Boko Haram, ‘my enemy’s enemy’ and ‘left’ isolationism

May 6, 2014 at 2:57 pm (africa, apologists and collaborators, child abuse, ex-SWP, fascism, Human rights, internationalism, islamism, Jim D, John Rees, reactionay "anti-imperialism", relativism, solidarity, Stop The War)

“As Lenin put it, those who wish to see a pure revolution without nationalist revolts in oppressed countries, will never live to see a revolution. Such revolts can manifest all sorts of religious and nationalist prejudices. But Lenin argued the political complexion of the leaders of small nations–be they nationalist, fundamentalist, dictators or democrats–should not determine whether socialists in the major imperialist countries support them against imperialism. It is enough that a victory for imperialism would set back the cause of oppressed nations everywhere for socialists to commit themselves to the side of national liberation. Whether the leaders of such nations are despots, or merely murderous “democrats” in the George Bush mould, it is the task of the working class of these nations to settle accounts with them. Any interference by the imperialist powers would only be to secure profits and strategic interests.”-

As well as (I would contend) misrepresenting Lenin with an out-of-context quote, Rees fails to acknowledge that, if taken seriously, his formula would amount to “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”; put much more crudely and honestly here. It also exposes the truth that many of us have known all along, that the likes of Rees are not really anti-war at all, but invariably support the anti western side, even if that means Saddam, Putin or the Taliban – or, presumably, in the event of a western intervention – Boko Haram.

Us Shirazers are not always fans of Nick Cohen, but he nails Rees and the latter-day “left” isolationists and pro-whoever’s-anti-western “leftists” of the War Coalition variety, good and proper:

220 schoolgirls haven’t been ‘abducted’ by Boko Haram, they have been enslaved

Boko Haram is a vile manifestation, yet the liberal press stays silent, fearful of ‘demonising the other’

Terrorists from a religious cult so reactionary you don’t have to stretch the language too far to describe it as fascistic attack a school. The assault on a civilian target, filled with non-combatant children, has a grotesque logic behind it. They call themselves “Boko Haram“, which translates as “western education is forbidden”. The sect regards learning as oppression. They will stop all teaching that conflicts with a holy book from the 7th century and accounts of doubtful provenance on the life and sayings of their prophet written hundreds of years after he died.

A desire for sexual supremacy accompanies their loathing of knowledge. They take 220 schoolgirls as slaves and force them to convert to their version of Islam. They either rape them or sell them on for £10 or so to new masters. The girls are the victims of slavery, child abuse and forced marriage. Their captors are by extension slavers and rapists.

As you can see, English does not lack plain words to describe the foulness of the crimes in Nigeria, and no doubt they would be used in the highly improbable event of western soldiers seizing and selling women.

Yet read parts of the press and you enter a world of euphemism. They have not been enslaved but “abducted” or “kidnapped”, as if they will be released unharmed when the parties have negotiated a mutually acceptable ransom. Writers are typing with one eye over their shoulder: watching their backs to make sure that no one can accuse them of “demonising the other”.

Turn from today’s papers to the theoretical pages of leftwing journals and you find that the grounds for understanding Boko Haram more and condemning it less were prepared last year.

Without fully endorsing Boko Haram, of course, socialists explained that it finds “resonance in the hearts of many poor and dispossessed” people, who are revolted by “the corruption and flamboyant lifestyle of the elites”. Islamism is recast as a rational reaction to local corruption and the global oppression of “neoliberalism”, one of those conveniently vague labels that can mean just about anything.

Once, rightwing newspapers or ultra-Catholic or orthodox Jewish writers would have been the least concerned about the subjugation of women and the most willing to find excuses for religious persecution. But with the reliability of a speaking clock, it is leftwing writers of the 21st century who seek to minimise violent reaction if – and only if – the reactionaries are anti-western. (They speak out against the lesser crimes of the US religious right, without a thought for their own double standards.)

