File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1996/96-11-13.154, message 30

Date: Sun, 10 Nov 1996 12:50:43 -0800
Subject: M-I: Criticism and Self-criticism is Good  (was: jokes, language and

I think it is true that there has been sexist language on these
lists and it really shouldn't be defended.  But Lou and Anthony
haven't been any worse or more blatant than anyone else.  We all
need to work everyday on these areas of sexism and racism.

We shouldn't get defensive when our comrades try to struggle
with us to break with old ideas and ways of doing things.  We
ought to welcome their criticisms and work to transform ourselves
as will all of society under the dictatorship of the proletariat
one day.  How will we help create a new people and world if we
are refusing to change and remold our own thinking and actions?

I know that I still have elements of racism and sexism that need
to be rooted out and criticized.  How could I not have them?
We should be cognizant that living in bourgeois
society we are bombarded everywhere and everyway possible with
reinforcement of sexist and racist attitudes and thinking.  We
are not even concious of the process, it's been going on since
birth and seems natural.  We have been trained to be male dominators
and racists and homophobes.  The shame is to deny this and 
resist changing.  I have the good fortune to be working politically
with a bunch of socially concious young women that won't allow
me to get away with anything.  They will criticize erroneous
thinking or actions immediately and most times they are correct.
Not resisting or taking offense of such criticizism has enabled
me to remold myself with the help of my comrades and has allowed
me to become a more concious and better person.  Criticism and
self-criticism is good. We ought to welcome it and practice it
more often.  If it seems to hurt badly, that is because we are
not accustomed to practicing criticism and self-criticism very
much.  So when it occurs it seems like an attack.  If it were
to become commonplace and occur often, it wouldn't seem like
that.  It is not a negative thing.

It is true that some people's criticisms come in the form of
an attack, sometimes even self-righteous.  I have been guilty
of this also and have been quite dogmatic at times.  I have
been trying to work on how I present a criticism.
These words from Lei Feng I am trying to put into practice:

       Be as mild as spring with your comrades;
       Be as hot as summer toward your work;
       Towards individualism be like the autumn wind
       sweeping away the fallen leaves;
       and be as ruthless as winter towards the enemy.

Jay Miles / Detroit

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