Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

September 26, 2011

What ever happened to the American left? A reply to Michael Kazin

Filed under: socialism — louisproyect @ 6:43 pm

Michael Kazin

Over the past two Sundays Dissent Magazine’s co-editor Michael Kazin—a 63 year old Georgetown University historian and son of “New York intellectual” literary critic Alfred Kazin—has been brought to the attention of New York Times readers as a leftist spokesman. On September 18, his “American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation” was reviewed by Yale professor Beverly Gage who offered a mixed verdict. She found Kazin “an eloquent spokesman” for a left that she described as “dead” largely because socialism “has all but collapsed”.

Yesterday, Kazin made an appearance in the Opinion section of the Times with an article titled “Whatever Happened to the American Left”  that was obviously drawn from the ideas in his new book. Like a scene from one of those movies based on H.G. Wells’s “The Time Machine”, Kazin hurdles forward at a breakneck pace as the calendar pages—1890, 1930, 1970—fly by.

Although I don’t find Kazin nearly as odious as his co-editor, the unctuous laptop bombardier Michael Walzer, I did find his nasty swipe at Howard Zinn  aggravating. As for Dissent Magazine, there usually is an article or two worth reading even though the editorial slant is tepidly social democratic. It was founded in 1954 by a group of New York Intellectuals that included ex-Trotskyist Irving Howe. Setting a pattern for people like Eric Alterman and Todd Gitlin years later, Howe staked out an anti-antiwar position during the Vietnam war. You can find an excellent write-up on all this by Doug Henwood titled “Dissent Goes to War”.

The basic flaw in Kazin’s reasoning is encapsulated in these two paragraphs:

After years of preparation, welfare-state liberalism had finally become a mainstream faith. In 1939, John L. Lewis, the pugnacious labor leader, declared, “The millions of organized workers banded together in the C.I.O. are the main driving force of the progressive movement of workers, farmers, professional and small business people and of all other liberal elements in the community.” With such forces on his side, the politically adept F.D.R. became a great president.

But the meaning of liberalism gradually changed. The quarter century of growth and low unemployment that followed World War II understandably muted appeals for class justice on the left. Liberals focused on rights for minority groups and women more than addressing continuing inequalities of wealth. Meanwhile, conservatives began to build their own movement based on a loathing of “creeping socialism” and a growing perception that the federal government was oblivious or hostile to the interests and values of middle-class whites.

In the first paragraph, you find the typical misty-eyed version of the New Deal that fails to account for Roosevelt’s real agenda, which was to lay the groundwork for the destruction of the left—ironically supported by the Communist Party. In 1941 the leaders of the Socialist Workers Party were indicted under the Smith Act, thought control legislation that would become a centerpiece of the Cold War witch-hunt. FDR saw eye-to-eye with Teamsters president Dan Tobin who wanted to root the Trotskyist radicals out of local 544 based in the Twin Cities. The CP cheered Roosevelt on.

The New Deal strategy was to work closely with CIO “progressives” in drawing the unions closer to the national security state. With the CP in the driver’s seat, the big CIO unions agreed to a wage freeze during WWII. The UAW’s Walter Reuther, who Kazin likened to Eugene V. Debs in March 2011, was the first CIO chief to open up a witch-hunt in his own union not long after WWII had ended. Basically, the same circle-the-wagons hysteria that had been directed against Germany and Japan was now to be used against the CP. When the CP was purged from the unions, the left was robbed of one of its most effective voices even as it was wrong much of the time. This anti-communist crusade that was born when Roosevelt was president and that matured under Harry Truman, the author of the first loyalty clause, predated McCarthyism and had as much to do with the left’s demise as the “quarter century of growth and low unemployment” that Kazin refers to in the second paragraph.

His charge that “Liberals focused on rights for minority groups and women more than addressing continuing inequalities of wealth” is one that has been frequently heard from social democrats. Todd Gitlin, a member of Dissent’s editorial board, wrote a book in 1995 titled “The Twilight of Common Dreams” that was basically a 294 page elaboration of that single sentence. The latest version, of course, can be found in Walter Benn Michaels’s various articles that views university-based “diversity” programs as some kind of plot to keep workers in chains.

In explaining the growth of the right, Kazin has a most novel take on things:

One reason for the growth of the right was that most of those in charge of the government from the mid-1960s through the 2000s — whether Democrats or Republicans — failed to carry out their biggest promises. Lyndon Johnson failed to defeat the Viet Cong or abolish poverty; Jimmy Carter was unable to tame inflation or free the hostages in Iran; George W. Bush neither accomplished his mission in Iraq nor controlled the deficit.

I am at a loss to understand the point being made here. If Johnson had defeated the Viet Cong (a term, btw, only used by their enemies) and Bush had accomplished his mission, the likely outcome would have been an even deeper rightwing mood based on triumphalism. Since I am not very good at deciphering the muddled thinking of tenured liberals, I will leave it at that.

The conclusion to Michael Kazin’s article is rather good:

If activists on the left want to alter this reality, they will have to figure out how to redefine the old ideal of economic justice for the age of the Internet and relentless geographic mobility. During the last election, many hoped that the organizing around Barack Obama’s presidential campaign would do just that. Yet, since taking office, Mr. Obama has only rarely made an effort to move the public conversation in that direction.

Instead, the left must realize that when progressives achieved success in the past, whether at organizing unions or fighting for equal rights, they seldom bet their future on politicians. They fashioned their own institutions — unions, women’s groups, community and immigrant centers and a witty, anti-authoritarian press — in which they spoke up for themselves and for the interests of wage-earning Americans.

Today, such institutions are either absent or reeling. With unions embattled and on the decline, working people of all races lack a sturdy vehicle to articulate and fight for the vision of a more egalitarian society. Liberal universities, Web sites and non-governmental organizations cater mostly to a professional middle class and are more skillful at promoting social causes like legalizing same-sex marriage and protecting the environment than demanding millions of new jobs that pay a living wage.

A reconnection with ordinary Americans is vital not just to defeating conservatives in 2012 and in elections to come. Without it, the left will remain unable to state clearly and passionately what a better country would look like and what it will take to get there. To paraphrase the labor martyr Joe Hill, the left should stop mourning its recent past and start organizing to change the future.

To return to Beverly Gage’s rather dismissive attitude toward the left, there is another dimension to the failure of the socialist “experiment” that she missed. The USSR and its allied “socialist” states were both an inspiration to young radicals as well as a brake on the mass movement against capitalism. While a massive CP-led French trade union was powerful enough to protect the social gains that a magazine like Dissent celebrated, that very power enabled it to essentially sabotage the revolutionary movement against Gaullist rule.

Those days are gone forever. With the exception of Cuba and North Korea, there are no socialist states nor is there a powerful Communist Party that can act as the agent of corporate influence within the workers movement. On one hand, we are weaker since that movement no longer has the muscle to stop reactionary attacks on our standard of living. On the other, it removes an obstacle to revolution that has existed since the 1920s.

Additionally, social democracy—in essence no different from Stalinism except on the “Russian question”—is also a thing of the past. No matter how many times the New Deal is invoked (with Chris Matthews calling nightly for a new WPA on MSNBC), none is in the offing. The kind of liberalism that was associated with FDR’s three terms cannot be detached from its economic foundations. In the 1930s and 40s, the U.S. was a smokestack dominated economy that needed blue collar workers by the millions. Today, manufacturing is rapidly disappearing. To conceptualize what class forces and what strategy is required to defeat capitalist rule in such drastically transformed conditions requires a firm grasp of Marxism and a willingness to see things through to their conclusion. This means studying Lenin and other Marxists who were able to penetrate to the bottom of class relations in the societies that they were seeking to transform. Given our challenge against the most powerful and most deadly ruling class in history, this is the example we should aspire to.


  1. What is the conception of “socialism” inherent in this statement: “With the exception of Cuba and North Korea, there are no socialist states?”

    Comment by Shane Mage — September 26, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

  2. I agree with the comment that today’s liberals are middle class intellectuals whose focus is on social issues like same sex marriage and environmental causes.

