FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Farewell Norman Pollack, 1933-2017

This past week we lost one of our most tenacious, prolific voices. Norman Pollack, after a long, arduous battle with cancer, passed away on June 11 at his home in Michigan with his wife Nancy by his side. He was 84.

Norman’s legacy stands tall, from his days in the civil rights movement to his tenure at Yale and Michigan State University, he never stopped fighting for social justice. He was not only an author and well-respected scholar, he was also a loving father, husband and a genuine friend of CounterPunch. I will greatly miss our frequent email exchanges that ranged from theater outings with his wife Nancy to his daily battles through multiple rounds of chemotherapy.  I never experienced Norman as a professor, but I imagine he would have been dynamic, yet challenging. He often spoke fondly of his former students, especially those who carried on the torch of an activist life.

While Normam’s politics were complex, they were also clear-cut. He believed in real left-wing populism, writing several books on the topic over the years. He advocated for building opposition from the ground-up, at all costs. Most importantly, he remained steadfast in his belief that the working class has the spirit to engineer a genuine progressive transformation of society. And if this didn’t transpire, he argued, the US would fall into a fascist spiral, indeed he believed we were already on that treacherous course.

Norman was an outspoken, radical Jew who defended the rights of Palestinians and other indigenous peoples. He was a fierce critic of the Bush and Obama administrations, especially extraordinary rendition, drone warfare and US policy in the Middle East, yet he left plenty in his cannon to blast the spectacle of Donald Trump.

Marxists in academia are few and far between these days, and Norman was perhaps the last of his generation. He openly credited his pal Gabriel Kolko as a prime influencer on his political thinking, and like Kolko, Pollack’s writings will continue to impact our political discourse for decades to come. I recall Norman telling me how much he missed Kolko when he died, and I can say the same of Pollack now. He’ll be deeply missed.

I return often to Pollack’s words, especially his condemnation of Israel’s domination of Palestinians. Few have written on the issue with more passion and contempt. Here’s a snippet from an essay he wrote for us in 2015 titled Israel’s Defamation of Judaism: The Rape of the Palestinian People:

“The bombardment of Gaza last summer, a replay of Guernica as a lengthier exercise in domination, artillery replacing the dive bomber, was merely an example of the stored-up hatred and contempt Israelis displayed toward the Palestinians, a twisted mindset crossing the line from punitiveness to outright psychosis as though squashing an ant hill. Israelis do not concede the humanity of their victims, and perhaps do not even see them as victims but mere objects to be pushed around and, as a useful object lesson to them, swept aside, their houses bulldozed, their land taken away, the science of humiliation raised to a fine art.”

May we all stay as vigilant as Norman, who, right up to his final days, while he struggled through hospice care, worked alongside Nancy to finalize his forthcoming book Capitalism, Hegemony and Violence in the Age of Drones, which is currently being prepared for publication.

Farewell, Norman. We’ll do our best to keep the fight alive. Your spirit will forever live on.

For a full list of Norman’s many articles on CounterPunch, please visit his author page.

More articles by:

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book, co-authored with Jeffrey St. Clair, is Big Heat: Earth on the Brink. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
Kavitha Muralidharan
‘Today We Seek Those Fish in Discovery Channel’
Louis Proyect
The Vanity Cinema of Quentin Tarantino
Bob Scofield
Tit For Tat: Baltimore Takes Another Hit, This Time From Uruguay
Nozomi Hayase
The Prosecution of Julian Assange Affects Us All
Ron Jacobs
People’s Music for the Soul
John Feffer
Is America Crazy?
Jonathan Power
Russia and China are Growing Closer Again
John W. Whitehead
Who Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The U.S. Government and Its Police Forces
Justin Vest
ICE: You’re Not Welcome in the South
Jill Richardson
Race is a Social Construct, But It Still Matters
Dean Baker
The NYT Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Retains Political Control After New US Coercive Measures
Gary Leupp
MSNBC and the Next Election: Racism is the Issue (and Don’t Talk about Socialism)
R. G. Davis
Paul Krassner: Investigative Satirist
Negin Owliaei
Red State Rip Off: Cutting Worker Pay by $1.5 Billion
Christopher Brauchli
The Side of Trump We Rarely See
Curtis Johnson
The Unbroken Line: From Slavery to the El Paso Shooting
Jesse Jackson
End Endless War and Bring Peace to Korea
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: What About a New City Center?
Tracey L. Rogers
Candidates Need a Moral Vision
Nicky Reid
I Was a Red Flag Kid
John Kendall Hawkins
The Sixties Victory Lap in an Empty Arena
Stephen Cooper
Tony Chin’s Unstoppable, Historic Career in Music
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bruno Latour’s Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime
Elizabeth Keyes
Haiku Fighting
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail