Category Archives: founding

“Worldmaking after Empire”: Adom Getachew interviewed on Jacobin Radio

“The story of how decolonization struggles across the Black Atlantic tried to not only cast off European rule but also to remake the entire world system.  An October 2019 conversation.”

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

“The Root of Haiti’s Misery: Reparations to Enslavers” (ΝΥ Times)

“In 1791, enslaved Haitians did the seemingly impossible. They ousted their French masters and founded a nation. But France made generations of Haitians pay for their freedom — in cash.”

Brian Meeks: “How a Revolution on the Tiny Island of Grenada Shook the World”

Revolutions are, inevitably, fraught periods of great danger and uncertainty. At their moment of triumph, the old order is temporarily prostrate, but there remains great hostility to the new regime both internally and internationally. The chances of initial consolidation and success are slim, and the very act of asserting authority in order to survive becomes the definitive and often negative signature of revolution.”

Adom Getachew interviewed on “The Anti-Colonial Revolution”

Radical post-colonial leaders like Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere didn’t just want independence — they wanted to break the political and economic order that kept the Global South in subjugation.”

Luam Kidane: “Provocations to rupture and the power to act”

Movements made up of cultural producers and trade unionists, farmers and feminists are calling us to action through the work that they do. Mutual aid initiatives, land occupations and people’s assemblies are setting an example of how movement building practices can help us to break out of the marginalizing and oppressive confines imposed by the neoliberal system.”

Julie Gibbings: “Unfinished Revolutions and the Politics of Postponement in Guatemala”

“For many Guatemalans, the democratic project of 1944-54 remains unfinished. Historical memories of 1944 continue to offer hope to many Guatemalans who long for a democratic revolution that would overturn the political bankruptcy of the Guatemalan state and inaugurate a more just and inclusive society.  What a new democratic revolution might mean, however, is widely debated.”

Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin interviewed on “Ungovernable”

“We as activists, as organizers, have to make ourselves and our communities ungovernable. I know you’ve heard that term before. That means what it says. We have to make it so that we create a new kind of political system of our own, whether it’s dual power or revolutionary direct democracy, whatever we want to call it in this period. We need to create that kind of movement, a mass anti-fascist movement on one hand. And on the other hand, we need to have the capacity on a mass scale to build a community-based mass economic survival tendency, based on cooperatives in the ghetto for housing the poor, rebuilding the cities, and taking care of the material needs of the poor.”

Stacy Schiff: “The Boston Tea Party Was More Than That. It Was a Riot.”

“We do not care for the revolutionary spirit to survive the revolution. The revolution, however, goes nowhere without it.”