    You can add animal rights to that in my region of Fairfield County where about fifty percent of our news stories are about dogs and the stories about people are secondary.

    I think the left has lost sight of what is really important and the real cause for marxists which is the class divide and exploitation of labor.

    I am just one of those people who, from a marxist perspective, hates hearing about how the left puts same sex marriage, global warming and animal rights at the top of their priority list.

    The real important issues like the gap between rich and poor, exploitation of labor by the ruling class, cuts to eldery and disabled and unemployment which should be at the very top.

    The left does not have a strong, main focus that many Americans can relate to and we have a president who’s supposedly leftist who doesn’t have any focus at all.

    Marxists have a clear idea of what is of importance to our cause and what our mission needs to be to get their.

    The liberals are definitely not playing on our team comrades.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 26, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

  3. An example of what I mean is my leftist local news which aggravates the shit out of me every night.

    They put on a doggy show of dogs dressed up in costumes as a main news story and then they put on a story about Bridgeport, a poverty stricken area, in need of donations from hurricane Irene.

    The animal rights agenda is pushed too far when a dog show takes precedence over the Bridgeport story.

    The left is oblivious to what is really relevant in our struggles as proletarians.

    My message to the liberals and their fluff causes is SNAP OUT OF IT.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 26, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

  4. What is meant, Shane, is that those are the only 2 countries on the planet that wouldn’t really be affected by a global stock market crash. Moreover those are the only 2 countries left that have a planned economy with the primary means of production NOT in private hands; that have virtually zero unemployment; that have heavily state subsidized food & housing plus free health care & free education through college for the masses; and, unlike every other nation on Earth, they provide atheist education. In academic parlance it’s referred to as “actually existing socialism”.

    Back to Kazin. I dug living in Manhattan back in the early 90’s organizing marches against the First Gulf War. As a street kid from Chicago the fast paced hustle & bustle of NYC was kind of fun. But what I definitely don’t miss is meeting people like Kazin (and New York is packed with them). Nowhere else have I ever met so many DSA social democrat liberals that claimed to be socialists but were utterly hostile to Lenin. Nowhere else (except maybe in the pages of the Daily Worker) have I ever encountered such gobbeldygook political thought when it comes down to who really gets what in this incredibly fucked up — amazingly iniquitous world.

    Kazin obviously wasn’t paying attention during the Vietnam War since if he were he’d have learned that the Viet Cong were in fact virtually all murdered by Johnson by the end of the Tet Offensive. The were in fact wiped out completely. The war was won not by the Viet Cong but by the NVA.

    It’s no accident a sophisticate like Kazin used the term “Viet Cong”, like one of their enemies, because he was in fact one of their enemies.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 26, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

  5. Isn’t it sad when liberals understand the immediate task facing us better than almost all of the wannabe-Bolsheviks? I think http://www.seasol.net fits what Kazin is talking about better than anything else I’ve seen on the left or in the workers’ movement in the U.S.

    Comment by Binh — September 26, 2011 @ 8:39 pm

  6. It’s a matter of opinion of whether liberals have it right or not.

    I think what makes marxists different than liberals is that liberals are stuck in an agenda promotion mode while marxists have a focus on change of issues that are truly relevant.

    Like I said about my local news, the stories are just unimportant with a leftist slant.

    Same thing tonight they report three are dead in a house fire in Stamford. Then they mention the dead were two cats and a parrot.

    House pets dying in a fire is not newsworthy the fire itself is.

    This is a leftist media organization consistently pushing an animal rights agenda to an insane height.

    I think if liberals fought for issues that really meant something, you’d see the base grow.

    I am a marxist and issues that affect the proletariat are most important to me.

    Leftists today seem uninterested in the class struggle which is the core of marxism.

    I stopped my association with liberalism long ago when it was clear to me that we weren’t on the same page.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 26, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

  7. Yes Binh, it is sad & true that Kazin’s conclusions about the immediate tasks facing the socialist movement are sound and well articulated. But what’s definitely liberal bullshit is the pathetic notion that somehow the growth of the right is because past Presidents “failed to carry out their biggest promises.” Their promises were the promises of used car salesmen — they meant jack shit and that’s why we’d never vote for any of them, ever. The fact is the growth of the right, particularly the unbridled militarism of the last 20 years, is a direct result of the collapse of the Soviets.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 26, 2011 @ 11:17 pm

  8. Correct Karl on the liberal bullshit and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    Applause comrade as always a brilliant commentary.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 26, 2011 @ 11:41 pm

  9. It should be added to #7 that understanding the collapse of the Soviets, which corresponds roughly with the collapse of the New Deal, is unthinkable without using as a starting point arguably the most important political book written in the 20th century: “Revolution Betrayed”.

    Yet it’s amazing how many books that seriously tried to analyze the Soviet collapse over the last 20 years didn’t even consult Trotsky’s sociological unraveling of the septic rot blood poisioning that was punctured into the veins of all workers’ movements by Stalinism.

    I know this article aims at our future and where we need to go but that’s a question tied to our past and where we’ve been — so as an aside, because I’m curious and don’t have a lot of time after my shift in the salt mine to research such questions, I ask Lou and all the other well read comrades out there, who exactly is the author that’s written the definitive book on the collapse of the Soviets that used as it’s starting point the absolutely indispensible: “Revolution Betrayed”?

    If there is no such book yet written that’s even sadder than a social democrat like Kazin coming to correct conclusions “better than almost all of the wannabe-Bolsheviks”.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 27, 2011 @ 12:02 am

  10. Karl F:
    your take on Vietnam I think is influenced by the capitalist media’s version that the US militarily and politically defeated the Tet Offensive. They may not have achieved their maximum objective in driving the US out of Vietnam but that offensive was an incredible military and political defeat for US imperialism. Moreover in glibly forcing a dichotomy between the “Vietcong” or the NLF and the “NVA” you are playing into the same fallacy you denounce.

    It was the Vietnamese people North and South who defeated the imperialist aggressors. Yeah, Vietcong was an epithet coined by Diem meaning “viet commie” but also came into wide currency as a slang expression, similar to some degree to how “Puritan” started as a monarchist epithet that became widely adopted including by those it was applied to. In any event, let’s not substitute stuff like that for political analysis.

    If you or Louis think Kazin and the DSA is like Howe and supported the Vietnam War you should point out where they did that. Those who supported the anti-war movement should be given credit for that and not slandered. They may be muddled headed social democrats, but they are not the enemy.

    Deborah J:
    That local news is not “leftist”, it’s the local news of capitalist class. Having said that, let’s not fall into the old sectarian trap of economism, dismissing struggles for social justice-like those of gays and lesbians-that merit support by pandering to right wing bigotry. I got so sick and tired of the sectarian workerist “Archie Bunker” reactionary crap of sectarian marxist groups like PL and their trot cousins like the Workers League.

    Comment by Tom Cod — September 27, 2011 @ 3:46 am

  11. Charlie Brown wrote:

    “In academic parlance it’s referred to as ‘actually existing socialism’.”

    Got it: state capitalism + liters of blood = socialism

    A simple solution for a simpleton.

    (God knows what you’d imagine communism to be like.)

    Comment by Todd — September 27, 2011 @ 9:29 am

  12. Tom. The fact is the NLF was decimated by the end of Tet. It was their last gasp but a brilliant one that turned the tide of the war into the NVA’s ultimate victory insofar as it so populated American streets with protestors that the conscript troops became utterly demoralized, the cornerstone of imperialist defeat. Yet such a victory would have been unthinkable without the decisive material aid of the 2 degenerated workers’ states at the time — the USSR and China. Clealy my “take” is hardly “influenced by the capitalist media’s version…”

    Nevermind his co-editor takes swipes at Zinn after he’s dead, nevermind the rag he edits is associated with anti-communist turds like Howe who supported imperialist militarism during Vietnam, Kazin is an admirer of Norman Thomas, the patriarch of the DSA. Thomas was so anti-communist he took $50 grand from the CIA in the late 60’s to undermine communist lead trade unions in Latin America, probably resulting in the murders of union leaders by death squads. With friends like these who needs enemies?