“The mechanical denunciation of the west,” wrote the French political theorist Pascal Bruckner in 2010, “forbids the western bloc, which is eternally guilty, to judge or combat other systems, other states, other religions. Our past crimes command us to keep our mouths closed.” He might have been writing today, so persistent is the belief that the west is the root cause of the only oppression worth mentioning.

But the appearance that nothing has changed is deceptive. It was always absurd, and in its own way racist, to blame the problems of the world on “the west”. Leftists came to resemble American neoconservatives. The US right, or an element of it, thought American military power could solve any ill. The left, or an element of it, talked as if the west was responsible for all ills. Both were self-obsessed. Both believed that the west remained the motor of history while the rest of humanity were bit players.

The most grievous offence was the failure of solidarity. You cannot ally with what liberal and leftwing forces there are in any country from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe if your are blaming their oppression on colonialism, neoliberalism or any other “ism” that is buzzing around in your head. You will end up excusing your comrades’ enemies instead.

If occidentalism was absurd in the past, it’s preposterous now. Boko Haram is not reacting to western intervention in Nigeria, for there is none. The only way you can pretend the west is to blame is by agreeing that knowledge is “western knowledge”, rather than the property of the entire human race, and that the education of girls is “western cultural imperialism” – a road that leads you to nihilism as soon as you step down it.

Meanwhile, we are moving faster than anyone expected to a new age in which China will be the world’s largest economy. For the first time since the 18th century, the dominant power will not allow internal opposition or the Chinese equivalent of the campaigns on behalf of the victims of its foreign policy that we saw in Britain, France and the US in the last 200 years. We have not begun to understand the turn for the worse the cause of global human rights is taking as empires shift.

On the few occasions western leftists feel they have to justify themselves, they say they must dedicate their energies to challenging what they can change. They cannot influence the Taliban or Boko Haram, but can lobby their own governments. Even if you take these explanations at face value – and I don’t – they have a Tory feel to them. Until recently, it was conservatives, not leftists, who said that “charity begins at home” and quarrels in faraway countries were no concern of ours.

Peter Singer, a great radical philosopher, made the old distinction clear with a thought experiment. Imagine you are passing a shallow pond and see a child going under. You know that if you save the child you will ruin your clothes. Should you wade in? Of course you should, everyone replies: “It would be obscene to put your desire to save spending £50 on a new outfit before the life of a child.”

Why then, asks Singer, do you not give money you can afford to spare to save the life a child in Africa?

The majority of conservatives say the deaths of children they know nothing of are not their business. Leftists, and again I accept I am generalising, revolt against such parochialism. Yet when it comes to violence against civilians and, most notably, the denial of women’s rights, they change the conversation to anything except the deeds of the criminals in front them. The girl can drown or be enslaved and raped. They have more pressing concerns.

More on Boko Haram and the kidnapped schoolgirls
‘I’m scared of everyone’: fear and mistrust after mass abduction
200 girls are missing in Nigeria – so why doesn’t anybody care?
Nigeria’s grief over the abducted school girls is uniting our country




  1. Boko Haram, ‘my enemy’s enemy’ and ‘left’ isolationism | OzHouse said,

    […] May 06 2014 by admin […]

  2. flyingrodent said,

    Interesting. Which of these awful left groups would you say is the biggest apologist for Boko Haram, Jim? Can you provide us with any links to their pro-Boko, pro-little-girl-kidnapping statements?

    • Jim Denham said,

      From Tendance Coatesey

      Last year the SWP’s Nigerian allies (Socialist Workers Bulletin) attempted to offer an explanation for the rise of Boko Haram.

      Beyond President Jonathan’s war on terror June 9, 2013 – 2:53 am

      by Baba Aye.

      [There is a lot of detail about Nigerian politics which we are in no position to judge. But the following element in Aye’s article stands out]:

      Boko Haram, Ansaru and co, like most of the new militant Islamist sects that have blossomed in the period of neoliberal globalism have a contradictory nature.

