vietnam/civil rights (fwd)
Wed, 17 Apr 1996 14:34:42 -0400

Subject: vietnam/civil rights

Even though I feel like I'm arguing w/my dear old mother
in Berkeley I will try to answer Ted Morgan:
No one can justify Vietnam. No one can justify the
atrocities of the killing fields or N.Viet. massacres and the
whole dirty deal. The only heroic personages from that sad
affair were the Vietnamese people who were resiliant and had
enormous courage and beauty.
When my brother came back from Vietnam in '64 he told me
right off 'the people don't understand what is really going on.'
All through the 60's the vets I knew coming back didn't want
anything to do w/the war. And, like Marxism, if the people who
fight for it give up any attempt to give it meaning it is a dead
issue. But it just seems absurd to me that people carry the
ideological fixations that were prominent at the time to try
and explain 'what happened'. It is clear to me that there was
a terrible dilemna human beings had never faced w/nukes. What
do you do about an unprecedented situation where you have thousands
of nukes, huge nation/states, and an ideological conflict that
always sounded like war to me? The unprecedented nature created
a global irrationaity and, certainly, the geo-political view
the US/USSR had was part of that. That, I think, will be the
legacy of the defunct cold war. Vietnam, then, can be understood
as a mistake by a people and state that didn't have experience
in being a world power. And that does not dismiss the suffering
of the people. What it does is call for driving out of the world
as much choas as possible and building a stable world.
We should be joyful that the majority of people view Vietnam
as immoral. Nonetheless, the people gave overwhelming consent to the
Gulf War which they would not have had they believed they and
the state were inherently immoral.
The civil rights movement has little respect today since
it began to embody the very traits of its hated enemies- ie. it
became racialist, facile, empty-headed, and seperatist. Its
dilemma is that it can't embrace American institutions and/or
values and so self-alienates itself to the margins. All that
does is give grist to old professors. But, it is a tragedy for
its constituency that needs to embrace those values that will
get them 'up the ladder'- 'a ladder' that so-called progressives
are suspicious of but the only one available.
Capitalism is (outside the safe womb of universities) the
only salvation for women and people of color. That they are not
taught this is a sin that is on the hands of so-called leaders
and teachers.
Since Marx is dead as a thought-instrument it has no
credibility in analyzing institutions, history, peoples or
anything else. Progessives of the 60's are the last group
in the world to figure this out.
Well, everything good decays and there was a lot of
good in the 60's; good feelings, good thinking, good conscience
and so forth. But, unless people transform and mature it
collapses. That is what happened to the left.
Thanks for the indulgence,