    Like all good pacifists Kazin undoubtedly attended some anti-war marches, no doubt cringing during chants of: “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh — the NLF is gonna win.” Those marches never prevented Kazin voting for the Democratic party all his life whenever a Thomas or Harrington wasn’t trying to get on the ballot.

    When the 1st Gulf War peace movement was split by guys like Kazin he was there rallying to “give sanctions a chance.” He got his wish. Sanctions wound up killing half a million children and elderly.

    Give Kazin credit? Credit for what exactly? The onus is on you, not me, to prove he deserves credit rather than slander.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 27, 2011 @ 10:59 am

  13. Q: What do state capitalists, Bill O’Rielly and Gusanos have in common?

    A: Todd


    Say Todd. We’re you able to break away from your undoubtedly riveting English lectures and get into the city to see how many “fist pumping leftists” you could count at ground zero on the 10th anniversary?

    If not maybe next time you get out of the suburbs and into Manhattan you could ask the cops as a flag waving citizen if you could volunteer to pepper spray some of those greasy “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators as there’s bound to be a shitload of “fist pumping” commies amongst all those hippies, dread lockers and weird beards, eh?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 27, 2011 @ 11:21 am

  14. @Karl, I don’t know whether the NLF having been “devastated” is that true. Surely the ruling class wants us to think that and that it was only the “liberal media” that turned this into a political victory like when Walter Cronkite said that that was the end and the war could never be won. No question that under Nixon the war was escalated, but to say that the infrastructure of the revolutionary struggle in southern Vietnam was destroyed I think is wrong and I’d like to see some evidence of that.

    Moreover, while China and the USSR did give some aid to Vietnam, it was a pittance compared to what was provided by the US to the Saigon regime which had one of the biggest arsenals of military hardware in the world; for example, the fourth largest airforce in the world (meaning as big or bigger than France’s). Yet they went down in 20 days after the US pulled the rug out from under them. No, as in Algeria, as in Cuba and in Venezuela today it was the masses of Vietnamese people who were the crucial factor that led to victory. Whole areas of the south were under the control of the revolutionary forces after 1968 including in places like the Mekong Delta which were a long way from the NVA regular army.

    Comment by Tom Cod — September 27, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

  15. Perhaps you are right Tom about my local news being capitalist.

    Any group of people that can spend their entire day talking about dogs or dressing up Fifi for a canine beauty pageant must be truly bourgeoisie with an empty life outside of their country club box.

    Thanks for the clarity on that matter.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 27, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

  16. I suppose there’s room for debate on the significance of the NLF during the last 7 years of the war although I seem to recall a general consensus amongst SWPers in Chicago back in the day that it was largely their last hurrah. They could have been wrong. They were wrong on lots of other things after all.

    No question imperialism’s aid to the South was gargantuan by comparison to what the NVA had to work with. You’re preaching to the choir regarding the unfathomable obstacles overcome by the heroic Vietnamese masses without which victory would have been impossible. IMO there was no greater lopsided military victory in all of human history.

    But just as I will always believe that WWII ended the Great Depression I will always believe that the Vietnamese revolution would have been doomed without 2 critical things: 1) the decisive aid supplied by the USSR & China and; 2) the demoralization of the GI’s brought on by the massive vietnam war protests (which were organized primarily by the SWP).

    Uncle Sam is quite happy to have gotten rid of both these factors: the workers’ states are long gone as is military conscription — using now an essentially mercenary army.

    It’s this evil genius of Uncle Sam that explains the rise of the right and the demise of the New Deal.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 27, 2011 @ 6:11 pm

  17. You are one dumb fucker, Charlie Brown.

    (Given your difficulty with the English language, this somehow doesn’t surprise me.

    You should attend my classes: you might learn grammar as well as something other than how to march through blood with a ramrod up your ass and a dipshit smile on your face.)

    Comment by Todd — September 27, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

  18. I think that the equation of Gitlin to Michaels (if it is that) is misguided. Gitlin didn’t articulate a grasp of social class in his book, thus “common dreams” as hazy leftist vision. Michaels is a serious critic of identity politics on campus, which is real and damaging. Michaels has a serious view of social class and the failure of academic thinkers in relation to class. Gitlin is a self-absorbed clown and fool. Michaels is a perceptive social philosopher, in my opinion.

    David Green

    Comment by David Green — September 27, 2011 @ 10:12 pm

  19. @Karl:
    I don’t know if the Vietnamese Revolution would have been doomed, but it surely would have taken longer and while I can’t say for sure about the aid from China and the USSR, I definitely agree with you about the crucial role the anti-war movement in this country and among GIs, here and in Vietnam, played in ending that conflict. That’s why I get a kick out of hearing reactionary bullshit about protestors having spit on Vietnam vets as the most militant anti-war protesters I knew were Vietnam vets.

    Comment by Tom Cod — September 27, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

  20. Hello,

    Hope all are well.

    “Arrogance was one of the key factors that kept the white left so fractionalized. I felt that fighting together against a common enemy, they wasted time quarreling with each other about who had the right line.” Assata

    Thanx for letting me contribute.


    JOhn Kaniecki

    Comment by johnkaniecki — September 28, 2011 @ 12:06 am

  21. You’re right on there Tom. That great historic decisive socio-political role that peaceful mass anti-war protests played in the US during Vietnam was the most important influence on the outcome of history in our lifetime, and it was organized and marshalled peacefully mostly by socialists — Trotskyists as a matter of fact, that is, the SWP gets the lion’s share of the credit, and Proyect was in the thick of it, along with my family and probably yours.

    That proud lesson of the masses making history was never, and will never be, admitted by the ruling class punditry and their academics for obvious reasons — they hate when a rotten apple spoils their barrell. (That’s why the trade embargo against Cuba is half a century old — the bourgeoisie cannot tolerate an example for the world’s toilers to look up to.)

    Despite all my solidarity with the “Occupy Wall Street” protestors, Vietnam protests are a lesson of organizational prowess that the leaders of these anarchist minded youth dominating the protests would do well to study insofaras there’s only one way to keep fascist pigs from macing and clubbing you, and that’s to have the numbers and discipline that scares the shit out such cowardly thugs.

    Despite the tweeter-aided uprisings that took place in places like Egypt (and I wish more power to them) history proves that without some deep class based organization like a Party, everything insurrectionary invariably gets subsumed into a vague Corazone Aquinoesque “people’s power” movement that fills a lot of sails while the wind is blowing but ultimately doesn’t touch a hair on capitalism’s head. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong but Cairo today is the same (if not a worse) police state metropolis than it was before the so-called Arab Spring? Nevermind the fact that not an iota of property relations have changed. That’s not to say there’s not an enormous untapped potential, I’m just not quite sure what exactly it is beyond the masses feeling the power of flexing their muscles, which is certainly an enormously significant development, analogous to the 1905 revolution in Russia, or the 1848 uprisings in Europe.

    But back to Kazin. Despite all his past sabotage and my withering critique of the reformist political tradition he embraces, he does at least deserve credit for articulating today an essentially correct analysis of what is to be done. It’s just sad, as Bihn said, that it has to come from a liberal rather than a bolshevik.

    On the other hand I’d argue that Proyect beat Kazin to the punch long ago, as he’s been arguing essentially the same thing even more articulately long before Kazin’ speech, it’s just that he naturally, as an Unrepentant, doesn’t get as much publicity as the editor of a rag with as much main stream media credibility as Dissentary (the merging of Commentary magazine with Dissent magazine per Woody Allen in Annie Hall).

    Heads Will Roll!


