Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Breaking News








December 13, 2017

Friday, November 10, 2017

Echoes of October, october, october, october, october

So, we'll always have October.  It doesn't take much to see that the problems of three or four or four hundred little sects don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that.  We'll always have October.  We'll always have the lesson of October-- that social revolutions can take place in countries where capitalism really hasn't completely taken hold; does not operate as the model in a book that was never meant to be a textbook.

That's the lesson.  That social revolutions take place where capitalism has not reorganized the relations of land, labor, and landed labor specifically in the countryside in its own imagined perfect reflection, as capital, with land and machinery existing only as values  to aggrandize value and value having no other existence save that it presumes, takes on, takes over from labor power expressed as wage-labor; and, where Lenin to the contrary not withstanding, the capitalist development of agriculture has not, is not, cannot, proceed apace.

And in these economies,  nonetheless, enclaves of capitalism have been "transplanted" or grafted, or extruded from the international root to the local branch, with of course a corresponding working class. So then,  these economies are integrated into the overall worldwide dominance of capital and react to the pressures transmitted through world markets-- i.e. experience, suffer, transmit the results of overproduction in particular in grain, agricultural, and certain key industrial products.

Given the archaic property relations in which capitalism finds itself enmeshed, the bourgeoisie are politically weak at best, a weakness that corresponds to the pre-capitalist relations that dominate the countryside, or the bourgeoisie are creations, implants,  of that international domination.  Doesn't mean that bourgeoisie is not brutal.  On the contrary, the brutality is very essence of the constraint, the limit, to accumulation and reproduction.

Then,  the working class revolution, in some shape,  alone maintains enough cohesion to abolish the pre-capitalist relations in the countryside, while, in isolation from the advanced countries, that revolution cannot gain enough strength to accelerate agricultural or industrial productivity to a level equal to that of the advanced capitalist countries.  Unable to sustain growth over the long term, shortages arise, production stagnates.  These economies are compelled to turn more and more frequently to the world markets; to hard currency earnings; to the assumption of debt.  Then the state bureaucracy, formed originally in the rupture between city and countryside, in the very backwardness of agricultural production,  begins to function as an analogue to capital and capitalism; analogue in the biological, organic, evolutionary sense-- as in,  different origin serving a similar function. 

In this case that function becomes, and from the getgo,  to administer, mediate, the impulse to capitalist restoration. Sometimes the state is more successful in mediating that impulse, like say China, imposing some "order" on the process which nevertheless involves a)bankruptcy, forced, enforced and market-driven, on state enterprises b)dispossession of workers from the "social wage"-- i.e. pensions, health care, education c)privatization of land and landed property through financial structuring-- turning land into assets for financialization and then using the resulting revenue streams to finance further capitalist enterprise, debilitating the rural households, sweeping away the individual pools of money, assets, accumulated over decades, in and by the financial torrents...
Sometimes the process gets out of control; the state rotted away from the inside, collapses and the plunder, literally, goes ahead without mediation-- say Russia.

What's the lesson?:  that neither "state capitalism" nor "degenerate (d) (ing) workers' state" have any real relevance to the actual processes of reproduction and decomposition coursing through country, countries, market, markets.

Here's looking at you......

November 10, 2017

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Lessons of Previous Septembers (and Octobers and Februarys....) Part 1

1. On September 18, 1850, the 31st Congress of the United States passed “An Act to amend, and supplementary to, the Act entitled ‘An Act respecting Fugitives from Justice, and Persons escaping from the Service of their Masters,’ approved February twelfth, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three.”  This 1850 supplement was known as the Fugitive Slave Act and was part of the “Compromise of 1850” which admitted California to the Union as a free state; fashioned the territories of Utah and New Mexico out of a portion of the land seized from Mexico in the 1846-1848 war; effectively annulled the Maine-Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing these new territories to determine for themselves whether slavery would be permitted; and outlawed the slave trade within the limits of the District of Columbia.
The compromise was the follow-up to the war against Mexico; the war  was a follow-up to the admission of Texas as a slaveholders’ state to the Union; the admission of Texas as a slaveholders’ state was the follow up to the “rebellion” of Anglo slaveholders in this territory of Mexico who were threatened by Mexico’s abolition of slavery in all regions save Texas, and prohibitions on the slave-trade throughout the country; the “rebellion” was fed by  the decision of  Mexico’s military commander of Upper Galveston to arrest a Louisiana slaveholder attempting the recapture of two fugitive slaves.
Nothing says freedom like or louder than defending the fugitive, the runaway.
Nothing says compromise like the empowering of the slave-catcher.
Mexico stood with the runaways.  The US with the slave-catcher.
Engels stood with the US in its war against Mexico
Blame it all on Engels?  Of course not.  Blame it all on Texas?  Hmmh…….let me think a moment.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Don't Cry for Me, Catalonia

1. Either the secessionist wave mobilizing hundreds of thousands in Catalonia is being generated by the conflicts and antagonisms intrinsic to capitalism in general as expressed in the particular conflicts and antagonisms embedded in the capitalist relations of Catalonia with the rest of Spain, or…or nothing, because then the critique of capital, and historical materialism have nothing to say.
2.  If that “or” is  the case all the “debate” from the “left,” of all stripes, from “libertarian,” to “ultra-left,” to Leninist, to class-collaborationist pop-fronters is just lip-syncing to a song without lyrics.
3. The roots of Catalonia’s resistance to the rule of Spain can be traced back for centuries, and those roots have little, if anything, to do with current wave of secession.  Catalonia has and maintained its own language for centuries, and that language has little, if anything to do, with the current wave of succession.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

So anyway......

...SamFanto (Fantomas, get it?) of Dialectical Delinquent, a person I don't know but whose website I enjoy and like, "attempted a dialogue" (he calls it) with me, back when I pulled out of Libcom for its decision to maintain access on its site to the works of that brave black flag anarchist and incidental white supremacist, race-war mongering, fascist Michael Schmidt. At the same time, Libcom was busy deleting the work of the late Chris Harman for being, horror of horrors, a "Leninist."  Leninism was not, of course, the real issue.  The "real" issue was that Harman was a member of the UK SWP, a leading member of the UK SWP, and thus according to Libcom-ers, responsible for the sexual abuse and cover-up of sexual abuse by another leading member of the SWP.  The fact that Harman had died a couple of years before the abuse came to light; that no accusations either of abuse or cover-up were directed at Harman was as immaterial as the fact that the book removed contained nothing advocating or protecting sexual abuse.

Schmidt, on the other hand, denied and for a substantial period of time, assertions that he was doing a bit more than role-playing on various white supremacist websites; that he was advocating race war.  In that he was aided by some comrades who, despite knowing of his activities for years, maintained that the recent accusations were unfounded; that Herr Schmidt was innocent until  proven guilty; that Herr Schmidt deserved a full hearing, the benefit of the doubt and a commission of inquiry given his meritorious service to the cause of the blag flack, I mean black flag.  Besides, how could Schmidt be considered a racist?  He had had girlfriends who were women of color!  And photos to prove it!

Then even after Schmidt admitted his "dual identity"-- blaming it on mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, previous head injuries, some of those same individuals and  groups set out excusing, apologizing, recuperating Schmidt on the basis of his earlier service, earlier writings in the service of blag flack.

Libcom in maintaining access to those writings on its site plays directly into that attempt at recuperation.

That's why I "broke," not because I give a rat's ass about Chris Harman, or Chris Harman's writings; nor if it's legitimate for an anarcho-communist website to archive, and offer, the writings of Leninists, or Bordigaists, or Marxists, or Bakuninists-- but because Libcom was playing and being played for the recuperation of a white supremacist.

So anyway...DD thought breaking with Libcom over censoring a dead Leninist was ridiculous; that there were a million better reasons to break with Libcom, like his own reason-- that Libcom defended, and continues to defend a leading member of the Pretentious Twit Aufheben group who just happens to advise the UK police.

That's a good reason to break, too.  I have no problem with that.  But there's something else going on for DD.  I think DD wants to make some sort of "critique" of Marxism as authoritarian, anti-revolutionary, "unwoke" and/or just plan inadequate/obsolete because of Marxism's "recognition" of  the "state," or rather the necessity for the proletariat to organize itself in a struggle for state power; to execute the abolition of capitalism, which means to execute the abolition of the capitalists through its own state power.

So can read DD's version of the "attempt at dialogue" here.   You can read my version below, parsed between paragraphs of the DD version.   I don't think this is very important, but I do hope it's a bit interesting, and clarifies, if nothing else, how little the "ultras"-- "anarcho-communists,"  "libertarian communists,"  situationists,  pre or post-modern whatevers-- really get about Marx's critique of capital and the immanent condition for its abolition:

DD: In this epoch the will to separation takes many forms, but often the security of a separate identity and the desire to maintain it (in his case, “Marxist”) is classically conventional characterological armour, the un-self-questioning self-justification for sneeringly rejecting anything that tries to question a petrified ideology. Whilst maintaining his Marxist role, and close-to Leninist role, he pretends he can contribute to fighting alienation with alienated means, in an alienated form.

SA:  Priceless.  You got any fries to go with that shake?  Any indication that I’ve used Marxism as “un-self-questioning self-justication for sneeringly rejecting anything that tries to question a petrified ideolgy.”  Any evidence of that in say my analysis of Greece, or Brazil, or the US, or.......even the discussions on Libcom?  Any indication that I ever dismissed any argument out of hand for not being “Marxist” or “Marxist enough.”  Or is simply the fact that I don’t accept the terms of the discussion as you want to define them evidence enough?  Come on.  a paragraph before this one, you’re complaining that I’m reading into a perfectly innocent comment and using that misreading to tell you, ambiguously, to go fuck yourself.  Now here you are “reading in”  nonsense and explicitly using that nonsense to deal with the substance of what “my” Marxism actually demonstrates.  It’s this sort of junk that makes me tell some people, “go fuck yourself.” 

DD: However, of all the reasons to break with libcom, this has to be merely indicative of as ideological an attitude as libcom’s – i.e the classic and roughly 150-year old split between Marx and Bakunin, Marxism and anarchism. In other words, no prospect of some critical supercession: rivalry turned into the essence of the revolutionary perspective. A typical expression of the retreat from the revolutionary question relevant to this utterly counter-revolutionary epoch, based on positions related to events way way back in the past, which only become obstacles in the present if one chooses to make them so.

SA: My reading of Hegel is probably a bit different than yours.  I don’t think “critical supercession” is a category that applies to the “conflict” between Marx and Bakunin, between Marxist analysis and anarchism.   FWIW, I mean if you’re going to get all “dialectic” about this stuff, I don’t think there’s any “critical supercession” to be had i.e. Bakunin and Marx.  For that to occur there would have to be some necessary, self-reproducing relation between the two, where each, so to speak requires, produces, the other, in the material conditions of the reproduction of society.  Doesn’t play that way with anarchism and Marxism. I did not, and do not now, engage in “theoretical”  “ideological” posing of the opposition of Marxism to anarchism.  I never did anything like that anywhere.  Never on Libcom.  What you cite is what I wrote to you in an email about the charges of Leninism certain "anarchists" made against me based on my acceptance of Marx's.......labor theory of value.  I am not kidding.  What differences I have, and they are profound and legion, are practical differences—practically involved with the analysis of capitalism and the practical development of the struggle against capitalism.  Do certain anarchists at certain times make practical contributions to the development of social revolution against capitalism? Most definitely.  Is there an anarchist critique of capitalism that “compares” to Marx; that explores the self-generating limits to accumulation that resides in the very condition of social labor that defines capitalism?  No.  

DD: Whilst most self-styled anarchists are prepared to criticise Bakunin in some ways, it appears that far more self-styled Marxists (Marx was, famously, “not a Marxist”) consider their guru untouchable. I don’t think anyone calls themselves a Bakuninist or Kropotkinist or Durrutist, but for those who call themselves Marxists Marx, despite all the horrendous state-capitalists and others who have called themselves some version of a Marxist, is somehow treated as the provider of “revolutionary theory” whose application to today we must all carefully study.

SA: Fuck no, I don’t consider Marx “untouchable.”  I just don’t consider remarks made in correspondence, their (Marx and Engels) flaws, mistakes, racial expressions as fundamental, necessary, essential, to their critique of capital and the prospects for capital's overthrow.  Engels supported the US in the slaveholder precipitated Mexican-American War;  Engels flat out endorsed Prussian victory in the war against Louis Napoleon’s France.   What counts however, IMO, and what accounts for my “fidelity” to Marxist analysis, is the critique of capital as a social relation of production; is the exposition and development of historical materialism as an instrument for comprehending and advancing revolutionary struggle.  

DD: Thus he unthinkingly dismisses (and caricatures) those who criticise the connection between Marx and Lenin:“Marx’s analysis, leading as it does to class struggle for power, requiring a dictatorship of the proletariat, was “statist;” and led inexorably to Lenin to Stalin blahblahblahblah… the usual nonsense and bullshit.” Whilst saying Marx’s analysis led inexorably to Lenin to Stalin is bullshit, it’s the inclusion of “inexorably” which is bullshit.

SA: You assume what you need to prove. Where exactly is my caricature of the typical Libcom-anarchist critique of Marx and Marxism?   Of course there’s a “connection” between Marx and Lenin—it’s called capitalism.  And of course there’s a connection between Lenin and Stalin.  The problem comes when you, or the Libcomers, or the "anarcho-libertarian-communists"  take “connection” to mean “identity”  and thus inevitability—to the point where Marx’s work can be dismissed, discounted because it inevitably leads to.........Stalin; to the point where the Russian Revolution itself is dismissed, with the benefit of highly developed hindsight,  as “capitalist”  or “state capitalist” or a “fraud” or the result of “German gold.”  As you yourself demonstrate in subsequent comments you adhere to the very inexorability you decry as caricature. 

DD: Certainly Marx was contradictory – but his belief in the State certainly was a contributory factor leading to Lenin etc. And this is confirmed by S.Artesian’s defence of a conventional hierarchical army, which clearly did lead to Kronstadt, etc. Armed struggle is certainly necessary, but there have been lots of instances of armed groups doing damage to class power without having a formal hierarchy (for instance, Spain in the 30s, or those parts of the French resistance not subservient to either the Gaullists or the Stalinists, of which little is known). And even during the Russian revolution, Makhno’s army, though obviously criticisable, was not the same kind of rigid hierarchy as the Red Army or the Whites. He says he rejects “the two critical elements of so-called Leninism– the vanguard party, and Lenin’s explanation of imperialism” but fails to mention the seizure of state power as being intrinsic to Leninism, and thus defends the creation of the Red Army, the epitome of fighting alienation in an alienated way, fighting against the forces of hierarchy in a hierarchical manner, an authoritarian way of trying to destroy authority.

SA: Really?   Can you show us where and how “Marx’s belief in the state was a contributory factor leading to Lenin etc. with the "etc" being what? Define the "etc."  What exactly does that mean?  That because Marx believed the proletariat had to organize itself as an armed force to break up the bourgeoisie's state machinery and replace it with its own state machinery to suppress counterrevolution, and impose, by force, its rule, its organization of social labor, that led to...Kronstadt? Clearly, that's precisely what you mean by the etc.... and you'd rather use the "etc" to avoid using "inexorably." 

By "Lenin etc"  you mean Stalin, don’t you?  So get to the nits and grits, and show us, how, regardless of the material conditions which propelled, determined, and constrained the Russian Revolution, “Marx’s belief in the state” contributed to Stalin, and the defeat of the revolution in China, Spain, Britain, France, Vietnam, Germany    I don’t think you can, just as I don’t think others who make this argument can.  Doesn’t stop them, of course, from making the argument, but why should it?
Was the creation of the Red Army the result of Marx’s “belief in the state”?   Or was the creation of a Red Army a necessity imposed on the revolution by the material conditions, advanced and backward as they were and were simultaneously—that’s what the meaning and legacy of uneven and combined development are—in which the revolution was enmeshed from the getgo?  FWIW, the “emotional” determinants, for lack of a better term, that drove Lenin and Trotsky and the Bolsheviks toward the establishment of the Red Army were, IMO only, a commitment that the revolution NOT go the way of the Paris Commune, but hold on to power no matter the cost until the revolution conquered power in the “advanced” countries of Europe.  Maybe you disagree with me.  Maybe you disagree with them but that makes a bit more sense, given the background of each in Marx's work and the real concrete circumstances they faced, than this nonsense about "the State." 
Was there a civil war in Russia after the October Revolution? I think there was. Does that require a centralized, commanded labor force to successfully pursue.  I think it does.  The simple logistics of supplying and resupplying revolutionary armies in the field impose that upon any class pursuing power.  You offer, in a near hilarious confirmation of exactly what you want to dispute—“there have been lots of instances of armed groups doing damage  to class power without having a formal hierarchy.”  No shit.  Except we’re not talking about “doing damage” while leaving the class structure essentially intact, which is precisely what did occur in popular front Spain, or in France during WW2, we’re talking about a revolution seizing power and liquidating a counterrevolution  That quite simply requires centralization, concentration, and will produce, as dangerous as it is—and it is extremely dangerous—hierarchy.  Organization is, in the last analysis, determined by surplus and scarcity, and the Russian Revolution was operating within conditions of extreme scarcity, not just material (which itself was extreme) but historical, as the historical determines the material; in the case of the Russian Revolution that historical scarcity was the scarcity of the extension of the revolutionary wave.  That, not the so-called connection of Marx with Lenin or Lenin with Stalin, was the issue.
Of course I “fail to mention the seizure of state power as being intrinsic to Leninism”—because I don’t disagree with the seizure of state power and because while intrinsic to Lenin, it’s not unique to Lenin.  Lenin’s theory of the vanguard party, and the practice of that theory; Lenin’s “theory” of imperialism (which hardly warrants the term “theory”) are intrinsic and unique to Lenin.  You can after all recognize the necessity of seizing state power without being a Leninist, although your point, I guess, is that you can’t: that once you accept the necessity of seizing state power, of breaking up the state machinery of the bourgeoisie and “critically superseding” that state power with the state power of the proletariat, you’re already down at the bottom of the slippery slope and a........Leninist? Nope, not good enough, Stalinist?  Much better, no?  Except if that’s the case you’ve proven what I said at the getgo about “inexorably” being the key component to those who “connect”  Marx to Lenin to Stalin, and the bullshit, such that it is, is all yours. 

