Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 11, 2009
The Idea of Communism: An Interview with Tariq Ali
By Aaron Leonard
Mr. Leonard is a freelance journalist and writer. He is regular contributor to hnn.us..” His writings can be found atwww.aaronleonard.net .
Seagull Books has just published the latest in its “What Was Communism” series. The new title, “The Idea of Communism” is written by journalist, author and filmmaker Tariq Ali. This short book was written on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It serves as both introduction and brief historical assessment to this most radical of theories — with such a fraught legacy. Freelance journalist Aaron Leonard talked via phone with Ali about the book.
Given it has been 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is occasion for a lot of looking at the whole notion of communism, but beyond that why did you write this book now?
I think it was really for the anniversary. Seagull Books which is this new transcontinental publishing house was doing a series and asked my advice. I gave them my advice and they insisted I do a book on the idea itself. I did a short essay and put it out. Essentially the idea of it was that there are young people, students who have only heard about these things in a very vague way, in sound bites, to give them something that might interest them, then they could go and do their own reading. Read the rest of this entry »
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Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 13, 2008
The master theorist of the resurgent global left may have been outsmarted by the current economic meltdown. But his all-too-perfect system may never have to acknowledge such real-world inconsistencies.
BY SCOTT MCLEMEE
Ten years ago, as the antiglobalization movement began imposing itself on both the windowpanes of Starbucks and the narcotic slumbers of the mass media, there emerged in the United States a certain fable about what was (at the time) the newest New Left. It verged on a belief in the Immaculate Conception. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Communism, Words | 1 Comment »
Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 10, 2008
Toni Negri discusses the significance of urban space for new forms of opposition. The city, he says, is where the “political diagonal” intersects the “biopolitical diagram” – where people’s relation to power is most pronounced. Negri’s interlocutors are involved in exploring “soft” forms of activism, urban projects that create collectivities on micro, neighbourhood levels. Negri is critical of “soft” forms, however, preferring rupture and revolution over accumulation and gradual change. Read the rest of this entry »
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Posted by voidmanufacturing on December 7, 2008
Harry Cleaver debates Hillel Ticktin on capitalism’s present crisis … danger and opportunity
It’s not often that you can bring together people from very different revolutionary traditions for a public debate that attracts one hundred and thirty five people who represent most strands of the revolutionary left as it exists in this country today. Harry Cleaver, a former editor of the journal Zerowork and author ofReading Capital Politically (Harvester/Humanities, 1979), was one participant in this debate. The other was Hillel Ticktin, editor of the journal Critique and author of a series of important articles on the political economy of the USSR. Cleaver is an American who has drawn on and developed the important work of Italian autonomists such as Toni Negri and Mario Tronti, helping to challenge various ‘orthodox’ versions of marxism and placing class struggle firmly at the centre of his analysis. Ticktin, of South African origin, is closer to the trotskyist tradition (although he carefully distances himself from the orthodox trotskyism of the Fourth International) but no less innovative than the autonomists in his approach which has helped stress the importance of the law of value.
The debate was organised by Radical Chains in conjunction with the autonomist magazine London Notes. The organisers believed that there is not enough interchange between the different fragments of the marxist tradition and when they heard that Cleaver would be visiting Britain in July they decided to ask him if he would debate with Ticktin. While there has always been a degree of criticism within autonomism or within trotskyism or within situationism, critical engagement between different traditions has been rare. It is this engagement of the adherents of one tradition with the ideas of another which is necessary if the fragmentation and dispersal of the revolutionary left is to be overcome Read the rest of this entry »
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Posted by voidmanufacturing on November 25, 2008
FOR EARTHEN CUP
By Frere Dupont
The individual consumption of the labourer, whether it proceed within the workshop or outside it, whether it be part of the process of production or not, forms therefore a factor of the production and reproduction of capital; just as cleaning machinery does, whether it be done while the machinery is working or while it is standing. The fact that the labourer consumes his means of subsistence for his own purposes, and not to please the capitalist, has no bearing on the matter. The consumption of food by a beast of burden is none the less a necessary factor in the process of production, because the beast enjoys what it eats. The maintenance and reproduction of the working-class is, and must ever be, a necessary condition to the reproduction of capital. But the capitalist may safely leave its fulfilment to the labourer’s instincts of self-preservation and of propagation. All the capitalist cares for, is to reduce the labourer’s individual consumption as far as possible to what is strictly necessary, and he is far away from imitating those brutal South Americans, who force their labourers to take the more substantial, rather than the less substantial, kind of food. [ – Karl Marx chapter 23: simple reproduction, Capital, vol 1]
To place some emphasis here,
The maintenance and reproduction of the working-class is, and must ever be, a necessary condition to the reproduction of capital. But the capitalist may safely leave its fulfilment to the labourer’s instincts of self-preservation and of propagation.
