[lbo-talk] Platypus: what we are, what we do, and why

Christopher Cutrone ccutrone at speedsite.com
Thu Apr 8 15:14:28 PDT 2010

I think we need to face the possibility that there may indeed be no point to any of what passes for "leftwing politics" today. That's the point of Platypus saying that the "Left is dead!"

Being discontented with the world does not mean being able to change it. Not being able to influence events affects one's thinking on them. It means inevitably turning into cheering for others' actions, when then compounds the problem, especially after several generations of doing it.

I will reiterate, there is no practical potential anti-imperialist (in an emancipatory sense) politics today. It is all about maneuvering -- really, just posing -- within an assumed-to-be unchangeable world.

I think that the best that can be done is to challenge wrong (self-defeating) ways of thinking, if not oppose it (such as when such thinking is actually about rationalizing or otherwise affirming the status quo).

James Heartfield wrote about the problem of the "mirror image" of anti-imperialism being the anti-Islam sentiments one finds in fears of Islamist terrorism. While the threat can and is exaggerated, it does exist, especially to those in the predominantly Muslim parts of the world! And 9/11, it must be said, was the single worst act of terrorism by a non-state actor of all time, and aimed to do much more harm than it did: the World Trade Center was targeted precisely because it was the greatest single concentration of human beings on the planet; they aimed to kill 75,000 not 3.000 people. Does this mean that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was justifiable as "self-defense?" In certain terms, yes, but not in terms that I am willing to simply accept. Certainly, it's hard to imagine that any state would not have responded to such an attack militarily -- which is precisely what al-Qaeda wanted, anyway. Now, 9 years later, the U.S. contemplates

dealing with the "good Taliban," and their stooge, Karzai, threatens to join the Taliban. To me this says that the U.S. and the Taliban (and al-Qaeda) are ultimately on the "same side" that any purported "Left" must oppose. This means taking a certain critical distance from what's going on in Afghanistan today. It's a human tragedy, for sure, with a great deal of horror. It's a humanitarian issue, but it's not a particularly political issue for the Left. Perhaps for pacifists -- certainly for Islamists, or for bourgeois politicians jockeying for position, such as the Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. -- but not so much for the Left. Afghan "Leftists" such as RAWA can rightly point out that the U.S. invasion and occupation doesn't help, and we can agree, but can we actually do anything about it? -- Can they? If not, we ought to acknowledge this up-front, and be that much more careful about what we (as wannabe "Leftists") say about it, for we may not

be affecting events very much, but in whatever small way we are affecting *thinking* about it.

-- Chris

Date: Thu, 08 Apr 2010 16:47:12 -0400 From: Joanne Landy <joanne.landy at igc.org> Subject: Re: [lbo-talk] Platypus: what we are, what we do, and why To: lbo-talk at lbo-talk.org Message-ID: < at pop.igc.org> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"; format=flowed

Again, my apologies, the gremlins must have taken Christopher Cutrone's message out of my inbox. I'm glad to hear that the Platypi don't support these horrendous U.S. wars.

But I still am curious about the meaning of this statement of Cutrone's, "...there is no real potential progressive 'anti-imperialist' politics that provides an actual emancipatory alternative to U.S. policy." I'm most troubled by the word "potential." Yes, the left is weak, and sometimes wrongheaded -- but does it really have no *potential* to offer an emancipatory alternative? If that's the case, what't the point of engaging in leftwing politics? --Joanne

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