[Marxism] Melvin gone again...

D OC donaloc at hotmail.com
Fri Jun 18 06:08:31 MDT 2004


I have to state my acute disappointment that Melvin has left the list again. 
His posts are among the most developed on the list and very useful to those 
of us actually involved in struggle in a colonial context. I would have to 
say I also have agreed whole-heartedly with what Lou Paulsen said on the 
subject. The point he raised about which term 'white chauvinism' or 'race 
baiting' is more outrageous is particularly valid.

Then there was Louis' inaccurate assault on my own post (should I call it an 
'outburst'!!). He stated...

"We have had two outbursts in the past couple of days about formulations 
such as these. Since I am thick-skinned, I didn't mind being accused of 
being objectively pro-imperialist because I used the term British Isles."

This last line is a complete misrepresentation of the facts - Louis had no 
need for a thick epidermis! I at no stage mentioned the words 'objectively 
pro-imperialist' - the garbled title of the post (my fault)included the 
words 'British isles an imperialist term' . And furthermore, I never alleged 
that the comrade in the USA who used them (the moderator) was himself of 
that persuasion. All I was doing was flagging up an issue which really 
irritates me. I didn't direct it at anyone - its not as if Louis meant any 
harm by it - just ignorance of our petty-prujudices over here 5000 
kilometres away. We can't know it all. It's a matter of not having an 
anglo-centric focus - very easy to get in a list pervaded by people speaking 
English. I also developed the post to deal with the interesting content of 
Louis' post. I will include the relevent text of my original post to confirm 
what I actually said. Indeed, far from it being an emotional 'outburst' - I 
was semi-self deprecating when I refered to my post as a 'rant'. I was not 
trying to get at anyone.

>Like most Irish men and women, I find the term British Isles to be hateful. 
>It symbolises that somehow we are defined by those people living in the 
>Eastern isle (notably the Anglo-Saxons) who have adopted the name British. 
>It is my understanding that the term arose from
something near Vritish which is what the Romans thought the (Celtic) 
inhabitants of the Eastern Isle called themselves. Aside from my rant on the 
name given by the imperialists to the Islands
Of the North Atlantic (IONA)... [the imperialists here does not -obviously- 
refer to Louis Proyect but by those who have the power to 'give names' to 
geographical lands]

Someone asked me if most Irish people really did think like this. Well, I 
don't think any survey has been conducted but suffice it to say that themain 
Bourgeois nationalist leadership of the 26 counties would studiously avoid 
the term. Furthermore RTE, the state broadcaster, will never refer to the 
islands by that name - rather always Britain and Ireland. The BBC, on the 
other hand, always refers to the islands by that name.

Of course, a movement will always have its own prefered terminology and it 
can get a little like navel gazing sometimes trying to say things in their 
correct form - e.g. many republicans still have a problem calling Leinster 
House, the 'Dail' or the Irish parliament. I would have some difficulty 
there myself. I hate the term (dis)United Kingdom and usually refer to the 
greater island (geographically) as Britain and not Great Britain - not too 
much great about it apart from their ability to kill innocents. (Although 
that's just me - I think that the Great is to differentiate it from Bretan 
in France.) A similar issue to be careful of is refering to the Basque 
county as being 'in Spain' or 'in France'. I guess the occupied territories 
of Palestine (the whole of pre-1948 Palestine) should be refered to instead 
of the Zionist statelet of Israel as well and so on...

As for the woman claiming that she should have been spending her Sterling 
money in Dublin - well, we have a name for that type - a West Brit - they 
think that our island is West Britain!! They need a serious dose of 
decolonisation to emancipate themselves from mental slavery.

I like Calvin hope for the speedy return of Melvin. The list without him 
will lose a good bit of colour and life. He really has experienced the 
struggle. You don't always have to agree or even understand what he's saying 
to see that. His analytical abilities are belied by his tendencies to miss 
plural forms in nouns and verbs and the like - but his immersion in marx, 
lenin and engels is undeniable even to Trotskyist opponents. He is truthful. 
His talk is of his own people and his own culture. His honest and 
imaginative appraisal of where we stand today is precisely what we need at a 
time when all too many seek to run back to 'tried and tested shibboleths' - 
which are no longer appropriate.

If we're serious about this list being worth the time we put into it - we 
should all give each other a little more space - when Melvin posted me a 
reply with 'Comrade Paddy' at the beginning of each paragraph I took it as 
par for the course. If I explode over a seemingly innocuous term (British 
Isles) then the rest can just pass over it. It is a shame to lose a 
contributor of the weight of Melvin on a list which more than anything needs 
a variety of thinkers to contend ideas. Comrades from privileged strata - 
and as Lou P says that includes us all at times - should give those from 
outside the benefit of the doubt when it comes to stuff. Meanwhile, maybe us 
getting all up tight about stuff can loosen our collars a little.

David has clarified that he didn't mean to label the whole Chinese people 
with the same argument. The misunderstanding of this is what upset Melvin so 
much. So now that's clarified can Melvin decide to come back? Melvin - over 
to you.

As for the argument, I tend to agree that those judging Chinese industrial 
expansion by the moral tones of the already developed West are feeding into 
a domestic bourgeois agenda (note I'm not saying that they are part of it). 
One of the biggest problems I think on the left is to think in terms of 
ticking our ideological test boxes (have they done this and that) instead of 
thinking in terms of benefiting the people most effectively. A little more 
pragmatism a little less ideological box ticking.

I was listening to Robert McBride of the ANC answering our questions 
yesterday and although I certainly have serious difficulties with much of 
what he was saying - I can see that there's a little life left in them yet - 
despite their disavowal of the possibility of socialism in a post SU world. 
They are doing stuff precisely because they see it benefiting their people 
best. The problem for me is what they're not doing in terms of going outside 
the IMF box - the issue of socialism.

Most interesting was his comments on the Zimbabwe situation - he firmly 
placed primary responsibility for the problems with the British Govt who 
have reneged on the deal with the Govt of Zimbabwe to the value of £20 
billion to pay for land transfer.

Is mise
DoC.

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