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Mors Mystica

Mors Mystica

DARKMATTER

Announcing the publication of a special issue of Darkmatter Journal, “Reflections on Dispossession: Critical Feminisms” eds. Brenna Bhandar and Davina Bhandar, with contributions from Sara R. Farris, Jonathan Goldberg-Hiller, Alyosha Goldstein, Leticia Sabsay and Rafeef Ziadah.

This collection traces a path for contemporary critiques of neoliberal capitalism and colonial dispossession. The authors show the compelling need for complex strategies and tools to evaluate the interlocking or intersectional practices of dispossession, and their particular effects on racialised, Indigenous, sexualized, and gendered subjects.

 

Darkmatter is an open access journal, and the special issue can be accessed here:

http://www.darkmatter101.org/site/category/issues/14-dispossession/

 

Praise for “Reflections on Dispossession”:

“Crossing centuries, oceans, continents, and disciplines, this ambitious and extraordinary collection shows how the logic of dispossession and its productions of difference reach into a present that avows colorblindness and erases coloniality. In its courtrooms, border checkpoints, intimacies, reform impulses, prisons, refugee camps, and regimes of accumulation, the neoliberal order is shown to draw on and recalibrate histories of gendered colonial oppression as long as they are deep.” – David Roediger (University of Kansas)

 

First Published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/special-issue-of-the-journal-darkmatter-reflections-on-dispossession-critical-feminisms-out-now

 

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‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Ruth Rikowski @ Academia: http://lsbu.academia.edu/RuthRikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.co.uk/

Ruth Rikowski at Serendipitous Moments: http://ruthrikowskiim.blogspot.co.uk/

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Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon

TWO TALKS ON FRANTZ FANON – BY PETER HUDIS

 

Tuesday 16th February 2016

Frantz Fanon on Race, Recognition, and Revolution: A Re-examination

Cambridge

Cambridge University

Mill Lane Lecture Room, 17:00-18:45:

Organised by the Cambridge Defend Education (CDE) and Cambridgeshire Left

See: http://www.internationalmarxisthumanist.org/events/cambridge-uk-frantz-fanon-race-recognition-revolution-re-examination

Frantz Fanon (1926-61) is widely considered one of the most important anti-colonial theorists of the twentieth century. Today we are witnessing a resurgence of interest in his contributions to philosophy, psychology and revolutionary theory in light of such realities as persistent racial discrimination in the West, the rise of religious fundamentalism, and the social crises enveloping much of the developing world. This talk will re-examine Fanon’s contributions to ongoing debates over race, racism, and recognition in light of the intellectual sources that motivated much of his work—especially Marxist theory and Hegelian philosophy.

Peter Hudis is author of Frantz Fanon: Philosopher of the Barricades (Pluto Press, 2015) and Marx’s Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism (Brill, 2012). He has edited or co-edited numerous works, including The Power of Negativity: Selected Writings on the Dialectic of Hegel and Marx, by Raya Dunayevskaya (Lexington, 1992) and The Rosa Luxemburg Reader (Monthly Review Books, 2006). He is currently general editor of The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, which will make all of her work available in 14 volumes (3 volumes have appeared so far). He is Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Oakton Community College in the U.S.
Sunday 13th March 2016

Why Frantz Fanon Matters to Today’s Struggles Against Racism and Imperialism

6:30-8:30 PM

Westside Peace Center
3916 Sepulveda Blvd., near Venice Blvd. (Free parking in rear)
Suite 101-102, press #22 at door to get into building
Culver City (LA area)

To be followed by A PARTY CELEBRATING THE COMING OF NOWRUZ (PERSIAN NEW YEAR)

See: http://www.internationalmarxisthumanist.org/events/los-angeles-frantz-fanon-matters-todays-struggles-racism-imperialism

 

And also a second edition of the book Marx at the Margins, by Kebin B. Anderson, is now available:

See for more at: http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/M/bo22776846.html

First Published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/3-talks-by-hudis-on-fanon

Peter Hudis

Peter Hudis

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‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Ruth Rikowski @ Academia: http://lsbu.academia.edu/RuthRikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.co.uk/

Ruth Rikowski at Serendipitous Moments: http://ruthrikowskiim.blogspot.co.uk/

Mike Cole

Mike Cole

RACISM: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS

A new book by Mike Cole

Paperback: 272 pages

Publisher: Pluto Press (20 Nov. 2015)

Language: English

Paperback: £17.50 from Pluto Press: http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745334714

ISBN-10: 0745334717

ISBN-13: 978-0745334714

The book traces the legacy of racism across three continents, from its origins to the present day. With a wide-ranging yet closely-argued style, it brings a sophisticated neo-Marxist analysis to bear on controversial political issues.

Mike Cole tackles three countries in-depth: the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. In the UK, he focuses on the effects of colonialism as well as looking at non-colour-coded racism, such as anti-Gipsy, Roma and Traveller racism and xeno-racism – directed at Eastern Europeans. Turning to the United States, Cole charts the dual legacies of indigenous genocide and slavery, as well as exploring anti-Latina/o and anti-Asian racism. Finally, in Australia, he interrogates the idea of ‘Terra Nullius’ and its ongoing impact on the indigenous peoples, as well as other forms of racism, such as that experienced by South Sea Islanders, anti-Asian racism, and that which targets migrants. The Pauline Hanson phenomenon is also addressed. Islamophobia, antisemitism and anti-Irish racism are also dealt with in the book, as is that aimed at asylum-seekers.

Cole demonstrates that racism is both endemic and multifaceted. This book will undoubtedly establish itself as required reading for students and other critical readers looking for a comprehensive, critical overview of the study of racism in Anglophone countries.

