in defense of opportunism/hating the white working class

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Sat Nov 27 09:44:29 PST 1999

Steve Perry wrote:

>if you can tear yourself away from zizek for
>a moment, doug,

There it is again, that rhetorical trick. I suppose it's supposed to show how rooted you are in the righteous & real, while my fellow ludics & I cavort around in what Shelley called the intense inane.

> i believe you'll see that his
>notes on larry pratt are not exactly the only
>thing ac has written on the subject of the
>folks who congregate around militia gatherings,
>and it's disingenuous in the extreme to continually
>invoke him as you do.

I suppose the political evolution of Alex Cockburn is a relevant topic of inquiry, though I imagine a significant number of people find it an overvisted topic. To clarify: I've repeatedly said things very similar to what AC said about militias - that they shouldn't be lumped together as an undifferentiated mass of seething racists, that paranoid liberals have wrongly transformed them into monsters, and that they're worth talking to and listening to. In fact, unlike AC, I've tried to take their ideology seriously instead of treating them as symbols of rebellion with great chaotropic potential. What I see in their ideology is an extreme version of American libertarianism, that treats the individual as the fundamental sovereign unit (aside from those that treat race as the fundamental social unit, but that's not the majority by any means). I think a lot of Cockburn's writing these days reflects that fundamental assumption - of individual sovereignty rather than any notion of solidarity or collectivity. That's what's at the root of the anti-tax, progun cheerleading, and the kind words offered for Pratt and Paul.

Both Pratt and Paul are Christian fundamentalist theocrats. Pratt is a full-blown monster, while Paul is a more run-of-the-mill goldbug and libertarian. I think it shows either a careless lack of research into the views of people you tout, or if there has been some research then a really disturbing indifference to some really disturbing positions, to say kind things about either of these people without breathing a word about their mainly cretinous politics. Someone who can write thousands of words about how awful Bernie Sanders is - and he's no angel for sure - but can't say anything more damning about Ron Paul than that his devotion to gold is a bit excessive, is on a strange political journey to somewhere I don't want to go.

> the distaste and distrust
>for the white working class i infer from the
>sum of criticisms of cockburn, and more pointedly
>from their absence here as a subject of inquiry.

I'm at a loss to understand how a blueblood of Anglo-Irish origin comes to represent the white working class. A new instance of speaking for the subaltern, perhaps?

"Their absence here as a subject of inquiry"? Hardly. You've brought it up yourself several times, and Max Sawicky many more, and neither of you has been ignored. Kelley has brought up the white working class, from a perspective different from yours & Max's, and she's hardly been ignored either. Maybe you mean that not too many people agree with you, but that's another thing entirely.


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