DD: But then he treats Marx as an authority. In S.Artesian’s dogmatic defence of him, every true revolutionary must bow down before Marx’s past interpretations, rather than develop their own theory and practice, in part based on critiques of previous theories and practices, and the reasoning behind them. 

SA: Bow down?  This where I usually say to someone raising that accusation, unambiguously—go fuck yourself.    I don't think I've ever written anything, anywhere, anytime, demanding that anyone anywhere ever genuflect before the “one, true, revolutionary Marx.” Claiming I have is either deliberate distortion or complete ignorance.  Yeah, I accept Marx as an authority—on the history, development, and mechanisms of capital accumulation.  And to abuse an analogy, I accept lots of authorities—I accept Einstein as an authority on the general theory of relativity  (I even accept the speed of light as an absolute authority in this universe).  I accept Trotsky as an authority on uneven and combined development, as well as the critique of the popular front.  I accept Darwin as “an authority” on the evolution of the species.  Newsflash, comrade, accepting an authority is not identical to uncritical, slavish, adulation.  So ever so gently, and with all earned respect.....go fuck yourself.

DD: Thus S.Artesian can rhetorically ask“Do you call Marx a capitalist because he endorsed Lincoln and the US north in the civil war?” The vital question of the moment, on absolutely everybody’s lips. However – given I feel forced to answer an essentially irrelevant question – the question would be a little bit more relevant to ask whether this endorsement was typical of Marx’s politically mediated view of revolution. He himself is unlikely to have seriously believed that Lincoln was anything other than an opportunist aiming to develop the “more progressive” forms of class power represented by the North by manipulating those who hated slavery (the blacks, especially) into supporting his war. After all, Lincoln in his election speeches, sometimes supported slavery, sometimes opposed it, depending on where he was giving his speech – typical 2-faced politician. And even after the war had started he did not come out with a clear statement that the war was against slavery until he very obviously needed to recruit blacks (“In the spring of 1862 [ie a year after the war had started] he signed bills abolishing slavery in the territories, and proclaiming emancipation with compensation for the slaveholders, in the District of Colombia. But he continued to grope for a policy which would not alienate the Border slave states, whose loyalties were crucial to Union success, and not aggravate northern fears that emancipation would result in a flood of freedmen coming to the North…Lincoln decided that emancipation was the only measure which could bolster the sagging spirit of the Union army, provide a fresh pool of manpower for the armed forces and convince world opinion that the Union cause was something more than an attempt to suppress the South’s desire for independence.” – Eric Foner’s introduction to W.E.B. Du Bois’ really interesting text on the struggle and development of blacks’ power within the Union army – “The General Strike” –which can be found here). It’s possible Marx had no knowledge of this. But it’s also possible that it was another example of Marx putting “forward openly reformist ideas because they would draw the masses to his party where they would eventually learn the whole truth. Modern day Bolshevism is the logical outcome of this mediated view of revolution. Political consciousness is no longer a means to an end, it becomes an end in itself” (Cronin & Seltzer, Call It Sleep). And we now know full well, what with Jim Crow and all the other shit, that whilst US capitalism continues in whatever form, blacks there will be treated like dirt. Whether this was clear in the 1860s is another question. However, such a discussion seems just typical student politico point-scoring unless it relates to the present. And if the same attitudes as Marx’s then were applied to now they would end up with the same kind of idiotic Leftism that S.Artesian constantly, and obviously rightly, denounces – support for Syriza in Greece, Chavism in Venezuela, etc.  

SA: Yes, indeed,  Marx had a politically mediated view of revolution. Question:  what's a soviet if not a "political mediation"?    

So... if we can indulge a bit in historical materialism—what does your “unmediated” revolutionary theory tell us about the US Civil War? That it was a battle not worth engaging?  That the Union, the capitalist union, would hesitate, back track, retreat, cower, when confronting the slave power, because of the allegiance the capitalists held to property?   Not to put too fine a point on it: 1) all struggles are politically mediated  2) the recalcitrance of the bourgeoisie does not detract from the importance of the struggle to abolish slavery.  Do Marxists acknowledge, grasp that the bourgeoisie would not follow through on the struggle?  Would abandon Reconstruction?  Would  restore the former Confederates through Redemptionist governments?  Of course, we do.  We grasp those things on the basis of understanding the limits, the class limits, to the political mediations, the property, that determined the war from jump street.    You turn to a  Foner, who certainly employs Marx's historical materialism  and  produces a very concrete and critical analysis precisely based on a grasp of the political mediations to prove...what?  That Marxism because of its linkage to political mediations is ignorant, incapable of grasping the limitations that political mediations impose on historical conflicts.  That’s almost hilarious. 
As for this:  “And if the same attitudes as Marx’s then were applied to now they would end up with the same kind of idiotic Leftism that S.Artesian constantly, and obviously rightly, denounces – support for Syriza in Greece, Chavism in Venezuela, etc” that’s just nonsense.  Now it’s nonsense social democrats, democratic socialists, Lenin tombstoners, Gindinites, etc. etc. would like you to believe—“Oh, in supporting Syriza we’re just doing what Marx did in 1861”  but it’s still nonsense.  There’s this “thing” called history, like 155 years of capitalist development, like the conflict between relations and forces of production that, determined by the social conditions of labor, in turn determines the class struggle.  The problem isn’t some abstract notion, or supra-historical allegiance  to “political mediation” as a thing in itself—indeed there is no “political mediation” as a thing in itself.  The problem isn’t that Syriza or Maduro have a “politically mediated” view of revolution, but that they are capitalist formations, designed and determined to maintain capitalist political mediation.

DD: S.Artesian clearly does not in any way respond to any critique of Marx except to say it was Engels who said this, that or the other (it was certainly NOT just Engels). This idealisation of Marx as not being intrinsically racist conforms to the pure image of his hero (as I said, Marx was not alone in this racism – he was similar to the vast majority of thinkers of his epoch, revolutionary or otherwise, and the basis of some of his, and others’, racism was an ideology of progress; Marx’s approval of many of Tremaux’s theories of superior and inferior races is an additional aspect of this). Taking Marx as an influence amongst other influences is too wish-washy and undevoted an attitude to take amongst those who pride themselves on an anti-anarchist rivalry utterly unconscious of its useless consequences.

SA: The issue is not now, nor was it ever, if Marx personally expressed racist sentiments.  The issues are:  1) does any theoretical, practical, ideological  support for the hierarchical segregation of human beings by race form any part of Mar'x critique of capitalism; Marx's explanation of the conditions immanent in capital that lead to its overthrow; Marx's analysis and concept of class struggle; and Marx’s socialism?   2) does Marx’s critique of capital, Marx’s analysis of the necessity for the overthrow of capital, involve maintaining and perpetuating notions of  “race” “racial superiority”  “racial dominance”? 3) does Marx’s critique of capital provide the tools to explain the basis for the institutions developed by capital that maintain and expand notions of racial superiority, dominance, and hierarchy? 4)does the necessity for the abolition of capital as Marx  presents it actually require a struggle against and the overthrow of the institutions, and the ideology, of racial superiority, dominance, and hierarchy?

