Fri, 19 Apr 1996 21:50:09 -0400

Well Ted, since my mother is a good and conscientious person
I owe her some explanation:
Marx is dead as a thought-instrument because the worlds people
will it so (read recent accounts of the total lack of interest in
Marx/Lenin in Cuban universities- students are into 'new agism'!
They're into 'new agism' because they want real selfhood and not
ideology) A new Marx coming on the scene today would have nothing
to do with the totalitarianism that his ideas were used to justify.
People of the world want a decent life. People in E.Oakland and E.
LA want a decent life. The decent life comes when capital is flowing,
people are employed, the chance for savings/investment is on the
increase etc.
Capitalism has more than a few evils but its main contrabution
to history is this: it reversed the traditonal relation between
scarcity and surplus. Whereas in the not to distant past you had
seas of scarcity and islands of surplus now you have, in the areas
where capitalism has taken root, seas of surplus and islands of
Many 3rd world people are oppressed by legacies having nothing
to do w/capital. I don't know one credible leader in any American
city and/or nation that does not see his/her primary role as
attracting capital for the benefit of most people. Capitalism is
now the operating principle of the owrld and its resistence in the
form of 'revolutions' is absurd.
I heard a feminist arguing for 'breaking the glass cieling'
the other day. Now, how is a woman or person of color going to
break the glass cieling unless they fully, completely surrender
to capitalism, the corporation, and the functions that make
capitalism and corporations successful? I assume the feminists
are still on the left- I assume Jesse Jackson still speaks from
the left. Only when women and people of color are ready and willing
to surrender to the ideas of capitalism and business will they gain
any benefit from it. That seems very clear to me.
Go back, Ted, and read what capitalism is. It is simply, 'the
most efficient throughput of value'-
If the 3rd world has the fortune of following the American
model these trends will appear in the next 15-20 years:
1- establishment of Constitutional law
2- development of very strong middle-class (ie India) that will
insist on guaranteed rights (free press, free elections, free
3- expansion of productivity as vast new markets are opened and
new talents are found among the newly liberated people
4- stability as a system of checks and balances is institutionalized
5- expansion of economy (growth) that pulls more and more poor people
into the productive cycle
Well, I'm sure there are more. Most 3rd world nations I've
read about are poised to grow at 5-7% in the next 15-20 years-
read the new Paul Kennedy book-
Actually, now that communism is dead capitalism can be
reformed as never before. I don't understand why Marxists don't
pick up on that. Any taint of Marx, however, in the critique of
capitalism will doom it to obscurity.
After all, it is not capitalism; it is free men and women
building/exchanging goods and services for the benefit of a majority
of people. Marxists, I guess, don't like or don't trust freedom
and would rather take hold of the instrumentality of state to effect
their ideas of justice etc. This efforts is now being buried by
history and, in fact, the whole idea pattern of the last 150 years
is going down the tubes with it.
The environmental point is a good one and could be a point
of entrance for some new critque of capitalism etc.
As far as Vietnam I don't see that conflict as an attempt
to 'roll back the arms race' but, rather, to put the burden of
supporting armed conflict squarely on the Soviets until, as Kennan
predicted, the Soviet Union would split under the pressure of 'internal
contradictions'. The driving need to do this was the untenable
nuclear situation.
The 'mistake' was that no one in American govt. figured out the
how, what, where, when etc. of this specific conflict. And this comes
from inexperience- the same inexperience the Brits had during our own
I would rather use American power to help stabilize the world
for growth, peace etc. than allow America to become a bastion that
threatens the destablized world away from its self-interest.
By 'ideological fixation' I simply meant that there has been
no growth in thought (up/through American spirit) since that upsurge
in the 60's. People became emotionally involved in something that
swept them into cages of thought so that the left resembles the
frothy fundementalists rather than the traditions that even Marx
worked from. I think the unabomber is a perfect example of what
The American people supported the Gulf War because 1) they
support freedom and oppose tyrants like Hussein 2) they want
stability so that economic growth can take place 3) they believed
(rightly) that the people of the world opposed Hussein and supported
the UN. That was all a pretty simple call unless you are fixated
on the idea that any exercise of power is evil. And if you believe
that there is an abandoned shack up in Montana that you might want
to move into.
I suggest two things for Ted: go back and read the enlightenment
philosphers who came to the realization that you could not destroy
inequality but you could use the 'social arts' to ensure some
equality. And, two, study the periods following the Civil War and
WWII (both wars far more monumental than Vietnam) and see how far
the legacies of those conflicts lasted for the living who experienced
The legacy is over, time moves on, the lessons are debated and
the rest is silence.
Sorry for the length-