Louis Proyect (of the blog The Unrepentant Marxist) is upset over the publication of a translation of the Antideutsch article “Communism and Israel” in the Platypus Review. This isn’t the first time Proyect has devoted a blog entry to discussing Platypus only to turn out to have nothing to say. Back in April, he made a weak attempt to peg Platypus’ critical stance toward the existing Left as an American version of Eustonism. A few months later, upon some reflection, he came to the profound conclusion that the Platypus group was nothing more than a bunch of eschatological leftists awaiting the final dispensation. With characteristic banality, Proyect then ended his piece by dismissively conceding that “[i]f you think of the left in biological terms, the Platypus is something necessary for the healthy functioning of the body.”
Two days ago, he found himself again “provoked by the Platypus” — this time by the translated article mentioned above. Proyect, though aware of the fact that the Platypus Review publishes views that do not necessarily match the views of its members, nevertheless assumed that Platypus tacitly agreed with the ISF position laid out in “Communism and Israel.” According to him, Platypus simply lacked the “courage” to come out and say so. Even then, instead of discussing the more substantive points raised by the article, Proyect chose to seize upon a rather ugly (and apparently Islamophobic) book cover published by the ISF’s press so that he could avoid taking on the organization’s position altogether. He wrote off the ISF as a group of “fanatical anti-Muslim [sic] racists,” therefore unworthy of a critique. I was unaware that the Muslims were now a “race,” but oh well.
Now there are certainly problems and limitations to the Antideutsch movement’s seemingly exclusive focus on anti-fascist politics and Marxist critiques of anti-Semitic undercurrents prevailing on the Left. But to refuse to engage it at all, as if it had nothing to offer, is indicative of Proyect’s reluctance to face any challenge to the conventional wisdom of anti-Zionist, anti-imperialist leftism. Proyect remains blind to the problematic tendency of leftists today to reduce all questions of Marxist anti-capitalist politics to the issue of opposition against U.S. imperialism and Israeli Zionism.
Though Proyect’s blog occasionally offers some insights and interesting perspective, it’s fairly clear to anyone who reads it that he’s unwilling to depart from the same shallow, predictable outlook that’s become so common on today’s Left. But when he’s not just making vague appeals to common sense in order to justify his own dreary position, he claims the real reason he’d rather not seriously engage Platypus is that they’re “schmucks.”
Most normal people, like the subscribers to Doug Henwood’s mailing list, view Platypus and Chris Cutrone in particular as a bunch of schmucks. Who wants to waste time debating schmucks?
For someone who talks a lot about Platypus’ supposed lack of “courage,” it seems that Proyect himself doesn’t have the chutzpah to try and actually respond to their criticisms. Perhaps this is the better part of valor, though, since he would probably just wind up embarrassing himself anyway.