Nathan's gone

Chris Burford cburford at
Tue Apr 20 15:47:08 PDT 1999

At 13:14 20/04/99 -0400, Doug wrote:
>Dennis Breslin wrote:
>>I hate to waste my first and maybe only posting for list-keep stuff,
>>but given the name-calling and folks questioning one another's
>>intelligence, morality, or god forbid lack of theoretical consistency,
>>I'm still waiting for the discussions to advance to phase 2. Hmmm...
>>Given the big dick thread, seems to me that despite all the erudition,
>>some folks are suffering from a steep learning curve on how to
>War is ugly shit. Given the stakes and the passions involved, I don't think
>the "name-calling" has really been out of line. This is life & death stuff
>we're talking about (not that we can have much effect on things, of
>course), not Lacanian theory.

Nor do I.

Nathan's departure is also designed to make a point, just as Yoshie's was. They are both capable of standing their ground and arguing their case if they wanted to.

Nathan's last post from the Young Democrats seemed to me to be particularly thoughtful unless you adopt the position that every military action of the US must be opposed.

The departure of Nathan loses a link with a broader range of political debate.

It is entirely understandable that Doug, should want to present his own views on his own list. I do appreciate his commitment to breadth but his interventions tip the balance in a way one has to be shrewd to avoid. The logic on LP's marxism list is that any positions that might be regarded as "pro-NATO" cannot be debated because they are censored out. That IMO is a sign of weakness but it may also be a reflection of the lack of a quota limit on posts which allows the debate to move on, without any one group of posters dominating just by number of posts. Instead there the moderator takes absolute discretion.

The danger of these moderated lists is that they become house journals for rather a narrow set of ideas. Despite the sharpness of the criticisms I want to direct against Doug, I think he genuinely wants a wide forum. This list could be far far worse.

I do not think it is surprising that I have been challenged as a "bomber". Nor that Yoshie was challenged as an "appeaser". This is part of the process of requiring people to defend and clarify their positions by which the collective debate moves on. It starts to progress beyond the initial partial one-sided positions to ones that more closely affect reality. Individuals will still be counterposed protagonists, but the total effect is more differentiated.

Both Yoshie and Nathan should return. It is really a failure to understand the constructive use of polemic to leave just because you have not convinced as many people as you want.

Clearly neither a position of pure apologetics for Serb nationalism, nor of support of massive NATO bombing is easy to sustain. We are now getting to the interesting part of the polemic. And that is not because it is abstract theory, but because it has got to be closely related to what actually happens.

Chris Burford


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