The Dartmouth Observer
Wednesday, August 14, 2002
On Wednesday, July 31, 2002, Karsten Barde wrote:
"Here is a sensible article by Richard Goldstein entitled "On Being Called a Commie: Red-Baiting in a World Without Reds" in the most recent Village Voice. It is one thing to see that certain edicts coming out of the Ashcroft and Bush regime represent McCarthyism with a new haircut. It is a different thing to understand that progressive movements are still struggling to break free from the legacy of his witch-hunting."
This sparked a reaction about political name-calling from the left and right. (Funny that this article should start a chain against name calling, seeing how it engages in it (McCarthyist, witch-hunting). However, to taunt Karsten's entry for this reason would miss Mr. Goldstein’s article that undergurds it.
Goldstein suggests that being a progressive/ social justice type is not enough for me to label him as a Stalinist or a Commie. He suggests that the real thought-police do not reside on the left, but on the right with Bill Maher's show to prove it. Karsten even suggest that those in the present "regime", a word that better applies to Mugabe or the thugs in Palestine, exist in an ancient lineage of left-bashing. Goldstein echoes this criticism by saying left-bashing is the same as censorship and tyranny. I contend that it is entirely appropriate to list the justice movements and a large part of the leftist movements as 'Commies', not in the same way that Karsten uses McCarthysits, but as a descriptive term to point to the source of their ideology. When Goldstein writes, "[A] Commie in our time is someone who remains committed to liberation politics; in other words, a proponent of the social--as opposed to the personal--agenda of the '60s," I couldn't agree with him more.
A large part of the thought that come from the '60s' came from radical reactionary leftists and communists who became postmodernists. Their thoughts about paradigms, dicourses, language and structures is echoed in the works of Judith Bulter, whose wretched prose has been featured on this site and whose book Gender Trouble created the field of queer studies, in the thoughts of Catherine Mackinnon and in pop theorists like Stanley Fish and Cornel West. The idea that killed liberalism: the impersonal self-propelling, self-reinforces strucutures and systems of oppression, coupled with the postmodern syndrome of moral groundlessness and perpetual ethical confusion mingled into the Old Left and birthed the so-called New Left. These various justice movements and the Party Platform of the Green Party (which as a coporate body echoes many of the demands in the Communist Manifesto and the Unabomber's piece on the Environment) embody the communist spirit in its entirety. When words like wealth redistribution and economic justice appear, I know that I am reading works by those committed to very dangerous ideas. (Speaking of wealth redistribution and "justice", read Get Out Your Reparations Calculator.
If I were writing a book on the intellectual history of the West after the 60s, I would name it Killing Me Softly: The Crucifixion of Classical Liberalism. All of these ideas are very noble but very wrong. To demonstrate their fallacies, I would like to deprogramm at a later date some the words that Goldstein and Karsten pass off as noble. Not that there is anything wrong with the words themselves, but the way they are deployed to indicate that the one who uses these words are doing good, stopping evil and fighting injustice and the people who question them have become complicitous in discrimination and evil doing. Some of these code words that I will deprogramm later (that I found in Goldstein’s article) are:
-social justice, global justice, economic justice (from the UN Millenial Summit)- pure Marxism
-the 60s (philosophic revolution in France)
-structures and discourses
-progressives/ progressive movement- race, class, gender, etc.