Jan 13, 2005

Continued discourse on article, Debating a Neocon. Goff responds to Hamerquist

by Stan Goff

January 13, 2005

I don't mind being a straight man in effigy as long as the star acknowledges that it is just the effigy's role. Don Hammerquist goes all the way around the stage, using the straw-Goff as his prop, to deliver his final conclusion - that political Islam is fascism. So before I set the record straight on what are my own positions of record, as opposed to the Hammerquist scarecrow with my name lettered across its hollow chest, let me address his concluding point first - because it is important.

"Islamic fascism," he says, "is not some figment of ruling class propaganda." I agree. It is shortcut thinking by an Orientalist western metropolitan left. One has to broaden any operational definition of "fascism" into a Dead Sea of meanings in order to make this category work. I would refer readers to my own essay, "The War for Saudi Arabia", for a fuller discussion of this. If that essay is unsatisfactory, then continue on to read my series, "Persian Peril."

I am not surprised that Mr. Hammerquist hasn't bothered to see what else I might have written on any of these subjects, because his comments on the Counterpunch piece he ostensibly critiques indicate he didn't even read that. This is the most generous interpretation I can render, because the alternative is to believe that he intentionally misrepresented me, where he begins by saying, "Goff is wrong - the position of the so-called neocons and their opponents in the ruling class is about something."

If anyone cares to read the Counterpunch piece they will see that I spent the lion's share of my time at the podium during this debate explaining precisely and in some detail not only that their position was about something, but that it was about something very momentous, and that this is exactly why they have such thin arguments to justify their actions to the public. Mr. Hammerquist says that I "note [the process] accurately but fail to take it into account." How exactly does one note a thing, and note it accurately, yet somehow sidestep "taking it into account?"

He further states that I have claimed "there is nothing particularly new about the current political scene." In fact, and I refer readers to the original piece again, the changes that are driving the whole political conjuncture are the central feature of my opening remarks during the debate. These assertions made by Mr. Hammerquist are nothing short of bizarre in their near total disconnection from anything I actually said or wrote.

He can not find one single reference in the entire piece where I call present-day imperialism synonymous with its 19th Century variant. On the contrary, my entire opening presentation was spent describing exactly why I have here, and elsewhere, rejected the Lenin-Hobson-Hilferding theses about imperialism as applicable to present-day US imperialism.(http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/102804_todays_imperialism.shtm

l) So exactly what are the "tired first principles" to which he makes reference? And where have I ever "held up the flag?'

He takes a swipe at "apocalyptic fossil fuel determinism," a very neat put-down-style dismissal of a position he is welcome to critique in my more comprehensive treatment of it in the essay at http://counterpunch.org/goff08132004.html. I can only hope he bothers to read it more carefully than he did the piece under review.

This whole "critique," it turns out, is just a set-up to insert his thesis - a erroneous one in my view - about "capitalist internationalism," and this notion of Islamic fascism.

I have written a whole book on this kind of simplified moral imperialism that has tainted the metropolitan left, Full Spectrum Disorder, but I doubt he's read that either. I am always open to critique, as anyone who knows me will tell you. But I bristle a bit when I am misrepresented, partly because I have worked very hard to explain what I actually do mean when I write.

The invitation remains open to all - read what I actually said, and if you disagree with what I actually said, explain your disagreements with what I actually said, and we can have a conversation.