Christopher Niles and Racism

Christopher Niles cniles at
Thu Dec 3 20:38:55 PST 1998

Oh dear. Well, I tried to qualify my very general statement by saying that it was a "quick morning ramble" and that I "knew I cut a few corners here" but, it seems, to no avail. Hey Ken, did you not read those qualifications or is that you studiously ignored them in the interest of mounting an ego gratifying big dick attack on my position? Am I really that much of a threat to you? To the "left"? Here's a silly request: Can we not have infantile exchanges based on either selective readings or willful misreadings of people's ideas? I mean, like, please??

>crap that identified activism with

So let me get this straight: Activism is about revolution? Do you really believe that most--I say most, Ken--activists (not a very precise term, it must be emphasized) are aiming for revolution and not reform? I'd really like to know which activist you're talking about. Sure, I've met a few in my times but they sure as hell ain't no majority.

>"Organizers don't talk about capitalism because they know
>full well that many of the people will stop listening to them. Or,
>alternatively, organizers, viz. their middle-class comforts, are not
>interested in doing the really hard work required to make serious idealogical
>struggle in this country possible."

Do you mean to tell me Ken that you've never had one of those endless discussions among a group of activists with anti-captialists sentiments about whether the problem of capitalism should be raised directly, indirectly, or not raised at all? You've never, in your organizing work, seen people's eyes gloss over at the mention of words like "class" or "rulers" or "capitalism"? Do you not think that years of both state and corporate anti-communist propoganda has left a nasty scar on both "activists" and the (so-called) unorganized? Do you really believe that working people are really primed for a discussion about capitalism? Do you think that a notion of sacrifice (such as that which was more visible among many in the Civil Rights movement) is at the core of what most "activists" do these days? Do you really believe that "activist" nationwide are engaging in substantive, open idealogical struggle about capitalism?

>Thus he pissed on the bravest and noblest people this country has produced,
>particularly the Southern Freedom MovementThus he pissed on the bravest and

Yeah, Ken I hate those people and all that they stand for. Give me a fuckin' break. Overgeneralize about my generalizations if you must but the Freedom movement and its participants were my primary inspiration and teachers. I have my own easy-to-make-in-retropsect criticism of that movement but the courage of it participants is undeniable--and awe inspiring. One of the question I often ask myself is how can I can match and build on that courage in my poltical work. The short answer is that I am not entirely sure. However, I spent enough time as a praciticing "leftist" and "activist" to know that "leftism" and "activism" were fundamentally flawed concepts that functioned as obstacles to clear thinking and courageous action.

and most explicitly the veterans
>of SNCC who still are organizing poor communities and industrial workers in
>the Deep South toward a visionary socialist future. But activists are
>similarly involved in nearly every community of the United States.

Again, my statement was an obvious generalization which you chose to read as a detailed dissertation. Hey, how many people in those poor communities and those industrial plants know that they are being organized toward a "visionary socialist future?"

>Having spend 23 years as an activist in Mississippi myself, working with
>dozens of others who are still there dedicating their lives to a struggle
>has been their concern since the fifties and sixties, all of us working at
>subsistence incomes among the people we were organizing, never twinging as we
>patiently discussed capitalism and socialism in the course of struggling for
>desperately immediate material needs, I cannot see anything but racism in
>Niles' post. Finally I see why Niles wants to deny that such a thing exists.

Hey, Ken, are you prepared to tell your people that reverse-racism is real? That Black folk can be racist, too, and that Chris Niles is a example par excellance? Or have you believed in reverse-racism all along, you lefty devil you? Wow. So, let's see: I'm a Black racist because I a) criticize "leftism" and "activism" and b) believe in the abolition of the white race as a critical part of the struggle against capital. Admit it, Ken, you haven't really read anything I've posted carefully, now have you?

>Like my former best friend and comrade of the sixties and seventies, Noel
>Ignatin (now Ignatiev) of Race Traitor (in those days Noel was an industrial
>worker; now he is a Harvard academic),

It's the old condemnation by association trick! Sorry, Ken, Noel and I are not idealogical bopsy twins. And sorry again, Noel is not at Harvard. That said, Noel, I am proud to say, is a friend and a comrade and one of the few "white" men I know who is committed to exposing the whiteness of the left.

>Niles spews a glib and an ostensibly
>radical ideological line, laced with an occasionally clever turn of phrase,
>which on close examination becomes a pretext for abstention from struggle and
>dismissal of those who are engaged.

Well, in so far as my "glib and ostensibly radical line" goes, that's your opinion and you are welcome to it. The rest is presumtious bullshit. Could you tell me, Ken, how I've abstained from struggle? And I did not know that a critique of a "leftism" and "activism" amouned to a "dismissal of those who are engaged?" Could you tell me more Ken, about how I am dismissive of the "leftist" and "activist" with whom I work in Chocaolate City??

>What "hard work" have you done Niles? And if you have done any, why are you
>moved to defame others who have worked so long and hard? Finally, why do you
>put the words "the cause" in quotation marks? If you have no convictions of
>your own, please leave those of us who do in peace. Find yourself another

Suffice it to say for the moment that I am in the process of rethinking a lot of my presumptions about organizing and that I do not think that my poltical work to date has been as intellectually or strategically precise as it could or needs to be. I spent most of my political life as a "leftist" and an "activist" and found those committments wanting in regards to my desires for a very different type of society. I did not defame anybody; I criticized two concepts that I believe are obstacles to understanding, compassion and, finally, the possibility of a new world. I put the words "the cause" in quotation marks because socialism, as is clear from some of the discussions on this very list serve, means different things to different people. Can you not see that the "left" is radically balkanized on questions of goal and praxis? And yes, I have firmly held morally grounded convictions of my own which is one of the reasons I have to fight both the rage and despair that threatens to overwhelm me when people who claim to be doin' the Lord's work indulge in sloppy, presumtious, disingenous attacks of me and "my" ideas.


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