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Daily Archives: February 13th, 2011

World Crisis


From: Ravi Kumar:

Dear Comrades and Friends,

Greetings from Radical Notes. Taking our cue from Marx’s lesson that “to be radical is to grasp the root of the matter”, we initiated Radical Notes ( as an effort to understand the roots and ever innovative forms of “the guerrilla fights between capital and labour”, of the open, hidden and interstitial struggles within and against capitalism. Ideas become material force only when they are radical – revealing, not concealing, themselves in concrete analyses of concrete situations. They must rise, perpetuate and return in an anti-sectarian “generalisation” (Verallgemeinerung) of these struggles, imbued with “revolutionary passion” (die revolutionäre Leidenschaft). The focus on South Asia stems not from the facilitators’ comforts of cultural convenience, but from the need to concretise a ‘radical’ pursuit. South Asia provides us the opportunity to visualise the reproduction of ‘global’ capitalism and the struggle against it in a specific regional setting.

With this aim we have undertaken activities like:

Ø  Publish an e-journal (;

Ø  Host debates (through publications and meetings) on issues confronting the movements for social transformation in general and the working class movement, in particular;

Ø  Publish Radical Notes Series (printed and distributed by Aakar Books, under which we include scholarly monographs and collections addressing theoretical and practical issues arising within the movements of the oppressed and exploited;

Ø  Publish Refoundations Series under which we plan to include monographs revisiting historical texts, documents, debates and movements;

Ø  Organise film shows followed by discussions;

Ø  Audio-Visual documentation of people’s struggle.

There are a host of other activities Radical Notes is determined to undertake in order to address the need for a sustained counter-narrative of resistance against the offensive launched by global capitalism. These activities would include diversification in terms of publications and more extensive use of audio-visual means to strengthen the radical voices, creation of more public fora to debate the ongoing movements and so on. Till now we have been organising the activities of Radical Notes mainly through financial contributions generated from among members of the editorial team. However, the expansion endeavour that has been envisioned involves more expenditure. We would, therefore, like to seek your support to sustain and expand Radical Notes, which has become a recognised voice of radical resistance.

Please let us know at our email address ( or at my address 
( –– in case you are interested in supporting our activities. We would really appreciate the decision to become a regular supporter of the cause by contributing a fixed amount annually.

Looking forward to your support in the struggle against capitalist offensive!
Revolutionary greetings
Editorial Team
Radical Notes


Ravi Kumar, PhD || Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi


Editor, Radical Notes,


‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: (recording) and (live)

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Brown-Harvard Conference on Slavery and Capitalism, April 7-9, 2011

This conference is intended to explore the centrality of slavery to national economic development in the decades between the American Revolution and the Civil War. Presentations will explore New England investment in the plantation economies of the Caribbean; the technological and managerial innovations in plantation management that coincided with northern industrialization; and the origins of modern finance and credit in the buying and selling of enslaved men and women and the crops they produced.

This new research suggests that the hotbeds of American entrepreneurship, speculation, and innovation might as readily be found in Mississippi or Virginia as in New York or Massachusetts. The issue is not whether slavery was or was not capitalist (an older debate), but rather the impossibility of understanding the nation’s spectacular pattern of economic development without situating slavery front and center.

The conference begins on Thursday, April 7th, with a keynote address by President Ruth Simmons of Brown University. Paper presentations will follow on Friday the 8th at Brown University. The conference then moves to Harvard for additional papers on Saturday, April 9th. This event is free and open to the public.

All the information (including the program and registration form) is here:

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Egyptian Future


International Socialism
A seminar hosted by the quarterly journal of socialist theory

Egypt, Tunisia and Revolution in the 21st Century

Revolution in the 21st century is a reality. In less than two months, two dictators have been overthrown. In both revolutions, the entrance of the working class onto the stage of history proved decisive. The myths that the Arab world is incapable of democracy and that regime change can be achieved only through foreign intervention lie in tatters.

In this seminar, Gilbert Achcar and Anne Alexander will discuss the processes that led to recent events in the Middle East, the prospects for the future, and the implications for capitalism, imperialism and 
socialism in the 21st century.