    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 28, 2011 @ 12:47 am

  22. _______________________________________________________________________

    @ #18. David Green. Your argument about the alleged “equation of Gitlin to Michaels” might be worthy of debate if only we readers knew who the hell Mr. Michaels is?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 28, 2011 @ 12:58 am

  23. All I know is that if what passes for the “left’ doesn’t stop sidestepping thinkers like Lenin, Bukharin, Trotsky, etc, it will continue to fall into the errors made by liberalism, and will continue to spiral rightward. Obviously we’re going to make errors, even terrible ones, but what errors we make should be based upon an enriched understanding of our own political development as a class in struggle, not on the ideas of the university “mooseheads” as my comrade Adolph Reed Jr. likes to call them. Until there is clarity on the push for independent leadership from the working class majority, and tough minded defense of the unimpeachable right of the working class to make mistakes as it struggles towards higher levels of political self direction and political power, we’ll be circling the same old rock. I have no objections to people who’ve managed to supersede the ideas of the thinkers I’ve noted above or many others, but the the problem is that I’ve never met any who actually have. Most “leftists” I know continue to make straw arguments against all the thinkers of the classic marxist tradition, and attribute to such marxists ideas they never actually possessed. One of the most glaring examples of this I can think of are all the “lefts” who will write endless polemics about Rosa Luxemburg’s criticisms of the Bolsheviks, and yet conveniently leave out Luxemburg’s coda, which is that despite all of their errors, Lenin and Trotsky pushed the real dimensions of the struggle forward, Lenin and Trotsky dared, and that, contrary to wide belief, was something she applauded. It should also be noted that if Rosa had had a little more of the tough mindedness Lenin and Trotsky had posessed, she and Liebnecht might not have gotten dragged into a premature and isolated uprising in Germany, James Connaly style.

    I think for the time being, though, the “left” will continue to circle the same old rock of stalinphobia, instead of doing the hard homework with all of marxist literature, and figuring out how to creatively use it to put some moves on these filthy motherfuckers we have working us to death and trying to kill off all of nature in the process. Marx is real. The contradicitons of the capitalist machine are real. We have to be real revolutionary social scientists, and defend unflaggingly our right to build a movement not only in our image, but one instilled with a revolutionary spirit that draws upon the experience of all our shades of resistance, light and dark.

    Comment by Michael Hureaux Perez — September 28, 2011 @ 1:14 am

  24. Dear John:

    Assata’s point about “the white left” is an extremely valid one, and feminists have rightly also used it against the “male left”, aka, the Patriarchy, but you should be aware there’s today a significantly active far left political party, headquartered in NYC, and you can see their unmistakable Yellow and Black placards amongst all the protestors in every minute of the footage of the “Occupy Wall Street” demos, that for whatever other of their arguably sectarian faults, cannot be accused of white male arrogance, and that’s the WWP, which was tragically split recently (a few years ago) precisely because of the notion that they overly catered to the so-called “identity politics” of racial minorities, the LBGT community & feminists.

    Their party, with remarkably deep roots in the greater NY community for such a tiny sect, is having their annual convention this October in Manhattan and you should seriously consider attending it to meet some like minded individuals and judge for yourself the tasks at hand. Just Google: WWP Convention. It’s a start.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 28, 2011 @ 1:31 am

  25. Dear MHP.

    Very well said!

    Interestingly I attended a state college class some 20 years ago with Bukharin’s grandaughter in NW Ohio and not only was she brilliant but I must confess also quite attractive.

    If you ever seek a secure comfortable free place to stay in Arizona for whatever reason don’t hesitate to ask Louis for my email address and I’ll arrange it immediately with pleasure.


    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 28, 2011 @ 1:43 am

  26. #17 @ Toad said:

    [You are one dumb fucker, Charlie Brown.
    (Given your difficulty with the English language, this somehow doesn’t surprise me.
    You should attend my classes: you might learn grammar as well as something other than how to march through blood with a ramrod up your ass and a dipshit smile on your face.)]


    Hey Toad Stool. Are your classes half full this week with students bussing to the City to attend the protests on Wall Street or what?

    Toad, dear readers, is a white male 40ish suburban-bound Lexus commuting associate professor of English at some Pentagon beholden state university in the tri-state area that still has his knickers all bunched up over the native American Ward Churchill’s conclusion (10 years ago!) that, except for janitors, food workers and 1st responders, etc — the vast majority of those that died on 911 were the technocratic pawns of imperialist turpitude that couldn’t sanely be considered “innocent civilans” but rather “little Eichmann’s” a la the logic of Uncle Sam’s prosecution of the Nazis at the Hague where “just following orders” was a defense that got you hanged.

    Toad accused Ward Churcill of being everything he despises in today’s politics, that is, a “fist pumping leftist” cheering on the collapse of the twin towers, which in fact never happened but was rather a crude charicature of Fox News blowhards akin to the urban legend of Vietnam veterans being spat upon in the 60’s. Only a blithering imbecile would cling to such a fascist notion.

    Toad’s main problem in life is that he’s stuck as an associate professor with zero chance of a tenured track position insofar as the English Dept. contributes absolutely nothing to the Pentagon’s ambitions, which is not to teach the vanquished their language but rather to slaughter them in order to plunder their resources and the survivors can prostitute their children to the vagrancies of the victorious mercenary soldioers of imperialism.

    Toad’s extremely frustrated, like a typical white male Tea Bagger, that fucking faggot commies who perpetrated affirmative action in state universities means ignorant women & brown people get tenure tract priority over him — even though he dresses way smarter and speaks far more eloquently.

    It’s enough “Falling Down” pent up frustration for him to get all “Timothy McVeighed” and “Tea Partied” on those dumb leftist bureaucratic asses. Amidst relentless porn-site maturbation he gets vivid fantasies about getting all loaded up with sidearms and just going postal on campus. What stops him from acting upon his cowardly impulses is simple fear and greed.

    Fact is I’ve been called a lot of things by schmucks way smarter than Toad, namely, that I’m crude, vulgar, unsophisticated & manichean in my political outlook, and I’ll concede that I view the remedies of this iniquitous social arrangement in pretty simplistic terms, that is, start immediately expropriating the expropriators, it’s not tricky to figure out who they are, and if they resist, shoot the motherfuckers and their children to teach future resistors a lesson, but one thing I’ve never been called is a “dumbass”.

    Moreover, I definitely don’t have a “dipshit smile” on my face but rather a permanent scowl that will only turn to a half scowl when the last bourgeois politician is strangled with the guts of the last flag waving associate english professor.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 28, 2011 @ 2:53 am

  27. Q. “Who is Michaels?”
    A. “The latest version, of course, can be found in Walter Benn Michaels’s various articles that views university-based “diversity” programs as some kind of plot to keep workers in chains.”

    The book in question is “The Trouble with Diversity.”

    David Green

    Comment by David Green — September 28, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

  28. Karl:
    I guess we know what group you’re aligned with, which is OK. I’ve always been impressed with WWP’s relative lack of sectarianism and orientation to the street. Good for them that they’re there, no point in critiquing a struggle one is abstaining from. I would say, however, that I expect that International Socialists is involved in this as well with their distinctive “Socialist Worker” captioned placards (named after their paper, not to be confused with SWP). I don’t agree 100% with either group but appreciate their solidarity with the mass movement.

    Comment by Tom Cod — September 28, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

  29. “{Roosevelt’s] real agenda . . was to lay the groundwork for the destruction of the left—ironically supported by the Communist Party.”

    This can’t be expressed better. It’s astonishing how long the destructive process has taken and how frightened the ruling classes still are by (to paraphrase the ass Bloomberg) this “silly” and long-vanquished enemy. It’s equally astonishing how few self-designated leftists understand the problem.

    We have to see the beginnings of Democrat Party treachery and so-called “neoconservatism” in the sacred New Deal itself. Obama did not spring fully disarmed from the head of Jove. Roosevelt’s-panic-inducing lies about the intent of the Japanese and the Germans to invade and conquer the United States led eventually to McCarthyism and the militarization of American society; his co-optation of labor led directly to its marginalization under Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and now Obama.

    Only when we understand the futility of idealizing reactionaries like the Kennedy brothers, for whom anti-communism (as non-leftists understood it) was the sole and indispensable criterion for political virtue, can we understand the deep roots of the present crisis and its true historical character.

