in defense of opportunism/hating the white working class

Steve Perry sperry at
Sat Nov 27 06:32:04 PST 1999

carrol recently as an aside in one of his posts some high-minded quotation about the profound dangers of opportunism; i believe he was commenting on some facet of the whole cockburn/pollitt/ henwood row. it stuck in my mind because i think it gets to the heart of the differences a lot of people are now having with cockburn--how dare he write such nasty things about the left in a "right-wing" publication?, etc.--and with the present political climate more generally.

put it simply: i think cockburn is altogether an opportunist, sometimes recklessly so, perhaps, but i think it's a healthy impulse to want to speak with and lay claim to the inchoate working class energies now centered (at least in rural areas) around the proto-militia groups. a number of contributors to the list have testified at length to the potential for fascist ferment in those circles; i think that's unquestionable. but is this the only potential that exists there? listening to the censorious rhetoric round these parts, one would have to believe that most left intellectuals think so.

in other words, i think the distrust of opportunism round here is synonymous with a distrust and distaste for the white working class at large--those (mostly urban) few who are still members of organized labor perhaps excepted. where exactly is the left to go, what is it to do, as long as this prejudice obtains? say a few more words about judith butler et al., i suppose.

a last thought on opportunism: the russian revolution was eminently opportunistic--it's hard to think how any political revolution could be otherwise, isn't it?--so does that mean marx would have protested? that he'd have said no, wait for several decades until russia has passed through a capitalist phase, as i envisioned?

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