Category Archives: the Left

An interview with China Miéville: “A Strategy for Ruination”

“It’s too late to save, but we might repurpose. Suturing, jerry-rigging, cobbling together. Finding unexpected resources in the muck, using them in new ways. A strategy for ruination.”

Stephen Lovell: “The great error”

Yuri Slezkine’s argument in The House of Government: A saga of the Russian Revolution is that ‘the Bolsheviks were not a party but an apocalyptic sect. In an extended essay on comparative religion …, he puts Russia’s victorious revolutionaries in a long line of millenarians extending back to the ancient Israelites; in their “totalitarian” demands on the individual believer, he suggests, the Bolsheviks are cut from the same cloth as the sixteenth-century Münster Anabaptists and the original “radical fundamentalist”, Jesus Christ.’

Bhaskar Sunkara: “The Few who Won”

“Yet both the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks were wrong in 1917. The Mensheviks’ faith in Russian liberals was misplaced, as were the Bolsheviks’ hopes for world revolution and an easy leap from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom. The Bolsheviks, having seen over ten million killed in a capitalist war, and living in an era of upheaval, can be forgiven. We can also forgive them because they were first. What is less forgivable is that a model built from errors and excesses, forged in the worst of conditions, came to dominate a left living in an unrecognizable world.”

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.”

Scott Nappalos: “Anarchist Social Organization”

“The rise of the right and the incapacity of the institutional left to offer an alternative is pressing the crucial question for our time: what is our strategy in pre-revolutionary times? The revolutionary left is fixated on the ruptures and revolutions of history, and this has done little to prepare us for the present. … Resistance remains largely fragmented, and more often than not abstracted from the struggles of daily life and carried out by a semi-professional activist subculture. The challenge then is where to begin, or more specifically how to move beyond the knowledge, experiences, and groups of the past two decades towards a broader social movement?”

“The First Thing Colleges must Understand about Antifa: What the Word Means”

Definitions of the often-conflated terms “antifa,” “antifascism,” and “black bloc.”

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.”

Theodoros Karyotis: “The Right to the City in an Age of Austerity”

“In Greece, resistance to austerity comprises a mosaic of struggles for a right to the city, conceived as the collective self-determination of everyday life.”

Doug Greene interviewed on “Blanqui’s Politics of Revolution”

“For Blanquism, liberation comes from a small elite conspiracy who act in place of the working class. By contrast, Marxist politics are centered on the self-emancipation of the working class. Marxists believe that the liberation of the workers does not come from saviors, whether benevolent reformers or virtuous conspirators. Whereas Blanqui considered a revolutionary dictatorship to be ruled by a conspiracy because the people were too ignorant to rule on their own behalf, for Marxists the dictatorship of the proletariat is the rule of the workers as a class or democracy for the vast majority.”