File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/marxism-international.9710, message 666

Date: Fri, 31 Oct 1997 21:13:39 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: M-I: So, the nanny's "guilty"?

James Farmelant writes:

>That of course supports my point that Lou Godena's beef was not with
>Goldhagen's thesis as such but with Goldhagen himself.  In other
>words his criticisms of Goldhagen were almost entirely ad hominem
>in nature.  

James, everything I have written on fascism on this list takes issue,
directly or implicitly, with the so-called "Goldhagen thesis".  From my
early thread (last October) on "how fascism began" to my tentative report on
the Saul Friedlander book last week is an unequivocal refutation of
*Hitler's Willing Executioners*.  Your friend Austin, as verbosely
self-important as he is, was unable to articulate a single coherent thought
about the historiography of Nazi Germany.  I thought this a strange
deficiency coming from someone who, like you, makes his living from the neck up.

James continues:

>But given Lou G's championing of the views on this list
>of such reactionaries as Samuel P. "Mad dog" Huntington I don't
>think that he is in the strongest position to object to Goldhagen on
>account of his Zionism

What is this bit of hyperbole supposed to mean?  I have never "championed"
Huntington.  I did post something on *The Clash of Civilizations* earlier
this year.  I found his thesis, opposed as it was to the triumphalism of
Fuyakama & Co., to be quite provocative and refreshing.  I even found his
analysis of Islam and the Sinic civilizations more closely related to
Marxism as I understand it than some of the stuff I read in *New Left
Review* or *Rethinking Marxism*.  I hold no brief for Huntington,
personally.  In fact, when he was named *Hustler* Magazine's "Asshole of the
Month" during my graduate student days, I was thrilled and exhilarated.
And, yes, I am in quite a strong position to object to Goldhagen, as is
every other anti-fascist. 

Farmelant goes on to assert such-and-such, but such-and-such, as it turns
out, is not true.

>Yet when the American working class shows signs of awakening from
>its somnolence like the recent UPS strike Lou remained thoroughly

Again, Farmelant thinks it sufficient merely to assert.  I was, and remain,
quite contemptous of Mr Carey and his road crew of "reformed" union cronies,
just as I was quick to point out the badly flawed John Sweeney's many
failings to the leadership of the carpenters' union in the fall of '95.  The
trouble with the Sweeneys, and the Careys, and the Coias, and the Bywaters
is that they end up by doing more harm than good, persuading their
rank-and-file during the inaugaration of their terms that there is something
permanent to be gained by fiddling with the machinery of business unionism.
The ennui and often deep sense of cynicism they provoke before they leave
office continues to plague the working class movement for years afterward.
Carey, remarkably, is already on his way out.  I expect his police-blotter
ending to be imitated, though hardly equalled, by those around him.  

James warms to his analysis:

>I do not pretend to understand all the intricacies of Godena-thought.
>It appears to involve a mixture of Maoism with a strong dose of
>Nietzsche mediated by Foucault with a dollop of Samuel Huntington
>and perhaps a few drops of Charles Murray and James Q. Wilson.

It is my radical view that the Left is strong enough, and Marxism mature
enough, to be shown different approaches to problems that may throw light on
some of the most vexing issues of our day.  Trouble is, none of what
Farmelant ascribes to me comes remotely close to mirroring my views on any
of these questions.  I, especially, have a physical horror of Murray and
James Wilson, though I suspect Farmelant is merely broadcasting his own
visceral prejudices about books he has only superficially read or, more
probably, has not read at all.  I have actually read very little of
Foucault, and practically none of Nietzsche.  People like Farmelant forget
that I make my living working with my shoulders on down.  I am not an
intellectual.  I read, but without taking ideas or books too seriously.  I
do not have a tremendously lofty opinion of professors or of intellectuals,
most of whom I believe are some of the most dishonest people on earth.

Two rather obvious points.  Though I am an alumnus of Harvard, I do *not*
hold a Ph.D from there or, for that matter, anywhere else.  Secondly, there
is no such thing as "Godena thought" as a distinct body of coherent
political opinion.  I leave such ethereal kingdoms to the Hugh Rodwells and
Andy Austins of our planet.  

After all, our middle class intellectual toilers, too, have to make a living.

Louis Godena

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