Henwood vs. Cockburn

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Thu Nov 11 10:23:35 PST 1999

Here is Cockburn's reply to Doug. In it, I notice, Cockburn does explicitly express his " hopes of a populist coalition of left and right on basic issues of liberty." It seems to me this is as much a pipedream as Chris Burford's hopes for an alliance with progressive elements of the big bourgeoisie and far more of a pipedream than Doug's illusion that the admittedly derivative Butler has anything to say about the initiating or organizing

of collecive action.

The point about *all* populist dreamers is their nationalism. There have

been interesting debates on marxism about the dangers and progressive potential of nationalism in imperialized nations (e.g., Argentina), but to believe that anything progressive whatever can emerge from any position even remotely tinged with u.s. nationalism is insane. Whether such populists are hairy-chested he-men or progressive women journalists from Texas, they stand in the way of serious organizing.


=========== Cockburn's reply:

Doug Henwood what’s this nonsense about "preliminary research." What you

actually mean is that after my column your friend Katha called up and whined on the phone and you pledged to rally to her side and now here you are, puffing—a little late—onto the battlefield. Actually, back in 1993 when I was writing about Janet Reno's satanic abuse prosecutions in Dade

County, I think I did lament to at least one Nation editor that it would be useful if Pollitt piped up and I'm not at all sure that her initial cavils at what I was writing on the subject weren’t prompted by my suggestion to her that she take a decent position on the issue. That’s my preliminary memory anyway.

And Doug, what’s all this nonsense about "ad hominem" flames? I directed a serious piece of criticism at Pollitt dwelling solely on the substantive

issue at hand. An "ad hominem" onslaught would have involved unflattering or spiteful personal slurs, of the sort you yourself indulge in from time to time, as when you once referred to Alan Greenspan as the "foul-breathed" chairman of the Fed. That’s ad hominem, Doug. Denunciation of Greenspan’s documented policies is not. As for my alleged tendency to praise right- wingers but not lefties, I've said kind things about right-wingers and also pwoggies marginally to the left of the mainstream like yourself. After all, for years you’ve been featuring my endorsement of your all too intermittent publication, Left Business Observer.

Apropos my supposed enthusiasm for the right, I think, Doug, your problem is that you rarely advance into the American hinterland west of the Hudson, and regard it as a place of terror infested with fundamentalists, militia men and other demons of the polite liberal metropolitan imagination inflamed by hysterical fundraising letters from Morris Dees. Last time you came to the Northwest preliminary research suggests to me you were almost too frightened to get out of the car. But you know my views. Recently you were quavering to me nervously about my hopes of a populist coalition of

left and right on basic issues of liberty. I berated you for timidity and said you’d jump at your own shadow. As it is, you sit in New York peering at your computer screen and talking pretty much exclusively to people of

the same class and intellectual disposition. This leads to very conventional thought plus frantic squeals of alarm to your gossip buddies whenever your stringent norms of political correctness are transgressed.

Larry Pratt never said that Heston was a chardonnay swilling liberal sellout. I once wrote that what I liked about Pratt as head of Gunowners of America was that he regarded Heston as a chardonnay-swilling etc. etc. This prompted another round of squeals from you, plus a flurry of e-mails about the vileness of Pratt not —I think—based on any research by your good self, or any effort to talk to the beast Pratt but on some newspaper clips. As

for your crack about the Klan, I suspect that's what you basically think

working-class rebels are, outside a few union organizers known by you on

personal basis. Doug, spend less time on your List and more getting out and around.

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