On Jan. 6, the WSWS carried yet another polemic against us, the second one in a week. This one came with a purple prose title, “Adam Haig responds to Alex Steiner’s burst of outrage”.
Burst of outrage? This same Haig had four days earlier posted a 17-page attack on us in which he baldly declared that we “cannot be regarded as Marxist-Trotskyists”, claimed that we reject the materialist conception of history, are skeptical about the revolutionary role of the working class and much else.
We posted a brief response (a little over a page in length) on our website blog in which we pointed out that most of the essay was devoted to using Herbert Marcuse as a straw man and that much of the rest of it brought in irrelevant material regarding Erich Fromm and Slavoj Žižek.
There was no “burst of outrage” in what we wrote. It is true that we called the title of Haig’s piece pretentious and we characterized his ruminations on Fromm and Žižek as the kind of padding a clever graduate student would engage in, but this is pretty routine stuff in the cut-and-thrust of polemical debate, and given what we were dealing with, it was eminently fair comment. By any objective measure, our criticisms of Haig were a good deal more restrained than his accusations against us.
But that isn’t how Haig saw it. Our brief note enraged him and he vented his anger in a new posting which the WSWS editors were only too happy to run (a point we will come back to). In this latest posting we are accused of writing an “angry response”, of making “several outrageous charges” in our brief note, and that we are supposedly “intent on discrediting the ICFI.” Steiner, “in his hysteria,” apparently “employs a deceitful use of quotation marks”. Later we are told that Steiner “exploded” and later still that Steiner “has no capacity for logical argumentation.” The piece winds up by consigning us to the garbage heap of history (having “embraced Herbert Marcuse, Freudo-Marxism, and Utopia … it is fairly clear where they [i.e. Steiner and Brenner] will end up”).
“Hysteria”, “exploded”, “burst of outrage” – the violence of this language is striking. Clearly, the “hysteria” here is Haig’s, not ours. In psychology this is known as projection; in a more familiar idiom it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black...Click here to read entire essay
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