Category Archives: tragic politics

Lakhdar Ghettas: “The Tunisian revolution seven years on”

“Political transitions following bottom up upheavals are very difficult to navigate in that they bring to the surface all the contradictions that were suppressed by the authoritarian regime.”

Kaveh Ehsani & Arang Keshavarzian: “The Moral Economy of the Iranian Protests”

The Iranian demonstrators share the familiar anxieties produced by global capitalism’s rampant inequalities and environmental destruction. … What makes the demonstrations against malfeasance and the calls for political change and social justice powerful is the fact that the protesters are accusing Iran’s rulers of violating the revolution’s commitment to a moral economy.”

Alexa Clay: “Utopia Inc”

“If today’s communities offer escape from the cult of individualism only to end up being ‘walled gardens’ for a privileged class of bohemians, entrepreneurs or spiritual seekers, then perhaps, for all their material success, they might yet be said to have failed. Whether today’s collaborative experiments will create tentacles into more diverse populations or tackle agendas of social justice and economic inequality remains to be seen.”

Bue Rübner Hansen: “Winter in Catalonia”

“So to say the Catalan independence movement is Quixotic is not to suggest it has nothing to struggle against, but that it does so with ideals that have become abstract and formal, divorced from their material conditions. Behind the epic narrative of cultural and political resistance, Catalan independentism is deeply limited by the political economy, class composition and geopolitical intertwinements of Catalonia.”

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.”

Michael Bustamante & Jennifer Lambe: “In Fidel’s Shadow: Cuban History (and Futures), One Year On”

“The conflation of leader and national epic (or tragedy) dates to the very moment when the Cuban rebels first erupted onto the island’s political stage. …  the Revolution’s chief was the main architect and beneficiary of a rendering of Cuba’s past as deferred deliverance. And plenty of Cubans, at least at the start, were eager to believe.  Cuba’s official history thus yoked a cyclical saga of political failure to a vision of final triumph in the present.”

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

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

 

The history of anticolonial internationalism

Jeffrey James Byrne:  Mecca of Revolution: Algeria, Decolonization, and the Third World Order (Oxford 2016).  “It argues that the Third World movement evolved from a subversive transnational phenomenon in the late-colonial era into a diplomatic collaboration among postcolonial elites to exalt state sovereignty and national authority.”

Understanding the post–Arab Spring world

Asef Bayat: Revolution without Revolutionaries: Making Sense of the Arab Spring (Stanford 2017).  “Setting the 2011 uprisings side by side with the revolutions of the 1970s, particularly the Iranian Revolution, Bayat reveals a profound global shift in the nature of protest: as acceptance of neoliberal policy has spread, radical revolutionary impulses have diminished. Protestors call for reform rather than fundamental transformation.”

“The victory of a revolution is immanent”

“A monument does not commemorate or celebrate something that happened but confides to the ear of the future the persistent sensations that embody the event:  the constantly renewed suffering of men and women, their re-created protestations, their constantly resumed struggle.  Will this all be in vain because suffering is eternal and revolutions do not survive their victory?  But the success of a revolution resides not only in itself, precisely in the vibrations, clinches, and openings it gave to men and women at the moment of its making and that composes in itself a monument that is always in the process of becoming, like those tumuli to which each new traveler adds a stone.  The victory of a revolution is immanent and consists in the new bonds it installs between people, even if these bonds last no longer than the revolution’s fused material and quickly give way to division and betrayal” (Deleuze & Guattari, What is Philosophy? [1991] p. 176-77).