      On one hand, they involve sections of the ruling elite for whom religion-as-politics is a tool for mobilisation of mass support for their aims. These include electoral aims of winning gubernatorial and other political positions or as bargaining chips for access to state power (and with it the treasury). We saw examples with the political Shari’a wave that swept through twelve northern states in the early 2000s. Specifically, it has been established that Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, courted Boko Haram in his successful bid for the governorship of Borno state in 2003. Apart from mass mobilisation, Boko Haram supporters played the role of armed hirelings not unlike that which some Niger delta “militants” played for Peter Odili and co, that same year.

      On the other hand, elements of the anti-establishment demands of Boko Haram and its sister organisations, find resonance in the hearts of many poor and dispossesed people within their localities that are fed up with the corruption and flamboyant lifestyle of the elites, in the face of their own poverty and hopelessness. At the earlier point before it went underground after the murder of its founding leader, Boko Haram had also aided the spread of its ideology’s influence with social work, very much like Hezbollah in Lebanon. It had provided housing, (Koranic) education, healthcare and the offsetting of debts for hundreds if not thousands of the wretched of the earth, winning hearts and minds, as much as souls to its standpoint.

      While a nominal roll of Boko Haram membership might not be something we could secure, the group’s membership including its armed insurgents and unarmed supporters cannot but be in the thousands, if not tens of thousands, with a significant proportion of these being poor and working people. This would dwarf the numbers of “radical” or “revolutionary” groups in the country added up together, several times over, and could equal the sizes of many a trade union.

      Of course, the large presence of the poor and oppressed people in an organisation does not make it, pro-workers, talk less of being revolutionary. Fascist parties such as the Nazis in Germany or Mussolini’s National Fascist Party, did have significant mass following while pursuing anti-workers’ causes. It is also not being suggested that Boko Haram is in anyway a revolutionary or “progressive” group.


      “Radical “Islamism”, with associated spontaneous and organised violence, has come to stay as one of the macabre symptoms of the period we are living in i.e. where the capitalist system has become a putrid living-corpse holding down the progress of human society, on one hand, but the poor and working class have not risen to consuming the task of overthrowing it, due to the weaknesses of revolutionary forces’ influence within it.”

      …Coatesy goes on to add:
      “But” (there’s always got to be a ‘but’) “only one-dimensional thinking would sum all these up to mean that the sect “is nothing but a set of foot soldiers of sections of the Nigerian ruling class that went berserk” or worse still conclude that “Boko Haram is part and parcel of Nigerian ruling elite”.

  3. Mick O said,

    Good post. The activities of Boko Haram have highlighted the even more shocking fact that slave trading is still a widespread and accepted part of the culture in quite a few African nations. A very depressing scenario with little hope of improvement any time soon.

  4. Babs said,

  5. flyingrodent said,

    From Tendance Coatesey

    So what you’re saying is that when Nick was denouncing people who are fond of Boko Haram – especially “Parts of the press… writers… the theoretical pages of leftwing journals… socialists… leftwing writers of the 21st century… Leftists… the left… western leftists” and “the left”…

    …He was basing his criticisms on a single obscure article written by one Nigerian man, of whom nobody has ever heard, that he lifted uncredited from a blog?

    Do you think that’s a sound basis for the wide-ranging conclusions that Nick’s drawing?

    (This is before we get onto his kidnapped/enslaved distinction which is, if anything, even sillier than what comes after).

    • Jim Denham said,

      That’s your standard MO isn’t it, Mr Rodent? When someone provides evidence that disproves your initial argument, you say the evidence cited is irrelevant, the work of some sect so obscure as to be of no consequence, etc, wtc, wtc…ignoring the blatantly obvious fact that these arguments underlie the politics of people who are quite influential in the Labour movement and liberal-left in the UK (eg Stop The War, Morning Star, some Guardian columnists, etc).

