[OPE-L] Fred Halliday and the inability to think the new

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Thu Jun 01 2006 - 17:37:27 EDT

Danny Postel: Do you still call yourself a socialist?

Fred Halliday: I don't, because I think it's too easily misunderstood. I
associate myself with much of the radical critique of capitalism. But much
of what socialism tried to be-planning society, promoting equality-I agree
with. But I can't associate with either the authoritarian or the ineffective
trends which have defined socialism in recent decades. The
anti-globalization movement has taken over a critique of capitalism without,
to a minimal degree, reflecting on what actually happened in the 20th
century. You can't denounce capitalism in the name of a radical alternative
without thinking about what happened when we tried a radical alternative.
You can't denounce rights as an imperialist creation without asking, well,
what would a world without the concept of rights be like? You can't support
every ethnic and nationalist group around the world who shows up at Porto
Alegre and then say this is all part of some emancipated caravan, given that
they may hate each other, they may want to oppress women, they may be
against modern medicine and so forth.

I fell into the trap as much as anybody else. In 1991 Communism collapses
and you say: right, this is a new world. Things have changed. But what
happened to the Left? They woke up like Rip Van Winkle around 1999 and
started repeating the same things that were said 20 or 50 or 100 years ago.
They haven't learned from their past. Two themes that are particularly
important in my work are the use of violence and internationalism.
Internationalism is a wonderful idea. I would die for internationalism. But
Stalin defined internationalism as unquestioning loyalty to the USSR. Mao
and Castro used internationalism as a manipulative instrument of state. I
read the stuff coming out of Porto Alegre and my hair falls out. I see
people saying, for the first time I'm in a global movement committed to
social equality and radical change. Well, sorry, there was socialism. There
was Communism. And they made a mess of it, and you better study it before
jumping up and saying that you've suddenly discovered the solution to

Excerpt from: http://www.skidmore.edu/salmagundi/halliday5.htm

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Jun 30 2006 - 00:00:03 EDT