[Marxism] Grappling With the Racism of the DSA?s Founders

Matt Harvey mattharveyt at gmail.com
Tue Sep 11 01:13:38 MDT 2018

What's the reason for emphasizing that all the founders of the DSA were
"cis" men? If the term "cis" has any value it is as a newly developed
social classification in contradistinction to a tiny minority of trans, or
"non-binary" folk, right? It loses currency when describing past conditions
in which there were no trans political leaders, left, center, or otherwise.
Since we are dealing with Marxist ideology some comrades would argue that
such taxonomy is inherently neoliberal because it energizes already
needless intra-class conflicts--encouraging gender and sexuality based
identities as opposed to class consciousness. My main beef with the
parenthetical though again is that it is ahistorical. Ironically, its an
analysis that benefits the DSA: what other early 60s political movement can
boast an openly gay African American man as one of its leaders? As you know
however the fact that the DSA was sexually enlightened didn't strengthen
its left character, in fact it was more reactionary than movements with no
sexual and racial minorities at the helm.

As for Kennedy and Vietnam its a long way from the type of operations
Chomsky describes to the millions of tons of explosives and napalm dropped
during LBJ's and Nixon's genocidal 7 year bombing campaign on NV which
incinerated a million North Vietnamese civilians (official Vietnamese
stats). That's what people think of when you mention parking lots and
Vietnam not a tenuous argument about parking spaces for all the rice (?)
and opium the US was plundering or something. This is for another time but
the war in Vietnam as I understand it had very little in common with
gun-boat imperialism.

I have the utmost respect for Chomsky but he's just willfully obtuse when
he ignores the splits on Vietnam within the ruling class. (Why do you think
JFK fired Henry Cabot Lodge the ultra-hawk ambassador who was running a
personal foreign policy in SV?) In any event, some hard facts: by the end
of 1963 there were between 15 and 16 thousand US military personnel in SV,
Kennedy had ordered home a thousand more, reversed by LBJ after the
assassination. By 1965 there were 185,000 troops, by '68 that grew to
*half-a-million*. So arguing just who prosecuted the genocidal war in SE
Asia seems of much greater important (not to mention clearer cut) than how
many angels can fit on the head of a pin. es

You raise an interesting question as to whether France was acting as the
US' proxy in Indochina. It ultimately strikes me as a post hoc fallacy
because Indochina was already part of the French empire, they didn't want
to give up captive oversees markets, and after their disastrous WW2 defeat
they needed to refresh a sense of national honor. That doesn't mean the US
and France's interests (as opposed to the Suez) weren't aligned; we
assisted their effort economically, but the French weren't just our
mercenaries. Would you say they were fighting for the US in Algeria? I
would expect not.

I will give the article another chance because I'm interested in the
material. I'm really not looking to knock you, its a great idea for an
article. the points I raise, if nothing else, seem to muddle your thesis
with unrelated and controversial score-settling.

On Mon, Sep 10, 2018 at 10:13 PM, Andrew Stewart <
hasc.warrior.stew at gmail.com> wrote:

