--------------------------- <clip> And speaking of the 1960s left, the Platypus people take a dim view of the SDS protests that radicalized so many college students and shook American society to its foundations. In a chastened and rueful mood, they find much to support in the elderly Adorno’s disgust with Columbia University’s protestors:
Borrowing from Freudian psychoanalysis, Adorno and his colleagues (Marcuse
> and Reich) interpreted the constitution of the “authoritarian personality,”
> characterized by “narcissism” and sadomasochism, as evincing a regressive
> “fear of freedom.” Thus, faced with “political hysteria” Adorno observed,
> “Those who protest most vehemently are similar to authoritarian
> personalities in their aversion to introspection.”
Having lived through this period, I can state that many journalists shared Adorno’s critique but without his anti-capitalist cachet. A week did not go by without some pundit blaming the Oedipal Complex for SDS misbehavior. Silly me always blamed street protests and “trashing” on outrage over napalming peasant villages rather than a desire to have intercourse with one’s mother.
...Written somewhat ostentatiously in the name of the Platypus Historians Group (as if they could be seen in the same light as the storied Communist Historians Group that included Hobsbawm et al), there is an article titled Catastrophe, historical memory and the Left: 60 years of Israel-Palestine<https://outlook.cuit.columbia.edu/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://platypus1917.org/2008/05/01/catastrophe-historical-memory-and-the-left-60-years-of-israel-palestine/>that unconscionably puts Palestinan and Israeli violence on the same plane:
> Neither the endless “peace process” nor Katyusha rockets shot by Islamic
> fundamentalists at working-class Israeli towns point towards an emancipatory
It should me mentioned at this point that the call for “emancipatory politics” serves as a kind of mantra on the Platypus website although I have never been able to figure out what it means. In Marxist terms, emancipation means ending class rule and producing for human need rather than private profit. For these upstarts, it strikes me as having much more of the libertarian esprit that typified Frank Furedi’s group in Britain. It should therefore come as no surprise that James Heartfield, the last Furedite claiming allegiance to Marxism, contributed once to Platypus. Despite my overall hostility to Spiked online politics, I’d have to say that Heartfield took a step down when he became associated with these characters. Even if he agrees with Cutrone and company that the “left is dead”, Heartfield would never offer up their kind of Eustonite droppings.
As mentioned above, Cutrone employs scare quotes when it comes to the antiwar movement. Once again, in 2008, he had recourse to this device in an article titled Iraq and the election: The fog of “anti-war” politics. In it he finds it useful to put scare quotes around the word imperialism as well. In the world of the Platypus, all attempts to describe Bush’s war as imperialist are wrong. Indeed, the cause of the war was not a grab at resources and any other geopolitical assets but Saddam’s recklessness:
> At base, the U.S. did not invade and occupy Iraq to steal its oil, or for
> any other venal or nefarious reason, but rather because the U.N.’s
> 12-year-old sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government, which
> meant the compromise and undermining of effective Iraqi sovereignty (for
> instance in the carving of an autonomous Kurdish zone under U.N. and NATO
> military protection) was unraveling in the oil-for-food scandal etc., and
> *Saddam, after the first grave mistake of invading Kuwait, made the
> further fateful errors of spiting the U.N. arms inspectors and counting on
> being able to balance the interests of the European and other powers in the
> U.N. against the U.S. threat of invasion and occupation.*
Let’s not beat around the bush, dear reader. The notion that Saddam’s “spited” the U.N. arms inspectors belongs on Fox News rather than a self-described Marxist website professing “emancipatory politics”. Quite frankly, I have to wonder if some of the good people who have taken part in panel discussions with Platypus people have an idea that such raw sewage is floating in their canals...