Re: [sixties-l] phil ochs/ music w/ marijuana

From: Carrol Cox (
Date: Fri Aug 04 2000 - 20:34:14 CUT

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    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.

    Carrol Cox

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