Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

March 21, 2013

A.J. Ayer confronts Mike Tyson

Filed under: philosophy,sports — louisproyect @ 9:17 pm

From Ben Roger’s biography of the analytical philosopher:

It was at another party, given a little later in the year by the highly fashionable clothes designer, Fernando Sanchez, that he had a widely reported encounter. Ayer had always had an ability to pick up unlikely people and at yet another party had befriended Sanchez. Ayer was now standing near the entrance to the great white living-room of Sanchez’s West 57th Street apartment, chatting to a group of young models and designers, when a woman rushed in saying that a friend was being assaulted in a bedroom. Ayer went to investigate and found Mike Tyson forcing himself on a young south London model called Naomi Campbell, then just beginning her career. Ayer warned Tyson to desist. Tyson: ‘Do you know who the fuck I am? I’m the heavyweight champion of the world.’ Ayer stood his ground: ‘And I am the former Wykeham Professor of Logic. We are both preeminent in our field; I suggest that we talk about this like rational men.’ Ayer and Tyson began to talk. Naomi Campbell slipped out.


  1. Ayer did the right thing, but my understanding of Ayer’s philosophy is that we can’t know he did the right thing!
    (I have read a few reports that such he was a communist/socialist in his youth, and anti-anti-communist during the cold war.)

    Comment by Chris — March 21, 2013 @ 10:25 pm

  2. One thing I’ll always hat tip to Mike Tyson. After he spent his first stint in prison 20 years ago or so, where he was no doubt subjected to lots of Muslim theology, he came out the joint with a huge 8″ tattoo of Mao, nicely done, on his left breast. ‘Nuff said.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — March 22, 2013 @ 3:04 am

  3. Tyson is such a scumbag. He appears in various forums as a naif. What a hoot! He has a certain nauseating charm. American degeneracy. Of course, he is no worse than the white swine who run this country.

    Comment by Kirk Hill — March 22, 2013 @ 3:05 am

  4. Mike Tyson is like OJ Simpson. He’s easy for white people to hate without being called racist. So a whole bevy of subconscious hatred for black people is unleashed on him. A materialist could tell you, any of his (surely exaggerated) anti-social behaviors are products of the social fabric he emerged from — 20th century America.

    Comment by Joe Withum — March 22, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

  5. Joe W.: Does that make me an anti-Semite because I hate Benjamin Netanyahu?

    Comment by Peter Byrne — March 22, 2013 @ 9:10 pm

  6. OJ., yeah, the misunderstood OJ. So we are all products of material environments, putting us–or is it only black people?–beyond reproach. Blame my environment, not me. This goes nowhere.

    Comment by Kirk Hill — March 22, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

  7. I just looked at some pictures. The Mao tattoo is on his right arm, just below the shoulder. Also, he doesn’t really have breasts.

    Comment by godoggo — March 23, 2013 @ 12:14 am

  8. Although personally I think a Chen Duxiu tattoo would be hipper. Maybe he could get one on his hip.

    Comment by godoggo — March 23, 2013 @ 12:25 am

  9. My bad. Wrong side, More shoulder than breast is true enough. But it’s a prison tat & pretty good quality for those conditions.

    I mean for some totally fucked up ghetto kid from the Projects in Brooklyn, a Black Man in the USA, to come out the joint with a bust Tat of Mao on him rather than Elijah Mohamed or something worse is always something I’ll give Mike Tyson credit for, despite all his many other faults, sexist misogyny being first & foremost, as it can ultimately only mean some old Black Panther types with their little red books, all jacked & fucked up in the grist mill of imperialism, whose domestic policy is a mirror of its foreign policy, are still there in the dungeons of the belly of the beast trying to educate young bloods on the ABC’s of class fucking society, that is, what really explains their conditions.

    Hats off & three cheers to the incarcerated brother(s) who convinced Mike Tyson to proudly adorn the face of a historically oppressed brown person who led, like a virtual pied piper, millions upon millions of jacked up downtrodden peasants & toilers over a thousand mile march to form an almighty Red Army that would ultimately be able to help not only the Korean Red Army Stop US imperialism but also help Ho Chi Minh stop US imperialism in Vietnam.

    Like A. Roy recently asked: What was the last war US imperialism actually won?

