warmly, norman


Dear Eiichi,

. . . I’ve always felt a deep kinship with Trotsky and while I no longer could call myself in any way a Trotskyite it does not mean that I do not have a profound admiration for him. The difficulty here in America is that the conventional forms of revolutionary Marxism simply do not apply to the peculiarly intricate structure of American society. By this I do not mean that Marxism no longer applies but only that for it to become exciting again as a style of thought for the best of the young people it must be expanded by some genius who can comprehend the complexities of the American phenomena. I think in a way I was trying to point toward a possible direction in the last paragraph of “The White Negro.” You see, Eiichi, the difficulty is that the working class in America is utterly without a revolutionary consciousness and the source of whatever rebellion there is in this country comes, not from people who function within the economy, but from the growing number of young people who feel profoundly alienated from their country and its history. It is possible that something may come of all this in the next ten years, for the spirit of rebellion is genuine. It is just that none of us has the intellectual stature to conceive of the problem in a radical new way. In America it is not that surplus value is extorted from us so much as that we are spiritually exploited and denied the opportunity to find our true growth. This is no doubt the highest stage of capitalism. You can see that in a situation like this it makes little sense to think of oneself as a Trotskyite. One might as easily call oneself a Bourbon or a follower of Batko Makhno. I am certain that if Trotsky were alive and in this country he would no longer be a Trotskyite. . . .

more from The New Yorker here.