I think the answers are 1) no  2) no  3) yes  4) yes. Hence I conclude Marx was not a racist, and Marxism is not racist.  On the contrary, Marx’s analysis for the overthrow of capitalism requires a relentless struggle against the institutions and ideology of racial superiority. 

DD: S.Artesian also doesn’t respond seriously to the idea that libcom including Michael Schidt in its insanely eclectic library is no worse than including that of a Stalinist’s account of his participation in the Spanish (counter-) revolution or Bordiga, the guy who continued to defend the Kronstadt massacre. Or loads of other dangerous nasty nonsense using “revolutionary” language. Fascists are not worse than Stalinists or other defenders of state capitalist mass murder. Even though historically individuals who aligned themselves with Stalin or Lenin might have been more human, “better intentioned’ than fascists, from the point of view of the struggle for the self-emancipation of the working class, Stalinism and Leninism have been more devastating and more demoralising since they expropriated radical language and turned it into its opposite. And still do.

SA: One mo’ time:  I objected to the removal of Chris Harman’s work.  That work was removed after a person demanded the removal on the basis that Chris Harman was member of the hierarchy of an organization that tolerated, enabled, the sexual abuse of female members.  Since Harman had died a year or two before the information was made public; since the information did not identify Harman as having been a participant, a facilitator or an apologist for the abuse; and because Harman’s work in no way advocated sexual abuse, I found it ridiculous to remove the ebook from Libcom’s library.  Others on Libcom argued that since Harman was a Leninist the work shouldn’t have been in the library in the first place.  I thought that too was ridiculous, given the wide range and dubious political and personal lives of authors so represented.  As the argument evolved, I pointed out that Libcom still maintained the writings of Michael Schmidt who while “covered” as a bona-fide black flag anarcho communist (presumably one who doesn’t believe in political mediations), actually functioned  as a white supremacist militant in various right-wing locations.  In addition, Schmidt supporters had known about this, covered it up, and actually utilized Libcom to defend Schmidt.  Furthermore Schmidt’s current supporters were attempting to use his previous written “contributions” to anarcho-communism as “grounds” to maintain ties and connections with Schmidt, rather than break all connection with him.   I pointed out then, and do again, that on the whole, I could care or less who is or who is not in the Libcom “library”  but the issue has become the fact that those works by Schmidt are being used as an apologetic, almost as “character references” in order to prevent the exclusion of this person due to his white supremacy activity.  Under those circumstances, every communist, anarchist, situationist, mediated or unmediated, has the obligation to demand the removal of the works.    This isn’t a case of “well Leninists and Stalinists did evil things.”  What the fuck does that have to do with anything?  This has everything to do with the practical reality of Libcom being willing to remove a book based on "guilt by association" while preserving a different book and thus contribute to an effort designed by others to preserve a known white supremacist in the “communist movement.”  The fact that you still refuse to engage with that critical issue means that, quite frankly, the distance between you and Libcom is less than you imagined, and the distance between you and me is more than you will ever know. 

So anyway... that's today's entertainment.

October 8, 2017

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Of Love and Hegel

Note:  I don't ever do this-- "review" things, like books, or films, or plays, or art exhibitions.  I don't ever even pretend to review things, like books, or movies, or plays, so I can glom the review copies, or get free tickets to advanced screenings, or any of that nonsense trade. Among the numerous things I knew I never wanted to be in my life-- like a cop, like a vegetarian, like a lawyer, like a cheerleader for this, or that, for any or all iterations of deformed "workers' states," like president of the United or any other states-- I knew I never wanted to be a "critic"  a "reviewer."

But, you know what they say about never saying never and all that, so maybe just this once, maybe just this one film...

"Quite an experience to liven in fear isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave."  So says Roy Batty to the policeman sworn to "retire" him, Rick Deckard.  Batty says that just before saving Deckard's life in Blade Runner (1982).

Of course we can trace that--that two sentence exposition on the history of human relations-- back, and we should, since the sequel to Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049, is all about tracing things, relations, beings, back; tracing images back; tracing memories; tracing generations and regenerations back to their origins; and tracing the origins themselves back, specifically because the origins are artificial, synthetic, designed, manipulated, implanted.  

We can trace it back to Hegel's master-slave dialectic; where the master creates the condition of the  world where the master experiences everything through the activity, the work, through the self-conscious-ness of the slave.

We can trace it forward from Hegel, beyond Hegel, to Marx's dialectic of the social relations between capitalists and proletarians; to the struggle between capital and wage-labor; where the relentless need to aggrandize labor-power in order to express that aggrandizement as profit;  to appropriate the "self-conscious-ness" of the class of laborers through the wage relation, through the reduction, compression,  of necessary labor-time, takes us to a world where profit trends every downward, accrues in fits and starts and in proportionately smaller and skinnier increments.

This, Blade Runner 2049, is a story of origins and endings, as Blade Runner was a story of origins and endings... as life is a story of origin and death is its ending.

Blade Runner was a story about what happens in that dialectic under conditions of expanded, accumulated, decay, where and when the needs of commerce, of business, of reproducing the masters make the life of the entire species more than precarious; less than marginal; and less than marginal at best.  (Almost) The entire species of human beings is made immaterial and irrelevant to anything and everything other than reproducing fragments of synthetic life-- "I just do eyes...ju-ju just eyes," says Hannibal Chew when confronting the being implanted with "his" eyes.  Irrelevant and immaterial unless reproducing fragments of synthetic life or... policing those stumbling through the wasteland commerce has created and retiring those beings required to do the "heavy lifting" that sustains the accumulation of decay, the replicants.  "Chew, if only you could see what I've seen with your eyes," replies Roy.

The beings that are of the earth, that are the natural-born human beings, undesigned, unsynthetic are superfluous to the reproduction of their own social lives.  They trade in artifice. They are the trade in artifice, always scampering between landfill and night club.

The replicants, those beings artificially generated, quickened, are designed for and restricted to the great commercial endeavor of the time, the reduction of entire planets to colonies.

The replicants are in both Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049, just like us; just like their marginalized sub-masters, except bigger most of the time, stronger almost all the time, smarter more than usually, and.....better looking most definitely.    Like ourselves, they are coded beings; they're being is derived from a code, a set of instructions generated and replicating in every cell at every moment of existence.  Like ourselves, they develop from experience, from training, from emulation.

They develop their identities, their beings from the resonance those experiences, that training, the emulation creates upon impact with that code.  The resonance gets processed, captured, archived as memory.  Memory is the neural loop; the self-adjusting algorithm, the product of the code.  It becomes life, real or simulated, real and simulated. 

Just like us, the replicants have a defined life-span.  In Blade Runner, the limits to the definition are designed and implanted in the code, and is independent, most of the time, from experience, emulation, and training.  In 2049, the life-span is defined by the interaction of the code with experience, training, emulation, more like us.

And more like us is the step taken in Blade Runner 2049.  "More human than human" was the Tyrell Corporations slogan, but Tyrell went under in the big blackout that destroyed almost all the digitized electronic data that had been accumulated, or so we're supposed to believe. Indications are that there's quite a bit of that institutional memory that's been recovered.  If after all, memory is adhesive, the tissue that binds the disparate organs, functions, systems, into an identity, what happens to a society that has had its memory erased?

What's missing isn't just the memory, but the access to it; the ability to recover the memory.

More like us, the replicants in 2049 are not immediately and automatically outcasts, outlaws, scourges, scapegoats.  They become outcasts, outlaws, scourges, criminal when they look, strive, and search for too much, too much for the all important commerce that can only support them in their assigned roles as slaves, and slave catchers, can only support them in a degraded existence.....just like us.

Blade Runner appears as an origin story where the synthesized beings are allotted a time so compressed and constrained as to make every intake of breath a blade descending unto the neck of the breathers.

The replicants have a bit more room to breathe in 2049, but the air is more foul than ever.

Both Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 appear as origin stories, with the issue of love representing a complication to the quest for the understanding of origin; to the reconciliation and reconstruction of memory.  The link between the movies, and within the movies, is that the origin of their life is incomprehensible when separated from love, in both its social expression, and its physical, intimate, coupled expression.

In Blade Runner, the replicants are possessed of and by a critical difference from the humans.  The replicants alone, it appears are able to love; and to act out of love. They are driven not solely by a  need for life in general, but also by the need for intimate, personal love.  Roy loves Pris.  He is determined to win more life for himself and for her.  When her life is taken by Deckard, Roy cries for Pris.