This evidently has not been the case since 1914; the whole apparatus of social control from the outsourcing of “training” from private enterprise to state education, to ceaseless “welfare” interference, to continuous regulation of industrial relations, all prove that the capitalist social relation finds it extremely difficult to reproduce itself when relying on the working class”s “instincts of selfpreservation and of propagation”. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Communism, Dystopia, Economy, Poetry | 2 Comments »
Posted by voidmanufacturing on November 22, 2008
Hope in Common
We seem to have reached an impasse. Capitalism as we know it appears to be coming apart. But as financial institutions stagger and crumble, there is no obvious alternative. Organized resistance appears scattered and incoherent; the global justice movement a shadow of its former self. There is good reason to believe that, in a generation or so, capitalism will no longer exist: for the simple reason that it’s impossible to maintain an engine of perpetual growth forever on a finite planet. Faced with the prospect, the knee-jerk reaction—even of “progressives”—is, often, fear, to cling to capitalism because they simply can’t imagine an alternative that wouldn’t be even worse.
The first question we should be asking is: How did this happen? Is it normal for human beings to be unable to imagine what a better world would even be like? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Anarchy, Communism, The Americans | 3 Comments »
Posted by voidmanufacturing on September 13, 2008
A remembrance of the author’s friendship with Guy Debord in the late 1950s and early 60s – with some theoretical reflections.
Debord, in the Resounding Cataract of Time
(David Blanchard, 1995)
There are moments in one’s existence that stand out, as if of a more solid texture, drawn in stronger lines contrasting with the uzziness and fathomless ambiguity of the rest of life. And they really are charged with objective meaning, imparted by the movement of a sort of historic overdetermination. Often that special quality only reveals itself retrospectively, but sometimes, too, it is perceived immediately. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Alcohol, Communism, punk, Spectacle, The City, The French | 1 Comment »
Posted by voidmanufacturing on September 10, 2008
Being by numbers – interview with artists and philosopher Alain Badiou – Interview
Alain Badiou is an anomaly. What he has attempted has all the allure of the obviously impossible. That’s the fascination of the thing. Judge it retrograde or eminently contemporary, aberrant or a stroke of genius, but take it squarely for what it is: the painstaking effort on the part of an Althusserian Marxist, longtime Maoist, and unanalyzed disciple of Lacan to quit the confines that several generations of “limit-makers” have erected around philosophical practice. Read the rest of this entry »
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Posted by voidmanufacturing on September 5, 2008
new left review 49 jan feb 2008 29
THE COMMUNIST HYPOTHESIS
There was a tangible sense of depression in the air in France
in the aftermath of Sarkozy’s victory.1 It is often said that
unexpected blows are the worst, but expected ones some-
times prove debilitating in a different way. It can be oddly
dispiriting when an election is won by the candidate who has led in the
opinion polls from the start, just as when the favourite horse wins the
race; anyone with the slightest feeling for a wager, a risk, an exception or
a rupture would rather see an outsider upset the odds. Yet it could hardly
have been the bare fact of Nicolas Sarkozy as President that seemed to
come as such a disorientating blow to the French left in the aftermath
of May 2007. Something else was at stake—some complex of factors for
which ‘Sarkozy’ is merely a name. How should it be understood?
An initial factor was the way in which the outcome affirmed the mani-
fest powerlessness of any genuinely emancipatory programme within
the electoral system: preferences are duly recorded, in the passive man-
ner of a seismograph, but the process is one that by its nature excludes
any embodiments of dissenting political will. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Communism, Enemy, Nightmare, Poverty, The French | Tagged: Communism | Leave a Comment »