“Mike Cole reminds us of the histories of racism across America, Australia and the UK, at the same time urging us to re-engage with arguments about the central role of capitalism in perpetuating the most vicious of inequalities. This is an important reminder of the need to take a long view as we renew our shared struggle against the racism still scarring human lives across the globe.” (Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya, author of Tales Of Dark Skinned Women and Dangerous Brown Men)

 

About the Author:

Dr Mike Cole is Professor in Education, University of East London; and Emeritus Research Professor in Education and Equality, Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln. His latest books are Racism and Education in the UK and the US: Towards a Socialist Alternative (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) and Critical Race Theory and Education: a Marxist Response (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

 

9780745334714

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‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Ruth Rikowski @ Academia: http://lsbu.academia.edu/RuthRikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.co.uk/

Ruth Rikowski at Serendipitous Moments: http://ruthrikowskiim.blogspot.co.uk/

Living Fire

Living Fire

ROSA LUXEMBURG AND THE CONTEMPORARY: IMPERIALISM, NEOLIBERALISM, REVOLUTION

Call for Papers

This issue of New Formations will propose a rethinking of the legacy of revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg in the twenty-first century. In particular, essays included in the issue will draw on Luxemburg’s writings in order to address pressing issues of the contemporary world. At a time when neoliberal policies strengthen the smooth running of imperialist dispossession and continue to break the oppressed classes through new forms of precariat, debt, marginalisation, militarism and impoverishment, Luxemburg’s inheritance seems to acquire an unexpected poignancy. Luxemburg’s uncompromising commitment to socialism as only alternative to the violence of capitalism can inspire engaged movements fighting social justice in many contexts of the globe. In particular, the issue will focus on Luxemburg’s reflections on imperialism as the forcing of trade relations with non-capitalist surroundings as antidote to the ‘standstill of accumulation’ inherent to the unfolding of capitalism’s history.

Theories of imperialism through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have contended with Luxemburg’s proposition by emphasising its limitations, errors and blind-spots. Yet, do Luxemburg’s theories on imperialism retain any meaning or validity in a postcolonial era? Can Luxemburg’s legacy help redefine the struggle against contemporary forms of neoliberalism, imperialism and accumulation? Can a debate on Luxemburg shed light on the meaning of the postcolonial as historical category and its political and social implications? Can Luxemburg’s thought help to redefine the meaning of social engagement today? The twenty-first century seems to confirm Rosa Luxemburg’s prediction that capitalism would be incapable of becoming universal without damaging the environments, societies and forms of life that are necessary for its reproduction. Contemporary wars, ecological crises, social unrest and the violence of neoliberal economy testify to the paradox that Luxemburg examined in her work: the full domination of capitalism on the planet would correspond to a scenario verging on total destruction and hence the breakdown of capitalism itself. According to Rosa Luxemburg, this ‘barbaric’ aspect of capitalism requires the re-opening of history through active revolutionary intervention.

 

Confirmed contributors

Stephen Morton

Paul LeBlanc

Peter Hudis

Helen Scott

Rory Castle

Filippo Menozzi

Kanishka Chowdhury

Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg

We welcome contributions from all disciplines. Final essays will be expected to be 7,000-9,000 words in length.

For more information about New Formations see http://www.newformations.co.uk

 

Deadline for abstracts 30 September 2015

Contributors will be told if their abstracts have been accepted by October 30th 2015

Deadline for full essays: May Day 2016

Please submit all abstracts to: nfsubmissions@me.com

 

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‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.co.uk/

UEA

UEA

BEFORE 68: THE LEFT, ACTIVISM AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS IN THE LONG 1960s

Weekend Conference: Before 68: The Left, Activism & Social Movements in the Long 1960s

Call for Papers

Dates: 13 and 14 February 2016

Venue: School of History, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK

Organised and hosted by UEA School of History in conjunction with the journal Socialist History and the Institute of Working Class History, Chicago.

The events of 1968, particularly those in France, have achieved a mythical status in both the memory and the historiography of the 1960s. For some, 1968 marked the end-point of a realignment of the European ‘New Left’. For others 1968 represented a student generation in revolt, and many of the first accounts which sought to explain the history and meaning of ‘68 were written by that generation.

More recently historians have tried to demythologise ‘68, looking both at less ‘glamourous’ locales and at the deeper histories of anti-colonial struggles and worker activism prior to the events of that year. The aim of this conference is to explore the diverse histories of social activism and left politics in Britain and elsewhere, and how they prepared the ground for and fed into ‘1968’. Themes might include, but are not limited to:

  • Anti-nuclear & peace movements
  • Civil Rights struggles
  • The Black Power movement
  • Anti-colonial politics
  • The activities of the Labour movement and the ‘traditional’ Left
  • The grassroots activism of the ‘New Left’
  • Far Left challenges: Trotskyism & Maoism
  • Campaigns around housing and the built environment
  • Campaigns around race and discrimination in the workplace and housing
  • Solidarity movements with struggles abroad (e.g. South Africa, Vietnam)
  • Campaigns for Homosexual Equality
  • Second Wave Feminism

We are seeking papers of 5000 to 10000 words on any aspects of left activism and social movements in the period preceding 1968 to be presented at the conference. Selected papers will be published in a special issue of the journal Socialist History. Attendance at the conference will be free of charge, but we ask that anyone wishing to attend registers in advance. Proposals for papers and any enquiries should be submitted to Ben Jones. Email: b.jones5@uea.ac.uk

Deadline for proposals for papers: 31 October 2015

From UEA website: https://www.uea.ac.uk/history/news-and-events/-/asset_publisher/oAKg6av1Sw6j/blog/weekend-conference-before-68-the-left-activism-social-movements-in-the-long-1960s

First Published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/cfp-before-68-the-left-activism-social-movements-in-the-long-1960s

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral

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‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.co.uk/

 

The Black Rock

The Black Rock

DECOLONIZING THE MIND SUMMER SCHOOL

What is the Decolonizing The Mind Summer School?

From July 19th – July 31st the first edition of the Decolonizing The Mind Summer School will be held in Amsterdam.

The DTM Summer School is an intensive two-week course on the subject of Decolonizing The Mind. The course takes on two interrelated topics:

  • The theoretical framework and methodology of Decolonizing The Mind (knowledge production and the mechanisms of colonizing the mind).
  • Decolonial thinking and the discourse of liberation in social movements in different regions of the world.

 

What is the program?