      • flyingrodent said,

        That’s your standard MO isn’t it, Mr Rodent? When someone provides evidence that disproves your initial argument, you say the evidence citedc is irrelevant, the work of some sect so obscure as to be of no consequence, etc, wtc, wtc…

        That is indeed my standard MO, Jim. In fact, it should be any rational human being’s MO when presented with fallacious evidence, plainly marshalled in an intentional attempt to deceive.

        That’s why I employ it today, in response to a comically inept attempt to pass off a single statement by a single Nigerian person, about whom little is known, as if it were a series of repeatedly stated defences of Boko Haram and child-kidnap by “Parts of the press… writers… the theoretical pages of leftwing journals… socialists… leftwing writers of the 21st century… Leftists… the left… western leftists” and “the left”.

        Because it’s fundamentally dishonest to claim that millions of people defend and maybe even endorse Boko Haram and child kidnapping via a deliberate attempt to mislead.

        Do you see how e.g. the intentional deception in this discussion is your problem, far more than any particular MO is nine?

        If not, let me spell it out for you – it’s not my fault that Nick has based a series of grandiose and absurd statements upon ridiculously flimsy evidence, in a deliberate attempt to mislead – it’s his.

        It’s not my fault that you’ve chosen to repeat and endorse Nick’s grandiose and absurd statements, and to repeat his ridiculously flimsy evidence – it’s yours.


      • Jim Denham said,



        Try addressing this:

        “…ignoring the blatantly obvious fact that these arguments underlie the politics of people who are quite influential in the Labour movement and liberal-left in the UK (eg Stop The War, Morning Star, some Guardian columnists, etc).”

        And, please tell us, do you agree with this:
        “If Islamism is now a threat to western interests in growing parts of Africa, it is one that they have played a large part in creating.
        But there is another war going on in Africa: economic war. A continent so rich in natural resources sees many of its citizens live in terrible conditions. In President Jonathan’s Nigeria, economic growth has not trickled down to the poor. Healthcare and education are beyond the reach of many.
        There is widespread corruption, yet weapons and armies are paid to protect the wealthy and the foreign companies, such as Shell, that want to access the country’s resources, especially oil. This corruption and inequality is not separate from the role of the west, but an integral part of a system that is prepared to go to war over resources such as oil and gas, but will not go to war on poverty or to provide education for all.
        It is this background that informs the terrible plight of the kidnapped girls in Nigeria. It will not be improved by more western weapons and armies on the ground or in the air.”
        It’s written by a leader of the Stop The war Coalition and published by the Guardian. And it’s not dissimilar from what you previously dismissed as an eccentric, unrepresentative and inconsequential comment: “a single statement by a single Nigerian person, about whom little is known.”

  6. Pinkie said,

    I rather suspect that clinging on to the vacuity of Nick Cohen is something to do with a feeling of defeat by certain ‘trotskyists’. For many ‘the ‘main enemy is at home’ is difficult to follow when the external enemy is ugly.

    • flyingrodent said,

      Well, if you’re worried about “certain ‘trotskyists'” making hay out of Nick’s ludicrous opinions, the quickest way to remove that meagre comfort would be to stop endorsing, repeating, and building upon them.

      Now to me, Nick’s article tells us absolutely everything you need to know about his particular brand of politics: namely, that there’s literally no person on Earth who is too obscure to be cherry-picked for profit; that there’s no argument so transparently cretinous that it can’t be dragooned into service.

      Nick may be one of the most bovine of the “Look over here, somebody you never heard of said a thing, ergo my insane ideas are correct and everyone who even mildly disagrees is a monster” pundits of the era, but I think he’s pretty representative of the form, as demonstrated by his continuing popularity with a small but determined bunch of zoomers.

  7. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    You just do not get Leninism or Marxism), do you? Rees puts it well.

    Malvinas – it was nothing to do with whether the islands are British or Argentine but whose ships do communists want to see sinking in the South Atlantic – that of the only major imperialist power involved, the UK. It would have made no difference if the Argentines were not just occupying the place but also systematically killing all the 1500 Brits there. We wanted Britain (or it could have been France, etc.) to lose.