    Michael Kazin is a stooge–a disingenuous academic “concern troll” with a Harvard COOP label, whose job is to mislead the masses if and as they pass through the extremely confused stage of consciousness represented in part by the Occupy Wall Street movement. He is not the only one; the much-overrated Glenn Greenwald–an avowed libertarian with ties to the Cato Institute–is another. What need for serious political action, quoth the oh-so-morally-outraged petty bourgeois Greenwald, when The Rule of Law and a few well-publicized prosecutions of scapegoats should suffice to solve all problems under the U.S. Constitution? The spectrum of the fraudulent Left contains all the colors of the rainbow.

    These people, and the multitudes of their kind, pass from mere obnoxiousness to lethal threat precisely to the extent that the flames of discontent spread and popular awareness passes from a dreamlike state of outrage and panic over isolated “issues” to a more focused and disciplined stage of political awareness and action. If this never happens, they are of no consequence. If it does, in all of their meaningless variety and pretended “disagreements”, they become a powerful enemy who has to be defeated before any real progress can be made.

    Comment by Roderick Random — September 28, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

  30. Charlie Brown wrote:

    “Toad, dear readers, is a white male 40ish suburban-bound Lexus commuting . . . .”

    You dumb fuck, you don’t know a thing about me. That little list of yours (which you must keep in your back pocket as a reminder of what constitutes “enemies”) says more, and more eloquently, about what you’re interested in and why than anything it says about me.

    “Toad accused Ward Churcill of being everything he despises in today’s politics”

    So you’re OK with “little Eichmanns”?

    Somehow this doesn’t surprise me (especially given what you wrote below) . . . .

    “I’m crude, vulgar”

    Big, hairy deal, fucktard.


    That’s putting it mildly . . . .

    Like others of your North American ilk, using your head for more than someplace to put your hat seems like a betrayal of socialism for you.

    “I’ll concede that I view the remedies of this iniquitous social arrangement in pretty simplistic terms, that is, start immediately expropriating the expropriators,”

    Wow. Read that one all by yourself, did you? You repeat it so well, so unthinkingly, as if you couldn’t be bothered to spare more than a single brain-cell on the words.

    “it’s not tricky to figure out who they are”

    Because you’ve got them written down on that back-pocket list of enemies, right?

    “and if they resist, shoot the motherfuckers and their children to teach future resistors a lesson”

    Charlie Brown, my ass: I’ll call you Fist-Pumper from now on (for more than one obvious reason).

    Don’t forget to wipe your spunk off the keyboard; your Mom’ll have a fit.

    Comment by Todd — September 28, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

  31. Todd’s not as bright as the English professors I had in college.

    I’m convinced Todd’s never even read Ward Churchill’s article becuase if he had he wouldn’t sound so ignorant.

    But here’s how Churchill defend’s his “Little Eichmann’s” thesis and I agree with every word.

    Who except imperialism’s apologists wouldn’t?



    The following statement from Ward Churchill was posted on the University of Colorado’s Web site under the Department of Ethnic Studies on Monday. Churchill noted these are his views not those of the University.

    In the last few days there has been widespread and grossly inaccurate media coverage concerning my analysis of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, coverage that has resulted in defamation of my character and threats against my life. What I actually said has been lost, indeed turned into the opposite of itself, and I hope the following facts will be reported at least to the same extent that the fabrications have been.

    The piece circulating on the Internet was developed into a book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens. Most of the book is a detailed chronology of U.S. military interventions since 1776 and U.S. violations of international law since World War II. My point is that we cannot allow the U.S. government, acting in our name, to engage in massive violations of international law and fundamental human rights and not expect to reap the consequences.

    I am not a “defender” of the September 11 attacks, but simply pointing out that if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned. I have never said that people “should” engage in armed attacks on the United States, but that such attacks are a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful U.S. policy. As Martin Luther King, quoting Robert F. Kennedy, said, “Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.”

    This is not to say that I advocate violence; as a U.S. soldier in Vietnam I witnessed and participated in more violence than I ever wish to see. What I am saying is that if we want an end to violence, especially that perpetrated against civilians, we must take the responsibility for halting the slaughter perpetrated by the United States around the world. My feelings are reflected in Dr. King’s April 1967 Riverside speech, where, when asked about the wave of urban rebellions in U.S. cities, he said, “I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed . . . without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today � my own government.”

    In 1996, Madeleine Albright, then ambassador to the UN and soon to be U.S. secretary of state, did not dispute that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of economic sanctions, but stated on national television that “we” had decided it was “worth the cost.” I mourn the victims of the September 11 attacks, just as I mourn the deaths of those Iraqi children, the more than 3 million people killed in the war in Indochina, those who died in the U.S. invasions of Grenada, Panama and elsewhere in Central America, the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, and the indigenous peoples still subjected to genocidal policies. If we respond with callous disregard to the deaths of others, we can only expect equal callousness to American deaths.

    Finally, I have never characterized all the September 11 victims as “Nazis.” What I said was that the “technocrats of empire” working in the World Trade Center were the equivalent of “little Eichmanns.” Adolf Eichmann was not charged with direct killing but with ensuring the smooth running of the infrastructure that enabled the Nazi genocide. Similarly, German industrialists were legitimately targeted by the Allies.

    It is not disputed that the Pentagon was a military target, or that a CIA office was situated in the World Trade Center . Following the logic by which U.S. Defense Department spokespersons have consistently sought to justify target selection in places like Baghdad , this placement of an element of the American “command and control infrastructure” in an ostensibly civilian facility converted the Trade Center itself into a “legitimate” target. Again following U.S. military doctrine, as announced in briefing after briefing, those who did not work for the CIA but were nonetheless killed in the attack amounted to “collateral damage.” If the U.S. public is prepared to accept these “standards” when the are routinely applied to other people, they should be not be surprised when the same standards are applied to them.

    It should be emphasized that I applied the “little Eichmanns” characterization only to those described as “technicians.” Thus, it was obviously not directed to the children, janitors, food service workers, firemen and random passers-by killed in the 911 attack. According to Pentagon logic, were simply part of the collateral damage. Ugly? Yes. Hurtful? Yes. And that’s my point. It’s no less ugly, painful or dehumanizing a description when applied to Iraqis, Palestinians, or anyone else. If we ourselves do not want to be treated in this fashion, we must refuse to allow others to be similarly devalued and dehumanized in our name.

    The bottom line of my argument is that the best and perhaps only way to prevent 9-1-1-style attacks on the U.S. is for American citizens to compel their government to comply with the rule of law. The lesson of Nuremberg is that this is not only our right, but our obligation. To the extent we shirk this responsibility, we, like the “Good Germans” of the 1930s and ’40s, are complicit in its actions and have no legitimate basis for complaint when we suffer the consequences. This, of course, includes me, personally, as well as my family, no less than anyone else.

    These points are clearly stated and documented in my book, “On the Justice of Roosting Chickens,” which recently won Honorary Mention for the Gustavus Myer Human Rights Award for best writing on human rights. Some people will, of course, disagree with my analysis, but it presents questions that must be addressed in academic and public debate if we are to find a real solution to the violence that pervades today’s world. The gross distortions of what I actually said can only be viewed as an attempt to distract the public from the real issues at hand and to further stifle freedom of speech and academic debate in this country.

    Copyright 2005, The Daily Camera

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 28, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

  32. I don’t want to get dragged into this flame war, but I’d have to agree with Karl on Ward Churchill. I had the privilege of hearing him speak in Oakland in 2003 and thought his talk was entirely laudable. For those who don’t recall this or for whom it wasn’t part of their political education, “chickens coming home to roost” was a comment Malcolm X made after JFK was shot and it was that comment and Malcolm’s analysis of the history of oppression, colonialism and imperialism that Churchill aptly updated.

    It is because of Churchill’s history as an outspoken, high profile radical activist that caused him and his background to be gone over with a fine toothed comb by those beholdened to the ruling class. It is unfortunate that too many well meaning activists were taken in by this and threw him under the bus becoming unwitting accessories to this odious campaign of character assassination.

