[OPE-L:6238] Michael Rogin (please forward)

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Fri Nov 30 2001 - 14:48:45 EST

My undergrad thesis advisor UC Berkeley political scientist Michael 
Rogin who was for me, as many others, the one person who set me on 
the trail of radical thought recently passed away from what appears 
to be hepatitis contracted in St Petersburg.

In his lectures on American political theory, he brought alive the 
Federalist papers while he also mocked, though in the most analytical 
way, Ronald Reagan whose reign demonstrated how reality was now 
mediated through film. In studies of literature and cinema, he 
uncovered for us the American tradition  which Louis Hartz had only 
dimly recognized and that dare not speak its 
name--counter-subversion. In the mid 1980s he had already recognized 
how counter-terrorism had become the means through which the American 
tradition of counter-subversion would be updated and reinforced. He 
signed off on my  undergraduate thesis that defended the work of 
Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky who had been his partner Prof Ann 
Banfield's dissertation advisor. Yet he himself refused above all 
else any strictly economic or reductionist analysis of authoritarian 
and counter-subversive political culture; he may have invented 
American cultural studies but was ambivalent about the apolitical 
directions in which the field was headed.  In his brilliant lectures, 
American history was illuminated from the perspective at the 
margins--indians, debtors, radical proletarians, unruly women, 
swarthy immigrants, oppressed minorities, blacks above all else. I 
clutched on to his writings as his letter allowed me to go off to 
Harvard to study political theory. But he had already made of  me too 
great of a radical to listen in silence to the likes of Samuel 
Huntington, so I dropped out soon thereafter. But due his influence, 
as well as that of Hanna Pitkin's and Paul Thomas', I loved political 
theory so I did not leave before writing for my master's thesis on 
the meaning of Plato's allowance of women into guardianship in the 
Republic. Meeting with him over the summer,  Prof Rogin helped me 
develop my ideas on Vlastos, Pomeroy, Okin and many others.

   When I told him that I had over the years gone deeper into Marx and 
*Capital* in particular, he proudly reminded me of his father's work 
as labor organizer; his uncle Leo Rogin had been a radical historian 
of economic thought in the 30s.  We will find in the coming months 
how far and wide his brilliant candle shone. For me he opened up the 
world of radical Freudianism and uninhibited Marxism.   He gave me 
the confidence to beat down the barriers of race and caste  while 
still allowing me to understand how very formative of our American 
culture racial anxieties and bad faith have been. More than anyone, 
he showed me the path to become a man of this world by seeing in the 
struggles of the oppressed the source of our humanity and happiness. 
I owe so very much to him.

In sorrow, Rakesh Bhandari

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