In the two weeks there are ten sessions (morning lectures and afternoon interactive sessions) devoted to the following topics:

Session 1: Sandew Hira, director of the International Institute for Scientific Research in Holland, gives an overview of decolonial thinking in the last few decades in the academia (postcolonial studies, national liberation discourses, ethnic studies etc.) and the methodology of developing a theoretical framework for DTM based on decolonial concepts.

Session 2: Professor Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Professor and Head of the Archie Mafeje Research Institute at the University of South Africa, takes on the issue of nationalism and anti-colonial struggles in Southern Africa, including the question of land.

Session 3: Roberto Hernández, lecturer at the San Diego State University in California USA, deals with the persistence and resurgence of indigenous movements, knowledges and practices, which will be the basis for a rethinking of social struggles over land, natural resources and cultural renewal.

Session 4: Stephen Small, professor in the Department of History at the University of Amsterdam, and Associate Professor of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, will go into the different discourses in the Civil Rights Movement in America.

Session 5: Jaya Mehta, senior economist and an activist associated with the Joshi-Adhikari Institute for Social Studies in India, traces the development path traversed by India and China in the transformation from predominantly agrarian economies to industrialised countries that are well integrated into the world economy. She focuses on the philosophy behind the policies of different actors.

Session 6: Abulkasim Al-Jaberi, journalist and activist in Holland, analyzes the effect of the US invasion of Iraq in relation to the historic events unfolding today including the Arab spring and the emergence of ISIS.

Session 7: Arzu Merali, head of the research section of the Islamic Human Rights Commission in London UK, highlights the rise of Islamic political movements in Iran and Turkey – two key players in the Middle East – in their successes and failures.

Session 8: Jeanne Henriquez, independent scholar and activist from Curacao in the Caribbean, deals with the legacy of slavery in the Caribbean and the new social movements associated with it including the movement for pan-Africanism and reparations.

Session 9: Selim Nadi, member of the first decolonial party in France – Parti des Indigènes de la République – goes into the process that Western Europe is going through of a painful confronting with its colonial past right in the heart of the empire. European societies now have to deal with a new generation of young activists who are trying to politicize the postcolonial situation of their countries.

Session 10: Sandew Hira and Ramon Grosfoguel, are giving a lecture in the form of a debate on two discourse of liberation: Marxism and decolonial thinking. They take into account the analysis of the different regional experiences as have been covered in the previous lectures.

 

Other information

The Decolonizing The Mind Summer School is organized by the International Institute of Scientific Research (IISR) headed by director Sandew Hira.

The fee for the Summer School is € 1,000.

If paid before April 1st 2015, then the fee is € 900.

This fee does not include lodging, food and transport.

Download the full 16-page brochure here: http://www.decolonizingthemind.org/download/DTMSM2015Brochure.pdf

Download the application form here: http://www.decolonizingthemind.org/download/DTMSM2015ApplicationForm.doc.

Website: http://www.decolonizingthemind.org

Contact email: info@decolonizingthemind.org

First Published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/first-edition-of-the-decolonizing-the-mind-summer-school-in-amsterdam-july-2015

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‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski?ev=hdr_xprf

Online Publications at The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.co.uk/

The Future PresentRECENT ARTICLES AND FEATURES IN THE INTERNATIONAL MARXIST-HUMANIST WEBZINE (October 2014)
See: http://www.internationalmarxisthumanist.org/

FROM PHILOSOPHY TO ORGANIZATION AND BACK: MARXIST-HUMANIST TASKS AND PERSPECTIVES – by Peter Hudis
Discusses new interest in Marxist humanism in Eastern Europe, the relation of economics to philosophy in Piketty and Marx, and that of philosophy to organization for Marxist-Humanism, from Dunayevskaya to today; slightly edited version of a presentation to the Convention of the International Marxist-Humanist Organization, July 26, 2014 in Chicago.

PEOPLE’S CLIMATE LA: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA SOLIDARITY MARCH — by Megan Redd
Participant perspective from the People’s Climate March, Los Angeles (September 20, 2014).

STATEMENT ON SOME IMPORTANT ISSUES FOR 2014-15 — by the International Marxist-Humanist Organization
Adapted from the Call that preceded our July 2014 Convention in Chicago. It takes up several issues of key importance to those struggling to overcome the stranglehold of capitalism, from the economy and Ukraine to the dialectics of race/class/revolution and the contributions of Marxist-Humanists to the fight for a new humanist society.

ON GILBERT ACHCAR’S MARXIST ANALYSIS OF THE ARAB UPRISING — by Kevin Anderson
Review of Gilbert Achcar’s THE PEOPLE WANT: A RADICAL EXPLORATION OF THE ARAB UPRISING, a book that uncovers its economic and political underpinnings, while also offering a critique of crude forms of anti-imperialism.

FERGUSON: WHERE TO NOW?  — by D. Beltaigne
The murder of two unarmed African-American men by police—Eric Garner and Michael Brown—shows that the power structure of U.S. society remains inherently racist. New protests are emerging around the country to challenge this deplorable state of affairs.

THE CENTRAL AMERICAN REFUGEES OF US IMPERIALISM — by Hamid A.
Summary: The hypocritical response of the Obama administration to the influx of child refugees from Central America is tied to US imperialist policies over the last century.

(audio) IRISH LEFT REVIEW INTERVIEW ON MARX’S CONCEPT OF THE ALTERNATIVE TO CAPITALISM — with Peter Hudis and Tom O’Brien
Discusses issues such as what Marx had to say about post-capitalist societies, and the reluctance of those on the left to talk about what it might actually look like, as well as the role of the state in a post-capitalist society, the Spanish revolution and the anarchist understanding of revolution, and the co-operative model as an alternative.

COSMIC RAYS VS. TEDDIE BEARS — by Ben Watson
Contribution to “Althusser, Debord and Adorno Reconsidered in the light of Dunayevskaya: Dialectic Regained,” International Marxist-Humanist Meeting, London, June 2014.

(Audio) CONVERSATION ON THE RISE AND FALL OF SOCIALIST HUMANISM — with Barbara Epstein, Kevin Anderson, and Sasha Lilley (KPFK-Bay Area)
Socialist humanist ideas were broadly championed by key thinkers in the mid-20th century, like E.P. Thompson, Fanon, Marcuse, and Fromm, but have now disappeared seemingly without a trace. Barbara Epstein and Kevin Anderson explore socialist humanism’s rise and fall, in part as postmodernism took center stage as an ideological current. They argue that the left is not better off without it.

THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION AND THE CRISIS IN THE LEFT: A PATHWAY TO A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF DIALECTICS IN MARXISM — by Ali Kiani
Although this was presented to the West Coast Socialist Scholars Conference in April 1993, it has never been published.  We do so now because the issues raised here still speak to problems faced by
serious Marxists in Iran and beyond

See our LANGUAGES PAGES for recent Marxist-Humanist articles and books in Persian, Spanish, Indonesian, French, and other languages.
We wish to single out especially the NEW IRANIAN EDITION OF VOL. II OF MARX’S CAPITAL, Vol. II (Lahita Pubs., Tehran), trans. into Persian by Hassan Mortazavi and with an introduction by Peter Hudis.

***RECENT BOOKS OF INTEREST (with reviews posted on our Literature pages)
THE PHILOSOPHICAL ROOTS OF ANTI-CAPITALISM: ESSAYS ON HISTORY, CULTURE AND DIALECTICAL THOUGHT — by David Black, Studies in Marxism and Humanism Series, Lexington Books, hardcover, with subsequent paperback

THE COMPLETE WORKS OF ROSA LUXEMBURG, VOL. I: ECONOMIC WRITINGS 1, edited by Peter Hudis, Verso Books, hardcover, with subsequent paperback

MARX’S CONCEPT OF THE ALTERNATIVE TO CAPITALISM – by Peter Hudis, Historical Materialism Series, now in paperback with Haymarket Books

MARX ON GENDER AND THE FAMILY: A CRITICAL STUDY – by Heather Brown, Historical Materialism Series, now in paperback with Haymarket Books

THE DUNAYEVSKAYA-MARCUSE-FROMM CORRESPONDENCE, 1954-1978: DIALOGUES ON HEGEL, MARX, AND CRITICAL THEORY — edited by Kevin B. Anderson and Russell Rockwell, Lexington Books

We have also posted reviews of these and other of our books in a variety of journals, among them MARX & PHILOSOPHY REVIEW OF BOOKS and LINKS: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SOCIALIST RENEWAL

THE INTERNATIONAL MARXIST-HUMANIST is the webzine of the INTERNATIONAL MARXIST-HUMANIST ORGANIZATION (IMHO):
http://www.internationalmarxisthumanist.org/
Contact: arise@internationalmarxisthumanist.org

We would love to hear your thoughts on our website or our organization, either through the “arise” email account above or as a comment in our (moderated) comments pages.

Follow us on Twitter (upper right on IMHO homepage) for immediate notice of new posts.

Join our new Facebook page: “International Marxist-Humanist Organization” https://www.facebook.com/groups/imhorg/

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‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski?ev=hdr_xprf

Online Publications at The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

Critical Education

Critical Education

SEEING THROUGH THE EYES OF THE POLISH REVOLUTION

New in Paperback from Haymarket

Seeing Through the Eyes of the Polish Revolution: Solidarity and the Struggle Against Communism in Poland

HM series Marxism & Socialism World History

BY JACK M. BLOOM

In 1980 Polish workers astonished the world by demanding and winning an independent union with the right to strike, called Solidarity–the beginning of the end of the Soviet empire. Jack M. Bloom’s Seeing Through the Eyes of the Polish Revolution explains how it happened based on 150 interviews of Solidarity leaders, activists, supporters and opponents. Bloom’s invaluable and insightful study shows how an opposition was built, documents the battle between Solidarity and the ruling party, outlines the conflicts that emerged within each side during this tense period, explains how Solidarity survived the imposition of martial law, and how the opposition forced the Stalinist government to negotiate itself out of power.

About the author

Jack Bloom is Associate Professor of Sociology and Adjunct Associate Professor of Minority Studies and of History at Indiana University Northwest. He has published the award-winning Class, Race and the Civil Rights Movement (Indiana University Press, 1987).

See: http://www.haymarketbooks.org/pb/Seeing-Through-the-Eyes-of-the-Polish-Revolution

First published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/new-in-paperback-from-haymarket-seeing-through-the-eyes-of-the-polish-revolution-solidarity-and-the-struggle-against-communism-in-poland-by-jack-m.-bloom

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‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski?ev=hdr_xprf

Online Publications at The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

 

Marx's Grave

Marx’s Grave

CRISIS AT HOME AND ABROAD: FROM FERGUSON, MISSOURI TO THE MIDDLE EAST AND UKRAINE

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2014

6:00-8:00 PM

Westside Peace Center

3916 Sepulveda Blvd., near Venice Blvd. (free parking in rear)

Suite 101-102, press #22 at door to get into building

Culver City (LA area)

 

SPEAKERS:

Michael Pugliese, longtime Left Observer

Mansoor M., Iranian cultural worker

Hamid A., youth activist

 

We live in an age when the local and the global are intertwined as never before.  This is true not only of the groups that dominate the capitalist economic system and the state, but also of emancipatory social movements at home and abroad.

The racist police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has touched off the deepest and most sustained protests among African-Americans in years, garnering world attention.  At the same time, Israel’s attack on Gaza has given birth to a large international protest movement.  These two emancipatory movements are occurring during a global era of upheaval and revolution that is also marked by the most sustained economic crisis since the 1930s.

The year 2014 has also seen the emergence of a democratic movement in Ukraine, which has come under pressure from Russia, but also from the US-EU. We have witnessed as well the emergence of ISIS as a deeply counterrevolutionary force within the Arab uprisings, which has in turn touched off new forms of democratic resistance by the Kurds and other minorities in Iraq.

Suggested readings, mostly very short, from INTERNATIONAL MARXIST-HUMANIST webzine:

  1. Beltaigne, “Ferguson: Where to Now?”

“Stop the Israeli Invasion of Gaza!  Stop the Endless War Against the Palestinians!” Statement of the IMHO

“Tragedy in Iraq and Syria: Will It Swallow Up the Arab Revolutions?” Statement of the IMHO

Kevin Anderson, “Popular Movements and Their Contradictions: From the Arab Revolutions to Today”

 

Sponsored by the West Coast Chapter, International Marxist-Humanist Organization

More information: http://www.internationalmarxisthumanist.org/

 

Here is URL for meeting for Facebook, Twitter, etc.

http://www.internationalmarxisthumanist.org/events/los-angeles-crisis-home-abroad-ferguson-missouri-middle-east-ukraine

 

Join our new Facebook page: “International Marxist-Humanist Organization” https://www.facebook.com/groups/imhorg/

 

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‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski?ev=hdr_xprf

Online Publications at The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

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Books

Books

THE DARKEST DAYS: THE TRUTH BEHIND BRITAIN’S RUSH TO WAR, 1914

By DOUGLAS NEWTON

“A compellingly written, tightly argued, deeply researched and bracingly revisionist study.”– Christopher Clark, author of The Sleepwalkers

“If you want to understand how a Liberal cabinet decided to take Britain to war two days before the German invasion of Belgium, over the protests of a considerable peace movement, read Douglas Newton’s eloquent The Darkest Days: The Truth Behind Britain’s Rush to War, 1914.” – The Independent

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BOOK DISCUSSION 

AUGUST 4th event: On the centenary of Britain’s declaration of war, Douglas Newton Christopher Clark discuss THE DARKEST DAYS at the London Review Bookshop

As the world commemorates the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War historian Douglas Newton recounts the hidden history of Britain’s decision to enter the conflict. Drawing on a wealth of archival material, including the private papers and correspondence of leading politicians of the time, Newton pays particular attention to the widespread and vehement opposition to the war, both inside parliament and in the country at large, and reveals how Asquith, Edward Grey and Winston Churchill colluded, against the wishes and instincts of many of their parliamentary colleagues, to bring the country into the war, by any means necessary. Douglas Newton will be in conversation with Christopher Clark, author of The Sleepwalkers, one of the most lucid recent accounts of the outbreak of the First World War.

7pm / £10 – for more information and to book tickets: http://www.londonreviewbookshop.co.uk/events/2014/8/the-darkest-days-douglas-newton-and-christopher-clark

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THE DARKEST DAYS shows how the war-hungry leaders and the right-wing press hustled the nation into war, making only the barest efforts to save the peace. As a result the declaration was the result of political negotiation, dishonesty and willful belligerence that split the cabinet and kept the opposition and the nation itself in the dark until it was too late.

Through a forensic study of the personal papers of many of the key figures on both sides of the debate, historian DOUGLAS NEWTON pieces together what really went on in the frenetic weeks between the assassination in Sarajevo and Britain’s declaration of war upon Germany on Tuesday 4 August 1914.

Many recently published histories of Britain’s Great War embrace the conflict as a good war—irresistible, righteous—and popular. It has become almost heretical to offer criticism of Britain’s intervention. This book presents a new critical examination of the government’s choice for war, and weaves into the story an account of those “radicals” and other activists who urged neutral diplomacy in 1914.

http://www.versobooks.com/books/1591-the-darkest-days

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DOUGLAS NEWTON was the Associate Professor of History at University of Western Sydney. He is the author of British Policy and the Weimar Republic 1918–19; Germany 1918-1945: From Days of Hope to Years of Horror; and British Labour, European Socialism and the Struggle for Peace 1889–1914. He lives in Australia.

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“Should Britain have entered the war in 1914? This question has recently aroused controversy. As Douglas Newton shows, it was controversial in 1914, too. This book is a compellingly written, tightly argued, deeply researched and bracingly revisionist study of the decisions that led to British intervention. Newton uproots many hardy myths and reveals the deep divisions within the political elite of a country on the brink of war.”
– Christopher Clark, author of The Sleepwalkers

“Sound and informative.”
– Keith Robbins in praise of British Labour, European Socialism and the Struggle for Peace 1889-1914, Times Literary Supplement

“Newton writes well, and with a feel for the tragedy of the Great War missing in most accounts … the scholarship invested in this work is meticulous.”
– John McDermott, in praise of British Policy and the Weimar Republic 1918-1919, International History Review

“Newton’s history is meticulously researched …”
– Jill Liddington in praise of British Labour, European Socialism and the Struggle for Peace 1889-1914, History Workshop Journal

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HARDBACK: JUNE 2014 / 416 pages / ISBN: 9781781683507 / $34.95 / £20 / $41 (Canada)

ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN E-BOOK

THE DARKEST DAYS is available at a 30% discount (hardback) on our website, with free shipping and bundled ebook. Purchasing details here: http://www.versobooks.com/books/1591-the-darkest-days

 

First published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/new-book-and-london-event-douglas-newton2019s-the-darkest-days-the-truth-behind-britain2019s-rush-to-war-1914

 

**END**

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Education Crisis

Education Crisis

THE SOAS PALESTINE STUDIES SERIES – CALL FOR MANUSCRIPTS

WITH I.B.TAURIS PUBLISHERS, LONDON

The SOAS Centre for Palestine Studies (CPS) at the London Middle East Institute (LMEI) has announced the launch of the first, and presently the only, university series in Palestine Studies in the English language. The SOAS Palestine Studies Series will be edited by the CPS and published by I.B. Tauris, the well-known London-based publishing house specialising in Middle East Studies.

The aim is to publish three to five books per year. Manuscripts will be peer-reviewed and selected for publication by the CPS and under its editorial responsibility. Selected authors will get a contract with details on copy-editing and royalties from I.B. Tauris.

The SOAS Palestine Studies Series is open to submissions by academics at various levels of their career, from writings by recognised scholars to monographs derived from PhD theses adapted for publication. Submissions from all countries and from various disciplines are welcome as long as they fall plainly within the category of Palestine Studies. The aim is to publish the first books in the new series in the autumn of 2015. Only manuscripts at an advanced stage of writing and post-examination theses provided along with the examiners’ reports will be considered.

Submissions should be sent in electronic format to Louise Hosking at LMEI (LH2@soas.ac.uk). For enquiries, you may also contact her on +44-20 7898 4330.

