"activism" ///Henry , the Butcher of Chile///POMO CRITICISM

Charles Brown CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Thu Dec 3 12:10:31 PST 1998

>>> Doug Henwood <dhenwood at panix.com> 12/03 12:28 PM >>>
Alex LoCascio wrote:

>The fact of the matter is that most "activism" in this
>country IS reformist and NOT ideological.

And a lot of the "activists" I've come across are proudly, deeply anti-intellectual - a perfect mirror image of those intellectuals who are proudly, deeply anti-activist (e.g. Jameson's denunciation of Bob Fitch for being an "activist"). An opposition that leads to the impoverishment of both.




One great activist said that without revolutionary theory , there can be no revolutionary movement (that is activism).

The dichotomy between activism and intellectualism discussed on this thread reflects ye olde antagonism between predominantly physical and predominantly mental labor (laborers of the "hand" and "head") This contradiction is actually originally almost identical with that between exploited and exploiting classes. So, some sensitivity to the ancient snobbery of mental workers is in order.

I am not saying that to be anti-intellectual. I am an intellectual. It's just that non-intellectuals feel looked down upon in this ancient but persisting social theme. Sensitivity to that is important in order for intellectuals to become organic, that is truly become or remain as a part of the working class.

Further, there seems to be a particular anti-intellectual national tradition in the U.S. going back to the Know Nothing political party and the like. Americans are proud of their "keep it simple stupid" approach, and

the bourgeoisie exploit the ancient antagonism above to promote this and keep the scientific and critical consciousness of the U.S. population low. It may also grow out of the early Americans associating higher learning with the snobbery of the European ruling classes against whom they revolted.

Many American intellectuals, especially university professors were organic and insurgent intellectuals in the radical reform movement of the 1960's and 70's.

>>> Carl Remick <cremick at rlmnet.com> 12/03 11:49 AM >>>
>From the ever epigrammatic Henry Kissinger, cited in today's UK

"Nobody, it is said, has a grasp of international affairs like Henry Kissinger. So, respectfully, a table of New York's finest diners, assembled by Harry Evans, fell hush when Kissie turned to the topic of the day. 'Of course Pinochet should go home,' he said. 'What's 6,000 people dead in two years - maybe 10 a day - I don't call that genocide.' " Carl Remick __________

Charles: Wasn't that the original neo-liberal triumphalism ?


POMO CRITICISM _________ Dennis R: Critique isn't simply about disagreeing with other thinkers, it's using their own insights to further the critical impulses

buried in their own works. Bricmont & Sokal just don't do this, their attitude is, "These folks know nothing about the sciences" and basically

slam the post-structuralists for not being MIT logicians.

Ingrid: Well, I must admit that I didn't realize that critiques need always be so positive and helpful. I still believe for now that B&S were quite measured in their "slam" on post-structuralists; and I still think it's perfectly valid to point out where certain posties misapply and misuse mathematics and the natural sciences in their arguments.

Charles: This is the responsibility of constructive criticism. Progressive criticism seeks to extract the rational kernel and build on the insights of the criticized.

Charles Brown


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