Over a year ago, I ran into an article in the New York Sun where Pete Seeger recanted his love of Communism.
The author — Ron Radosh — said:
So I felt some trepidation when I got Mr. Seeger's letter. Surely he was angry, or at the least peeved, by my article. I had been a banjo student of his in the 1950s and regarded Mr. Seeger as my childhood hero and mentor. But for decades since then, I have been publicly identified as an opponent of much of what he has believed; that the Rosenbergs were innocent, for example, or that Fidel Castro was a friend of the poor.
I almost fell off the chair when I read Mr. Seeger's words: “I think you're right - I should have asked to see the gulags when I was in [the] USSR.” For years, Mr. Seeger continued, he had been trying to get people to realize that any social change had to be nonviolent, in the fashion sought by Martin Luther King Jr. Mr. Seeger had hoped, he explained, that both Khrushchev and later Gorbachev would “open things up.” He acknowledged that he underestimated, and perhaps still does, “how the majority of the human race has faith in violence.”
I was intrigued that such an Icon of the cultural left would have such a major volte-face so I blogged it here: Pete Seeger recants on Communism
Well, today, a Mr. Anthony Cristofani stopped by and left this:
By your definition, the U.S. must be communist: brute thuggery and corruption. And I guess Venezuela, then, is NOT communist. Have you actually read any Marx, Lukacs, Marcuse, Jameson? No? Don't write, then.
What a load of drivel. If the United States is so fucking awful in your eyes, why don't you move to the nearest Communist Paradise.
Oops — there isn't one.
There has never been a Communist Paradise because Communism plain out and out does not work. If you read the N.Y. Sun article I linked to, one of the commentors had this poignant observation:
Had been living under communism through 1982 I've never dreamt that one day I'll have a warm feeling toward Pete Seeger, who up to this day used to be for me the quintessential hypocritical, blind-corrupted American leftist. His belated, brave gesture turns the prism through what we may see him to a considerable, and admireable degree.
Communism falls victim to Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy:
In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.
The United States also suffers this problem but because of the set of checks and balances embedded in our Constitution, we never are as bad as a regime that is totalitarian.
What is that number again?
100,000,000 people dead from the various Communist regiemes…
The United States of America is not a Communist Nation and you insult our great country by impugning that I think that it is. We are a Federated Republic of States (you would have remembered that from your grade school history classes if you had been paying attention).
Anthony Cristofani continues: “And I guess Venezuela, then, is NOT communist.”
No, Venezuela is a Socialist state that is being maintained on life support with the money from its oil riches. Now that people aren't driving as much, oil prices are down and Chavez is scrambling for cash. He was spending it on bread and circuses for his “people” and not investing in infrastructure and maintaining a budget surplus. He has started nationalizing foreign owned businesses again so this will screw him out of any large business wanting to invest there ever again. He is an idiot with a great public relations department. Read your newspapers — this stuff is being written about almost daily.
Anthony Cristofani again: “Have you actually read any Marx, Lukacs, Marcuse, Jameson? No? Don't write, then.”
Ooooo - don't write? How fucking scary you are you odious little man.
Typical liberal — free speech for me but not for thee if you disagree…
As for Marx — I read bits and pieces of him over the years and did not like what I read. I rarely finished anything of his that I picked up as one does not have to eat the entire egg to know that it is rotten. Turgid writer too… I did claw my way through to the end of Capital and the Manifesto.
As for György Lukács, Herbert Marcuse and Fredric Jameson; no, I have not read them. For me, Postmodernism is a failed construct and we are finally coming back to our senses. Even Philosophy Today says so (subscription required):
Indeed, it is hard to give an overview of the major postmodernist tenets without seeming to fall into parody. All knowledge, scientific knowledge included, is held to be socially constructed through and through. Science is therefore merely one story among others. The world we know is one that is constructed by human discourses, giving us not so much truths as ‘truth-effects’ which may or may not be pragmatically useful. From this point of view, epistemologically speaking, a scientific text is understood as being on a par with a literary text. Further, given that for Derrida language is a self-referential system, all communication is reduced to the model of an avant-garde poem in which all meaning is indefinitely deferred.
Hell, even Noam Chomsky is on board with this:
Keeping to the personal level, I have spent a lot of my life working on questions such as these, using the only methods I know of—those condemned here as “science,” “rationality,” “logic,” and so on. I therefore read the papers with some hope that they would help me “transcend” these limitations, or perhaps suggest an entirely different course. I'm afraid I was disappointed. Admittedly, that may be my own limitation. Quite regularly, “my eyes glaze over” when I read polysyllabic discourse on the themes of poststructuralism and postmodernism; what I understand is largely truism or error, but that is only a fraction of the total word count. True, there are lots of other things I don't understand: the articles in the current issues of math and physics journals, for example. But there is a difference. In the latter case, I know how to get to understand them, and have done so, in cases of particular interest to me; and I also know that people in these fields can explain the contents to me at my level, so that I can gain what (partial) understanding I may want. In contrast, no one seems to be able to explain to me why the latest post-this-and-that is (for the most part) other than truism, error, or gibberish, and I do not know how to proceed.
This is showing up in academia as well — consider this tracking of journal citations for the following terms as compiled by Gene Expression
Your zenith was fifteen years ago — get over it.
But it gets better. Anthony Cristofani was convicted of armed robbery and spent three years in jail:
It seems that, while attending UC Santa Cruz, he got himself arrested for armed robbery. He had accompanied his then-girlfriend, a freshman art student named Emma Freeman (who happened to be a National Merit Scholar) when she waived a semiautomatic Beretta around in a Costco and walked out with a boombox, a Walkman and a telephone. “They were such terrible robbers,” said Lindsey. “Anthony was wearing his dance pants; they were doing pirouettes down the aisle of the store.”
Anthony ended up doing three years in prison for the crime, spending his time writing a novel, learning French and studying poetry.
I love the MySpace comment: “I'm the Antonio right between Gramsci and Negri”
Gramsci was the moke who realized that most civilized nations would not submit to the yoke of totalitarian rule lightly and prescribed a gradual incrementalism until such time as total rule is achieved. It is chillingly evident in today's society and is causing no small measure of concern.
So, Mr. Anthony Cristofani, you are a perfect example of what Vladimir Ilyich Lenin called a Useful Idiot.
I stand by what I have written and urge you and your compatriots to move to Venezuela or Cuba and enjoy practicing what you preach.
Until then, you have neither the moral nor the intellectual authority to tell me what to do. You are a closed minded fool who fashions himself a thinker but in reality, you are not the sharpest tool in the box…Posted by DaveH at January 24, 2009 08:30 PM | TrackBack