File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1996/96-11-13.154, message 9

Date: Sun, 10 Nov 1996 07:43:01 -0500 (EST)
Subject: M-I: Reply to Carrol Cox

All right, I am going to step forward and take full responsibility for the 
lack of women on this list. It has been my sexist speech that has driven 
women off. I will also owe up to my homophobia and beg for Andrew 
Ross's forgiveness for making fun of his homosexuality (is he a 
homosexual anyway?) I also apologize to Carrol Cox for making him 
upset about his daughter's oppression. Of course I have a lot to do with 
her inability to get a computer job. And if anybody wants to know 
what Jerry Levy's sexism charge is about, I'll tell you right now. On 
another list, I made the crack that I'd like to see Ellen Meiksins Wood 
and Hillary Wainwright locked in a steel cage and fight to the death 
over postmodernism. This was viewed as sexism by all concerned. Of 
course, I would have made the same sort of comment about Harry 
Magdoff and Stanley Aronowitz, but other people know what's in my 
head better than me.

Now let's get serious and talk about real oppression. In 1989, I lost a 
job because Goldman-Sachs said that they wanted to reduce the 
number of people over 40 working in the computer area. We "cost 
them too much money". I knocked around for a couple of years 
without being able to get full-time employment. Headhunters said it 
would be difficult because I was competing with people in their 
twenties. How odd that they could say things like this without blinking 
an eye. Would they have told an African-American that his or her 
chances were poor because they were competing against white people?

So I went to work for Columbia University and took a $20,000 cut. My 
salary at Goldman-Sachs was $65,000 a year in 1989. I went to work 
at Columbia when I was unemployed and they knew it. That's why 
they low-balled me into taking a $45,000 year job.

Fortunately I didn't have a wife and children and mortgage to worry 
about like most computer programmers. I also live in a rent-controlled 
apartment. If it wasn't for this, I would have been in deep trouble. That 
is the reality for most Americans in the downsizing era. I know it from 
the inside out.

Is the age discrimination I am facing a function of prejudice against 
old people? Is the systemic unemployment of black youth because 
white employers are racist? Now the dogs at Texaco are out-and-out 
racists and I am glad that they are getting in trouble. By the way, who
was the saint who brought the tape-recorder to the meeting?

But prejudice is not our problem. Capitalism is. Capitalism is causing 
the economic insecurity of women, minorities and older people. Unlike 
a college professor, I have never been able to earn tenure somewhere 
as a computer programmer. If Columbia decided to outsource its data-
processing tomorrow, I'd be shit out of luck. I am basically 
expendable. This should be no surprise since the Board of Trustees at 
Columbia University is made up of the same people who run Wall 

The same thing is true at Barnard College. In fact, a retired partner of 
Goldman-Sachs by the name of Gedale Horowitz sits on the Board 
there. He, I'm sure, was responsible for persuading Judith Shapiro to 
cut college costs by taking it out of the hides of the unionized black 
and female workers there who make an average of $24,000 a year. 
This is the same Shapiro who has a high profile as a feminist scholar 
and who hosts feminist conferences every year at Barnard.

Let's cut the bullshit once and for all. Our problem is not hate-speech. 
One of the most horrible legacies of the postmodernists has been to 
legitimize the idea that prejudicial speech is causing racial or sexual 
oppression. They shift the blame away from the capitalist class and 
toward "offenders" who refuse to treat people fairly. Columbia has 
stringent speech codes. It is one of the most "progressive" colleges in 
the country on this score. This, however, does not prevent it from 
evicting minority tenants from buildings that are in spaces targeted for 
conversion into university buildings. This was in fact what sparked the 
student protest of 1968.

The problem with the postmodernists is that they weaken the struggle 
for women's emancipation by linking it to questions of identity. Betty 
Friedan had it right when she told the big Labor-Student conference at 
Columbia that "identity politics" were finished. Unless women, 
workers, minorities unite on a class basis, the corporate pigs of the 
world are going to continue to exploit us.

Later this month, when I have some time, I may read Ellen Meiksins 
Wood's "Retreat from Class" to its conclusion. I started the book 
earlier in the year but got side-tracked when I decided I had to prove 
to Adam Rose that Cuba was socialist. Good grief.

Finally, on the whole question of Professor Yudice and Professor Cox 
"grading" the list. Listen here, fellows, we don't need people lurking in 
the background ready to jump in and slap an 18 year old like Anthony 
Caruso on the wrist when he makes a "sexist" remarks. If you were 
regular participants on the list and made your own sensibilities more 
apparent, then perhaps these difficulties wouldn't have arisen.

George Yudice is a very accomplished scholar and I am happy that our 
modest little list has provided him with some useful information in the 
past. I am sorry that my mean-spirited attack on his colleagues upset 
him so much.

Now what? We can "clean up" the Marxism list, but when we will 
"clean up" American society? Will we clean up American society 
when we have the likes of Stanley Aronowitz paying tribute to the 
wretched Barry Feinstein, boss of the NY Teamsters? Will we clean up 
American society when we have a magazine that Stanley Aronowitz 
serves on the editorial board of making statements like the following: "In 
our view of socialism, we affirm the entrepreneurial spirit, the 
motivating energy of the market and the right of individuals to become 
wealthy through the private ownership of the capital they have helped 
to create."

Since when do entrepreneurs create Capital? Perhaps George Yudice 
can bring this message back to the bat-cave and get an answer from 
the super-hero Stanley Aronowitz, writer of books and maker of 

I am deeply sorry that I have hurt Carrol Cox's feelings. He is one of 
the few people on the list who belongs to David McReynold's generation and
I deeply respect the wisdom and dedication of people like him. I certainly
am dedicated but don't consider myself wise at all. I am as Jon Flanders
and Chris Burford have put it on occasions highly "erratic". To balance
this, I can claim to be an honest person, which sometimes gets me 
in trouble nonetheless. Perhaps I will just have to live with this for the
rest of my life.

Louis Proyect

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