    Moreover, it is telling when those on the sectarian left who are always ranting about not “tail ending” outbursts of rebellion-and always pretentiously bloviating about their grasp of high end theoretical questions-in order to try to demoralize and divert people involved in actual protests into ineffectual sectarian scholastism, join with polite liberals in feeling scandalized by this. It shows once again what the real character of their political orthodoxy is and what they really “tail” after and cover for: the ruling class and the right wing. Then again, that was precisely their attitude towards Malcolm at the time.

    Comment by Tom Cod — September 28, 2011 @ 10:30 pm

  33. Fist-Pumper wrote:

    “I’m convinced Todd’s never even read Ward Churchill’s article becuase if he had he wouldn’t sound so ignorant.”

    Wrong on both counts (but that’s never bothered you, right?)

    “Who except imperialism’s apologists wouldn’t [agree with every word]?”

    Someone who has functioning frontal lobes.

    Tom Cod said:

    “but I’d have to agree with Karl on Ward Churchill.”

    In regards to what?

    Yes, the going-over of his work all of a sudden with a fine-tooth comb was undoubtedly political in origin. That said, it nevertheless found plenty of evidence for academic misconduct:


    As for Malcolm X’s chickens comment, how is the murder (quite likely assassination) of one bourgeois politician, directly and deliberately responsible for plenty of death and mayhem, comparable to the murders of people sitting at computer-desks and trading in the WTC? Those people were rather small cogs in a rather large machine, not Nazis. You want to get rid of those cogs, you need to attack the whole machine itself. That means (revolutionary not identity) politics, not just the megaliters of blood Fist-Pumper needs to get a bone-on.

    But this is all beside the point: my point, wrt Fist-Pumper, is that his politics suck only slightly less than the majority of those to his political right, and it embarrasses and disappoints the hell out of me that I’m as associated (in my own mind) with him and his brainless ilk as I am with Stalin and his boot-lickers. Hence, I spend a fair amount of time attacking his errors and gross stupidity in the hope that other people who might not be where he is (yet) will turn aside.

    Comment by Todd — September 28, 2011 @ 11:38 pm

  34. Nice but a straw man argument. Neither I, nor Churchill are trying to justify the attacks on the World Trade Center or the assassination of JFK. Rather, we are pointing out where the hatred of the US and its system, that produced these acts, comes from.

    Comment by Tom Cod — September 29, 2011 @ 12:19 am

  35. Tom Cod wrote:

    “Neither I, nor Churchill are trying to justify the attacks on the World Trade Center . . . .”

    Then the two of you are going about it the wrong way because it certainly _looks_ like he was with the Eichmann comment (not to mention calling the WTC a legitimate military target).

    Comment by Todd — September 29, 2011 @ 12:40 am

  36. Todd. Are you really that fucking naive? Uncle Sam clearly would consider an Iraqi skyscraper that housed Iraqi Intelligence Agency offices a clear military target and would have levelled it in minutes, collateral damage be damned.

    For crissakes. The 1st target of the 1st Gulf War was the water treatment plant of a desert city of millions thus instantly assuring death & misery to innumerable civilians unparralleled in its atrocity since Hiroshima & Nagasaki (atrocities which in fact were noted by Bin Laden in those recordings played over & over on 9/11/01 but which there’s been no trace of anywhere since, that is, they appear to have been obliterated from any historical record that I can find on the internet?)

    Obviously Todd doesn’t remember what exactly Clinton’s very 1st official act in office was? He lobbed 4 Cruise missiles randomly into Baghdad to payback the Iraqis in Kuwait who allegedly plotted to assasinate old man Bush 1 (the ex-head of the CIA). Those 4 missiles murdered many hundreds, virtually 100% civilians, and one practically levelled an entire apartment building that happenned to house the fresh recipient of the Nobel Prize for poetry, a woman who was sipping her morning tea and then was suddenly vaporized into oblivion just so Clinton could wag the dog and show that although he was a draft dodging drug ravaged philandering weasel he was still just as murderous a thug as virtually every other cowardly President that preceded him. (Clinton apologists please go stuff that irrefraggable fact into your ass-pipe and smoke it.)

    From the point of view of Clausewitz on War, the Pentagon and the buildings that house CIA offices (an entire floor in at least one of the WTC towers) were clearly legitimate targets for those historically victimized brown people wishing to unleash payback for at least half a century of imperialist turpitude. Only a mentally retarded congenitally degenerate right wing asshole doesn’t concede this fact.

    Only a tool of capital or misguided dupe would consider traders like the one that generated this thread:
    merely an inncocent trader at his computer.

    The guy’s clearly a technocrat greasing the wheels of a criminally insane genocidal machine.

    Imagine “dreaming of a recession” that plunges millions of workers in to austerity & misery! Such criminal culpability as a technocratic soldier of imperialism would have been the equivalent role that got Nazis hung at Nuremburg. Thus that guy is clearly a “little Eichmann” and that was precisely Churchill’s point. I (and billions of others across the globe) shed crocodile tears over his and his ilk’s demise.

    Bottom line Todd is you’re the lone man on the scrotum pole of this open & shut debate. I’ll wager there’s not a single regular contributer here, with the possible exception of Grumpy Old Man (whose an arch anti-communist) that agrees with your critique of Churchill, certainly not this blog’s founder and moderator who was previously employed by that odious firm that “rules the world.”

    The real question is why does somebody who hates pizza hang around this pizza parlor?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 29, 2011 @ 2:13 am

  37. Fist-Pumper wrote:

    “Uncle Sam clearly would consider an Iraqi skyscraper that housed Iraqi Intelligence Agency offices a clear military target and would have levelled it in minutes, collateral damage be damned.”

    So acting just like Uncle Sam is just fine?

    “From the point of view of Clausewitz on War, the Pentagon and the buildings that house CIA offices (an entire floor in at least one of the WTC towers) were clearly legitimate targets for those historically victimized brown people wishing to unleash payback for at least half a century of imperialist turpitude.”

    The Pentagon is one thing (although I’m somewhat at a loss to understand how even the complete atomization of the Pentagon would do much of anything to the system it works for and under) and had CIA offices been shot up and agents killed, I’d hardly concern myself too much with it: it’s their occupational hazard, after all. But we’re talking about “Little Eichmanns”, as individualistic and moralistic an assessment as one might find in any bourgeois assessment of the situation.

    “Only a tool of capital or misguided dupe would consider traders like the one that generated this thread:”

    If you pay taxes, by this logic, you’re as guilty as the trader, as guilty as Obama, etc. for supporting all sorts of death, destruction, and misery visited on poorer people.

    If you don’t pay taxes, you’re still guilty because you’re quite likely working in a bourgeois enterprise that makes money from your exploited labour, which then goes to pay taxes or is probably donated to causes or politicians that you’d rather not see helped.

    So are you willing to admit your guilt and eat a bullet for the good of those victimized brown people? While I might admit to a certain vicious pleasure at your demise, what good would it serve?

    How on Earth is that kind of thinking even remotely related to marxism or communism?

    You want to stop the trader? Make his job obsolete. Killing him just creates a job opening.

    “Bottom line Todd is you’re the lone man on the scrotum pole of this open & shut debate.”

    Funny how people keep showing up here and making this same sort of remark about Libya, as if being in a minority opinion automatically makes one wrong.

    “I’ll wager there’s not a single regular contributer here . . . that agrees with your critique of Churchill”

    And this matters to me how?

    “certainly not this blog’s founder and moderator who was previously employed by that odious firm that ‘rules the world.'”

    Does that mean you think Lou should eat a bullet for his crimes, too? No statute of limitations on the crime of working for The Man, y’know . . . .

    “The real question is why does somebody who hates pizza hang around this pizza parlor?”


    Sonny, I don't hate pizza; I just hate the foolishness of swinging dicks who are also hanging around the same pizza parlour I am, getting stiff on the bad booze they've smuggled in.

    Comment by Todd — September 29, 2011 @ 3:02 am

  38. The point was the characterization of Churchill as being some “fist pumping leftist” for his analysis of 911 could only be written by an idiot.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 29, 2011 @ 9:54 am

  39. “The point was the characterization of Churchill as being some ‘fist pumping leftist’ for his analysis of 911”

    Be honest, now, Fist-Pumper: liars piss me off even more than fools.