The humans don't cry for anyone.  Tyrell doesn't.  Gaff doesn't.  Bryant wouldn't be caught dead crying.  J.F. Sebastian comes the closest to crying, and loving someone, but then he's possessed by the very same syndrome that drives Roy and Pris:  "Methuselah Syndrome."  "Accelerated Decrepitude."

Who does Deckard cry for?  Nobody.  Better question:  who would cry for Deckard?

Rachael?-- but that's the point, isn't it?  She's the replicant; yet she can love.  Deckard cannot...until he is saved by Batty.

These are the themes, strains actually, cultures like micro-flora that are carried over from Blade Runner  to Blade Runner 2049.   The new movie is not just a sequel to, but the successor to the original, expanding and expounding upon the themes.  We discover that what defines human beings is the ability to make more human beings and make more human beings.  We discover that the freedom of the slave begins when the slaves reproduce of and by themselves outside the limitations of the masters, outside the code, so that the issues of that reproduction, those children, are not slaves, are not property.  We discover that Hegel was right.  The slave can't simply transcend the master; transcend the condition of slavery.  The slave must overthrow, abolish, destroy the master as the embodiment of slaveholding.  The death grapple cannot be avoided as the existence of the institution itself is an everyday slow motion death grapple. 

As for the usual movie review stuff,  I'll just point out how  good Ryan Gosling is in the part of the blade runner 2049 in his quest for the memory of his origins, his history, and love.  I 'll point out the brilliance of having Deckard hiding out in our very own derelict, post-nuclear version of Stonehenge, Las Vegas.  I'll point out the genius in confining Dr. Ana Stelline in a germ-free bubble because of an immune deficiency... and tell you to see the movie for all those things, but see it two or three times more for the other reasons.

S. Artesian
October 7, 2017

Friday, October 06, 2017

Puerto Dolor

Under capitalism, and are we ever under capitalism, there is no such thing as a "natural disaster," a natural catastrophe.  The triumph of capitalism is the appropriation, subordination, even weaponizing of nature in the service of expropriation and aggrandizement.

The "acts" of nature cannot be contained, isolated, abstracted apart from the impact of the acts on the vulnerability and well-being of the classes generated and contained within the relations of capital.  Neither can the response to the "acts" of nature be separated from the interests, needs, and power of those classes.

Nor can the results and impacts of those responses to those acts be characterized as "mistakes"  "errors"  "failures" "incompetence."   No capitalist agency is  simply incompetent.  Incompetence serves a purpose. It serves its class when the power of that class to rule requires the sacrifice of the ruled. 

The incompetent serves that purpose and will always be rewarded by that ruling class, with a title, a salary, a flag, a membership.

There is not now and there never was anything that qualifies as "benign neglect."  There is no "blind to suffering."  The neglect is conscious, designed, intentional, even when and especially when manifesting itself as ignorance.  The blindness is already a  vision.  There is always a calculus-- an intersection of and where ignorance, entitlement, brutality and greed, meet and each furthers all in their service to oppression, exploitation, and that destruction accumulation that is now and forever known as capitalism.

The damning of bodies and souls to hunger, thirst, disease, misery is a social policy dressed up as and manifested through individual pathology.

full at:

October 6, 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Trump Visits Texas

President Donald J. Trump visited the areas of Texas ravaged by Hurricane Harvey and announced his absolutely fabulous recovery and prevention plan.   Said Trump:
We will build a wall, a wall so high you can't get over it; a wall so wide you can't get around it; a wall so deep you can't get under it. 
 We will build this high, wide, and deep wall out of coal,  putting thousands of miners back to work.  
We will build this high, wide, and deep wall out of coal to protect our borders. And......we'll make the Gulf of Mexico pay for it.   
It will be beautiful, believe me.  

August 30, 2017

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Go Figure

Go Figure.

After a five month silence, Insurgent Notes produced another e-volume of its online journal, which, strangely enough remained silent about the causes of the five month silence.  Certainly the conflicts and disagreements that paralyzed IN were described in the lead editorial, but they were not examined. And there is a difference.

That IN slipped into its near catatonic state directly upon the heels of its "peak" moment, its post-Trump election conference; that there is significant disagreement among the IN participants on the appeal of Trump to the US working class (if such an appeal exists), and if that appeal is something other than that of racism, did not impress upon the editors the need to devote considerable time to a) the presentations of the differing analyses b) the resolution of those differences through the construction and elaboration of a single IN explanation of this moment, the moment that almost uncreated them.

Then came Charlottesville.  Charlottesville was different, and no Charlottesville was not unforeseen, unique, or an aberration.  But it was different.  How different?  Murderously different.  This different:

That's a picture in Charlottesville, maybe of so-called aggrieved white workers, or maybe aggrieved white petit-bourgeois, or maybe not so aggrieved just white racist sacks of shit stomping an African-American educator who had the audacity to tell them to fuck off.

Now that's different.  Not unique.  Certainly not unknown in US history.  But different, for the right here, right now.   Really, who do they think they are?  The LAPD?
And that is the point.

Charlottesville was, and is, different because it represents the convergence of  extra-state terrorism with the state terrorism that has been practiced for years against immigrants, people of color, women, -- all those sections, fractions, components that make up the class of workers.

The winks and the nods and the hand signals and the codes have done their bit, and in so doing, have been jettisoned.

The night-riders have returned, and because they have champions in the federal government, in all branches of the federal government, they ride by day.

Clearly the terms of engagement have changed.  Clearly there are lessons to be learned, and learning to be applied if we are to win this struggle and turn the stomping around. It was and is  absolutely vital that any organization claiming to be revolutionist, Marxist, communist, whatever-ist, recognize, identify, clarify what is different, and what the difference this day has made.  I urged that the comrades at IN issue a statement about this difference, utilizing the space provided in IN's "comments" field:
"Not for nothing, comrades, but do the editors at IN feel compelled to say something after Charlottesville? 
I mean the whole issue of Trump supporters and their dance with racism has, by your own admission, effectively paralyzed IN for 5 months. 
You’ve got a dialogue running between Amiri and Noel about “whiteness”– in the abstract, I guess; now whiteness in the concrete makes its, or another, play and….?????? 
Do I expect IN’s statement to change the course of history? Of course not. No more than I consider the statements made by the IWW, or Anti-Capital, or all the antifa groups put together will change history. 
But Charlottesville itself is a change– where fascists collectively and explicitly have undertaken a campaign of terrorism like that undertaken by the KKK and the Knights of the White Camelia in support of redemptionism. 
Worth a paragraph or two, don’t you think, given the significance of historical materialism to Marxist theory and practice? Charlottesville is historical and it is material"
John Garvey,  one of the two main editors of IN responded, but not in the public IN comments area, but in a private email, in which he wrote:
In response to your comment on the IN page, I promise we'll say something when we know what to say.
In the meantime, check out one of the bad guys' point of view.  It's from Matt Parrot of the Traditionalist Workers' Party: 
Have you read or written anything yet that's an adequate response to that? 
Huh?   Read the nazi account of the bravery and glory of being nazis?    Odd, no?  Odd yes.
It brought the following reply, posted to IN along with Garvey's email:

Hey John, I don’t have to read “the bad guy’s point of view.” I know what the issues are. That’s what historical materialism equips us to do. You should try it some time. 
Have I written anything that’s an adequate response to a Nazi explaining the great thrill he gets out of being a fucking Nazi? What? Are you serious? You think that’s what’s important? If so, you don’t know what you are talking about, John, which is exactly what I gleaned from your performance attempting to “moderate” the February 5 conference. 

You don’t write in response to that, to the Nazi glorifying in and of Nazi-ism. You write to organize the destruction of that nonsense And IN’s silence speaks volumes. 
You don’t know what to say? You knew what to say when you claimed Trump supporters had “reasonable grievances,“ that led them to support Trump didn’t you, imposing I guess your own version of reasonable grievances? 
You knew what to say when you wrote that you thought we could, we should win over Trump supporters, didn’t you? Now you don’t know what to say. Priceless. For everything else there’s Mastercard. 
Your question is nonsensical in its very structure, in the very act of posing it.
Really, how long have you been at this... that you still don’t know what to say, and more importantly, who you need to address it to? 
Short version: You don’t have to say anything else. You’ve already said quite enough"
IN has had its share of problems, some brought on by its unwillingness to maintain and enforce a rigorous schedule for publication, but not solely that.  There is/was  publication of the Rectenwald article dismissing the actions of and against the Syriza government in Greece as IN's sole inquiry and exposition into the conflict between revolution and counterrevolution in that country; compounded by Rectenwald's apparent separation from IN and re-emergence in right-wing, or alt-right, circles, without IN acknowledging, explaining, defending, and publicizing the break.    That's bad.
But nowhere near as bad as not yet knowing what to say about Charlottesville.  That's just pathetic.

