Re: po-mo is part of the world-system, not a virus

Wed, 12 Mar 1997 14:11:05 -0500 (EST)

Dear Al,

Thanks for your reply. By the way, I'm in History not English.
It's a grey area between the humanities and the social sciences. Anyway,
I understand full well the resistance to any kind of vanguard party in the
light of the experiences of our century. Of course it is, and will
continue to be for some time, "off the agenda for politics." It may never
return to the agenda. When I say "All power to the Party," I am indulging
in a little elementary wry humor. All power to something that does not
exist and may never exist? What a strange disposition of power!

Nevertheless, the most valuable lesson of history in my judgment
is that people learn (or believe they learn) too much from history,
especially recent history. If the First, Second, and Third Internationals
were either feeble failures or monstrous tyrannies, therefore we must
never again try to build an International, or a global vanguard party. I
don't see how that follows at all. It's a non-sequitur in the most
classic sense. If what the world needs most is a democratic socialist
world government capable of restoring the environment and bringing peace
with justice to the human race, and no one nation or race or gender can
accomplish this on its own, what choice is there--in the long run--except
a World Party drawing on men and women of good will in every nation and
race? Sooner or later, probably later, I do believe something like this
will emerge and struggle to replace the current megacorporate
multinational world-system with a better one. It will not always be able
to live up to its own ideals, it may err badly from time to time, it may
fail, but what is the alternative? Pointing with dismay at the horrors
perpetrated in the name of socialism by Comrade Stalin is well and good,
and let us learn something from those horrors, but we should not be
paralyzed by the spectacle of past evil. Most of history is a spectacle
of evil. This is no excuse for resignation or despair.

All best wishes,


On Tue, 11 Mar 1997, Albert J Bergesen wrote:

> Dear Warren--Yes, it is nice to be on the same side of the world system
> fence for once. Being in English you are closer to the shifting tides of
> cultural frames through which we see/interpret texts, art, and in social
> science, lived lives.
> You mentioned the World Party, and in a friendly fraternal manner I would
> like to ask if this seems the best form of organization given the history
> of centralized parties and their outcomes in the 20th century. Somehow it
> seems to me that the idea of The Party will be off the agenda for politics
> for a while. It just seems a hard sell: let us lead you, let us be a
> vanguard, let us seize the high ground, let us make the revolution,
> let us give you the better world you want. Maybe its me, but
> given the history of what that call resulted in in our century I cannot
> imagine being able to mobilize people around the idea of a vanguard party
> any more. Mind you I don't as yet have an alternative rallying call, but
> the idea of a World Party makes me queezy.
> al b.
> Albert Bergesen
> Department of Sociology
> University of Arizona
> Tucson, Arizona 85721
> Phone: 520-621-3303
> Fax: 520-621-9875
> email: