File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/97-04-03.022, message 8

Date: Mon, 31 Mar 1997 15:59:07 -0500 (EST)
Subject: M-I: Zeynep,  "Class background",  and Mark Jones

Turning aside for a moment from my work on the nationalities question and
the Black Belt,   I was struck by the pronounced asininity of Mark Jone's
ill-tempered and misogynist essay on Zeynep Tufekcioglu.    Leaving aside
some of Mark's dottier statements (e.g.: " me that a woman
whose politics are practically indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton's
should moderate a Marxist list"),  about which the less said the better,  I
would like to challenge him to think about a few other points.

>The essence of Tufecioglu's politics is meliorative. It is predicated on
>the idea that reforms are possible. It is therefore mystificatory. It is
>also predicated on the idea of gradualism and even trickle-down (of the
>benefits of reforms).And it is also laden with thinly-disguised
>misanthropy. For Tufecioglu, it is the Turkish working man who is the
>enemy at least as much as capitalism.  

Mark,  I took the trouble to go back over this thread and re-read the dreary
back-and-forth during the past week.    Nowhere does Zeynep pose the
"Turkish working man" as an enemy,  least of all one equalling the menace of
international capital.    And Communists fight for reforms -- in the form of
demands -- with an eye toward mobilizing the masses toward revolution and
the dismantling of the old state.   In my library is a large poster drawn
>from the PCP's armed strike in Lima,  Peru during the 17th-19th of May,
1993.    On its face are listed the demands for popular reforms that
resonate among the oppressed: "Against hunger and unemployment"; For land
for the poor peasantry"; "Cures for cholera,  measles,  malaria,  dengue,
tuberculosis";  and the like.   Now,  it seems to me that if people like
Zeynep are fighting for "reforms", as you call them,  it is within the
context of the struggle for socialism that they are raising them.    I have
many differences with Zeynep politically: we agree on very little.    But I
trust her to know the political context in which she moves and struggles,
and I assume that if she is defending affirmative action to help alleviate
past injustice, she is doing so within the context of the struggle for
socialism.    And there is nothing "mystificatory" or "misanthropic" about

And as regards "proletarian feminism",  which Mark Jones claims does not
exist,  I note the call,  by the Partido Comunista del Peru in 1976,  for a
"People's Feminist Movement" based,  among other things,  on Mariategui's
thought and the "class - conscious organization of the masses".
Doubtless a "mischevious bit of trickery" by those who -- Zeynep-like --
lack the integrity or class background to "tell the truth" about Peru.  

>Adolfo rightly points to the obvious self-interestedness of
>career-feminists and salon-marxists like Tufecioglu, who parades her
>daring presence in Turkey as if this involved personal risk. It does
>not. Tufecioglu is a middle-class woman, and a professional
>market-researcher, not a revolutionary.

I do not know for sure what Zeynep calls herself.    I would call her a
revolutionary intellectual.   Whether she is "middle class" (like yourself,
for instance) is immaterial.    Now,  let's see: Lenin was the son of a
civil servant,  Lukacs of a banker,  Benjamin of an art dealer,  Adorno of a
wine merchant,   Ho and Mao of  middle peasants,  Horkheimer of a textile
manufacturer,  Korsch and Althusser of bank managers,   Gonzalo of a small
merchant.   Only Stalin and Gramsci were reared in dire poverty,  and the
latter's father had been a police colonel who had been ruined by charges of
official corruption.    It is not the class *background* that is the
determining factor in assessing one's worth as a revolutionary,  it is one's
class *position*,  as Mark Jones,  the writer of books,  must surely be
aware.     I happen to think Zeynep's "class position" is pretty sound.    I
am a worker born of a long line of workers and small farmers:  I would proud
to point to her record of toil in the struggle for socialism and claim it
for my own.    Alas,  I cannot.  

And when Mark himself praises Doug Henwood,  does he do so because Doug is a
"worker" or because of his class background?   He does not.    Doug Henwood,
Mark assures us,  enjoys a "status" as a "gifted Marxist economist" due to
his "profound knowledge" of "psycho-analysis",  "social-psychology",  and
"related domains".   Nowhere in this maze of political corn-holery does Mark
mention Doug Henwood's "middle-class" social position or the fact that Doug
is a pretty fair "market researcher" himself.    An example of Mark's own
unself-conscious misogyny,  perhaps?   

>Turkey is not yet Somalia, for that matter. Hundreds of thousands of
>English tourists go there and the worst that happens to them is they get
>diarrhoea. Turkey is affiliated to the EU...

South Africa was also the destination for hundreds of thousands of
Britishers (and Americans,  for that matter) who went there not to witness
the sufferings and tribulations of an oppressed people  (who, incidentally,
were also citizens of a member of the British Commonwealth,  by the way) who
were routinely being detained,  tortured,  maimed,  and murdered;  rather,
it was to enjoy their holiday or business trip,  diarrhoea,  Wayne Newton
and all.    And were those members of COSATU,  the ANC,  SACP,  *et al* who
daily risked imprisonment and assassination also counting on a  "jumping-off
point" for "richly-rewarding" careers in the "rank undergrowth" of
imperialist NGOs?    Be serious,   man.

In the one sensible paragraph extant in the entire post,  Mark urges us to
discuss and analyze:. 

>[the] atttack by late capitalism on fertility, procreation and birth, the
>attempt to commodify the genetic make-up of future humans, the rabid and
>uncontrolled development of genetic modificatory techniques, ex-vitro
>embryology, cloning, genome-deconstruction etc. 

With this I heartily agree.   In fact,  Mark's time would be better spent on
these pressing issues rather than in attempting,  unsuccessfully,  to "tell
the truth" about Turkey or in ascribing a lack of political support to those
whose work for socialism in their own milieu -- and within their own context
-- is above reproach.

Louis Godena  


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