From: John Ransom <ransom@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 1997 19:20:20 -0400 (EDT)
On Thu, 18 Sep 1997, Daniel F. Vukovich wrote:
> I think Doug Henwood is right on in re. the putative charge against
> Marxism/the CP/socialist history. I hope the quote from Foucault is as
> out-of-context as it seems, just as I don't see how the letter from M to E
> illustrates the racism inherent in (their) revolutionary thinking. Which
> is not to deny their understandable, but by no means justifiable,
> eurocentrism and real inadequacy in regard to gender and sexuality. Didn't
> the Lingua Franca -- a fun, but liberal rag if ever there was one --
> article say that essay and its volume are yet to be published?
> Anyway, I'd like to query John Ransom's response: Isn't the level of
> abstraction -- and the homology it would require -- needed to equate the
> "purification"-impulse within revolutionary movements/moments (and I
> wouldn't agree with the word-choice here, myself), to racial
> purges/cleanses a rather high one? Too high, I'd argue, because it negates
> the specificities of each of these moments.
That can't be right. The "because" in the last sentence above doesn't
work. An abstraction can't be too high because it negates specificities,
as that is what abstractions do.
> And their considerable
> discontinuities from each other-- as if all revolutionary histories, and
> their "purges" as well as their *class* struggles post-seizure of power,
> were alike. The USSR from 1917-1923, or China from 1949-1969, were much
> different entities than these same places post-Lenin or post-Mao (which is
> not, of course, to see the former as pre-lapsarian).
> "A desire for purification typical of communists"? I don't think so.
> Sounds like a cheap-shot to me, though I don't wish to sound hostile.....
I don't think you're being hostile. If it sounds like a cheap shot to you,
then it sounds like a cheap shot to you. But I respectfully disagree.
Communists have been incredibly puritanical. Stalin's movement to
"eliminate the Kulak's as a class"; Mao and Chiang Ching's cultural
revolution are both real big examples. Need I mention the "purge trials"?
For more tempest in a teacup versions of the same we can look to the
rampant sectarianism and endless splits typical of the history of
communist groups in Europe and the United States -- though this was
somewhat muted in the U.S.