Ferragosto 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

Letter from a Friend

Email from my good friend  in London:

"This from my daily NYT mailshot:
Good Monday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • After a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., led to melees and the death of a 32-year-old woman, the city tried to recover — as the police, in particular, came under criticism.
  • After Charlottesville, will extremist groups return to the margins of politics, or become normalized and enter the national conversation?

normalized!!!??? Return to the margins? Conversation? What planet do those fuckers at the NYT live on?

Indeed, what planet and....what a bunch fuckers.  They live on planet upper east side penthouse. They live on planet building with a doorman.  They live on planet car-service.  They live on planet home-fucking-delivery.  They live on planet commentary, where the virtue in "freedom of speech," "freedom the press" is that they can comment on oppression, exploitation, bigotry, and murder as if the whole world was a Charlie Rose show on PBS.

The live on planet enlightened German bourgeoisie where the "great values" of Goethe, Schiller "won't allow" a short-fingered, overcombed vulgarian like Hitler and his NSDAP goons to take power-- even though we, the erleuchtete deutsche bourgeoisie  think something has to be done to get those communists under control.

They live on the planet "fuck you," and the only sane response is "fuck them."  They are as bad as Murdoch, and nobody, with the exception of Kissinger, is as bad as Murdoch.

August 14, 2017

Sunday, August 13, 2017

After Charlottesville

1. To the comrades fighting in Charlottesville...and Seattle...and Portland...and Minneapolis...and Ferguson...and Cincinnati...and Houston...and New Orleans....and Maricopa County.

You knew, we all knew, this was going to happen, and sooner rather than later.  The knife attacks in Portland, and in Sacramento; the shooting in Seattle told us that much.  Doesn't make it any less painful; any less heartbreaking; any less appalling.  But you knew it and we knew it was going to happen.

The nazi-right, stoked on secret hand signals from Stephen Miller; stroked and groomed by Rupert Murdoch and Fox and Friends; decided to make the removal the statue honoring the traitorous general of the traitorous army of the slaveholder traitors' rebellion the call to arms, with the arms being this time a tricked out retro-new Dodge Challenger ersatz 1960s muscle car, so perfectly representative of the imaginary nostalgia, the longing for a past that never was, that defines so-called modern capitalism.

And why not?  With an attorney general named after two of the great traitors leading the slaveholders' rebellion, why not assemble to protect the legacy of a third.  Sure thing, the nazi-right (indistinguishable, most of the time, from the "ordinary" quotidian right) waxed poetic and patriotic about the Great American that was Robert E. Lee.  Calling Robert E. Lee "a great American" is psychopathology masquerading  as history.  Lee abandoned his position as a commissioned officer in the US Military, and took up arms against the government of the United States in order to defend slaveholders' property; the holding of other human being as property, in bondage.

The fact that Lee was never charged with treason, much less hanged for it; that he, like Beauregard was pardoned by Andrew Johnson and lived out his life in relative comfort while Freedmen's Bureaus were attacked and destroyed, while Reconstruction governments were overthrown,  while millions of freed black men and women were compelled  to toil under their ex-masters, a "working relationship" secured by the terrorism of the nazi-right of those days, the KKK, the Knights of the White Camellia, is not just an index to the cowardice of the bourgeoisie even after victory, but a product of the profitable entanglement the bourgeoisie enjoyed with the Redemptionist governments.

The fact that any statue of Lee or the other icons of the slaveholders' rebellion is allowed today is more than an index to how cowardly the bourgeoisie still are. It shows how conveniently  the psychopathology of the "right" serves the bourgeoisie in its permanent, and preemptive, counterrevolution against labor.

2Next up, of course, the bourgeoisie's current collection of self-greasing slugs called "the government," will establish an "inter-executive committee" to:

a) remove the Statue of Liberty

b) replace the Statue of Liberty with a theme park containing all the statues of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis and PT Beauregard and Nathan Bedford Forrest and others made homeless by elitist city and state governments, a regular US version of Qin Shi Huang's Terra Cotta Army.

c) replace the poem "The New Colossus" at the base of the current statue with the haiku submitted by Stephen Miller:
restrooms are reserved
for English speakers only
and Germans of course

3. We knew this was going to happen because we've endured forty-five years of the bourgeoisie attacking the organizations of labor; forty-five years of the bourgeoisie rolling back the modest steps toward equality made during the 1950s and 1960s; fifty years of the bourgeoisie attacking voting rights, starting within days of the passing of the Voting Rights Act; forty years of fusing Christian fundamentalism with police power, and calling the fusion "social policy;" twenty years of disenfranchising African-Americans on the basis of imaginary voters fraud when the real voters fraud is the disenfranchisement itself; eight years when, indignity of indignity, the country-club fascists and polo-shirted Klan-boys had to suffer the outrage of a black president who wouldn't answer to the word "boy."

We've had two years of Trump urging "Go ahead.  Knock the crap out of him.  I'll pay your legal expenses."

We've had  years of toxic avengers avenging the outrages that never occurred-- like the Bowling Green non-massacre, the Pizzagate pedophile Satanic circle.

We've had 2 plus X number of years of Trump and company establishing World Wide Wrestling as the "go-to" think tank of the Tea Party-Heritage Foundation-American Enterprise Institute-Goldman Sachs-JP Morgan Chase-Conservative Political Action Committee-Breitbart-Fox News coalition. "If it ain't smackdown, it ain't real American."

And X plus 2 years of the Democrats accommodating, acquiescing, participating in all this madness, because the madness is power, and sharing the madness-- like expelling more migrants in eight years than any previous administration-- means sharing the ... money; because the cruelty of capitalism pays. That's all you need to know about Democrats.

4. It's not an accident that this attack occurred in this manner, with an automobile as the weapon. State legislatures in Tennessee, North Dakota, Florida have all debated new laws that would indemnify vehicle drivers who strike protesters occupying or blocking a public roadway.
Whether or not theses bills pass or are defeated becomes more and more irrelevant as the political structures of capitalism become less and less capable of controlling the conflicts generated by and inherent to capitalism.  Then the issue moves from one of authority, to one of license.

We can talk tactics, and we should, because we don't want this to happen again.  We can talk about protecting the rear of the march with "lookouts" equipped with spike chains that can be deployed and be dragged along the entire line of march, but spike chains present their own risks to safety.
We can and should have lookouts (always working in pairs, never alone) protect each flank at every intersection or cross street.

Instant communication between and among the lookouts based on the current messaging platforms for cell phones is easy.

Organizing that protection means organizing the directions that must be issued to and enforced upon the body of the protest and that is not so easy.  That takes a bit of planning.

We can and should equip all those organizing demonstrations with personal body-cams (yes, you can get them on Amazon).

We can and should assemble as a mass;  we can and should operate as cells.

And like generals, we'll then become very good at re-fighting the last war.

The truth is bad tactics sometimes lose battles, good tactics never win wars.

5.  It's not an accident that this attack occurred just eight days after the UAW failed in its drive to unionize a Nissan plant in Mississippi.  Right-to-work, disenfranchisement of African-Americans, that is to say black workers, assaults on migrants, documented and undocumented, are both mother's milk, and the holy body of Christ. Those three components make-up the trifecta of so-called modern capitalism.  There are no accidents in the most perfect world of the "free market."

Defeating the attacks on demonstrations means defeating the bourgeoisie's trifecta.

We oppose all right-to-work laws not because we think the ability to organize unions is the ends, or even the means to the ends, but because restricting the power of workers to act collectively as a class is fundamental to capitalism, to the maintenance of bourgeois power; opposing all restrictions on the ability of workers to act collectively is the means to the end.

We oppose all voter suppression/voter ID laws/gerrymandering  not because we think the franchise can overthrow capitalism, but because these laws are designed to perpetuate fragmentation of the working class, to maintain the ineffectiveness of the class as a class.

We oppose all voter suppression/voter ID laws/gerrymandering not because we want to elect a "better" fraction of the ruling class, but because we want to eliminate the fractional-ization of the working class; not because we want to elect "better" state, and federal, governments, but because we want to do away with state and federal governments and replace them with councils of workers and poor, seizing assets and control of the conditions of social existence-- health care, education, industry, communications, transportation.

