[Marxism] Good critique of Walter Benn Michaels's NLR article

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Sep 7 06:57:25 MDT 2009

Bhaskar Sunkara wrote:
> No where is this insinuated. I can't understand how anyone could take that
> reading from his article.

To repeat myself, WBM is a *very* slippery character. His prose is open 
to multiple interpretations, no doubt a function of his exposure to too 
many ALA conferences.

The other big problem is that he is fixated on campus politics. For him, 
the need to replace campus admissions based on race with one based on 
class is a kind of philosopher's stone. He just does not impress me as 
someone who has the whole gamut of the African-American experience in 
mind, just what is in his own backyard.

Black workers have been struggling for a more *diverse* workplace since 
the 1960s. In fact the very first affirmative action case heard by the 
Supreme Court involved workers in the aluminum industry in the Deep 
South. How does that not involve class? Or to be more specific, class 
distinctions within the working class.

The other thing worth noting is that WBM is not known as someone on the 
front lines when it comes to issues of war and peace, immigrant rights, etc.

Basically he is an intellectual provocateur like Stanley Fish, who 
enjoys stirring things up. I should mention that Living Marxism, the 
magazine put out by the Spiked Online people, had the *same* analysis as 
him and enjoyed the static it generated on the left. Why people should 
take characters like WBM and Frank Furedi seriously is beyond me since 
they don't take their own selves very seriously.

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