Category Archives: governance

“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.”

Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall: “Thoroughly Modern Maxie: Robespierre’s Relevance for Democracy Today”

“But Robespierre’s challenge remains relevant today: what can we do now, in the face of furious backlash from those who oppose #BlackLivesMatter, feminism, and other social movements, to confront those who would rather deform democracy than see society become more just and egalitarian?”

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.”

Miquel Vila: “Why Catalonia Failed”

Spanish authorities have recognized the continuing threat to state sovereignty. They have closely monitored the pro-independence movement and Catalan politicians since 2017. The events following the referendum left a scar on the activists and sympathizers of independence. Sympathy for civil disobedience like that seen in 2019 continues to rise. While Madrid has disciplined Catalonia’s politicians, the new generation of movement leaders is growing up with more radical, confrontational tactics and less faith in the electoral process.

Ronan Burtenshaw: “The Irish Chartist who Led Britain Towards Revolution”

The Chartist movement made one last heave—inspired by revolution in Paris—during 1848, as another petition was drawn up to be presented to parliament. But, facing enormous police mobilisation, the mass demonstration they organised became a mass meeting in Kennington Common, and although the images from the day remain impressive, it marked the end of the movement as a force.”

“Nicaragua Descends Into Autocratic Rule as Ortega Crushes Dissent”

“Daniel Ortega became a hero in Nicaragua for helping overthrow a notorious dictator. Now, 40 years later, he has become the kind of authoritarian leader he once fought against.  After methodically choking off competition and dissent, Mr. Ortega has all but ensured his victory in presidential elections on Sunday, representing a turn toward an openly dictatorial model that could set an example for other leaders across Latin America.”

Raoul Vaneigem: “Back to Basics: Theses on and Observations about the Struggle in France”

“It is up to us to learn to be reborn in the rebirth of the world.”

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.”