First Published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/call-for-manuscripts-the-soas-palestine-studies-series

 

**END**

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Revolt

Revolt

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski?ev=hdr_xprf

Online Publications at The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

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Daniel Bensaid

Daniel Bensaid

PAUL LE BLANC REVIEWS ‘An Impatient Life: A Memoir’ – BY DANIEL BENSAID

An Impatient Life: A Memoir
By Daniel Bensaïd, translated by David Fernbach, with an introduction by Tariq Ali,
Verso Books, 2014.

Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to order a copy HERE. You can download an excerpt HERE (PDF).

 

 

Review by Paul Le Blanc

May 11, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal –

Daniel Bensaïd (1946-2010) was one of the most respected theorists to emerge from the 1960s radicals of Western Europe. Always inclined to think “outside the box”, waving aside venerable dogmas and shrugging off standard formulations, he found fresh ways, energised with the aura of unorthodoxy, to express and apply truths from the revolutionary Marxist tradition.

Sometimes his creativity could provide insights that opened fruitful pathways of thought and action. “We were young people in a hurry, as is inevitably the case”, he writes near the start of his saga. “As if we had to make up for the wasted time of the ‘century of extremes,’ as if we were afraid of missing our appointments, in politics and in love.” In the end, “we had to learn ‘the art of waiting’”, he muses, yet the author remains an unbowed militant: “We have sometimes deceived ourselves, perhaps even often, and on many things. But at least we did not deceive ourselves about either the struggle or the choice of enemy.”

This substantial volume is a parting gift, sharing memories of what he had seen and done, offering a piece of his mind, exploring the meaning of it all – as befits the image, snapped a few years before his premature death, of the gaunt, frail man whose keen intelligence shines out from his now-bespectacled eyes.

Yet a photograph from 1948 reveals an adorable two-year old with long curly hair toddling toward us. We see a boy at ages five, nine and 14, with bright and impish eyes, destined to appear (in half a dozen photos from the 1970s) as a buoyant, handsome, charismatic activist of the famed “generation of 1968”. Daniel was centrally involved in the revolutionary student-worker upsurge that shook France and almost brought down the government of Charles De Gaulle. Out of this experience was born the militant Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR) that powerfully impacted the global far left and became a central component of the Fourth International (a network of comparatively small revolutionary socialist parties and groups founded by Leon Trotsky and other dissident-communists over three decades before). In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bensaïd and his comrades were intimately connected with currents in Latin America utilising the perspectives of Che Guevara and other revolutionary warriors, generating some of his most searching reflections.

The exciting years of upsurge gave way to disaster, disappointment, defeat. It was during this in-between period that I fleetingly met Bensaïd, at a 1990 World Congress and at a 1991meeting of the International Executive Committee of the Fourth International, as I represented the smallest one of three US Trotskyist fragments identifying with this “world party of socialist revolution”. It was obvious that his experience was incomparably richer than mine, and that he had earned profound respect from the other comrades who, with him, made up the inner circle of the Fourth International’s leadership.

A friend who read this book before I did warned that Bensaïd was quite a name dropper, and there are certainly scores of names that flow from these pages. But I came upon his description of the cluster of comrades from the 1980s whose labours maintained “the bonsai Comintern” that was the Fourth International: a dozen names of people – many now dead – whose strengths and weaknesses and life-energy had been essential to the world movement to which I was committed. I knew these people, they were important to me, and I felt grateful that their names with brief descriptions are shared with the readers of this book.

History is the lives of innumerable people, not abstractions, and the history of our revolutionary socialist movement is nothing without the amazing number of names (with all-too-brief descriptions) that Bensaïd weaves into his narrative. Distinctive features of this volume include (with a list of abbreviations) 12 pages of descriptions of left-wing organisations, plus extensive footnotes providing information on the dozens upon dozens of activists he mentions – together with the main narrative, making this an essential source on the international left and on world Trotskyism.

Youth radicalisation

Daniel was born into a working-class family that moved from Algeria to France shortly before his birth – the father a Sephardic Jew, the Gallic mother inclined to self-identify as Jewish. They saved enough money to start a bistro with a predominantly left-wing working-class clientele. Their clever and inquisitive son ascended into the ranks of university students while also, quite naturally, drifting into the youth group of the French Communist Party. But like many of his comrades of the time (influenced by Trotskyists doing “deep-entry” work in the group), partly under the impact of Algeria’s anti-colonial revolution and the tepid response to this by the French Communists, he came to the conclusion that it would be wrong to “confuse the revolutionary project with Stalinism”.

Rejecting the intellectual “ravages of a positivist and authoritarian Marxism” (almost in the same breath he characterises it as “a glacial Marxism without style or passion”), they turned to heretical texts – Herbert Marcuse, Wilhelm Reich, Lucien Goldmann, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara, Daniel Guerin, Henri Lefebvre, Ernest Mandel. Bensaïd adds that for him and many of the young radicals, too, “Lenin was all the rage”, but this was a Lenin having little in common with the immense leaden statues worshiped by older, disapproving Communist Party comrades. The intellectual rebellion quickly culminated in mass expulsions from the mainstream Communist movement, with many of the young rebels (the spirited Bensaïd no less than others) gradually recruiting themselves to a maverick variant of Trotskyism.

This historical moment was one of a youth radicalisation sweeping through Europe and other continents. In France, the young Trotskyists-in-the-making were caught up in the swirl – along with anarchists and Maoists and activists without clear labels – of students pushing for radical educational reforms and sexual freedom. The wondrous days of May 1968 saw huge demonstrations, endless meetings, student strikes and school occupations. Struggles for educational transformation blended into a more general anti-authoritarianism, opposition to imperialist wars, romantic identification with “Third World” insurgencies and the rights of the working class. This last element took on special meaning as many workers – to the horror of Stalinist and moderate-socialist trade union bureaucrats – threw their support to the “crazy” students and began organising militant strikes, matching the student barricades and street battles against brutal police repression. The question of power was being posed – the overturn of the old order seemed on the agenda.

It soon became apparent, however, that the May uprising had neither the strategic vision nor the organisational coherence nor sufficiently deep popular roots to bring on the thoroughgoing revolution that the young radicals dreamed of. This was, many agreed, simply a “dress rehearsal”.