We oppose all attacks on migrants because all such attacks are attacks on migrant workers. The bourgeoisie engage in such attacks in order to increase the strength of the police; to immobilize so-called "native-born" workers; to expand the ranks of the marginalized, those who can be exploited and disposed of, rather than provided with the means of sustaining themselves as a class. 

The polo-shirted beady-eyed white-boy Klan fans aren't going to stand and fight an organized working class that fights for itself by fighting for each other (and  for almost everyone else) by fighting against the coalition that perfectly defines so-called modern capitalism: redemptionists, ante-bellum nostalgists,  bankers, hedge-fund goons, industrialists, and cops.

(originally published on)


August 13, 2017

Friday, August 04, 2017

(Assisted Living) THUNDERDOME!

Over on Michael Roberts' blog, Mr. Roberts, no relation as far as I know to the Lt. (JG) Douglas A. 'Doug' Roberts of the movie Mister Roberts, posted an article on the "tragedy" of Venezuela which article was mildly, modestly, moderately critical of the Maduro government.

Despite the mild nature of the criticism, the fact that it was criticism at all and not blind cheer leading provoked the Trotskyist answer to Rex Reed, Louis Proyect to opine that Mr. Roberts had allied himself "with the anti-Maduro left."

Then tearing himself away from the latest screening of whatever movie comps him, Proyect decided to appear, live (as far as I can tell) and in person (virtually, which is what "in person" means these days) to take up the defense of Maduro.

Said Louie:
Michael, I value your analysis of the capitalist economy very highly but I think that your analysis of the problems of building socialism needs some work especially after I clicked the link in the article above to your one on China. Marx, Engels, Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky et al believed that socialism was a world system just as capitalism before it. The notion of building socialism in a single country was an “innovation” of Joseph Stalin that in the long term proved unworkable. The USSR had immense natural resources, a powerful military and buffer states against the West. If Hugo Chavez or Maduro for that matter had taken the sort of steps that Fidel Castro took in 1960, the country would have suffered the same fate as Nicaragua in 1990. The USA tolerated Venezuela to some extent because it understood that “21st Century Socialism” was basically an attempt to create something not that different from Costa Rica in the 40s to the 70s until neoliberalism sank in. Although this article was answering another critic of Chavismo, some of what I wrote applies here...

Always in the Hollywood state of mind, Louie included a link to his vitally important article in the vitally important Counterpunch, defending the bona fides of the vitally important Chavismo, Bolivarianismo, whatever-is-currentismo, (and always in the anti-Hollywood state of mind, I won't include that link).

To which comment, I replied:
So says the unapologetic endorser and fan-boy of Syriza. The shorter version of Mr. Proyect’s homily for Chavez-ism is derived, not from Marx, but from Thatcher: “There is no alternative.”
And then he said:

When Marx was writing his great works capitalism was not a world system of any kind, not even close.

“Will it be possible for this revolution to take place in one country alone?”
Engels answered:
No. By creating the world market, big industry has already brought all the peoples of the Earth, and especially the civilized peoples, into such close relation with one another that none is independent of what happens to the others. 
Further, it has co-ordinated the social development of the civilized countries to such an extent that, in all of them, bourgeoisie and proletariat have become the decisive classes, and the struggle between them the great struggle of the day. It follows that the communist revolution will not merely be a national phenomenon but must take place simultaneously in all civilized countries – that is to say, at least in England, America, France, and Germany.
Never missing a trick, Louie included a link to an article in his own blog about the difficulties of advancing a revolution in Greece ( always willing, eager to block that trick, I have eliminated that link).

Then I said:
Well, yeah, it was a “world-system’ by the time Capital, The Civil War in France were written. The Civil War in the US, the reaction against Reconstruction proved that. The impact of the Suez Canal, the Meiji period, the cultivation of cotton in India, and Egypt; the “concessions” “won” from the Ottoman Empire, pretty much make it painfully clear to the most casual observer how “worldly” capital already was– a “worldliness” that increase during the long deflation 1873-1895– which saw the movement of US capital into Mexico (railroads, hemp plantations); a period of tremendous displacement and migration of rural populations throughout the world do to rising agricultural productivity in the US, Argentina, Australia, etc. 
Of course a revolutionary wave does not take place in one country alone, but it gets manifested in individual countries with individual particularities. In any case, the revolution very well can begin in one country, but cannot be sustained, without expansion into other countries. Kind of the most obvious meaning of the Russian Revolution, no? 
But to use that as an excuse for arguing “there can’t be a revolution” or “that this is all we can expect” for supporting an Allende, a Lula, or Correa, or Tsipras (all that “how will Greece survive without the Euro?” blubbering) or Maduro– for endorsing programs and policies that lead to….exactly what they have led to over the last 40 years has to be the nastiest trick of the pseudo-Marxists.
And then Proyect wrote:
(t)he impossibility of ‘socialism in one country’ as an explanation of failure is a metaphysical abdication of genuine historical analysis, a phrase that explains away every socialist historical movement by explaining nothing, and allows its propagator to bathe in the righteous glow of a superior self-satisfied ‘I told you so!’

Oh, sure. Building socialism in Greece, Venezuela, Vietnam and Nicaragua was eezy-peezy. But instead of applying a correct revolutionary program based on the proletariat, all these pseudo-leftist leaders decided that they preferred capitalism when push came to shove. Instead of such sell-outs, we need courageous, determined, principled revolutionaries of the sort that post comments on blogs such as this. 
The joke is that there is a direct proportional relationship between Internet windbags and their actual record of activism. It is a Walter Mitty complex that reveals a sputtering, phrase-mongering crowd that operates on a strictly idealist basis. The problem with a Daniel Ortega or a Hugo Chavez is that they lacked a correct “program”, not that the relationship of class forces constrained the possibilities of what could be done. 
What was the last “successful” proletarian revolution? Cuba, obviously. What was the relationship of class forces? There was a Soviet Union that was willing to arm Cuba, defend it even if poorly, and that was willing to buy sugar at above world market prices. And what was the program of the July 26th Movement? It was more Marti than Marx, after all.
And then I wrote:

(LP) “Oh, sure. Building socialism in Greece, Venezuela, Vietnam and Nicaragua was eezy-peezy. ”
(SA)Nobody said that. Period. What was, and is, being said was that cheerleading support for Tsipras, Ortega, Chavez was counter to “building socialism;” and would lead to the collapse of the SOCIAL MOVEMENT that could form the basis for a revolutionary transformation of Greece, Nicaragua, Venezuela… as support for the KMT, the Popular Front, the Unidad Popular led to the crushing of the possibility for social revolution in China, Spain, Chile… ad nauseum.
(LP) "But instead of applying a correct revolutionary program based on the proletariat, all these pseudo-leftist leaders decided that they preferred capitalism when push came to shove. Instead of such sell-outs, we need courageous, determined, principled revolutionaries of the sort that post comments on blogs such as this.”
(SA) Nobody said that here. YOU, othoh, did say something very close to that on other platforms, like your marxmail list and/or your blog– when you argued that the role of Marxists vis a vis Syriza was to “keep them honest” and if Syriza did not keep its “promises,” ally with the left wing of Syriza to replace the unprincipled capitulators with the authentic revolutionaries in Syriza’s left wing. 
(LP)“The joke is that there is a direct proportional relationship between Internet windbags and their actual record of activism. ”
(SA) Says the ultimate internet windbag.
(LP) "The problem with a Daniel Ortega or a Hugo Chavez is that they lacked a correct “program”, not that the relationship of class forces constrained the possibilities of what could be done.”
(SA)Again, nobody said that. Except you. Others, not quite so prone to windbaggery and misdirection, began the criticism of Ortega or Chavez with the recognition that the relation of class forces constrained the possibilities of what THEY– Chavez, Ortega, the “Bolivarians” the FMLN– COULD DO, and that the Bolivarian movement and/or the FMLN was and would remain fundamentally incapable of changing that relationship of class forces, BECAUSE of their collaboration, accommodation, of sections of the bourgeoisie, and to the bourgeois relations of production.
Interesting to see that our internet windbag no longer considers the defeat of the US in Vietnam to be a successful proletarian revolution..
And then he said:
...Here’s the point, Sartesian. You are a 70+ year old man who has spent the past 15 years at least spouting revolutionary rhetoric but have not done a single thing that qualifies as activism. You are basically an Internet troll. 
You are fond of denouncing me as a pseudo-leftist traitor. Okay, I am a pseudo-leftist traitor but at least I have acted on my beliefs. What actions have you taken? What risks? You are an armchair revolutionary just like every other Internet troll. Talk is cheap, as they say.
And then I said:
I’m not going to waste everybody’s time with responding on this platform to Louis’ evasion of content, and his attempt to turn this into a pissing match.
Anyone who wants the details can contact me privately at my email address, or via The Wolf Report, and I’ll be happy to provide them.
Proyect and I have a deep, noble, and entertaining, so I’ve been told, history of mutual dislike, and that’s putting it mildly.
Well, having promised, or at least hinted at,  something I like to deliver, so here's the response I spared those reading Mr. Roberts' blog.

