Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 5, 2014

Separated at birth

Filed under: separated at birth? — louisproyect @ 3:54 am

Alex Callinicos, British socialist

Bernie Sanders, American socialist


  1. Their simian features are certainly similar, but isn’t it a bit of stretch to call Sanders a “socialist”?

    Comment by Michael Acuña — November 5, 2014 @ 6:55 am

  2. Maybe Sanders is an American socialist in the same sense in which American cheese is cheese.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — November 5, 2014 @ 2:39 pm

  3. or American chocolate: candle wax and corn syrup.

    Comment by Brian Gallagher — November 5, 2014 @ 4:01 pm

  4. Callinicos looks more like Sanders’ son.

    Comment by Richard Estes — November 5, 2014 @ 5:46 pm

  5. Brian Gallagher and Pete Glosser sound like faux haute Europeans who are mad that Americans reformulated chocolate and cheese to make it affordable for the masses. Not very socialist of you comrades.

    Comment by Carl Jr — November 6, 2014 @ 7:44 am

  6. Dear Carl. I am so glad that you have found something bitchy to say where a normal person would not. That’s the job of affected posers like you.

    I was referring to Kraft American Cheese actually.

    If you tell me that this is either “socialist” OR “proletarian” cheese, I will tell you which end of me you can kiss, but you will have to wash your dirty face before you do so.

    Or has Kraft Corporation now joined the late Muammar Qaddafi and Vladimir Putain on the list of the People’s Glorious Heroes?

    Comment by Pete Glosser — November 6, 2014 @ 9:54 pm

  7. Excited by the potential of milk chocolate, which at that time was a luxury product, Hershey was determined to develop a formula for milk chocolate and market and sell it to the American public. Through trial and error, he created his own formula for milk chocolate. The first Hershey bar was produced in 1900.

    And sold for 5 cents. Before that chocolate was restricted to purchase by the very well off as the Europeans who looted it from the Americas kept it that way.

    Some comrades forget that for a time capitalism was progressive and that the American Revolution was an extraordinary leap in human advancement, equal to or ever surpassing the French Revolution.

    Comment by Carl Jr — November 7, 2014 @ 2:55 am

  8. Dear Carl, Jr.: You don’t seem to get this, but I myself actually hold no brief re chocolate. Hershey’s isn’t great, IMHO, but is far from the worst quality. For that matter, I have eaten my share of cheeseburgers and can envision a circumstance in which I would vote for Sanders despite his flaws. The self-appointed “revolutionary” intensity here–and the self-important lack of a sense of humor–are all on your side.

    Since you persist in your chuckle-headed assault on an imaginary enemy, however, I suggest that you consult William Clarence-Smith’s comprehensive history Cocoa and Chocolate, 1755-1914.

    Your argument re chocolate, as it happens, has a number of obvious flaws:

    1) The widespread consumption of chocolate by the working classes was both a U.S. and western European development with some elements in place as early as the 1840s. Very early on, the various temperance movements began urging both chocolate and coffee consumption as an alternative to alcohol.

    2) In any case, per Clarence-Smith, the main factor in the lower prices of chocolate in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, apart from technical advances in mass production in Western Europe and the U.S., (which Hershey, BTW. did not exclusively invent)–was a dramatic fall late in the 19th century and afterward in the prices of both cocoa and sugar.

    This reflects no revolutionary heroism on the part of Hershey, who merely profited by it, as did his English and continental counterparts. Why aren’t you also praising Callebault, Cadbury, van Houten, etc.? And where is your stinging denunciation of the imperialism that made this possible?

    3) Chocolate was provided to troops by the British, Americans, and Germans in World War I. This was the decisive spur to working-class consumption of chocolate in those countries. So by the middle of the twentieth century, all classes were consuming chocolate both in the U.S. and in Europe. Hershey profited by this, but was by no means some lone genius who invented it.

    4) Hershey products in many cases, while far from the worst, are in fact of much lower quality than e.g. some European chocolate products that have been available to some extent working people for decades. And nothing rivals the junkiness of e.g. Mars Bars, Tootsie Rolls, Cocoa Puffs, Swiss Miss cocoa mix with Aspartame, and all that sort of thing, which may be what our (probably Irish or British) friend had in mind when he took his merry swipe at American chocolate.

    Until very recently, all classes in the U.S. and abroad were beginning to consume chocolate of higher quality than ever before, including European types that were no longer exclusive luxuries. Only with the post-2008 collapse into neoliberalism and overt oligarchy have not only luxuries, like chocolate in any form, but the bare necessities of life, begun to be again outside the reach of what our Republican and Democratic masters call “the average consumer.”

    Do you, who so deeply respect the accomplishments of capitalism, reject the recent increase in the number of luxury products available to some extent to all classes? Why? And do you welcome the still more recent reversal of this tendency by the forces of immiseration and oligarchy?

    5) Since when are widely distributed adulterated and unhealthful products in any sense socialistic, or revolutionary merely because they are available? Why should it be counter-revolutionary to point to the adulterated and defective nature of Tootsie Rolls, Cocoa Puffs, Swiss Miss cocoa mix, and all that sort of thing–or Kraft American Cheese–but not to the adulterated nature of television programming and other defective products of mass culture in decline? Was Upton Sinclair wrong to attack the quality of American mass-produced sausage in The Jungle?

    Or are you saying all of that–fake news, reality TV, the football religion, Jimmy Dean Sausage,and so forth–is sacred to the Proletariat?

    You really should study history more judiciously and pay more attention to its contradictions.

    As for me, I confess that I regularly buy Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa when I can’t get the supermarket brand. I make drinking cocoa with that and powdered milk, plus sugar, etc. I recently ate and enjoyed some leftover Reese’s Pieces that I had bought to bait mousetraps. And frankly, so what? I don’t take myself as seriously as you take yourself.

    One can, of course get serious about the history of chocolate, which is a subject of some significance. But you ought to get it right when you do so.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — November 7, 2014 @ 4:27 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: