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31okiL's picture
Joined: 6-07-10
Jul 8 2010 23:56

I'm comparitively new to classles and anti-capitalist politics, so take it easy on me.

My question doesn't have much to do with anything serious, but here it goes: does it seem hypocritical to admire revolutionaries that don't have the same politics as you?

Among the people I admire are Huey Newton, Che Gevaura, Noam Chomksy, Abbie Hoffman, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X.

Many of these people held different political and social philosophies, but I admire all of them for their resistance to tyranny and opression.

I'm not asking to be told how to think, just trying to get the opinions of some more experienced anti-capitalists.

Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
Joined: 6-11-03
Jul 9 2010 00:43

I wouldn't get too hung up on it, all of the above had good and bad points, as long as you keep your critical faculties about you to note and learn from the bad, nothing wrong with admiring the good. I'd be wary of placing anyone on a pedestal though in general, cos in the end we're all only human.

Boris Badenov
Joined: 25-08-08
Jul 9 2010 01:07

No it's not hypocritical. Admiring other people is something we all do; it's part of learning. Of course unconditional/uncritical adulation is something different.

Joined: 9-06-09
Jul 9 2010 04:53

Can't say i admire any of these people much now - but, with the exception of Chomsky and Martin Luther King, I certainly used to. I suppose I've stil got a soft spot for Abbie Hoffman - at least he didn't become as super insipid as Jerry Rubin, and I was upset by his suicide (nevertheless, Emmett Grogan's anecdotes about his encounter with him and his massive self-aggrandisement - in Ringolevio - ring true). And Malcolm X, despite his Leninism, was moving in the right direction (also I particularly liked what he said after JFK was killed). Che I had on my wall - but lost interest in him when i was 18 after reading his extremely boring Bolivian diaries ("Shot 7 soldiers today. Went back to camp - beans for supper...").

Used-to-be-heroes of mine: Bob Dylan (until he became a zionist in the late 60s and then a born-again Christian); Jacques Mesrine (the films are pretty moralist and distort/lie abut him); The Great Train Robbers (guess that puts me in with about 50% of the UK population in the 60s); Trotsky (up until I was 18 - Cohn-Bendit's "Obsolete Communism..." disabused me of my admiration); Lenny Bruce (still quite admire him, despite the fact that he wasn't all that funny)....a few more.

The problem isn't just to avoid adulation or putting them on a pedestal, though - but to see their counter-revoutionary influence.

There are some "heroes" who I still can't really critique, given their epoch: Wat Tyler, Babeuf, Makhno, Durruti, even Steve Biko...and loads more; but the problem with heroes is that they do things we feel we could never do but would like to, so we transfer this desire into something vicarious, no? And they shift our focus away from all those nameless "heroes" whose contribution to the struggle against this world has been infinitely greater than the oh-so-safe Chomsky, for example. Top of the list for me is the young woman in this account of the beginning of the Soweto uprising in '76: "In festive mood the students took their protest to the streets. Inevitably they were confronted by the brute force of the South African state, who, by ruse of history, understood the implications of the students’ actions even more clearly than most of the students themselves were able to at that time. Without warning the police opened fire on the singing and marching students. The students at the front of the procession began to retreat, but their flight was halted by the act of one person. One young woman stood her ground, then defiantly walked towards the police shouting: “Shoot me!” Inspired by this incredible act - so incredible that the police did not shoot—the students’ retreat turned into a regroupment and frenzied counterattack. Rocks were torn from the ground and hurled at the police...."

31okiL's picture
Joined: 6-07-10
Jul 13 2010 23:09

Thanks for all the help! I have a few responses myself.

I understand that no one should be put on too high of a pedastel. However, I recognize the need for recognition of great philosophers and leaders. Even in a leaderless society people will, and I believe should recognize humans that are good example setters. They should also recognize that the example that was set by them is one they can also follow.

Also, the title of this is really inaccurate. While I do recognize some of these individuals as heroes, I was talking more about different people's ideas. One thing I've noticed is that too often, the "radical" left is too divided to accomplish anything longterm. Perhaps with more openess to other philosophy, and a willingness to coopereate with good people that don't exactly share your ideas, can change this.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Joined: 9-02-06
Jul 14 2010 00:37

I don't want to drag this into a semantic discussion (about the meanings of words) but I would say that generally the idea of the hero is one that fits with an ideology that divides 'special' people and normal people that I do not agree with. It can make people feel unimportant and lacking in agency.
There has been some amazing bravery by all manner of people in all manner of situations and that can be inspirational, but what I find inspirational is that some people can find the courage, strength or whatever is needed in a situation.
In the end I think we should try to learn from people in terms of politics and be inspired by what they achieved. Although I joined in with the Che Guevara hero worship when I was younger I learnt that his courage was not effective and he was not a good political example to follow.

jura's picture
Joined: 25-07-08
Jul 14 2010 11:57

I. I. Rubin, Gavril Myasnikov, Záviš Kalandra. I certainly would have disagreements will all of the three, on different matters, but still admire their endurance.