Memory & History: Herman Melville's _Benito Cereno_ (was...

Thu Oct 12 08:42:31 PDT 2000

Sure, and I agree that the US ought to have kept out of Yugo, but my point is that the constraints were there, so whatever choice the Serbian people might have made at the last election would have been under the same constraints, and equally free or unfree. If they rejected M under those conditions, they would have been no more free had they retained him.

By the way, thanks for the tip on Benito Cereno. I have been reading a lot of Melville this year, just finished readind Moby Dick again, read Billy Budd and Bartelby, am working on White-Jacket, and now I am on BC. great stuff!


In a message dated Thu, 12 Oct 2000 12:00:03 AM Eastern Daylight Time, Yoshie Furuhashi <furuhashi.1 at> writes:

<< Justin:

>In a message dated 10/11/00 10:19:13 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
>furuhashi.1 at writes:
><< The problem is that "the choice" was not theirs. The bombings &
> economic sanctions, even aside from lesser forms of attacks and
> propaganda, have shaped the nature of "the choice" made by a large
> minority of the Yugoslavs. (I have already told Nathan that I would
> have been happy to see the Socialist Party-the United Left overthrown
> _if_ the workers & rural masses had overthrown it, without imperial
> domination, to replace it with a new government of their own for
> their own benefit.) >>
>So what makes their situation different from anyone elses? "Man makes his own
>history, but not just as he pleases . . . ," I learned somewhere. Under your
>theory, no historical choice by oppressed people is ever free. Of course that
>is true in a sense. We always choose, as the economists say, under
>constraints. But what's your point?

One can make, first of all, evaluative judgments on degrees of freedom. For instance, the CIA & other American sources spent lots of money supporting the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan. The money may or may not have made a crucial difference, since 1947 was the watershed year in post-war Japanese history, with the American occupation crushing the general strikes, purging the Reds, & rehabilitating militarists (including war criminals) -- in that year, Japan practically lost the chance to shape the post-war history in a left-wing direction. Now, that's bad enough -- but compare the American influence on Japan with the American power over Yugoslavia, and think what kind freedom you can say the Yugoslavs had.

The point is that American leftists' foremost duty is to diminish the American hegemony abroad, if they care about the degree of freedom that peoples elsewhere possess to shape their own destinies. Are you not in favor of more freedom, especially more freedom from American hegemony?



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