Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 25, 2015

CounterPunch fund drive

Filed under: Counterpunch — louisproyect @ 7:18 pm

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Twenty-two years ago I took out a subscription to a newsletter that was advertised in the back pages of the Nation Magazine. It was called CounterPunch and edited by Ken Silverstein. It was the same back pages where I had found out about Doug Henwood’s Left Business Observer a few years earlier. In the early 90s such newsletters were carrying on the tradition of I.F. Stone’s Weekly. Even though the Internet was gathering momentum, it was still a time when the worldwide web was still in its relative infancy.

After Ken had written an article about Goldman-Sachs, I sent off an email (the only use of the net for most people at the time) letting him know about a mass firing that took place at my old workplace. In the next issue he recounted my story about how a bunch of managers with names ending in vowels had been sent home in town cars because the new manager, a scumbag West Point graduate named Rick Adam who would also be fired later on, decided that they lacked the proper credentials. Years later I ran into one of these ex-managers at Columbia University who told me that he was washing windows there. I was delighted to see CounterPunch spilling the goods on those rotten bastards at Goldman.

A year later Alexander Cockburn joined Silverstein as the City Paper reported. The opening grafs pretty much sum up the spirit of CounterPunch to this day:

Hitting Back
CounterPunch Editors Ken Silverstein and Alexander Cockburn Assail the Right—and the Center
By Lisa Gray • October 21, 1994

“The left in general tends to be wimpy,” rages journalist Ken Silverstein, himself a confirmed leftist. He quivers with indignation: “They’re chickenshit about going after people.” To remedy that ill, Silverstein last year founded CounterPunch, a bloodthirsty little newsletter that covers official Washington from a shamelessly radical perspective. “Rush Limbaugh is not a role model,” he says. “But the idea of actually going after people and hitting hard makes sense.”

Back in 1989, while an intern at the Nation, Silverstein had discussed such a fiery newsletter with his mentor, columnist Alexander Cockburn. Cockburn knows fire: A master of invective, he has for years positioned himself to the left of the left, championing Maoist values, admitting that he preferred Brezhnev to Gorbachev, and writing that Stalin didn’t kill all that many people. Cockburn liked the idea of a feisty newsletter, a fortress from which to attack the “bipartisan blotch of evil.” He laments, “Even the Nation feels it necessary to defend Clinton occasionally.” As editors of a newsletter, he and Silverstein would feel no such compulsion.

Two years later Ken would move on and Jeff St. Clair took his place in a project that would become an exemplar of radical journalism on the worldwide web. Ever since it premiered online, I read it every day as most of you certainly do as well. Like many of you, the experience of reading CounterPunch is probably akin to drinking a double espresso for the first time after a lifetime of drinking PBS or HuffingtonPost warm milk. It will be a hair-raising experience as Ken and Alexander certainly intended.

Just over three years ago, I began writing for CounterPunch after a decade of fulminating against Alexander Cockburn. After reading my complaint about how people like Mike Whitney were trashing Pussy Riot, Jeff St. Clair invited me to write a response, which I did. Contrary to the view that some have that CounterPunch is some kind of “line” publication, nothing could be further from the truth. It is instead a voice for the radical movement as well as some non-radicals like Paul Craig Roberts who have valuable insights into economic malfeasance.

Over the past three years I have written close to 200 articles for CounterPunch. I am very proud to be writing for a publication that includes Arno Mayer, Ralph Nader, Jesse Jackson, Clancy Sigal, Ruth Fowler and Kim Nicolini as contributors. If there is any recommendation that can be made on behalf of CounterPunch, it is its amazing variety of voices such as these.

I have just donated $100 and strongly urge you to chip in. As some guy once said, from each according to their ability, to each according to their need. The other day I posted a complaint that someone had sent to Jeff St. Clair about my writing for CounterPunch. The malcontent thought it was some kind of trick that I was allowed to write film reviews since the net effect would be to encourage Obama to bomb Syria (Russia got a green light obviously.)

This led someone to post a comment: “I’ve no objection to Proyect’s articles, from what I’ve read. Always food for thought. But I also pass on contributing to Counterpunch, because they do not pay writers.”

In fact I would pay CounterPunch just to publish not only me but also all the others who appear there on a daily basis. In the entire 11 years I was in the Trotskyist movement, I had the same relationship. I paid my dues in order for the Militant to get published. At this stage of my life, after the accumulated wisdom of 48 years on the left, I can assure you that anything you contribute to CounterPunch will be the best investment you can make for a more just world.

Please be generous.

2 Comments »

  1. Well said!

    I also started a subscription to CP when it first started coming out in print. I contributed (as I try to do every year) despite my not-so-great earnings, and despite the fact that I have seen too many articles by Mike Whitney. I have also not shied away from letting Jeffrey St Clair know about the insulting nature of the constant praise Mike Whitney showers on Putin.

    But, far more importantly, I see it as a political duty to help CP as much as I can. CP is one of the brighter things that has come out of the American left, and despite the likes of Whitney having a presence there, the publication is well worth every penny I can afford to contribute. Jeffrey is a real democrat, and that’s why I strongly recommend supporting Counterpunch.

    Comment by Reza — October 25, 2015 @ 7:47 pm

  2. Louis, you and I, to put it politely, disagree on most things – even vehemently. However I echo every word of your praise for CP and Jeffrey St Clair, who has never been less than a pleasure to deal with.

    Long live Counterpunch.

    Comment by John Wight — October 27, 2015 @ 9:03 pm


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