Abortion Rights: Marxists and Liberals

Frances Bolton fbolton at chuma.cas.usf.edu
Sun Feb 7 18:50:41 PST 1999

Ken writes:

>(Unlike Alex, I felt privileged to have a comrade who could share these
>experiences and their lessons with an inexperienced teenage activist.)

I certainly believe that you learned a great deal from these more experienced comrades. But I don't think your experience in that respect speaks to Alex's impatience with your anecdotes. The key word in your sentence is "comrade." These were people you knew, liked, trusted, worked with. Of course you wanted to learn from their experience. None of those things can be assumed on something like a listserv. Stories that might be edifying in one context may come off as name dropping in another.

I also wonder about the usefulness of such stories. It seems like the relating of such stories has the effect of shutting down conversation. Today's activists don't have stories that are as glamorous, or as historically important, as those of activists who were active in the 60s. There is simply nothing like that going on, at least in the States. The sharing of one's experiences during those also seems to have the effect of reminding younger activists and would-be activists that they will not measure up, that their activism will be puny in comparison. It tells them that they are the "pygmy children of a giant race." (Kushner). So, in certain respects, it might be seen as power-tripping.

Perhaps before trying to teach younger, less experienced activists a lesson, you might show them the respect of asking them if they want you to be their teacher, or be open to the possiblity that you haven't learned everything and there might be things they could teach you as well.


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