Category Archives: melancholy

Owen Holland: “‘What we believe in waits latent forever through all the continents’: The Paris Commune and the Poetics of Martyrdom in the Fin de Siècle Socialist Print Culture”

“The problem of how to relate to, and retrospectively valorise, the Commune’s failure created a tension in the socialist periodical press between the motivational need to celebrate such a heroic defeat, in order to justify sacrifices both past and present, and the evaluative need critically to assess the reasons that underlay the defeat.”

Marta Figlerowicz: “The Disillusionment of Post-Soviet Europe”

A review of Aftershock: A Journey into Eastern Europe’s Broken Dreams (2017) by John Feffer

Andrew Culp interviewed “On Giving up on this World”

‘What might it mean, Culp asks, to “give up on all the reasons given for saving this world?” In response, this interview explores the pathways offered by a “dark” Deleuze, a politics of cruelty, Afro-Pessimism, partisan knowledges, destituent power, and tactics of escape.’

Despina Lalaki: “Charting Syriza’s swift rise and fall”

“Profoundly disappointed, not merely with the capitulation of the government but also its alienation from the party and the movements, Helena Sheehan [in The Syriza Wave: Surging and Crashing with the Greek Left (2016)] evaluates through her interviewees and discussants some of Syriza’s fault lines as well as the prospects of the Left’s recomposition, especially after the break of the left wing of Syriza and the large exodus of dissidents both from the government and the party.”

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.”

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).

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.”

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

https://www.academia.edu/20191147/Afro-pessimism_Reading_List

 

Nathan Heller: “Is there any Point to Protesting?”

“Still, what has protest done for us lately? Smartphones and social media are supposed to have made organizing easier, and activists today speak more about numbers and reach than about lasting results. Is protest a productive use of our political attention? Or is it just a bit of social theatre we perform to make ourselves feel virtuous, useful, and in the right?”