Gilbert Achcar (Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies, author of The Arabs and the Holocaust and The Clash of Barbarisms)

Anne Alexander (Research fellow at the University of Cambridge, author of Nasser: His Life and Times and contributor to Egypt: the Moment of Change)

Tuesday 22 February, 6.30pm
Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church,
235 Shaftesbury Avenue,
London, WC2H 8EP
Near Tottenham Court Road Tube

Free entry – All welcome – Please forward  * * (020) 7819 1177

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An international workshop hosted by the Kent Centre for Law, Gender, and Sexuality and Kent Law School

Wednesday 23 March 2011
Kent Law School
Canterbury, UK*

With presentations by:

Rosemary Coombe (York University, Canada)
Radhika Desai (University of Manitoba, Canada)
Denise Ferreira da Silva (Queen Mary, UK)
Nina Power (Roehampton, UK)

Discussed by:

Donatella Alessandrini (Kent, UK)
Brenna Bhandar (Kent, UK)

The day will consist of two sessions, broken up with a light lunch (provided) and followed by dinner (not provided). Please join us for part or all of the day. More information about the theme of the workshop can be found below.

The event is free but spaces are limited. To book a spot please register by emailing Stacy Douglas at: before 1 March 2011.

*There are some funds available for postgraduate students who wish to travel to Kent for the workshop. If you are interested please email Stacy Douglas at with a brief case for support as well as an estimated cost for your train travel. Information about traveling to Kent can be found here.



Garrett Hardin’s now infamous essay “Tragedy of the Commons” (1968) stands as a Hobbesian analogy for what he claims are the inherent destructive capacities of human beings that perpetually stand in the way of realizing a free community of individuals with shared resources. Hardin’s essay suggests that, when faced with the responsibility of sharing the commons, individual human self-interest – or fear of it – will win out over practices of collectivity, sharing, and mutual aid.

More recently, there has been a resurgence in political theory and political philosophy in addressing the concept of “the commons”. Some of the most popularly cited references to the idea can be found in the work of Slavoj Žižek (2009) and Hardt and Negri (2009). This work has further been expounded upon in international conferences devoted to the “Idea of Communism” in London (2009) and Berlin (2010).  Steeped in the philosophy of Spinoza, Hardt and Negri use a notion of the common that “…does not position humanity separate from nature, as either its exploiter or its custodian, but focuses rather on the practices of interaction, care, and cohabitation in a common world, promoting the beneficial and limiting and detrimental forms of the common” (2009). For Žižek, the commons is comprised of culture (“primarily language, our means of communication and education, but also shared infrastructure such as public transport, electricity, post, etc…”), external nature (“from oil to forests and the natural habitat itself”), and internal nature (“the biogenetic inheritance of humanity”), and are all increasingly enclosed by the forces of global capital. It is the process of our exclusion from these commons (“our own substance”) that Žižek argues should effectively proletarianize us into fighting for something more than capitalist liberal democracy – a system whose laissez-faire violence is justified through the empty gesture of “universal inclusion” without any material bite. Žižek’s answer to this political conundrum is a call for communism.

And yet, the past century has seen vast and varied critical feminist engagements with historically changing concepts of communism and “the commons”. Struggles for universal suffrage, critiques of universality, denouncements of the hollowing out of the welfare state as a result of neoliberalisation, and challenges to the concept of the human, are all examples of a rich and diverse feminist tradition of engagement with the concept of “the commons”. Given the popular return to the idea of the commons, what more does feminist analysis have to give to this conversation? Does the concept still have potential for future feminist projects? If so, what is this potential and what do these projects look like? How do they resonate – or not – with those of the past? Further, given the broader theme of the workshop series, what role – if any – does the “the state” play in these imaginings?

The Kent Centre for Law, Gender, and Sexuality (KCLGS) and Kent Law School invite you to participate in a workshop exploring the contemporary feminist work of Rosemary CoombeRadhika DesaiDenise Ferreira da Silva, and Nina Power as it resonates or clashes with these questions. For more information or to register, email or visit

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