Category Archives: defeat

Susan Faludi: “The Patriarchs are Falling. The Patriarchy is Stronger than Ever.”

“Which leads me to wonder, if we get rid of a handful of Harveys [Weinsteins] while losing essential rights and protections for millions of women, are we really winning this thing? How is this female calamity happening in the midst of the Female Revolution? An answer may lie in a schism that has haunted women’s protest for 150 years.”

For an “affirmative melancholic politics”

Advancing “the conception of an affirmative — as opposed to circuitous, nostalgic, or introspective — melancholic politics” (220), Klaus Mladek and George Edmondson (“A Politics of Melancholia,” in Strathausen, ed.: A Leftist Ontology, 2009) note that, since the early 1990s, “there has been a steady movement on the part of what might be called the poststructuralist left, represented by Derrida, Butler, and Bhabha, … toward a politics of melancholia” (210). They draw on the late Freud who believes that “the ego is constitutively melancholic, a vital defense system … said to ‘revolt’ against the extinction of objects that are unmourned and unmournable” (210). They suggest that, out of an unyielding fidelity to lost objects and values, melancholic militancy rebels against failure, refusing to allow them to sink into oblivion. Thus there may be “an affirmative, even proud dimension to the melancholic state — a dimension that recognizes doom itself as the engine of rebellion” (210).

Jonah Birch & Bhaskar Sunkara discuss “Lessons From the First Red Century”

“For those of us between the two traditions of revolutionary socialism and social democracy, we have no program, no clear alternative to either. Either we choose to fight for gains for workers within the system, while re-stabilizing the system, the path of social democracy, or we choose an insurrectionary path in an era where state legitimacy and other factors makes that seem unrealistic in advanced capitalist countries. The challenge for us today is developing that alternative, the type of strategy and politics that can actually transform the world.”

Chris Maisano: “Politics without Politics”

“Four decades of defeat and marginalization means that a new generation of socialists is now joining a Left in serious need of inspiration and guidance. We would be well served to mine our own tradition’s rich vein of history, theory, and practice, including that of Gramsci himself. The alternative is a politics without politics, the substitution of technique for strategy.”

Benjamin Noys: “Afro-pessimism Reading List” (2017)


Youssef El-Gingihy: “100 years on from the Russian Revolution, could a 21st century revolt bring about the end of capitalism?”

“Since 1917, countless social movements have taken their cue from this momentous uprising, and its lasting impact on the world may yet to be felt fully.”

Richard Youngs: ” What are the meanings behind the worldwide rise in protest?”

“The results of the current cluster of protests have been mixed. Some have succeeded in pushing presidents or corrupt ministers from power, or in getting governments to unblock political, social or economic reforms – like the protests against incumbent presidents in Burkina Faso, Gambia and Senegal, and in Guatemala and Korea. Conversely, some have failed more or less completely in meeting their declared aims and have simply invited harsher repression from governments and a restriction of the right to assembly – like in Bahrain and Cambodia. Probably the most common outcome is for protests to elicit some concessions from governments, but without bringing about profound, underlying change – either to governance patterns, economic relations of power imbalances. Recent revolts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Iceland, Jordan, Moldova and Morocco all won some positive responses from governments but far short of protestors’ demands and without any systemic breakthroughs in political or economic governance.”

Daniel Finn: “Unfinished Business”

“The Bolivarian Revolution went too far for capitalism but not far enough for socialism. … How to keep the wolves from the door, without becoming a wolf yourself — this has always been one of the fundamental questions for governments bent on radical change.”

Raúl Zibechi: “Venezuela: State Power — when the Left is the problem”

“In light of what happened in the region over the past two decades we arrive at a redefinition of the concept of Left: a political force that fights for power, based on populism, to embed their pictures on the institutions and, with years of control over decision-making mechanisms, become a new elite which can displace, negotiate or merge with the previous ones. Or combinations of the three.  The Left is part of the problem, not the solution. … What we do know is that the left as it really exists has become an obstacle to the lives of those majorities they reign over. The right-left polarization is false, it explains almost nothing about what is happening in the world.  But the worst is that the Left has become symmetrical to the right on a key point: its obsession with power.”

William I. Robinson: “Passive Revolution: The Transnational Capitalist Class Unravels Latin America’s Pink Tide”

“The leftist governments in Latin America that swept to power in the early 21st century, known collectively as the Pink Tide, transformed the political landscape in the Americas and inspired popular and revolutionary struggles around the world. The Pink Tide governments came to power on the heels of mass popular resistance to the late 20th century juggernaut of neoliberalism and capitalist globalization in the region. Yet nearly two decades after the turn to the left, the right has resumed power with a vengeance in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Honduras, while the Venezuelan revolution is in deep crisis and the leftist projects in Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Nicaragua and El Salvador have been emptied of much of their socialist pretensions. If this ebbing of the Pink Tide demonstrates the limits of parliamentary changes in the era of global capitalism, it also points to the renewed hegemony of the transnational capitalist class over the region.”