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Voices from the Collective

Letters from readers about past articles.
Voices from the Collective

Issue #10, December 1993

A copy of your September 1993 issue made it to the grad lounge of the Communication Department here at UCSD. I read it with great interest, since I've been based in Berkeley most of the past five years, and still commute there most weekends to be with my wife Valeria, who's doing a Masters of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley.

I found much to agree with, such as the analysis of how 'proponents of multiculturalism too often fetishize their marginality.' However, as I continued to read and saw references to 'leftists' pop up with mantra-like regularity, I couldn't help but wonder if you weren't fetishizing your own marginality. Otherwise, why the obsession with defining your audience as fellow 'leftists?'

I counted up the references to 'the left' or 'leftists' in your 'Manifesto,' and found 66 of them. Something about this strikes me as very curious. I understand the unavoidable posturing that goes with living in Berkeley, but I also maintain roots in Texas, and I know how utterly indulgent such posturing can look to people who live outside of Berkeley. And who, after all, is our audience, if we really want to actualize our utopian dreams, rather than merely raise our own self-esteem by trying to prove the superiority of our own 'critique?'

I think that the people writing for your journal have some important things to say. But let's not forget to apply our 'critique' to self. You yourselves write critically of 'leftists today who compulsively self-marginalize themselves....' Isn't this obsessive referencing to a mythological 'left' another form of 'self-marginalization?' Why limit our discourse to those who feel comfortable with having 'leftist' stamped on their forehead 66 times? Surely we need to develop alliances that extend beyond that small and self-referential circle?

Gregory Stephens
San Diego, Ca.