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Re: the Communist Manifesto: critique
by kjkhoo
16 March 2002 06:50 UTC
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At 7:09 PM -0500 15/3/02, Andre Gunder Frank wrote in response to:
>  >Jack Goldstone
>  >
>  > Responding to Gunder Frank (14 March 2002):
>  > I wholly agree -- many years ago I wanted to jettison the term
>  > "capitalism," but people cling to it like a lifeboat in a storm.
>I get the impression that the clinging to "capitalism" by those
>how reject it [!] is by no means an only an ''academic'' or
>theoretical or political matter. NO, it is highly [intimately?]
>personal as well. The ''clinging'' as to a life-boat in a storm
>is a defense of their very personal idendity, which is tied to
>their - like mine! - life-long dedication to combatting
>''capitalism''. So to admit - or even to consider that maybe -
>there is none and never was any such challenges one's identity
>in perhaps having to admit having mistakenly followed Don
>Quijote tilting at will-of-the-whisp windmills. Perhaps that is
>not a problem for me personally, because I know that I have made
>lots of other mistakes and because I have and need no identity
>to defend. Lest any reader wish to propose that we leave such
>personal matters out of public discussion, permit me to note
>that this is a case - borrowing from feminists - where the
>'personal is political'- and theoretical as well as''academic'in
>the non-pejorative sense of the word -- if any!

Following in the same, personal, vein, leaving aside the question of 
the existence of "capitalism", other than to note that if the WSJ and 
BusinessWeek, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise 
Institute think it exists and it is a "good" thing, then it can't be 
altogether a bad thing to be combatting it --

I think it is not only, or even primarily, a matter of personal 
identity. It is, for me, more importantly a question/sense of loyalty 
to (the memory of) acquaintances, friends and comrades with whom one 
may no longer agree, but on whom one has not turned one's backs, whom 
one is not seeking to denounce.

I am not, and have never been, much of an activist -- more of a 
talking head, as some might say -- and hence live in fair comfort. 
But too many friends and comrades have sacrificed personal safety, 
comfort, family, etc., too many have lost their youth in detention, 
some have died, for their dedication to combatting that which was 
characterised as capitalism, or dependency, drawing upon theories, 
including such as the (capitalist) development of underdevelopment, 
fought reformism, pursued revolution and the quest for socialism. 
Many are now in the twilight of their lives, some prematurely for the 
privations sustained earlier, believing their lives have not been led 
in vain. They are unknown, except in those small circles who can 
still recall them. They have no careers, no reputations, no books, no 
usable cv's, many not even much schooling, although many could have 
been, as some have subsequently been able to re-engineer themselves 
to be, stellar personalities. They only have the memory of their 
struggles. And they only have those who remember them to recall them 
to others when they are gone.

I have no personal problem in admitting that I may have been tilting 
at windmills -- what else is new? But I do have a problem in telling 
those friends and comrades that their lives have been (are being) led 
on a lie, that those sacrifices were all for naught, that there 
really is no such system as capitalism. And perhaps I value them more 
than theoretical, conceptual or academic 'truth', a 'truth' that is, 
as should be evident by now, rather fickle. So, I would rather live 
with the term and what they represent[ed] by it -- the metaphor -- 
namely, the inequities, injustices and oppression built around and 
into a practice of capital accumulation and wage labour which they 
sought to end, if mistakenly.

kj khoo

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