Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

June 5, 2015

The Topless Dancer, Slavery and the Origins of Capitalism

Filed under: Counterpunch,humor,Pekar,transition debate — louisproyect @ 3:56 pm
The Tide is Turning

The Topless Dancer, Slavery and the Origins of Capitalism


Although I’ve written thirty-five articles about the origins of capitalism over the years, I never suspected that my first for CounterPunch would be prompted in a roundabout way by my relationship with a topless dancer forty years ago.

In the middle of May, I blogged an excerpt from an unpublished comic book memoir I did with Harvey Pekar in 2008. It covered my experience in Houston in the mid-seventies, part of which involved an affair with a comrade who had been dancing in Montrose just before I arrived, a neighborhood that mixed bohemia, gay and topless bars, and apartment complexes geared to swingers in double-knit suits.

About a week after the excerpt appeared, someone directed to a Facebook page that belonged to a well-known ISO dissertation student who having posted a link to my blog frowned on the idea that I would write a memoir without ever having done anything. Since the memoir was written under the direction of Harvey Pekar, who toiled for decades in obscurity as a file clerk in a veteran’s hospital in Cleveland, I doubt that the student had a clue about the memoir’s intention. It was not a saga about exemplary deeds in the revolutionary movement but recounted instead the humdrum life of a rank-and-filer who felt deeply alienated by what amounted to a cult. Plus, lots of jokes. After all, it was a comic book as Harvey insisted on calling his work.

Parenthetically I would advise against reading the blog of someone you hate. It is bad for your mental health. As a recommendation to the young dissertation student or anybody else with a grudge against me, let me paraphrase what Jeeves said to Bertie Wooster, substituting “Proyect” for “Nietzsche”: “You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound.”

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  1. So basically white, male, Ivy League Marxists make frivolous accusations of misogyny in order to defend a thesis that downplays the role of slavery in the development of capitalism.

    Comment by srogouski — June 5, 2015 @ 6:31 pm

  2. Louis Proyect, a greater threat than ISIS, the Tea Party, NRA, NSA., climate change. Pile on! What a waste of space these haters are!

    Comment by Peter — June 5, 2015 @ 8:56 pm

  3. Look. Camille Paglia & Sigmund Freud were probably right about our biological hard-wiring. Combined with an R. Crumb flare for storytelling & Illustration it’s no surprise that this type of Pekar/Proyect article’s going to raise a kerfuffle on the left like some Seinfeld episode talking about Elaine and her friend stripping down to their bra & panties having a tickle fight or Kramer conjuring the possibility of a ka ka ka cat fight.

    Most serious women revolutionaries I know understand this pathetically backward aspect of current culture, the juvenile tendencies it promotes in modern men, and don’t that let themselves stop working towards a future when men aren’t so easily distracted like consumers over shiny objects.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — June 6, 2015 @ 3:10 am

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