    I characterized Churchill for his moralizing Eichmann comment, not for his points about people wanting to hit back at the US. That the US has a list of people who’d love to strike back at it or to just try to get it off their backs (most, if not all, with fair reason) is just common sense to anyone who’s paid attention to even the MSM and read a little history.

    Comment by Todd — September 29, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  40. Toad: There is nothing wrong or particularly “moralizing” about Churchill’s “Little Eichmann” analogy. It works well. You don’t agree, so what? Who are you but a frustrated permanently non tenured assistant professor of English who doesn’t know a union from an onion nor shit from fat meat.

    It’s time you just admit you really didn’t read (or understand) Churchill’s article, but only heard about the controversy surrounding it, and concede his points were not only valid but in most cases brilliant.

    For the last time, nobody said it’s OK to act like the irrational genocidal madman that Uncle Sam is. Churchill merely pointed out that payback is predictable, if not inevitable.

    Nobody on the left (contrary to your original bunged-up “fist-pumping” claim) condoned the individual terror methods of frustrated intellectuals like Bin laden who were too lazy, stupid, or cowardly to organize the masses — but Marxists certainly understand it.

    Your analogy about all taxpayers being essentially “little Eichmann’s” too is just plain stupid since taxes are compulsory. Working for Goldman-Sachs in not. If moderator Lou were still working for them when some erstwhile fanatic smashed a plane into their headquarters then he too would have been just another “little Eichmann”. Plain & simple. That’s why he was about as relieved to get the fuck out of their clutches as he was relieved to get the fuck out of Jack Barnes’ clutches.

    I realize the frustration of an unfulfilled life in the declining academic milieu of a doomed empire will compel you to desire the last word on this subject so have at it as this is my last rely to you.

    Bottom line is Ward Churchill’s analysis after 911 was well articulated and perfectly sane whereas the irrational controversy surrounding it was perpetrated mainly by chicken-hawks, right-wing hacks, and frustrated assistant professors who were jealous of Churchill’s tenure.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 30, 2011 @ 1:05 am

  41. Tom, loved your comments on Ward Churchill and the real meaning behind his some people push back essay and misconceptions of him.

    I myself got flack for my own similar comments about the WTC attacks.

    I, like Churchill, didn’t include the WTC restaurant workers or blue collar workers in my commentaries about the bourgeois traders who made money off the backs of the poor didn’t have my sympathies.

    Churchill was referring to the bourgeois ruling class traders when he spoke of the little eichmanns.

    I guess it takes marxist intellectuals like you, me and Karl to interpret the true meaning behind the great man and his teachings.

    Good job comrade.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 30, 2011 @ 2:00 am

  42. And I think this is where we got onto your little merry-go-round of a mind, Fist-Pumper, so I’ll leave you going round-and-round.

    Debbie said:

    “Churchill was referring to the bourgeois ruling class traders when he spoke of the little eichmanns.”

    Debbie, nobody’s disputing who Churchill was referring to with his comment; the problem is whether or not it’s justified and why or why not.

    “I myself got flack for my own similar comments about the WTC attacks.”

    So you’re OK with murdering people for no other reason than they’re part of a certain group you dislike?

    Comment by Todd — September 30, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  43. Todd, it’s not just my dislike of those people.

    The bourgeois traders were an integral part of a system that caused great suffering to members of society that the ruling class would rather ignore than acknowledge.

    Churchill’s comparison to eichmann means that eichmann, just as other key players who participated in the final solution (the manufacturers and distributors of the gas as an example) may have not literally murdered, but their participation allowed the killing to occur and continue. They had just as much responsibility in the act as the people who committed the genocide outright.

    And the traders made big money at the expense of other suffering human beings.

    My sympathies are with those who suffered and not with those who got rich off of it with selfish greedy intent.

    To borrow the words of Malcolm X, it’s justice (of roosting chickens.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 30, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

  44. “The bourgeois traders were an integral part of a system”

    I’m sorry, but, no, they aren’t. This is a fallacy that drives so many errors it’s not funny. It’s right up there with “Jewish financiers”.

    Traders and finance are certainly an important part of capitalism, and they’ve achieved a heft that’s totally disproportionate to their numbers recently, but they’re not the most important part of the system. Take finance away, and you have a crippled system that’s way slower than usual, but, since all finance is doing is allocating titles of ownership, it’ll be up and running again in no time. Meanwhile, the place where exploitation goes on daily, places like normal businesses that make things (or even just sell them) will continue (in some bad shape but not down for the count).

    “Churchill’s comparison to eichmann means that eichmann, just as other key players who participated in the final solution (the manufacturers and distributors of the gas as an example) may have not literally murdered, but their participation allowed the killing to occur and continue. ”

    If you’re at all familiar with the original source of the Eichman words, you’ll know they come from Hannah Arendt. And she was talking about how normal people can turn into monsters like Nazis very easily. The traders weren’t Nazis, who knew exactly what they were doing and what they wanted to do. A trader just wants to make his trades, get paid, and go home, like any worker; what a multitude of trades can do is simply beyond his ken and likely his care (especially given the way the bourgeois media operates). Same goes for people who write code that ends up going into smart bombs, construct equipment that is used in uranium enrichment plants, etc. You want to blame all them while you’re at it?

    (I can assure that “purity” isn’t something that should enter the vocabulary of a dedicated Marxist.)

    If you’re still interested in blaming classes of workers for operating the best they can in a system that encourages not giving a shit about anyone else, you should then also include every person who pays taxes, every person who buys anything that can cause money to end up in pockets you’d rather not see them in, etc.

    “My sympathies are with those who suffered and not with those who got rich off of it with selfish greedy intent.”

    Did those traders get rich? That’s funny; I don’t recall hearing how so many traders get so wealthy that they leave their jobs, creating a huge demand just for more traders. Maybe Louis can verify just how wealthy your average trader is.

    As for where your sympathies lie, narrow your focus. The people who really got rich, consistently, were nowhere near the WTC. They didn’t need to be. A bunch of religious right-wingers let them get away so they could kill a bunch of people for a mere statement (and a poorly worded one at that).

    Comment by Todd — September 30, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

  45. Todd, firstly I live in Stamford, CT that had several Cantor Fitzgerald trader victims all of whom resided in the gated communities of either Wallach’s Point, homes start at ten million, or Dolphin Cove the average home is five to ten million.

    Several Cantor employees also came from neighboring Greenwich upper Lake Avenue district where the average home lists for fifteen million.

    Now will you argue that these traders were just average hard working guys?

    Also, I know of the argument that during the nazi period average people could be desensitized, rationalize or even fall into the abyss of evil.

    As I said, any person who went to work in a factory and made gas that was killing people, was a willing participant.

    Any person who drove a cattle car that transported people to their deaths, was a willing participant.

    I’m sure that the type of people I mentioned above made the gas, transported the victims to the death camps thought of it as a job, making a living but it was blood money.

    They had no conscience to earn money that way.

    The traders did make lots of money off of the backs of suffering, poverty stricken people both nationally and abroad.

    Though their actual hands did not do the harm, they were willing participants in this corrupt and evil system of ours.

    I hope that explains the analogy.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — October 1, 2011 @ 1:24 am

  46. How about Todd pick on somebody his own size and let’s jump off the merry go round for a spell.

    What part of Churchill’s thesis that mourns the loss of life, even of the technicians of imperial plunder, but argues it’s certainly predictable & even understandable don’t you get?

    Or do you deny that they’re are even any technicians culpable in imperialism?

    Are you really arguing that Churchill has no valid points? Or are you saying that they are all valid except for the “Little Eichmann” analogy?

    Sounds to me like you’ll concede they’re all valid except for the “little Eichmann’s” analogy?

    Fair enough. So let’s put it another way, since you seem a bright enough boy to be teaching English at the college level, albeit understandably non tenured in the age of militarism’s takeover of campus priorities — here’s the big question for you so pay attention — was every single soul who died on 9/11/01 an innocent victim?

