Hartal had explicitly
expressed skepticism about US humanitarian intervention, he also
denigrates Hartal's question as "crap". This seems a little careless
and begins to personalize the exchange.

3. Abu Hartal replies that Obama aims to reduce civilian casualties
while pursuing the objective of countering the Taliban. He ignores
Hartal's put-down of the question, but adds that any comparison of the
Vietcong and the Taliban he finds insulting, thereby further
personalizing the exchange.

4. Mark Lause raises irrelevant objections: a) Hartal used the wrong
word for the Vietnamese nationalists, b) he is inferring Obama's real
intentions. He then presumes to question Hartal's Marxist credentials,
which yet further personalizes and trivializes the dialog.

5. Hartal ignores these insults and justifiably pleads for a
reasonable answer to a reasonable question. His position that for the
well-being of Afghans, the Taliban need to be countered, that the
Taliban has no justification in Marxist terms, and that Karzai is the
proper one to counter the Taliban, is a perfectly reasonable (although
arguably incorrect) set of positions that was clearly articulated.

Now, I can think of replies that might counter Hartal's positions, but
no one has offered any. Instead they just move the exchange toward
personal attacks. That Hartal's position on a particular issue
coincides with that of US imperialism means very little by itself,
without placing it into broader context: how does the immediate issue
relate to long range trends, US imperial objectives, the limits and
potentials of Afghani social development, and of Marxist
principles. No one has troubled to elevate the question to the level
of serious discussion, but instead have evaded the question and
reverted to personal insult. 

I don't happen to agree with Hartal, but pointing out the flaws in his
position would have been edifying and have usefully demonstrated the
powers of a Marxist analysis. That Hartal's question is not explicitly
Marxist and that his position may happen, at this moment and on this
narrow issue, to correspond to US imperial interests is not
particularly significant. On both counts, Hartal's question offered an
excellent opportunity, but his respondents sadly failed to rise to the
occasion, revealing themselves as lacking in imagination and common

If this were not bad enough, Louis Proyect drags the situation to the
very bottom, dismissing without offering real justification Hartal's
well articulated question and replies as "shit". He then proceeds to
block Hartal from the list. 

This is petty, childish and typical of the low level of this list. I
would actually welcome here the contributions of a capitalist,
conservative or imperialist if it served to raise the level of
discussion to one worthy of the working class. Too many folks here
betray the working class under the cover of a vacuous Marxism.

Adopting the label of Marxist does not in itself make one an ally of
the working class. An intelligent use of Marxist analysis, of which I
see precious little evidence on this list, makes one an intellectual,
but not necessarily in service to the working class. To exclude
reasoned and well articulated questions because they don't happen to
coincide with one's own Marxist position is elitist and makes the
group little better than a religious sect.

       Haines Brown, KB1GRM


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