> a) There is nothing bizarre or even radical in describing Bayard Rustin as
> a cis-gendered man, which he was. He did not present himself as trans in
> public and I have not encountered anything saying otherwise. He was cis, he
> was a man who had sex with men (MSM), and he was Black. Ergo "*they all
> are cis men and, except for Rustin, white heterosexuals*" is the proper
> description. What, is there some juicy gossip about Harrington sodomizing
> Howe that I missed out on? ;)
> b) Two matters to discuss here:
> You might want to check when bombing of North Vietnam began (hint: JFK was
> out of office;) he was criticized on the right for *not* trying to invade
> Cuba
> i) American bombing of North Vietnam
> We can go back and forth for days about what exactly qualifies as
> "American bombing", which to me strikes me as being equivalent to arguing
> how many Angels of Death can dance on the head of a pin. In the hindsight
> provided by the Pentagon Papers, the National Archives disclosures, the
> Kennedy administration papers being declassified, and Wikileaks, there is a
> cogent and logical case for American provision of arms and bombs to the
> forces opposing the North Vietnamese as early as 1946 as a response to Ho's
> election in January of that year. Some might argue the French were not
> acting as our proxies in that instance (something I fundamentally beg to
> differ on). However, since Chomsky and his blush response is being brought
> up, here is what Noam wrote in his polemic RETHINKING CAMELOT <
> https://zcomm.org/rethinking-camelot/> and particularly <
> https://zcomm.org/wp-content/uploads/zbooks/htdocs/chomsky/
> rc/rc-c01-s05.html>:
> *On October 11, 1961, Kennedy ordered dispatch of a US Air Force Farmgate
> squadron to South Vietnam, 12 planes especially equipped for
> counterinsurgency warfare, soon authorized “to fly coordinated missions
> with Vietnamese personnel in support of Vietnamese ground forces.” On
> December 16, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, whom JFK had put in charge
> of running the war, authorized their participation in combat operations
> against southerners resisting the violence of the US-imposed terror state
> or living in villages out of government control. These were the first steps
> in engaging US forces directly in bombing and other combat operations in
> South Vietnam from 1962, along with sabotage missions in the North. These
> 1961-1962 actions laid the groundwork for the huge expansion of the war in
> later years, with its awesome toll...*
> Certainly we can ask about when the public knew about bombing or when they
> became cognizant of the war. But the record indicates, after 50 years, that
> we had our hands in that cookie jar during the Truman administration with
> an air war component as late as the first Eisenhower term.
> ii) he was criticized on the right for *not* trying to invade Cuba
> We sent a CIA-backed invasion force into the Bay of Pigs. That was an
> American operation. JFK was criticized for not sending in the cavalry
> ---to re-enforce ground troops we had already put into action---.
> That whole episode would have been little more than a failed fireworks
> display had it not been for the CIA's role in training and provision of
> arms.
> As for the matter of parking lots, I don't think that is hyperbolic at
> all. Where are you going to put all the dump trucks as they steal the
> pillaged natural resources and other booty from our piratical imperialist
> operations, Ho Chi Minh's bungalow? We were trying to ransack the place and
> make room for highways by which the expropriation might be streamlined.
> I invite you to take a second look at my analysis here:
> <https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/08/31/grappling-with-the-
> racism-of-the-dsas-founders/>
> --
> Best regards,
> Andrew Stewart
> from: Matt Harvey <mattharveyt at gmail.com>
> to: hasc.warrior.stew at gmail.com
> cc: marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu
> date: Sep 10, 2018, 8:00 PM
> subject: [Marxism] Grappling With the Racism of the DSA?s Founders
> Andrew,
> I really wanted to give your piece on DSA a chance. It starts off well and
> I think the legacy of Cold War era Pentagon--CIA or DC think tank, pick
> your description--socialists as represented first by the *Encounter* then
> *Dissent*, Irving Howe and late-period Schactman is fertile ground for
> repertorial spade work. Shanker's destructive cleaving the old NYC liberal
> coalition is an extremely interesting footnote if nothing else. I even
> tried to choke down this bizarre line, "*(and they all are cis men and,
> except for Rustin, white heterosexuals)"  *[Cis?] in the hopes that you
> were attempting irony or it was an unfortunate editorial addition.
> Unfortunately the ahistoricism continues apace with an anti-Kennedy
> rant--climaxing with, "[JFK] was in the midst of the genocidal effort to
> turn Vietnam into a parking lot"--that would make Chomsky or Alexander
> Cockburn blush. (You might want to check when bombing of North Vietnam
> began (hint: JFK was out of office;) he was criticized on the right for
> *not* trying to invade Cuba, btw.)
> So I alas I didn't find out if the overhyped DSA is doomed by original
> sin.

Matthew Harvey
Award winning freelance journalist
237 E. 10th St. NY, NY 10003

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