Taimur Rahman Political Archive

Long Live Marxism-Leninism!

On Criticism

Posted by Taimur Rahman on August 7, 2006

Ehtisham sahib,

Have you seen this film by Che Guevara called “The Motor Cycle Diaries”? In that film there is a scene when this extremely friendly doctor gives Che and his friend refuge in his house. He feeds them and helps them out in many ways. While they are guests in his house he gives them a book to read that he has been writing for a long time. He says he wants nothing but the truth, the absolute honest opinion.

When they are about to leave he asks them what they thought of the book. Alberto, Che’s more pragmatic friend, responds by saying “it was good” but when Che is asked he says that the book was really terrible. That the metaphors were too typical, the style was poor and the writing was basically bad. The doctor is shocked. His mouth drops open. After a long unfriendly silence the doctor says “damn it boy, thank you for being so honest.”

When we submit something upon which we have expended so much labour and love, we may ask for the honest opinion of others but few among us are ready to hear the really honest opinion of others. What we are looking for is not honesty but reaffirmation.

You submitted your writing. I gave you my honest opinion of it. Where I disagreed strongly, I told you bluntly, perhaps too bluntly. I did not try to flatter you with praise, to butter you up with honeyed phrases, or win you over to my party/cause with hypocrisy (as politicians are apt to do).

When you pointed out that you were offended by a certain word that I used, I immediately apologized because my intent is not to hurt your feelings but to engage constructively. If you prefer the honeyed phrases of professional politicians, rest assured that I have the ability to utilize words to flatter you as well. If you, however, are searching for the truth, as we believe we are, and are ready to submit your writing to severest of criticism, then please accept my
humble attempt at destroying views that I am convinced are incorrect.

If you are convinced that my views are incorrect, you have the same right as I do to destroy my arguments utilizing equally strong language.

Let us engage constructively and honestly.

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