American Left

Max Sawicky sawicky at
Sun Oct 11 11:00:45 PDT 1998

Raskin's talk sounds very interesting. You've inspired me to invite him over to EPI for a talk.

> Hmm, what else . . . the "African-American Politics" panel featured
> Clarence Lussane, whom I would have liked to hear more from, and Lisa
> Brock, who also had good things to say. Orlando Patterson got booed
> again, as he had in New York, for his anti-immigrant tendencies. He
> also has this bad, quasi-religious "personal responsibility", "pick
> yourself up by the bootstraps" take on the African-American question:
> that it's less "the system". "Personal responsibility": sigh. Is this
> not in many ways the individualist kernel of capitalism, just a
> screen-term "providing a false legitimacy to existing social and power
> relations"?

Personal responsibility is more relevant to a collectivist setting than an individualist one. People depend on each other. Obviously this can be twisted in any number of malignant ways. But it should not be rejected out of hand as a principle. For instance, the responsibility to support oneself dovetails with a social responsibility to support those who can't; then it becomes an empirical issue as much as a moral one (who is not able to support themselves, and why?) and opens up all the avenues of discussion one could wish for.

Can't speak on the immigrant issue re: Patterson.


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