- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Here's a problem (or two) for Lark

Posted by: Barry Stoller on December 11, 1999 at 21:26:06:

When Lark is not repeatedly asserting that Frenchy is a fascist, he is repeatedly asserting that Iím a proto-stalinist.

In addition, Lark has claimed here that, instead of debating issues fully, I dodge issues.

Both these claims are patently false.

I have made my UNCONDITIONAL aversion to Stalin clear here. I have argued in detail that Leninism is NOT Stalinism here. In BOTH posts, I have taken particular care NOT to absolve the Bolsheviks for the extreme centralism that enabled Stalin to seize control of the Soviet state.

As far as debate tactics are concerned, it is Lark who regularly dodges issues.

Exhibit A: Lark claimed here that Chomsky repudiated Skinner because he (Chomsky) had apprehensions about 'subtle manipulation' of human behavior. I pointed out here (with a clear citation from Chomsky's writings) that Chomsky specifically accused Skinner of advocating Nazi-style gas ovens---a blatant lie. When confronted with this evidence, Lark qualified Chomsky's smear, saying (here) that because Chomsky is an 'anarchist,' he is 'entitled to be paranoid and sensitive about manipulation of human behavior.' However, the 'manipulation of human behavior' is EXTREMELY FAR from advocating death camps. In conclusion, Lark could only respond that he never even read Chomsky's book (attacking Skinner) in the first place.

Exhibit B: Discussing Trotsky, Lark quoted Bernard Crick (known for his biography of George Orwell) quoting Isaac Deutscher (known for his biography of Joseph Stalin) quoting Trotsky saying something to the effect of 'my party, right or wrong, is always right.' Which, as Lark pointed out, is a justification for blind obedience. When I demonstrated here that Crick actually cooked the quote, all Lark could do say was: the issue 'doesn't make a difference. . .either way.'

But that's NOT TRUE.

Like before (regarding Skinner), I suspect Lark wanted to get out in the debate some sensationalist---although false---claims, hoping that even after I proved the claims to be false, other people might only remember the sensationalist part of the claims. Considering that Lark calls 'Stollerism' (or 'Strollerism' when he wants to continually misspell my name to show his intellectual desperation), a 'mix of slanders' (here), this is pretty rich!

Which all has relevance considering that Lark claims that I advocate a 'gunman's socialism.'

Which is also patently false.

I am on record saying that the majority of people must WANT socialism in order for socialism to emerge. Indeed, in this post, I say that the PEOPLE not the party that leads them will hold the guns. This is FAR different than a 'gunman's socialism'---i.e. a socialism predicated on MINORITY rule.

So we can see the classic Lark debate tactic: sensationalist smears devoid of ANY REALITY; a monotone array of FALSE CLAIMS inculcated aggressively; and the tendency to shrink away from ever SUBSTANTIATING his statements.

Now, let us consider some of Lark's POSITIVE political sentiments. . .

1. Lark believes that the socialist revolution is made by individuals, not parties.

2. Lark claims the working class, due to it's 'anti-intellectualism and fascistic behavior,' is not capable of initiating the socialist revolution.

3. Lark questions whether or not 'freedom fighters' even need politics (ideology).

4. Lark refutes the existence of a proletariat class as well as a bourgeois class, claiming instead that the 'socilaists/liberal/anarchists/communists/environmentalists/etc.' will face off against everyone who 'oppose[s]' them.

5. Lark has taken a stand AGAINST what he calls 'absolute' equality, arguing instead for the Rawlsian conception of justice in which 'the distribution of wealth and income need not be equal.'(1)

6. Indeed, Lark confirms this premise and has come out into the open so far as to say: '[C]omplete freedom of income isn't my dream.'

So---UNEVEN incomes is part of Lark's 'socialism.'

7. Agreeing that job rotation would be beneficial, Lark nonetheless would subordinate that program (as explicated here) to something he calls 'liberty in the workplace.'

8. When I questioned what 'liberty in the workplace' means, Lark described it as people 'performing DIFFERENT tasks,' insisting that 'taking an interest in DIFFERENT tasks is not the same as establishing a hierarchy with status and authority.'

9. When I expressed my concern that 'liberty in the workplace' might assign one person nothing but desired skilled work while consigning undesired unskilled work to others, Lark said his 'bottom line' was 'my freedom is mine.'

Here we finally arrive at the core of Lark's political philosophy: transparent emptiness.

According to Lark, 'liberty' is the most important thing.

But the question freedom to, freedom from? is NEVER CONFRONTED. 'Liberty' for some people to run the state while others have the 'liberty' to do the laundry? 'Liberty' for the bourgeoisie to alienate and exploit the labor of the working class?---or 'liberty' for the working class to rise up against their bourgeois masters and DEMOLISH all institutions of inequality? Because Lark refuses to acknowledge that class differences even EXIST, he will never confront the issue.

Just as he never answered the challenges he faced concerning Chomsky and Crick.

And THAT, in my opinion, is why Lark has nothing really useful to say.



1. Rawls, A Theory of Justice, Harvard University Press 1971, p. 61.

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