Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

December 15, 2012

The stoning of Oliver Stone

Filed under: anti-Communism,antiwar,media — louisproyect @ 6:25 pm
Counterpunch Weekend Edition December 14-16, 2012
The Gatekeepers of American History

The Stoning of Oliver Stone


On November 22nd the New York Times Sunday Magazine showcased a hatchet job by Andrew Goldman on Oliver Stone’s 10-part Showtime series “The Untold History of the United States” that is based on Stone and Peter Kuznick’s 750-page companion volume of the same name.  Goldman tried to hoodwink readers into thinking that both the right and the left disavowed the show and the book. While Ronald Radosh, the author of a recent study arguing that Francisco Franco did more good than harm to Spain, had all the credentials one expected from a rightist, Goldman’s choice of Sean Wilentz as speaking for the left was an exercise in deceit. Goldman cites Wilentz:

Is there a legitimate argument to be made about the origins of our nuclear diplomacy or the decision to build the H-bomb? Of course there is. But it’s so overloaded with ideological distortion that this question doesn’t get raised in an intelligent way. And once a question gets raised in an unintelligent way, then you are off in cloud-cuckoo land.

One imagines that the average NYT magazine reader assumes that Wilentz speaks for the left but a look back at his testimony on “revisionist” histories of the United States reveals that his chief role is that of ideological gatekeeper, warning his readers against “ideological distortion” seeping out of “cloud-cuckoo land”—in other words anything that is outside the bounds of mainstream liberalism.

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  1. Pandora asked what were the political leaning’s of Kubrick?

    I suggest they’d be very similar to that of George Carlin’s, except way deeper.

    They both embrace the theme of America’s foreign policy being a logical extension of domestic policy (since after all the same people make both) and I’d argue they’d both embrace the idea of the inextricable interconnectedness of rampage shooting violence directed at American schoolchildren & office workers,

    Just consider this George Carlin piece from 20 years ago that was performed as if it were yesterday. Surely Kubrick would have enjoyed it:

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — December 17, 2012 @ 5:39 am

  2. Whenever I run across critiques claiming to be from the ‘left’ by people such as Wilentz, reminds me of Operation Mockingbird, the CIA program to buy off, intimidate, and infiltrate the media in the ‘fifties and thereafter. Interesting to note the drunken speech by Philip Graham of the Washington Post at the publishers’ conclave in Arizona in early 1963, where he roasted his fellow publishers as having been bought off by the CIA. No one reported on this in the media and Graham was ‘suicided’ not long afterwards.

    Comment by Richard Raznikov — December 18, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

  3. No surprise that Ron Radosh has rushed forth to denounce Oliver Stone and defend the empire. If this was 1975 when I was a student of his at Queensborough Community College in CUNY I might have been shocked, but we all that stranger things have happened. After all, Mussolini was once an ultra-left Socialist and Ronald Reagan a Pop Front liberal and LaRouche was Lynn Marcus who went through almost every Trot group from the SWP to the Sparts to Tim Wohlforth’s.

    I assume that you know that this Ron Radosh is an ex-Stalinist, ex-New Leftist and ex-Social Democrat who made his name on the right by refrying the Rosenbergs in print back in the 1980s. As I mentioned, I crossed paths with him when he was in his DSOC/DSA Social Democrat phase with Michael Harrington as a professor at Queensborough Community College back in the middle-late 1970s. His evolution sort of mirrors that of his mentor and crony, David Horowitz, the author of Empire of Revolution back in the 1970s, which was probably the best book on imperialism and revolution that any New Lefter ever authored…and probably better than a lot of the Trot stuff that appeared at the time.

    Like Horowitz, Radosh actually wrote a number of excellent radical critiques of the the New Deal in particular, corporate liberalism in general and the pro-capitalist politics of the American trade union bureaucracy in his New Left days. So when I recently read his book on the CP in Hollywood, I wasn’t surprised that it wasn’t half bad…except for what he leaves out by his rather selective use of the facts. He actually opposes the Black List, but claims that the Commies not only brought it on, but benefited from it. Sort of like blaming women who get raped for being at fault.

    While Radosh never misses a chance to denounce this or that petty bourgeois for becoming what he would call a dupe of the Reds, he never mentions such minor incidents as the depression, Jim Crow racism, imperialist war and/or colonialism that made far more communists out of millions of workers and peasants around the world than the alleged machinations of John Howard Lawson. So being a glutten for punishment, I recently picked up his autobiography, Commies, and found out that he not only was at one time a fanatical Stalinist but a Red-Diaper baby to boot. His poor parents must be turning over in their graves.

    Comment by Roy Rollin (MN Roy) — February 26, 2013 @ 2:26 am

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