Asia and hormones: query

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Fri Jun 19 16:21:16 PDT 1998

christian a. gregory wrote:

>in short, it's a blind alley. why go there unless at gunpoint?

Who says we're not there already?

Sure, Wendy & Judy & their friends have nothing to say about class or money or the nondiscursive realm. But it's too easy to pick on them for that. I'm glad to hear that everyone else finds the answers to Brown's comments so self-evident:

>Now a third rejoinder to the challenges that some
>poststructuralists analyses as well as some late modern political
>formations have offered is that we simply want a unified movement back.
>But to do what? To oppose what? To demand what? And in whose name? To
>return to the dream that abolishing capitalism will abolish everything
>else bad along the way? Who dreams that dream still? Who dreams the
>dream of total revolution, of one people united by a common critique and
>common vision?

>It would be a far better thing, I think, if we could all
>converse seriously about the political losses and political impasses we
>face today: Our collective difficulty on the Left of projecting an
>emancipatory future, our difficulty in sustaining as objects of
>critique, liberalism, capitalism, and the state, critiques that have
>quite literally defined the left for the last century, but no longer are
>the main subject of almost anyone's critique.... Our difficulty in believing
>that there will ever be viable alternatives to capitalism....
>Our difficulty in believing that there's very much left to
>the history of class struggle in Euro-Atlantic nations. Our difficulty
>in imagining that the extraordinary powers of contemporary global
>capitalism and the state can ever be contested let alone brought down.
>Our difficulty in imagining that today's often nihilistic, apathetic,
>consumerist and media-saturated, increasingly wired population could
>ever be rallied for emancipatory struggle.

I'm glad the answers to these questions and challenges are so obvious because I sure as hell would like to know what they are. (Quite a few of them remind me of the questions that Lou Proyect has been raising, in different langauge of course, about the Marxist-Leninist tradition.) I'm also relieved to hear that it's not a problem that people are psychologically complicit in their own oppression; that makes the revolution a whole lot easier, though I wonder where it's been waiting all this time.

Bill Lear says:

>My only objection to this is that I do dream of a "common critique and
>common vision"; I dream of one in which the various struggles are, of
>course, seen as equals.

So do I, but you only have to pick up a copy of The Nation to see that there are people who identify themselves as leftists who don't agree with you.

A common vision to do what? Do we (leaving aside of any question of who "we" are) join the AFL-CIO and William Greider in their embrace of global Keynsianism? What do we tell the UAW strikers in Flint, waving their American flags and indicting GM for its lack of patriotism, rather than its rapaciousness and stupidity? What about immigration? Open the borders? And what about trade? Agitate relentlessly about NAFTA and MAI, or challenge the narrow focus on "globalization"? What about localism and self-reliance? Are Ithaca hours and other local money schemes promising or silly? How about affirmative action and comparable worth? Foreground them, or keep quiet to keep Joe Sixpack happy? Or does Joe Sixpack even exist? And what about Third World development policy? Delinking and partial autarky? Biotech - try to civilize it, or just say no, a la Vandana Shiva? And what about that postcapitalist future? Pretty hard to conceive of in 1998, isn't it? Just how many people are interested in imagining it, much less traveling there?

If you've got the answers, please let me know. We could even cc: Wendy & Judy.


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