    India – the 1857 rebels did many bad things. The rebels in Kanpur (Cawnpore) did various ‘indignities’ to European women there but even if all European women in liberated India were routinely raped – that horror would be very small compared to the very real continuing ‘rape’ of many millions of Indians by the Raj. So that’s why Marx supported those who contained elements maybe not unlike Boko Haram against the Raj

    And so to Nigeria. Even if Boko Haram crucify every Christian they get hold of (or a Christian group did that to Muslims) the defeat of a Western power intervening is a much greater gain for the international working class than the defeat of a (few thousand) no-hope medievalists.

    • Bob-B said,

      Thanks for making it clear why Leninism has very little appeal (except among psychopaths).

  8. Brian M said,

    I’m sure the crying mother above would be happy to offer her daughter to the victory of the “international working class” (whatever that is).

  9. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    There would be 10x, 100x more crying mothers with Western intervention.

    • Bobcat said,

      “It would have made no difference if the Argentines were not just occupying the place but also systematically killing all the 1500 Brits there.”

      I’m sure it would have made profound difference to the 1500 Brits who were killed.

      “We wanted Britain (or it could have been France, etc.) to lose.”

      Yes, in the same way that some Scottish football fans support any team that plays England. It is a tribal instinct no different from an Ulster Unionist supporting the State of Israel.

      Your opinion about who “ought” to win a conflict isn’t based on real analysis of the most prudent or moral course of action. It is based on jam tomorrow promises of a workers paradise.

      You sole justification is invoking the “greater gain for the international working class”. It’s a concept so nebulous that you that you might as well swap it out for “the greater glory of God”.

      Yet you use this to justify rape, kidnap, slavery and killing. Actually it’s worse than that. You don’t even try to justify rape, you say it doesn’t require justifying because the anguish of the victims is irrelevant. They are simply beans to be counted
      against the greater gain for the international working class.

      Well let me put it to you that the defeat of a western intervention force in Nigeria would not benefit the international working class (who ever they are). If you smash the system all you get is a smashed system that needs to be rebuilt not a workers state.

      The idea that any “imperialist” defeat is a automatically a good thing is just historical determinist nonsense.

      In case you hadn’t noticed the world is a pretty complex place and it doesn’t seem to be conforming
      to a master plan. Sometimes bad intentions lead to good things. Some times good intentions lead to Lenin, Stalin, Kim Il Jung, Mao and Pol Pot.

      Rhodes colonising Zimbabwe probably stopped the Ndebele wiping out the Shona. The Raj gave Britain access to materials, ports and manpower that helped defeat Nazism. Defeating Nazism did rather a lot to benefit the working class of the USSR, France, Britain, Norway and the remaining Jewish population of Europe scheduled for extermination.

      Malaysia is in a far better position today than it would be if the British hadn’t crushed a communist insurgency in the 1950’s. The South Korean working class are far better off than their North Korean counterparts thanks to American imperialism.

      And of course a British defeat in the Falkland Islands would have emboldening the fascist regime in Buenos Aires – helping to stave off democracy in Argentina for another few years.

      Yours is a faith position: step 1 Imperial defeat step 3 victory of the working class – get back to us on step 2.

      When the West goes down Chinese
      Communists, Russia Nationalists and Islamists of various stripes will be there to pick up the whip and they don’t give two stinking shits about the international working class.

      The question is this who do you want to have the bigger stick? The flawed guy who allows freedom of speech and has a notion of humans rights or the flawed guy who doesn’t.

  10. womensfightback17 said,

    Yes, because Nigeria today and Argentina in 1982 are just like India in 1857, and the role of Western imperialism in those countries is the same as Britain in India.

  11. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    The role of China or the USA, or less likely, a state like the UK, in Nigeria would indeed be no more than a modern version of the Raj (or French rule in Indochina etc., etc. – pick your imperialism). Do you think US rule in Afghanistan is other than the way Gladstone et al once ran, or heavily influenced, some client princely state in the Himalayas, save some details (pith helmets, etc.)?

