Michael Pollak mpollak at
Sun Aug 8 00:13:53 PDT 1999

On Sat, 7 Aug 1999, Doug Henwood wrote:

> Telos is at least semi-close to Le Pen & the Lombard League too, no?

Really? That's not just canard? Things might have changed, lord knows, but I knew them as recently as the early 90's, and they were more cranky than conservative. They were conservative like Chris Lasch and Adorno are conservative. Where the first idealizes the petit bourgeois as the ideal, and the later thinks it was short-lived heroic individual of early capitalism, Telos guys seem to have an idealized affection for working class ethnic enclaves in which, surprise, most of them grew up. But like with Lasch and Adorno, they rarely talk about what they like, and spend almost all of their time criticizing what they hate -- which, like with those two guys, is almost everything. What really made people hate Telos is their irrepressible desire to skewer identity politics. The ones I knew weren't racist or sexist in person -- it's just that they loved to take potshots at, say, Al Sharpton, rather than try to make an apology for his shortcomings and look at his good side, like I would. (For example, I'm sure they are jumping on Mary Daly even as we speak.) But some of the other stuff they were hated for -- like their contention that what would replace Gorbachev would be mafia rule -- weren't off the wall, in retrospect. And they never thought of themselves as turning back the clock. They thought instead of themselves as ruthlessly criticizing everything existing (and everybody trying to fix it) for not being sufficiently emancipatory. Ruthless crankiness, more like. The House of Sour Frankfurters. They are big fans of that Marcuse dictum that's enough to be critical. Russell Berman is a good example of their general tack; he used to be on their board.

I guess I would have called them communitarians, more than anything else. But the point is they hardly ever put forward a position -- they just criticized everyone else's. And they never seem to even seemed to think about involved in campaigns on the putting people in office level, even for 9th parties, like the paleos seem to want to.

Of course, it could all be different now. Maybe they've really gone round the bend. I suspect that "semi close" to the the Lombard league means just that Paul Piccone has a similarly cranky pal from the old country who's just as out of place in the Lombard League as Piccone is on the left here. But having this guy Fleming on the editorial board, that does sound weird. And I don't actually read the journal (boring!) so I can't say.

Michael __________________________________________________________________________ Michael Pollak................New York City..............mpollak at

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