Struggle, violence, principles

As the newly crystallised LCR grew, Bensaïd and its other leaders felt that “history was breathing down our necks”. If May 1968 was the dress rehearsal for revolution, these revolutionary militants had a responsibility to see that an actual revolution would, indeed, be produced. “We were in a hurry”, he writes, and with others he developed theoretical reference points of “an (ultra-) Leninism, dominated by the paroxysmic moment of the seizure of power”. But it had taken the Bolsheviks decades to develop experience and revolutionary seasoning in pre-revolutionary Russia that would be sufficient for the 1917 revolution. As Bensaïd describes it, the group and its young cadres were far from that. Nonetheless, their most respected revolutionary Marxist mentor, Ernest Mandel, was assuring them that “revolution is immanent”, and both in the LCR and the Fourth International they felt a responsibility to make it so. It was a time of “hasty Leninism”, whose “fearsome burden” he poignantly describes:

Our feverish impatience was inspired by a phrase from Trotsky that was often cited in our debates: “The crisis of humanity is summed up in the crisis of revolutionary leadership.” If this was indeed the case, nothing was more urgent than to resolve this crisis. The duty of each person was to contribute his or her little strength, as best they could, to settle this alternative between socialism and barbarism. It was in part up to them, therefore, whether the human species sank into a twilight future or blossomed into a society of abundance. This vision of history charged our frail shoulders with a crushing responsibility. In the face of this implacable logic, impoverished emotional life or professional ambition did not weigh very heavy. Each became personally responsible for the fate of humanity.

In North America, in Asia, and especially in Latin America there was also such “hasty Leninism”. A substantial minority in the Fourth International fiercely opposed the course that Bensaïd and others advocated – initially calling for a continent-wide strategy of rural guerilla warfare in Latin America (a perspective soon “modified” to include urban guerilla warfare as well), with similar impulses theorised for elsewhere. This led to a factional battle in the Fourth International, with a substantial minority projecting a more patient orientation grounded in classical Marxism. A prestigious former secretary of Trotsky’s, Joseph Hansen, labelled his 1971 oppositional polemic “In Defense of the Leninist Strategy of Party-Building” (which can be found on-line, as can some of Bensaïd’s writings, through the Marxist Internet Archive). After several years of experience, most of the “hasty Leninists” would more or less swing over to Hansen’s position.

But Bensaïd, a dedicated representative in Latin America from the Fourth International’s “center”, is compelled to share haunting memories: “Our comrades were young and intrepid, full of confidence in the socialist future of humanity. Three years later, half the people I met at these meetings had been arrested, tortured and murdered”. It becomes a poetry of horror:

We were running headlong into an open grave…

So many faces wiped out.

So many laughs extinguished.

So many hopes massacred.

He draws the lessons: “It was clear that we were on the wrong path… Armed struggle is not a strategy… The armed struggle we voted on at the 9th World Congress [1969] was an ill-timed generalization…”

Bensaïd emphasises that “weapons have their own logic”, elaborating:

Buying and storing and looking after weapons, renting safe-houses and supporting underground activists is an expensive business and needs money. To obtain this, you have to rob banks. And to rob banks, you need weapons. In this spiral, an increasing number of militants are socially uprooted and professionalised. Instead of melting into a social milieu like fish in water, their existence depends ever more on an expanding apparatus.

Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky had envisioned revolutionary cadres facilitating the self-organisation and self-activity and revolutionary consciousness of various working-class and oppressed sectors. Central to this was the building reform struggles for democratic rights and economic justice, creating a movement “of the great majority, for the great majority” that would culminate in “winning the battle of democracy” and bring a transition from capitalism to socialism. For revolutionaries – Bensaïd tells us – such a working-class implantation also provides “a reality principle” to counterbalance “leftist temptations”. He and others, including seasoned guerrilla fighters, “drew the conclusion of a necessary return to more classical forms of organisation and the primacy of politics over military action, without which the logic of violence gets carried away and risks becoming uncontrollable”.

A strength in Bensaïd’s searching exploration of violence, to which he devotes a full chapter, is his understanding that violence is at the very core of capitalism and all forms of class society, quoting poetAndré Suares: “Wealth is the sign of violence, at every level”. He shows that the violence of the status quo is intensifying: “the tendency to a privatization and dissemination of violence is accelerating. Ethnic cleansing and religious massacres are proliferating. The world is collapsing into the hyper-violence of armed globalization”. Yet he sees the contamination of violence manifesting itself again and again in struggles against oppression and exploitation – liberators can become criminals, in some cases devolving into common gangsters, in the worst cases bringing in their wake the gulag and the killing fields.

Surveying revolutionary experience for over a century, he concludes: “Violence and progress no longer marched together, at the same pace, in the supposed direction of history”. He insists on the need for a practical-ethical regulation of violence in the perspectives of revolutionaries. He finds it in Trotsky’s 1938 classic Their Morals and Ours:

The “great revolutionary end” thus necessarily spurns “those base means and ways which set one part of the working class against other parts, or attempt to make the masses happy without their participation; or lower the faith of the masses in themselves and their organization, replacing it by worship for the ‘leaders’”.

Exhaustion and affirmation

Exhaustion can afflict a revolution, a struggle, an activist, an idea. A variety of such things are traced for the 20th century’s final decades. His own intensely activist organisation, the LCR, was able to endure, weather more than one storm, making important contributions to liberation struggles. Yet, “we had worked wonders, exhausting ourselves in running faster than our own shadow”. He describes excellent comrades finally asking “what it’s all about” and falling away.

Amid all of this, there appears a fleeting pen-portrait of an important mentor to innumerable Fourth Internationalists, Ernest Mandel – “a tutor in theory and a passer between two generations … who set out during the 1950s to conceptualize the new features of the era, instead of piously watching over the political legacy of the past… This daily contact with Ernest was a wellspring of knowledge and a permanent initiation into the foundations of Marxism.”

