Category Archives: crisis

Todd Gitlin: “The Missing Music of the Left “

‘If there are to be global goals, goals that cross boundaries to inspire the multitudes, where might they be found? … So should idealists across borders persist in seeking the universalist grail—the moral equivalent of “The Internationale”? Some settle for anti-fascism; others strive to resurrect the lost traditions of anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism; a few scavenge among the ruins of communism. Nearly three decades after the collapse of the communist phantasm, the left has still not recovered its voice, let alone composed a melody you can’t get out of your head.’

Andy Merrifield: ‘“Fulfillment was already there”: Debord & ’68’

“France seemed on the precipice of revolution; a festival of people was glimpsed. Alienation was cast off, momentarily; freedom was real; capitalised time abandoned. Without trains, cars, Metro and work, leisure time was reclaimed, time lived. Students and workers seized the contingent situation, acted spontaneously, created new situations, realising something what no trade union or party could ever do, or wanted to do. And yet, as quickly as things erupted, they were almost as speedily repressed, by state and bourgeoisie, soon backed by the Communists and the CGT. The optimistic promise, the beach beneath the paving stones, had dissipated, for now. The music was over. There was no other side to break on through to.”

Todd Gitlin: “1968: Year of Counter-Revolution”

“The left was wildly guilty of misrecognition. Although most on the radical left thrilled to the prospect of some kind of revolution, … the main story line was far closer to the opposite—a thrust toward retrogression that continues, though not on a straight line, into the present emergency. … The main new storyline was backlash.”

Éric Alliez & Maurizio Lazzarato: “Clausewitz and la pensée 68”

‘The new theory of war and power was not able to confront and draw on real political experiments, since between the end of the 1970s and the early 1980s, the radicalization that resulted from ’68 (“Rampant May”) faded, weakened, and finally collapsed in the repetition of the modalities of civil war codified by the revolutions of the first half of the century around the October Revolution of the Bolsheviks. After the failure of insurrection movements, the “Winter Years” began, and have yet to end.’

David Broder: “Historically Compromised”

‘The Red Brigades who took Moro hostage sought to prevent a reformist solution to Italy’s institutional impasse. Their actions, or at least the anticommunist blowback it produced, did help block the PCI’s path toward power. But while they thought that this would radicalize the Italian political landscape, they were sorely mistaken. The violence of these years ultimately expressed the decline of the extra-parliamentary left. … Moro’s death was the swansong of the postwar “First Republic,” marking the failed reform of the Christian Democratic order. This brought not renewal, but protracted decline and fragmentation. The debris continues to litter the present, in an Italian political system devoid not just of credibility, but of hope.’

“In Just a Week, ‘Nicaragua Changed’ as Protesters Cracked a Leader’s Grip”

“The revolutionary, many Nicaraguans say, is suddenly facing a revolution of his own.”

Daniel Cohn-Bendit & Claus Leggewie: “1968: Power to the Imagination”

“Our solidarity with the national liberation movements was immense. … What we largely ignored, however, was the suppression proceeding from the liberators themselves, once they had seized power.”

Revolutionary states of emergency

“Modern states of emergency follow close on the heels of modern revolutions. They are, per Agamben, ‘a creation,’ ironically, ‘of the democratic-revolutionary tradition and not the absolutist one’ [State of Exception, 5]. Though he does not himself make this point explicitly, we cold consider emergency an instrument that emerges from within the revolution to turn its most radical tendencies back. When a revolutionary government suspends its own constitution, it undermines the constituent politics – that is, the popular power to form a truly egalitarian body politic – that originally precipitated the revolution and which the constitution is supposed to enshrine. Emergency decrees are, in this regard, the counterinsurgent practice par excellence. They circumscribe constituent power withing the sovereign voice” (Ahmed, Archaeology of Babel, 2017, 189).

Paul Quinn-Judge: “The Revolution that Wasn’t”

“Ukraine has for the past two decades been caught in a vicious circle. While Russia attempts to keep the country within its orbit, reformers struggle to change a totally corrupt political system, and the ruling class subverts their efforts.”

“La ZAD: Another End of the World Is Possible”

“The French government announced that it had given up on building a new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL). This decision capped five decades of political, economic, legal, environmental, and personal struggle. … What began as a small protest camp grew into a world-famous space of autonomous experimentation that lasted almost nine years.”