First of all, Proyect is projecting, or proyecting.  I'm not yet 70, much less 70+.  He is.  I look forward to becoming 70+, as I look forward to becoming 80+, 90+, 100+, and 100 ++.   But not yet and not that it matters, other than the matter of simple accuracy.

As for "activisim;" I don't know that anybody's really interested in Louie's record of activism that begins I think with his hiring on as a "peace pig" for the SWP-YSA.  In that capacity, Louie risked life and limb (a regular starker our alte kaker once was),  bravely defending the right of US senators and other government officials,  to speak at anti-Vietnam war rallies on the platforms provided by the SWP's front alliances (various "Mobilization"s ).

Louie manned up against the more rude, more militant,(and more astute), anti-war participants and activists who objected and wanted to put an end to the strategic hypocrisy of allowing representatives of the institutions responsible for the war protect, and reinforce those institutions of war by announcing their individual "opposition" to policy, as if the issue were one of policy and not of institutions, of class, of modes of production.

And I don't know that anyone is interested in Louie's charitable missions to Nicaragua with the Technica project, determined to deliver modern information technology to the Sandinistas, so Ortega could put it to good use... doing what?

Proyect's getting in touch with his inner Bernstein here-- you know where "movement," or activism is everything; where everything is a "quantity"-- without quality; with zero content; or rather with the content of securing the continued dominance of the institutions that continue to dominate-- exactly as he did in peace pig days. You know, "capitalism with a human face," because that's all that is possible.

The careful reader will note that nowhere does Louie engage with any of the substantive issues raised, nor with the accuracy of the criticism lodged against activist Louie.

Did he support Syriza? He sure did.  Did he say that if Syriza didn't deliver, it would be necessary to appeal to the "left wing" of Syriza to break with the government, and replace Tsipras?  He sure did-----UNTIL of course Syriza didn't deliver.  Then he didn't call for a break, period.  He defended the Tsipras government with the nonsense about how hard it would be to exit the Euro, how difficult it would be to cancel the debt, how tough it is ACTIVELY anti-capitalist.  Then it was "Give me the armchair.  And the internet.  And the Syriza government."

Proyect takes risks?  Along with his inner Bernstein, Louie is getting in touch with his inner bond trader.  Right, he takes risks.  Sure thing.  And just like the bond trader, he takes those risks with other people's money, or other people's struggles against capitalism.    The problem not for Proyect, but that Proyect inflicts on others, with his "activism"  has been, is now, and will probably always be activisim in defense of capitalism, all be it, capitalism with human face. Like Dorian Gray's human face.

Since we're concerned about records, let's set the record straight.  I have never denounced Proyect as a "pseudo leftist traitor." He should use his mighty internet powers and resources and let me know if he can find any reference I have ever made to him as a "pseudo leftist traitor."

Nope, on the contrary.  I think Proyect is  authentic, REAL.  I think Proyect is a REAL LEFTIST. I think Proyect is a REAL LEFTIST....  LOYALIST;  loyal to Chavez, Maduro, Correa, Syriza, Podemos, Allende, popular fronts of all types, and loyal to the ideology that says There Is No Alternative, repeating that mantra as a justification for repeating the defense of movements designed to preempt, obstruct, prevent social revolution.

S. Artesian
August 4, 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


...So in the end, it really was all about race; that is to say the election of 2016; that is to say the big surprise; that is to say the "great defection," the great backlash, the great "working class" protest; the great resentment; the grand pettiness that so perfectly describes "Make America Great Again."  It was always about race-- as in color; as in African-American.

The flailings and failings of the Republicans' attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act are not simply a measure of their own incompetence-- and incompetent they are, incompetence and entitlement going hand in glove, foot in mouth, head in ass--but also the measure of the motivation behind the opposition; the relations behind the ideology, and that is, always has been, always will be about race, as in color, as in how dare that Barack Obama do, initiate, attempt something, anything, that indicates a person of color:

a) is more competent than they are
b) is concerned with something other than how many people can be screwed over in the shortest  period of time, even if that concern of that literally half-African-half-American natural-born US citizen was minimal, less than momentary
c) doesn't know his place; never knew his place; can't really be American, because he's African and doesn't know his place
d) brought, along with his own considerable intelligence, and beauty,  that considerable intelligence, and beauty of his African-American wife, and the considerable intelligence, and beauty of their African-American daughters
e) has the gall to sing lyrics from Al Green's "Love and Happiness."

"The horror, the horror," proclaimed the three Kurtzes-- Kurtz McConnell, Kurtz Ryan, and the philosopher-in-residence at Redemptionist University, Kurtz Gingrich-- the horror being not, of course what the US had done throughout history to African-Americans, but that the US hadn't done enough to prevent African-American being not the game for them, or in the game for them, but knowing, playing, the game better than them.

The resentment that brought Trump the election was nurtured over 240 years of retreats, denials, deconstructions, conditions, qualifications, disavowals of "all men are created equal;" 230 years of the same disavowals, qualifications on the prohibitions of slavery, as in the Northwest Territories Ordinance of 1787,  (grandfathered into the union in 1789)

Art. 6. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted: Provided, always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid ;
150 years of flight, attack, obstruction of the 13th, 14th, 15th amendments of the US Constitution; of reneging not just on the promise of Radical Reconstruction, but the necessity of Radical Reconstruction to prevent the resurgence of the slaveholders' power in another garb, and in any other name;  40 years of panic and flight from civil rights, voting rights, of integrated schools.

All that stuff about "neglected" white workers; about the passed-over, left-behind, frozen-out white workers-- that was all.....uhh....bullshit.    All those references to Macomb county without investigation into the history of Macomb County, the actual condition of the supposedly aggrieved white workers in Macomb County-- that was all bullshit.

All that stuff about walls and anti-Nafta and "let's mine some coal," and... that was all bullshit.

It was all, and always, about color.  All those Tea Party financed "anti-Obamacare" rallies?   That was all bullshit.  "We don't like the black guy" was the real force being tapped into for commercial purposes.

All that "Don't let Obama take away our constitutionally guaranteed right to assault rifles with large magazines"?  That was all bullshit.  "We want to be able to shoot the black guy and all other black guys" was the sentiment being mobilized for......commercial reasons.

All that nonsense about "Crooked Hillary"?  That was bullshit.  "We can't get the black guy, so let's get the bitch" was the emotion being stoked for.......commercial reasons.

So.. now that the African-American is no longer president, and the white woman has been turned away,  the three Kurtzes can't quite get the job done; have lost their mojo; their déraison d'etre.  

Meanwhile, the other half of the co-dependent couple, the Democrats, want to deflect from their real failures and onto-- Russia.  As if  the disgrace of the 2016 election was the influence of the Russians; as if the Russians acted on behalf of the Trump-ets for their own reasons and that made the difference.  As if the disgrace of the 2016 election was not the previous 16 years of voter suppression, voter ID legislation, mass removal of qualified voters from the voting registrations-- something the Democrats did absolutely nothing to attack, much less reverse.

As if  the Russian hacks of email had more to do with the 2016 election than the decision of the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, John Roberts to invalidate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.

Roberts of course had been hard at work for some thirty years, seeking to demolish the enforcement provisions of the act, having studied at the knee of  William ("I think Plessy v Ferguson was right") Rehnquist, for whom he clerked in 1980; having pursued demolition of Section 2 of the VRA while employed as Special Assistant to Reagan's AG, William French Smith.

After the Roberts court finally demolished Section 4, did Obama and the Democrats immediately introduce new legislation to repair the hole in the voting protections?  Did Obama and the Democrats have legislation ready even prior to the decision, knowing, as they all did, who and what Roberts is all about?  Of course not.  The Democrats did "the Democrat"-- know to others as the big roll-over.


It was all about color.  It was never about class.

So...that's where we are today.....nowhere; with clowns fighting over a seltzer bottle, while the ringmasters spray gasoline on the confused audience.

We have the longest way to go before class actually outweighs color in this capitalism.

S. Artesian

July 18, 2017