Peter Levy wrote:
> In retrospect, it also leads me to believe that conservative backlash was
> not the only cause of the rapid decline of the left. RAther, many new
> leftists had abdicated their role of recruiting younger, still idealistic
> students into the movement.
I've become increasingly unhappy over time with this sort of generic criticism of
"The Left" or "Leftists." There is a hidden voluntarist premise: that all that
stands between us and utopia is the mistakes leftists make. Peter rightly sneers at
the Spartacists, but this blaming, even partial blaming, of "new leftists" in
general exhibits the same premise that generates the Sparticists. Both versions of
that voluntarist theology simply ignore the overwhelming strength of U.S. capital.
One really can't learn much (beyond copybook maxims) from the *mistakes* of the
past, because those errors or mistakes are almost always inseparable from the
actual historical contingencies of time and place. We couldn't repeat them if we
wanted to. We might be able to learn something by carefully sifting history for
what people did *right*. That sometimes carries across temporal and spatial
Reciting the errors of the past is more apt to be simply boosting one's own ego:
how wise I am.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Aug 04 2000 - 22:11:07 CUT