In defence of Engels

by Roland Boer The reputation of Friedrich Engels has often not fared well in the Marxist tradition. At a minimal level, he is regarded as the lesser intellect in relation to Marx, while more commonly dismissed as one who seriously distorted Marx’s thought and thereby derailed the subsequent socialist tradition. According to this assumption, not only did he make a mess of his editing work, after Marx’s death, with the second and third volumes of Capital, but he also distorted the later tradition by means of his ‘Dialectics of Nature’ and his very popular ;Anti-Dühring’ and ‘Socialism: Utopian and Scientific’. … Continue reading In defence of Engels

Taking notes 21: The dangerous dreams of Slavoj Žižek

by Jerome Roos When George Orwell first sent in his celebrated dispatches from revolutionary Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s, the British socialist magazine The New Statesman infamously refused to publish them for being too critical of the Stalinist crackdown on the Trotskyist and anarchist militias. As editor Kingsley Martin put it in a letter to Orwell, “it is an unfortunate fact that any hostile criticism of the present Russian regime is liable to be taken as propaganda against socialism.” Still, Orwell, who had been embedded in the Trotskyist POUM and had fought the fascists side-by-side … Continue reading Taking notes 21: The dangerous dreams of Slavoj Žižek

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

We need to begin again

by Slavoj Žižek In his wonderful short text ‘Notes of a Publicist’—written in February 1922 when the Bolsheviks, after winning the Civil War against all odds, had to retreat into the New Economic Policy of allowing a much wider scope to the market economy and private property—Lenin uses the analogy of a climber who must backtrack from his first attempt to reach a new mountain peak to describe what retreat means in a revolutionary process, and how it can be done without opportunistically betraying the cause: Let us picture to ourselves a man ascending a very high, steep and hitherto … Continue reading We need to begin again