Re: (Fwd) Radical Academics an oxymoron?

Aaron (
Mon, 18 Nov 1996 02:51:56 -0800

Note: My post that prompted the responses below can be found at:
<>. The first response quoted
below is at <>.

>Date: Sun, 17 Nov 1996 13:33:02 -0500 (EST)
>From: "J.C. Garcia Ellin" <>
>To: "Alternative BUSI 411 (TAZ)" <>
>Subject: Re: (Fwd) Radical Academics an oxymoron?
>Hi. I just want to say that I did see some of the shortcomings of the
>message I posted about Crossings. Unfortunately, to my critic, I also
>thought that some people might like to use that forum as one to
>express our concerns about the problems we are experiencing in our
>university and our society. Although it may be true that the way this
>publication is conceived is not the perfect way or the one we would
>like to have, it is one way in which our struggles can be expressed,
>our opinions can be written (and read) and in which the fight for a
>better university and a better society can be discussed. When you see
>a space where you can express your opinion you take it and use it. You
>can also critisize it but do so while using it. We have to use all
>possible ways to get our message across, if we just whine about the
>fact that we do not have enough forums available to express ourselves
>instead of building new ones or using the available ones, no one will
>never hear what we have to say.
>Aaron, this publication might not be the working-class-run publication
>we would like and might be too restricted for our preferences but it is
>a way where we can let people know what we think. We are not in a
>position to restrict ourselves.

I usually respond to arguments point by point. But there seems to be just
one point in the above paragraphs, which I would summarize as, 'We radicals
should publish our ideas anywhere we can'. I agree, with exceptions not
relevant to the case under discussion here.

My point, however, was and is that a 'journal of philosophical, cultural,
and literary resistance' which, despite its heavy jargon, clearly presents
itself as opposed to the present social order, should be sharply criticized
for its elitism in soliciting articles only from graduate students and

If they had solicited articles only from men, would you have felt OK about
passing it on to your male comrades without criticism?

>In solidarity,
>***************STOP THE EXECUTION, FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL***************
>******************VIVA PUERTO RICO LIBRE Y SOCIALISTA*****************

We're definitely on the same side, despite our differences!

>Date: Sun, 17 Nov 1996 21:19:12 -0500 (EST)
>From: [Someone at Binghamton - Private message]
>Subject: Re: (Fwd) Radical Academics an oxymoron?
>Dear Aaron:
>Only a little advice from someone who do not care for you, but for the
>people who read your message: you must be careful when responding to a post
>in such an arrogant way, without concerning yourself of what was the purpose
>of the person who post the message. He was only FORWARDING something that
>could interest some people in the list. He did not write the post, he did
>not signed the post, he does not work in that magazine and even do not
>relate himself with the people that manage the magazine and with some of its
>ideological trends; his only concern was that of forwarding the information
>to others that simpatize with the focus of the magazine. You JUDGE him and
>passed judgement over his ideological stand from a post?

If you go back and look at my post, you will see that my only criticism of
the forwarders was at the end, and was rather mild. On the other hand,
would you be so supportive of the forwarders if the original post had
invited only, say, U.S. citizens, white people, men, or persons with
incomes over 25,000 dollars per year to submit articles? Is discrimination
against persons who are not in the upper strata of bourgeois academia any
more justified?

>I think the only one who should be embarrassed is you, jumping
>in such an impulsive way without knowing the person.

I'm not embarrassed, although I always want to formulate my ideas as
clearly as possible and hope I wasn't too unclear in this case.

> You remind me of some sectarian left groups that
>make impossible the reagroupment of the left because they think they
>are the vanguard that would lead the working-class to the power.

I'm not sure where this regroupment stuff comes in, or what it means. If it
means committed enemies of capitalism working together to overthrow it, I'm
all for it! I don't think that any group I associate with is 'the vanguard
that would lead the working-class to the power'. And I'm certainly not
sectarian, since I work with various groups and individuals from anarchist,
autonomist, Trotskyist and Maoist trends, among others, even when these
groups and individuals won't work with each other. I think that you will
find harsher criticisms of elitism than mine coming from persons who
totally reject any concept of a vanguard. Take a look at the 'Fifth Estate'
newspaper from Detroit!

>>> Professors, too! That's white of you! But I don't think Mumia will qualify
>>> that way, either!
>ps. Be careful with this kind of statement. It sounds racist to me to
>qualify ideas as "white" ones or "black" ones.

'That's very white of you!', or any of its variants, may well have been
racist in origin. The 'white' in that context apparently meant something
like 'good'. In recent decades, the common use of the expression seems to
be for sarcasm. I could have said, 'That's generous of you!' with the same
sarcasm, but I also wanted to point out the overwhelming whiteness of the
class of people -- graduate students and professors -- whose elitism I was
attacking. Mumia, as you probably know, is not white.

--For proletarian revolution,