As time went on, there was a partial exhaustion of the relationship between Mandel and “the generation of ‘68” – a relationship always inspiring “more in the way of respect than affection”, and “rarely reciprocal and egalitarian”. Bensaïd saw him as at least a partial prisoner of a belief in “the emancipating powers of science and the historical logic of progress”, elaborating: “Ernest was an exemplary case of stubborn optimism of the will tempered by an intermittent pessimism of reason: for him, permanent revolution would win the day over permanent catastrophe. And the socialist prophecy would (almost) always defeat barbarism”.

Yet for many of Mandel’s political children, this seemed increasingly inadequate for the realities they were facing.

This shifting mood went far beyond the ranks of the Fourth International. Wearying leftists with an ambitious bent began proclaiming a set a “farewells” – to Marxism, to the working class, to the passionate logic of revolutionary struggle. Sanctuary could be found, sometimes with considerable comfort and impressive careers, in the power structures that their younger selves had militantly confronted. Among “third worldists” and Maoists who had once enthusiastically proclaimed that “the wind is blowing from the East”, there was a growing conviction that “it was the west wind that now prevailed over the east”, blowing ever stronger thanks to the Reagan and Thatcher revolutions. Some activists migrated from revolution to reformist politics, and some (perhaps frightened by totalitarian impulses they discovered in themselves) veered more sharply to the right.

This reflected a deeper exhaustion – of Maoist China’s revolutionary élan, of the Central American revolutions, of many hopeful aspects of the Cuban Revolution and finally of the so-called “bureaucratised workers’ states” of the Communist Bloc and the USSR itself.

The collapse of Communism was soon accompanied by other exhaustions impacting on Bensaïd and his comrades. In the 1980s, the LCR had been joined by the large, growing, vibrant Mexican and the Brazilian sections as “the big three” in the Fourth International, seeming to promise much in the rebuilding of the global left. Yet the Mexican organisation, “with wind in its sails”, had insufficient theoretical grounding and organisational strength to prevent success from corrupting some of its most prominent militants – soon leading to betrayal, demoralisation and fragmentation.

The Brazilian comrades, with whom he worked closely for many years, had thrived as an integral part of the glorious and multifaceted working-class upsurge that finally pushed aside the military dictatorship. In the form of the massive Workers Party headed by the working-class militant Lula, the insurgents finally won the presidency of the country. But a majority of the comrades found themselves pulled along into the new reformist trajectory and even neoliberal policies of the Lula regime, with a dissident fragment expelled and others splitting away amid exhausted hopes. (There was, obviously, no time for Bensaïd to offer a balance sheet on the LCR’s 2009 decision to dissolve into a broader New Anti-Capitalist Party).

Many activists, not inclined to join the well-heeled legions of the status quo, sought more resources to help them endure the new realities. Those who were Jewish (as he was) felt a need to explore the meaning of that identity and its complex and often horrific history. In such explorations, while in no way turning away from this identity (and joining in “not in my name” protests against Israel’s oppression of Palestinians), Bensaïd affirmed his rejection of “the Chosen People” concept – having no desire “to feel chosen in this way, whether to share the blessings of this election or to bear the crushing responsibility according to which Jews are supposed to be better than common mortals”.

Some, in this troubling period, explored new pathways of spirituality and even mysticism (as he did), as a means to transcend the “instrumental rationality [that] has stubbornly set out to empty time of its messianic pregnancy, to dissolve the surprises of the event with the regularity of the clock”. There is need for transcendence, “when revolution becomes the name of the inconstant event that has refused to arrive, or –still worse – has appeared in the form of its own rebuttal”. Such transcendence of “practical” and “instrumental reality” can open the way “to a new representation of history”. He insists that “the ancient prophet was neither a divine, nor a sorcerer, nor a magician. He or she was someone who switched the points of the present into the unknown bifurcations of the future.”

Yet for Bensaïd revolutionary Marxism remained the essential ingredient in his identity as a political person. A remarkable chapter in the book – “Spectres in the Blue House” – focuses on the final Mexican years of Trotsky’s exile, eloquently tracing the revolutionary’s meaning for his time and for ours. “From Marx to Trotsky”, Bensaïd writes, “permanent revolution … welds together event and history, moment and duration, rupture and continuity”. Marx is primary. In some ways the most powerful chapter is “The Inaudible Thunder”, offering an elegant explication of the three volumes of Marx’s Capital —“inescapable, always uncompleted, constantly recommenced, it is an unending project”. The profound influence on Marx of the philosopher Hegel accounts for this chapter’s title: “the still inaudible thunder of Hegelian logic” challenges the “instrumental rationality” used to “explain” and justify the capitalist status quo.

Marx’s method shatters such ideological facades, providing an in-depth analysis of “generalized commodity production” revealing the exploitation and mutilation of human labour and creativity at the system’s very heart. His intricate exploration of the “capital accumulation process” reveals the impact of bending society and culture and the environment to the voracious and destructive need for maximising profits more and more and more, forever. “The important thing”, Bensaïd insists, is “not to bend, not to give in, not to submit to the proclaimed fatality [inevitability] of the commodity order”.

The very nature of this system is such that “the world still has to be changed, and still more profoundly and more urgently than we had imagined forty years ago. Any doubt bears on the possibility of succeeding, not on the necessity of trying.” Inaction in the face of doubt is not a choice. Given the dynamics of capitalism, the oppressed and exploited majority does not have the option of “not playing the game”, and for revolutionary activists “the only compass in this uncertain work is to take the part of the oppressed, even in defeat if need be”.

“Knowing oneself to be mortal – we all do, more or less – is one thing”, Bensaïd muses in the memoir’s penultimate chapter. “Something else is to experience this and really believe it.” Seeing his own impending death as the book comes to a close, and impelled to pass his torch to us, he conveys multiple insights:

Revolts against globalized injustice are multiplying. But the spiral of retreats and defeats has not been broken. Number and mass are not enough, without will and consciousness… A resistance without victories and perspectives of counter-attack ends up being worn out. There is no victory without strategy, and no strategy without a balance of forces… Is it possible to be truly democratic without being truly socialist?… Today’s political landscape is devastated by battles lost without even being fought …

Source: LINKS: International Journal of Social Renewal

See: http://links.org.au/node/3847

 

**END**

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