    Imperialism has not changed its strategic aims – control of markets and more – be that to be done through direct or indirect rule. What is the difference between Manchester cotton garment manufacturer of yesteryear and Shenzhen mobile phone manufacturers of today and their designs on the market in Accra; save China etc. is not yet where the UK once was. The position of the domestic manufacturers in Ghana is similarly calamitous as it was for Dhaka garment manufacturers (that city described by Clive as ‘wealthier than London’) after the arrival of the colonists. The only thing that has changed is the relative weight of some of the players.

    The desire to see Britain lose in somewhere like the Malvinas is not a version of the Scottish football fan’s cry – ‘anyone but England’. French, British, US, Chinese, Burkina Faso – and Argentinean Trotskyists would all have called for the defeat of the UK. There can be no national deviations amongst communists.

    I am accused of seeing the fate of the school students as just a minor detail yet brazenly someone just passes by another such ‘detail’ – the vicious war-crimes of the British rulers in Malaya on those heroic fighters of independence in the 50s (no Hollywood film will laud Chin Peng like they did Gandhi – which tells you what an incomparably better person the former was).

    No-one is using rape or killing to justify anything apart from yourself who are using these calamitous events to invite in – those who would spread the amount of rape and killings! I would be interested to see the rape statistics in Iraq but I expect they are a lot worse now, or 10 years ago, than they were 20 years ago. I hope the Nigerians find the kidnapped young women school students (NB: not schoolgirls) but it is either the most cynical, or stupid, action of a idiot socialist to base their world view on what may be the calamitous fate of a small group of people. I recall Laura Bush and other ‘feminists’ all waving the flag for Western intervention to save women from the Taliban and the stupid, stupid Left signing up for that; them being far too slow to see the looming drones – wiping out whole wedding parties of women.

    I don’t know whether I should waste time on any socialist (?) writing stuff like “Rhodes colonising Zimbabwe probably stopped the Ndebele wiping out the Shona. The Raj gave Britain access to materials, ports and manpower that helped defeat Nazism.” Would anyone who is at all Left think this? Maybe the victory of the USA revolutionaries should be condemned? If the UK remained in control no western expansion would have happened from the 13 colonies and so no US conquest of the Indian areas; the role of millions of Indians (the other ones) apparently is to live under the yoke to help their imperial masters fight off the threat of rival who were not dissimilar to their own oppressor, save the Brits did not organise their mass extermination but neither did they do much to keep them alive. It is just silly nonsense not history and your remarks are those of the left-wing of imperialism, if even that.

    I hear the USA are there now. I shall celebrate any downing of their choppers (or other invaders) by Boko Haram.

    Death to imperialism.

    • Jim Denham said,

      “I hear the USA are there now. I shall celebrate any downing of their choppers (or other invaders) by Boko Haram.

      “Death to imperialism”

      You are a sick man.

      But you really don’t exist: Flying Rodent will assure you of that.

  12. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    ‘Flying Rodent’?

    The response of someone who has lost a lot of brain cells.

    Let me make it easier- pictures.

    Imperialism then

    Imperialism now

  13. Rilke said,

    It is pitiful to observe the dynamism and subtlety of Marxist critical thought reduced to a few shallow ‘as it was then so it is now’ phrases. I read stock phrases about ‘imperialism’ but see now true analysis whatsoever. I see no distinction between settler or state sponsored colonialism for example, I read of no concepts relating to what has occured to the nation state as capitalism moves to higher and supra corporate forms. Very strange that a form of thought that is predicated on the radical assumption that we are historical rather than simply ‘natural’ beings can so easily become a series of simple-minded and unhistorical topoi.
    I have a logical proposition for you Southpawpunch. If it is true that Britain the USA or/and Europe are irredeemably ‘imperialist’ then it follows from a simple-minded Marxist point of view that the societies of these states are therefore ‘imperialist’. If these societies are ‘imperialist’ then it follows from a hard-line materialist base and super-structure point of view that the members of these societies are ‘imperialists’ or at best infected or ingrained with ‘imperialist’ dogmas and attitudes. Given that from a certain crude Marxist point of view, none live ‘outside’ ‘society’ as such, then this shows clearly and logically that you are an ‘imperialist’ or at least besmirched and infected with ‘contradictory’ imperialist consciousness. The only logical and politically dignified position for you to adopt in this condition would be to kill yourself to lighten the heavy burden your over-determined existence imposes on the exploited and struggling colonised peoples.
    I shall celebrate any downing of your exploitative existence. Death to idiocy!

    • Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

      Please Shiraz, get some proper opponents instead of these ridiculous straw-men builders. The use of ‘topoi’, or the irrelevant mention of the “distinction between settler or state sponsored colonialism”, are an attempt to add some intellectual seasoning to as foul a fake as has happened with the addition of a microgramme of ‘real’ paprika to Wotsits.

      I make no claim the USA are ‘irredeemably imperialist’. Indeed, from my mention of China, I make it clear that the imperialist nations change. Places like Spain could become semi-colonies (even colonies) in a few decades.

      ‘All Brits must be imperialists’ is a stupid a supposed extension of my arguments as can be. Was Marx an imperialist through living in imperialist countries?

      And ‘as it was then so it is now’. Yes, it can be. Or sometime it isn’t. Newtonian physics is as useful now (if not completely ‘true’) as when the apple supposedly fell on his head (1666). Rilke will likely always be an idiot. He should read what he has written once more and never write such rubbish again

  14. Rilke said,

    Mildly amusing I must say…you will find that ‘topoi’ is a perfectly fine word and has been the subject of strong critical dialogue since Aristotle. You can find Aristotle’s discusion of it in his short essay ‘On Memory’. The notion of topos as a limiting category of critical thinking was later taken up by Hegel in the ‘Science of Logic’. You know Southpaw, the book that Lenin said every revolutionary ‘must read’ and on which he wrote a valuable Conspectus? Hegel’s discusion is in the section on ‘Quantative Infinity’, Lenin’s in the passage on ‘Magnitude’. That is the passage that moves beyond Newtonian ‘laws’ in favour of a dialectics of ‘Nature’. Oh dear..! Perhaps he was just an ‘idiot’. I prefer Lukac’s ‘Young Hegel’ myself, but that is just becasue I speak Hungarian better than Russian. Really Southpaw, you will find words very useful over time, even ones you do not find immediately agreeable!
    ‘Wotsits’…truly? I do not much take to those that parade their specialist vocabulary of super-profitable industrial lumpen snacks over proper communist debate. You will be babbling about football next!

    • Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

      Thanks, Rilke, it is clearly not the meaning of the word ‘topoi’ that I was referring to, but its use to try to add a veneer of learning to your babbling.

      You also miss the point about Newtonian physics. Whilst science has been ‘expanded’ by Einstein, Hegel et al, the equation still works, as Marxism does in explaining capitalism.

      I hope one day you can be better acquainted with how even centuries old science can still solve problems.

      You will be piloting that RAF helicopter gunship (albeit rather badly – all poorly understood theoretical concepts, rather than ‘what lever does what”), Ride of the Valkyries booming, and a manically laughing corporal Jim Denham as rear gunner, blasting every ‘Islamist’ he can see (in reality, just those with bigger headdresses) as you strafe the forest of northern Nigeria.

      It is Newtonian science that will tell the Boko Haram guy with the SAM missile, just how high above your helicopter, 2 km away, he needs to aim the missile to ensure he allows for gravity to make it hit the target.

      And, as you tumble swiftly towards the ground, try and remember your Newtonian equations to calculate just how long you have before you collide with the hard. hard reality of the ground.

  15. Jim Denham said,

    Enough already! This correspondence is now closed and any further comments from Rilke or Southpaw on this thread will be deleted on sight.

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