    It wasn’t Korea which even Western officialdom calls a “stalemate” yet there’s plenty of accounts of GI’s dropping their weapons & fleeing for their lives at Inchon & elsewhere.

    Certainly wasn’t Vietnam, where the video image of that Soviet tank with the NVA soldier hoisting that big red flag busting through the gates of the Saigon embassy still sends shivers down the spines of billions fortunate enough to see it.

    Grenada was hardly a victory, nor was Panama, mostly a lop sided slaughter with one side shooting, whites against browns, not even worthy of labelling as a war sine only one side was shooting.

    The 1st Gulf War, again, a misnomer since only one side was shooting, only managed to slaughter almost a million Iraqi children & old people, exclusively brown people being the quid pro quo.

    It should be noted at this juncture that only the US Democratic Party ever prosecuted the wars of the 20th century where some other side actually shot back.

    The 2nd Gulf War, lost again by US imperialism, basically was won by tiny cells of heroic Iraqi resistance fighters akin to the French driven out of Algeria.

    The War in Afghanistan, which after more than a decade of prosecution at an average of $400 per gallon per military vehicle deployed there as even right wing sources admit:


    basically proves it a war for corporate profits rather than any underlying neo-con principle.

    The great irony of the Afghan war is this Proclamation ushered by “Dutch” Reagan Back in 1982:


    But of course like Obama, Reagan was an actor, and like most actors, more than a bit of the sociopathic gene is required, and the white man appears to have that gene in much greater abundence than brown people:

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — March 23, 2013 @ 2:06 am

  10. “The 1st Gulf War, again, a misnomer since only one side was shooting, only managed to slaughter almost a million Iraqi children & old people, exclusively brown people being the quid pro quo.”


    Former US Attorney General during Vietnam, Ramsey Clark, toured Iraq in 92-93 and calculated the devastation & destruction from bombing a relatively modern society’s infrastructure that was 70% urban caused half a million deaths. Since Clinton sanctioned another 10 years of brutal sanctions against medicine & clean water another half million died according to even the World Health Organization.

    The big debate in the UN after 10 years of US sanctions was did 500,000 or 1 million die?

    Clinton went on to due more or less the same as Bush to Serbia but that’s another chapter.

    This chapter of the very early 1990’s American Anti-War History is very important because there’s actually very little Internet archives of it, so take my word, as I remember it like yesterday, that the establishment left, which included Noam Chomsky, and the Committee of Correspondence, (CofC) with figures like Peter Cameo, all opted for US sanctions rather than war.

    Lou & I have our disagreements on documenting this chapter of history (and he’s right I have have no definitive proof) but needless to say there was clearly a big split in the planned anti war demos in Washington, where one side wanted “sanctions” and the other, lead by the WWP, didn’t, and it turned out the WWP, lead by Sam Marcy who was still alive at the time, was right, that sanctions were ultimately an act of imperialist war imposed by US imperialism against historically oppressed brown people. Turns out the poor Iraqis got both — war & sanctions — which killed between 500,000 & a million of their most vulnerable — kids & old folks.

    Today, despite the Arab Spring, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria — you don’t ever hear even the most naive of Western leftists talk about: “Give sanctions a chance.”

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — March 23, 2013 @ 2:58 am

  11. You know, I normally figure the following kind of comment isn’t really worth making here, as what will it accomplish, but the what the hell: in my opinion, in retrospect, the red army fighting off American imperialism in Korea might possibly not have been an entirely good thing. Sorry.

    Comment by godoggo — March 23, 2013 @ 7:20 am

  12. That’s only because you cannot possibly fathom how many bibles have been sold in South Korea since the war.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — March 23, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

  13. Yeah, that’s why.

    Comment by godoggo — March 23, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

  14. A.J. Ayer was politically a left-Labourite most of his life. He was in Vienna at the time of the Austrian Civil War in the 1930s which resulted in the crushing of the Social Democrats by the clerical fascist dictatorship. He did almost join the CPGB at the time of the Spanish Civil War but ultimately declined to join because he could not in good conscience, as a logical positivist, endorse dialectical materialism. He served in the British Army during WW II, was posted to do intelligence work, which as I recall, included among other things helping to supply Tito’s partisans in Yugoslavia. He was later posted to France, near the Spanish border, and was very nearly court martialed for attempting to organize anti-Franco insurgents.

    Comment by Jim Farmelant — March 23, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

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