Teaching democracy and revolution

by Angelo J. Letizia The next dialectal step toward demolishing capitalism and bringing the next phase of the Enlightenment is brewing. As Marx noted, the present world contains the seeds to its own destruction. The present world is the womb of the new world. But this dialectic or historical movement is not immutable; we cannot sit around and wait for it to sweep us into the golden age of history like Marx prophesized (Zizek, 2009). We must take control of it and the first step to controlling the dialectic of history and the Enlightenment is through education, this includes higher … Continue reading Teaching democracy and revolution

Beyond the postmodern “moment”: Utopianism, aestheticism, and the avant-garde

by P.J. Laska The first item of interest for any inquest concerning the status of postmodernism will surely be the fact of continuing post-mortem activity of the sort Dostoevsky described in his grotesque tale “Bobok :”  “Prodolzhayetsya  zhizn’ kak by po inertsii”  [The (conscious) life of (the recently deceased) continues as if by inertia]—a phenomenon D. H. Lawrence commented on later in his Studies in Classic American Literature: “Post mortem effects. Ghosts. A certain ghoulish insistency.”  A contemporary example of this phenomenon was voiced recently by Paul Krugman:  “America’s political landscape is infested with many zombie ideas—beliefs about policy that … Continue reading Beyond the postmodern “moment”: Utopianism, aestheticism, and the avant-garde

Taking notes 13: Roadblocks of the Old New Left

by Roland Boer Too often the road to the most valuable lessons from the revolutionary past faces a series of roadblocks. I think here of the way the Old New Left sets up and maintains those roadblocks. But who makes up the Old New Left? I mean those who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s – a significant section of the Baby Boomers – and who were part of the Western wave of the “New Left” at that time. Soon enough they took over important leadership positions, gained control of organisations and journals, took up academic posts, and opted … Continue reading Taking notes 13: Roadblocks of the Old New Left

Taking notes 8: Class consciousness (from a Marxist perspective) today

by Chris Cutrone Modern classes are different from ancient separations between castes, such as between the clergy or priestly caste, and the noble aristocracy or warrior caste, and the vast majority of people, “commoners,” or those who were ignorant of divinity and without honor, who, for most of history, were peasants living through subsistence agriculture, a mute background of the pageantry of the ancient world. Modern, “bourgeois” society, or the society of the modern city, is the product of the revolt of the Third Estate, or commoners, who had no property other than that of their labor: “self-made” men. During … Continue reading Taking notes 8: Class consciousness (from a Marxist perspective) today

The faltering miracle story of India and neoliberalism

by Anjan Chakrabarti Last time the Indian economy ran into a major systemic crisis was in the late 1980s. It was a result of and also the final nail in the coffin of state sponsored planned economy. Along with the collapse of Soviet style command economies, it signalled the unsustainability of an economic system built on absolute or near total control of the state over the economy. That crisis helped spread the philosophy of neoliberalism in India which led to this lesson from the experience of centralized planning: for the goals of rapid economic growth and poverty reduction, state control … Continue reading The faltering miracle story of India and neoliberalism

Illusion of the epoch: Twentieth century socialism

by Paresh Chattopadhyay In the eyes of a considerable section of the Left the Bolshevik seizure of power signalled the victory of socialist revolution leading to the establishment of socialism in Russia and setting the stage for a number of such seizures of power by the communist parties in the different parts of the world — China, Vietnam, Cuba, etc, though the latter events were  considered not quite  as socialist revolution, but as democratic revolution preparing the way towards socialism. Nevertheless, the regimes that ultimately resulted in all these lands have also been considered as socialist. In this paper we … Continue reading Illusion of the epoch: Twentieth century socialism

The relevance of Lenin today

by Chris Cutrone If the Bolshevik Revolution is — as some people have called it — the most significant political event of the 20th century, then Lenin must for good or ill be considered the century’s most significant political leader. Not only in the scholarly circles of the former Soviet Union, but even among many non-Communist scholars, he has been regarded as both the greatest revolutionary leader and revolutionary statesman in history, as well as the greatest revolutionary thinker since Marx. — Encyclopedia Britannica 2011 — year of revolution?  [1] Time magazine nominated “the protester,” from the Arab Spring to … Continue reading The relevance of Lenin today

Marxism, the 21st century and social transformation

by Bill Fletcher, Jr. A discussion of the future of socialism and social transformation must be grounded in two realities.  The first reality is the broader economic, environmental and state-legitimacy crises in which humanity finds itself.  In other words, the convergence of these three crises means that the necessity for a genuine Left capable of leading masses of people is more pressing than ever.  It means that while one cannot sit back and wait for the supposed “final” crisis of capitalism to open up doors to freedom — since capitalism is largely defined by its continual crises — it is … Continue reading Marxism, the 21st century and social transformation

Structural crisis needs structural change

by István Mészáros When stressing the need for a radical structural change it must be made clear right from the beginning that this is not a call for an unrealizable utopia. On the contrary, the primary defining characteristic of modern utopian theories was precisely the projection that their intended improvement in the conditions of the workers’ lives could be achieved well within the existing structural framework of the criticized societies. Thus Robert Owen of New Lanark, for instance, who had an ultimately untenable business partnership with the utilitarian liberal philosopher Jeremy Bentham, attempted the general realization of his enlightened social … Continue reading Structural crisis needs structural change

Insurgent democracy

by John Schwarzmantel This article has three aims: in the first place it seeks to offer some reflection on the role of political theory, and its relationship to what could simplistically be called events in the real world. Should political theory in the broadest sense be concerned with analysing and interpreting these events, or is it an exercise of a different kind, primarily concerned with the analysis of texts and with developing a specialised language of inquiry into such texts, whether historical or contemporary, that offer generalised reflection on concepts like power and authority, freedom and justice, to name only … Continue reading Insurgent democracy