Sunday, June 25, 2006

Logic & Intellect:
Redeployed Out of Harm's Way

An essay written by Norman Geras, The Reductions of the Left, analyzes the modern Leftist movement. Geras is a '60's bred Marxist and writes how the moonbattery that is so vocally ubiquitous today bears little or no intellectual resemblance to its days of yore.

In re: "The attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001,..."

"With a section of the Western left, the response was as if everything remained just as it had always been."

"Imperialism and blowback-that was pretty much all one needed to understand what had befallen the citizens of Manhattan, the passengers on the planes, and the workers at the Pentagon, and there were accordingly people content to describe the attack as a comeuppance."

From a Paul Berman essay Geras quotes 7 reasons for Iraq war protestations:

"(1) George W. Bush; (2) the United States as being responsible for all the problems of the world; (3) support for anything construable as being anticolonial; (4) cultural relativism; (5) hostility to Israel; (6) a failure to take anti-Semitism seriously; and (7) lack of any genuine grasp of, or feeling for, the meaning of extreme forms of evil and oppression."

"I suggest that two of them do carry more weight: namely, numbers (2) and (7)."

"The question is all the more perplexing to me because of the particular generation of the left to which I belong. I mean the generation formed intellectually and politically during the 1960s, post- and anti-Stalinist in its conception of itself, and which labored strenuously-I mean this literally: it labored in its literary output, in dense and prolific works of argumentation, theory, historiography, social and political analysis-to separate itself from the earlier simplifications and reductions of the tradition it came from and that it sought to enrich. This was a generation for whom anti-reductionism was a constant watchword."

" that henceforth we might be in a position more effectively to grasp the multiple determinations of both the present and the past."

"For even if more advanced models of theoretical explanation are now available to the left, it nonetheless seems to suffice in any given international conflict to know that on one side is the United States, and that the United States is a capitalist power that always has designs on the natural and human resources of the rest of the world. If you know this, everything else falls instantly into place; all other levels of analysis, all other considerations, are superfluous. They can either be ignored altogether, or they can be conceded in passing, but as merely secondary and hence ignorable in practice. The political alignments are always defined by the primary determinant-imperialism. But how does this differ from imperialism's being the only thing, with every other social, political, or ideological reality merely epiphenomenal, taking its place and meaning within the whole from the one true cause?"

"The United States is responsible not only for what it demonstrably does or has done; it is responsible also for all the reactionary forces, whether regimes or movements, opposed to it. It created them; it armed them; it used to support them (even if it no longer does)."

"If American soldiers kill civilians or commit atrocities, the United States is to blame. If those against whom the United States is fighting perpetrate similar wrongs, the United States is to blame."

"The effect of the tendency, however, is to denature what one is looking at when one looks at the horrors of the world: a massacre of innocents; a woman being beaten in a public place or hanged in a football stadium; a place in which a man can have his ears surgically removed or his tongue cut out, or be broken and destroyed, to be followed by the next such victim, and the next, in a continuous sequence of atrocity; or a place in which a parent can be forced to watch her child tortured and murdered in front of her; or a place in which a husband can be forced to watch his wife repeatedly raped; an "ethnic cleansing" or a genocide in progress, in which entire communities are pulled up by the roots and people are shot or hacked or starved to death by the thousands or the tens of thousands; mass graves opened to yield up their terrible story."

"...the one true and original cause of everything: the capitalist system."

"The U.S. state is simply world capitalism; it is the embodiment of an "all too often chauvinist" identity. By inference and by contrast, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and the like-"reactionary fundamentalist" identities-are for their part a response to the pain induced by oppression and exploitation."

"I would suggest also, however, that within the international "peace" movement, as it flatters itself to be, there is an even wider constituency, not only not Marxist but not recognizably socialist either-liberals, radicals, greens, anarchists, and other progressives of one kind and another-which exhibits variants of the same double tendency I have diagnosed: on the one hand, the practical reductionism by which the wrongs of the world are lightly referred back to their alleged causes, whether in U.S. foreign policy, or economic hardship, or grievance, or whatever; on the other hand, a disinclination or refusal to acknowledge in their full magnitude and moral significance the political evils for which other states, organizations, and movements are responsible."
(Emphasis mine)

Reads like a pretty good critique to me.

(H.T. Keith Burgess-Jackson.)

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