Category Archives: Blog

Conor Bean reviews “Capital Hates Everyone: Fascism or Revolution” (2021) by Maurizio Lazzarato

“He remains adamant that any revolutionary organizing on the horizon must accept the effective displacement of the working class from the position of central revolutionary subject, set aside Leninist and Maoist organizing models, and embrace the potentials for historically oppressed subjectivities’ ‘becoming-revolutionary’ in the course of anti-capitalist activity (232)”

The tragedy of post-colonial self-determination

In her challenging book Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination (2019)political scientist Adom Getachew discusses self-determination in the Anglophone Black Atlantic, with special emphasis on post-colonial independence as well as Caribbean and African federations.  It would be interesting to compare the political thought of intellectuals and statesmen such as George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, Eric Williams, Michael Manley, and Julius Nyerere, which she explores, with that of contemporary writers.  In particular, it would be fascinating to study the failure of self-determination that started in the 1960s in light of contemporary tragedies of autonomy that focused paradigmatically on Haiti, such as Monsieur Toussaint (1961) by Edouard Glissant, Toussaint (1961) by Lorraine Hansberry, Drums and Colors (1961) by Derek Walcott, The Tragedy of King Christophe (1963) by Aimé Césaire, and C. L. R. James’ revisions to The Black Jacobins (1962) that recast it as a post-colonial tragedy.

8 June 2022

The tragedy of Haiti in history, drama, and performance

Last week, as I read in The New York Times the four-day series
“The Ransom – The Root of Haiti’s Misery: Reparations to Enslavers”
and I continued work on Aimé Césaire’s superb drama The Tragedy of King Christophe (1963, 1970)
for my book-length project The Tragedy of Revolution,
I took the train to Chicago and caught the last performance of the wonderful American premiere of this Shakespearean tragedy.
On the way home, I was reminded of what the Martinican Césaire said when talking about a visit to the Caribbean island:  “In Haiti I saw mainly what should not be done!  A country that had supposedly conquered its liberty … and which I saw more miserable than Martinique, which was a French colony! … It was tragic.”
30 May 2022

Onur Isci: Book Review: “Nationalism, Secessionism, and Autonomy” by André Lecours (2021)

“Throughout the book, the author seeks to answer the question of why some nationalist movements take a secessionist form while others do not. The answer he gives lies not in the character or content of the nationalist movement in question, but in the autonomy of the region in which the movement emerged within a sovereign state.”

Franck Gaudichaud, Massimo Modonesi, Jeffery R. Webber: “The Impasse of the Latin American Left”

“At the turn of the twenty-first century, Latin American politics experienced an upsurge in progressive movements, as popular uprisings for land and autonomy led to the election of left and center-left governments across Latin America. These progressive parties institutionalized social movements and established forms of state capitalism that sought to redistribute resources and challenge neoliberalism. Yet, as the authors demonstrate, these governments failed to transform the underlying class structures of their societies or challenge the imperial strategies of the United States and China. Now, as the Pink Tide has largely receded, the authors offer a portrait of this watershed period in Latin American history in order to evaluate the successes and failures of the left and to offer a clear-eyed account of the conditions that allowed for a right-wing resurgence.”

Mark R. Beissinger: “The Revolutionary City: Urbanization and the Global Transformation of Rebellion”

“Using original data on revolutionary episodes since 1900, public opinion surveys, and engaging examples from around the world, Mark Beissinger explores the causes and consequences of the urbanization of revolution in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. He investigates the struggle for control over public space, why revolutionary contention has grown more pacified over time, and how revolutions involving the rapid assembly of hundreds of thousands in central urban spaces lead to diverse, ad hoc coalitions that have difficulty producing substantive change.”

Dessane Lopez Cassell: ‘Vivid Posters Chart a “People’s History” of the Struggle for Social Justice’

“Be it graffiti on the apartheid wall in Palestine or the peace walls in Northern Ireland, people make visual art to tell stories everywhere, especially in times of entrenched violence and systemic oppression.”

Kristian Williams: ‘“Full Spectrum Resistance”: a field manual for insurgencies’

“Aric McBay’s massive, two-volume, handbook for political action, covers the fundamentals of social change, offering advice on organization, strategy, tactics, security, communication (internal and external), and so on — all illustrated with historical case studies.”

“Reading the History of Slavery: 3 Experts Offer Book Recommendations”

On the ways the history of slavery informs our present.

Assembling a revolutionary movement

My reflections on Robert Kramer’s movie Ice (1970)

10 June 2020