    Were all the folks at the CIA & FBI offices at WTC innocent victims in light of US policy over the last half century?

    What about the victims at the Pentagon? You mean the technocrats that enabled the war crimes & lies of 2 Gulf Wars and innumerable other malfeasance’s in the Mid East going back to the Shah of Iran are morally untouchable in the eyes of their victim’s?

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume that that flight 93 wasn’t crashed into the ground by cowardly hijackers due to the heroic busting down of the cockpit door by old ladies (instead of by guys like the ex-football player hunkered down in the toilet relaying messages on his cell phone whose somehow been promoted to a hero) — lets assume that that plane managed to smash into what was considered the real planned target, that is, the Capitol building in DC, taking out in their wildest dreams a full session of Congress. Are all those reps and senators innocent in the eyes of Iraqi goat herders or woman living in tin shacks on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil?

    Lets break it down to percentages. How about the WTC for starters? You mean that the buck teeth buildings of imperialist finance house absolutely no (meaning zero) Person’s of Interest worthy of culpability from the point of view of the billions of brown people across the globe who’ve been relentlessly victimized & undermined by imperialist turpitude? Really.

    If not, then some break down of percentages are in order. How about some actual accounting of your thought? It’s either 100% of the dead that day are innocent victims, or something less.

    Churchill’s whole point is that even if you argue that 100% of the dead of that are innocent it has to be acknowledged that while that may be true it cannot come as shock nor surprise that such retaliation is an inevitable consequence, a predictive variable, of the initial crimes, and therefore the onus, just like teachers in a grade school brawl, is on who STARTED it.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — October 1, 2011 @ 1:55 am

  47. Todd, borrowing the words of my comrade Karl, not every victim of 9/11 was innocent.

    It is those victims that I have zero sympathy for.

    The greed even continued after the trader deaths with their self absorbed, country club whore wives complaining that a one a half million dollar settlement wasn’t enough to maintain their lifestyles the Jersey Girls I’m referring to specifically.

    It’s the proletariat working class taxes that paid these bitches. Should I feel bad for their loss?

    They didn’t seem too concerned with the loss of their husbands.

    But they were very concerned with the loss of the money.

    The greed mongers, the war mongers all victims?

    Another analogy I’ll provide you with. A condemned death row inmate is led into the death chamber.

    Another person straps the inmate down.

    Another person makes a call and is given the go ahead and there’s no last minute legal challenge. Someone then puts the IV in his arm followed by the last person who injects each lethal injection that will render him dead.

    But all of these people
    say we are not responsibie for his death. This is our job and we are just obeying orders.

    The roles that they played didn’t result in his death?

    If that doesn’t explain the similarity in the varying degrees of responsibility and culpability, I don’t know what would?

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — October 1, 2011 @ 4:08 am

  48. The worst example of arrogance that ruffled my feathers the most came from the Jersey Girls (9/11 widows).

    Oh yes those poor women who vehemently complained that 1.5 million wasn’t enough to support their expenses like the Mercedes Benz, the maid, the spa etc.

    Oh the hardship, the suffering (the violin starts playing now).

    Spare me please. The widows didn’t want their husbands immortalized, what they really wanted was sainthood for themselves and all of the hardship they endured.

    Hardship is being homeless. Hardship is being hungry. These broads wouldn’t know real hardship if it bit them on the ass.

    Their arrogance was bad enough. Then they demanded an investigation that resulted in the 9/11 commission. I began to question at this point how dumb these Stepford wives must really be.

    I mean think of it seriously asking the government to investigate its own intelligence failures with an independent and unbiased analysis and conclusion.

    If that’s what the Jersey Girls thought they were really getting from that investigation, then they should pray real hard to find another sugar daddy to lavish them with the luxuries their accustomed to.

    They’re obviously not smart enough to make it on their own.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — October 1, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

  49. Debbie said:

    “Now will you argue that these traders were just average hard working guys?”

    So sorry, but though they get paid more money than most other workers, they’re still workers.

    Since you seem fond of using wealth as a yardstick of blame, how about union presidents? How about union jobs in general? How about programmers? How about sysadmins for hospital computer systems?

    The point _isn’t_ so much how much money someone makes (especially when those people are all workers); it’s who owns what.

    Those traders were likely to have been paid very handsomely, but I’ll lay you odds they were still far more interested in doing their job and going home than seeing how many brown people they could screw over (or waxing their handlebar mustaches or polishing their monocles).

    “They had no conscience to earn money that way.”

    Remember that if you happen to be a mother, you’re out of work, and there’s not much choice about where you go to get an income.

    “I hope that explains the analogy.”

    No, it doesn’t. That’s because it’s a bad analogy for going way too far over the top.

    “not every victim of 9/11 was innocent.”

    Who said they were?

    “country club whore wives”


    You just take the signifier and turn it around: anything capital seems to exult, it must be denigrated; anything that it scorns has to be raised up on a cross and worshipped.

    That’s not Marxism.

    “The roles that they played didn’t result in his death?”

    You forgot to mention the tax-payer whose money paid for the killing.

    If you pay taxes, that means you’re to blame, too, following your logic.

    “These broads wouldn’t know real hardship if it bit them on the ass.”

    So? Are you looking for authentic suffering, or something? That, coupled with how much money one makes is the yardstick?

    Is that what you’re looking for in a “revolution”: poverty for everyone? After all, it makes a person into one of The Righteous.

    Comment by Todd — October 1, 2011 @ 7:24 pm

  50. Fist-Pumper said:

    “How about Todd pick on somebody his own size”

    Jesus! What next? “Don’t pick on gurlz!”?

    “What part of Churchill’s thesis that mourns the loss of life, even of the technicians of imperial plunder, but argues it’s certainly predictable & even understandable don’t you get?”

    That part was easy (as I’ve said before).

    “Or do you deny that they’re are even any technicians culpable in imperialism?”

    Of course there are.

    “was every single soul who died on 9/11/01 an innocent victim?”

    I don’t know. And it depends on how you define “innocent”.

    “Were all the folks at the CIA & FBI offices at WTC innocent victims in light of US policy over the last half century?”

    “What about the victims at the Pentagon?”

    “Are all those reps and senators innocent”

    Innocent in what regard? That they didn’t pull a trigger? That they didn’t sign a death-warrant? That they didn’t pay taxes?

    You seem so obsessed about an essentialist determination of guilt or innocence, it’s as if you’re trying desperately to make sure you’re not part of The Unclean.

    This sick insistence on blood percentages to determine Cleanliness or Filth (with no in-between) reminds me of those old Southern laws about miscegenation, maroons, quadroons, etc.

    (Not to mention racial marriage-laws about Germans and Jews.)

    Like I said before: your politics suck, especially if this is an example of how they work.

    Comment by Todd — October 1, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

  51. No you’re right Todd the traders weren’t thinking of the sufferings of the brown people, poor or sick or hungry or murdered by our wars.

    They were making mega bucks supporting the system that causes it so why would they care.

    I stand by my statement country club whore widows and my taxes went to pay toward the measley 1.5 million our government paid them.

    You perceive me as anti-rich and not a true marxist?

    You’re right I am anti-rich, anti-privileged and since the rich and privileged make up the ruling class hence the word bourgeois, that makes me a damned good marxist who wants a country with no social classes.

    I loathe all of the bourgeois pigs of America and I’m with the class that has been under a perpetual struggle. The wealth of the country belongs to its people. It should be redistributed to all of the citizens and just a privileged few.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — October 1, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

  52. Thanks for having my back Karl.

    I got yours too comrade.

    I don’t know what Todd’s definition of a marxist is, but his constant defending of the wealthy social class makes me suspect he’s more bourgeois than proletariat.

    Perhaps he’s never had to struggle so he doesn’t understand the class war.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — October 1, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

  53. “his constant defending of the wealthy social class”

    Fuck you, Mother Theresa, you purist little asshole, and your sappy, preachy love of poverty.

    Comment by Todd — October 1, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

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