This article was last modified on December 15, 2007.


Interview With Leo Panitch

Professor Leo Panitch, author of Renewing Socialism, had agreed to answer questions on his book and other related issues. As of December 2007, we have had to repeatedly postpone the interview due to other commitments. The interview, now a year in the waiting, may never materialize. On December 20, 2007 Panitch decided to withdraw from the interview, making it effectively closed.

Instead, I offer you the list of preliminary questions, to perhaps spark discussion from others. If Panitch has time available, his answers will, of course, be offered here.

GS: Your writing is clearly from a Canadian standpoint, as one would expect. How do you see the struggle for socialism differing between Canada and the United States?

LP:

GS: Marx believed that voting in favor of free trade would speed up the revolution (presumably by making the proles angrier and more desperate). Would it be fair to say that if Marx were alive today, he would vote for someone such as George W. Bush or a libertarian before voting with the socialist or communist parties?

LP:

GS: Spain elected Zapatero, a member of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, in 2004. He has since withdrawn troops from Iraq, legalized same-sex marriage and gave amnesty to thousands of illegal immigrants, all indisputably liberal positions. Are leaders such as Zapatero truly “Socialist”, or would this more properly be defined as capitalism of a different variety?

LP:

GS: As I understand it, you have argued that the old definitions of imperialism simply do not apply anymore, because they give too much emphasis to the export of capital. What, instead, would be the measuring stick for imperialism, and how would you respond to the new breed of imperialism and empire posited by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri?

LP:

GS: One critic (I believe it was Jim Blaut) has said that “there is nothing that Panitch said in his debate with [John Bellamy] Foster [about imperialism] that wasn’t already said by [John] Willoughby.” How do you respond to this charge?

LP:

GS: In Renewing Socialism, there is a scene where we are told a group of Russians are quite good at keeping their rooms clean, but fail to keep the communal hallways respectable. In another essay, you cite Thomas More’s Utopia where he stresses that private property must be abolished in order to have any kind of fair policy. This calls to mind the dichotomy between Plato’s communal view of property and Aristotle’s private ownership. How do we create a society where good polices can be formed, and at the same time have people with a vested interest in their surroundings? Or more generally, is this possible?

LP:

GS: In an interview with Carlos Pessoa, you make the observation that 9/11 was covered in working class imagery and symbolism (such as firefighters, Bruce Springsteen) and connected to patriotism. Who pushed this symbolism and for what purpose? Is there any actual connection between terrorism, the working class and patriotism? (Personally, I didn’t see 9/11 as a class issue, is what I’m saying.)

LP:

GS: I gather from your writings that you have great admiration for political scientist Crawford Brough Macpherson (1911-1987). What other authors or books would you recommend for the budding socialist scholar?

LP:

Also try another article under Philosophical, Political
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

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