Ideology and "Psychology", was Re: identifying with the enemy

Gordon Fitch gcf at
Sat May 19 17:42:15 PDT 2001

Carrol Cox:
> ...
> I suspect this confusion between being wrong and being (somehow) "wrong
> as a person" -- irrational or weird -- was at the source of Gordon's
> absurdities on the POW/MIA question. (As I pointed out at the time, he
> is probably quite wrong, empirically, in his demographics, but for the
> purposes of the present argument we can assume he is correct in his
> rough-and-ready sociological description of the "believers" in the myth
> of the MIAs.) He assumed that if his "trailer-park and tract home"
> people were _wrong_ about the MIAs, then they were, as people, weird or
> irrational -- i.e., that one could only respect them as people by
> somehow or other respecting the content of their beliefs. But that is
> outrageous condescension. ...

However, I didn't much consider whether they were "right" or "wrong" since substantial, verifiable evidence on the question isn't available to me. What I drew attention to was the class structure of the issue. The class structure of the issue does not refer to who is manipulating it, but to whose social context it exists in as a legitimate concern. Tim O'Brien disparaged an activity emanating directly from lower-class anxiety and anger about the War in Vietnam and its outcome, and disparaged the people who constitute that class as well. He was angry at "the narcissism of an American public that embraces and breathes life into the policy -- so arrogant, so ignorant, so self-righteous, so wanting in the most fundamental qualities of sympathy and fairness and mutuality." That is, "Too bad we got your friends and relatives killed, maimed and disappeared in a meaningless war. Get over it, and get back to dumb jobs and crappy lives."

This isn't respect, it's ruling-class bigotry.

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