Thursday, June 21, 2007

Peter Linebaugh...popularizer of ideas not his own

The author of "The Many Headed Hydra", among other books, has another piece on Counterpunch dealing with his sort of bullshit rip off of autonomist history...where he advocates the existence of something called "Atlanticism", which is his theory that ideas of democracy where transmitted to England and to the U.S. by Pirate ships. That's an interesting fantasy to base a children's book on but in terms of real history it has about zero relevancy. So mr. Linebaugh takes ideas from lesser known historians like Peter Lamborn Wilson, author of "Pirate Utopias", as well as the authors featured in "Gone to Croatan", as well as E.P. Thomspson, author of "The Making of the English Working Class" as well as "Whigs and Hunters: The Origin of the Black Act,", which is a history of resistence to the centralization of state power in England that set the stage for the beginnings of capitalism. Harry Cleaver's "Reading Capital Politically" is also pilfered for ideas, just as the general thought of C.L.R. James regarding working class self organization and activity. Freddy Pearlman, author of "Against Leviathan, Against His-Story" is also heavily relied on.

But the difference between them and Linebaugh is that while all of them, except perhaps E.P. Thompson, are extraordinarily obscure and hard to find (not to mention the fact that three of the people mentioned above are dead), Linebaugh's books are available at better bookstores everywhere, no doubt read by people who don't know anything about the people he draws on and who have no idea that his books are derivative and unoriginal. So they become automatically impressive.

Yeah. And he plays the Irish angle up in the piece the Counterpunch link leads to, this absurd belief that the Irish were some sort of born Autonomists in America, believed in by people who like to beat a Bodhrain drum and play act that they're Irish. It's like people wearing kilts with knives tucked into high socks believing that they're Scottish. The only reason that the Irish are getting so much attention as being potentially "Subversive" is that there're so many people claiming Irish ancestry in the United States, and they like to get a kick out of pretending that they're oppressed, even though their pasty faces are whiter than the whitest Englishman. They're completely integrated into white American society, they completely benefit from the Wages of Whiteness, and yet they seem to feel that they have to invent some sort of present history of oppression in order to assuage their white guilt.

But I shouldn't get off on a rant...

Needless to say, it appears that Linebaugh, in this article, has taken the kool aid of Irish subversiveness in America full throttle by quoting an equally insane book called "How the Irish invented Slang", which asserts that words like "Jazz", among others associated with African-American culture, are really derived from Gaelic.

All the Jazz musicians danced with the wee Leprechauns and were taught their rhythyms by the oppressed Irish, who danced jiggs that later became black music. None of it went back to Africa, of course. I exagerrate, but not without cause.

It seems that once you let pasty white people claim that they were very, very, oppressed and still bare the features of a culture of oppression they start to want to co-opt everyonew else's oppression. Nice.


washington o'connell said...

Have you read How the Irish Invented Slang? If not maybe you should...I'm disappointed that such a so called leftie as you could be a dyed in wool raciest.

John Madziarczyk said...

Actually, I'd be surprised if you had read "How the Irish invented slang", considering how, to the best of my knowledge, it hasn't been published yet.

What has been published are several long essays by Daniel Cassidy about the purported Irish origin of American slang, on

That's what I'm going by.

I'm not a racist in that I'm not English and am not posting from England. I'm an American, and over here the Irish, of which my mother's family is a part, are about as common and integrated into society as can be.

It would be interesting to do a survey some day to see how many Irish-Americans know who Bobby Sands is. My guess is that although there are many, many, people who buy into a romanticized kitsch about Ireland there are few who actually know anything concrete about relatively current politics.