Category Archives: tragic politics

Jackson Lears: “Aquarius Rising”

“Certain years acquire an almost numinous quality in collective memory—1789, 1861, 1914. One of the more recent additions to the list is 1968. Its fiftieth anniversary has brought a flood of attempts to recapture it—local, national, and transnational histories, anthologies, memoirs, even performance art and musical theater.”  Review essay on several books.

“The Failure of Egypt’s Revolution”

Steve Negus reviews Into the Hands of Soldiers: Freedom and Chaos in Egypt and the Middle East by David D. Kirkpatrick (2018)

“Where Movements Go to Die: The Democrats are Draining the Resistance’s Life”

“The Democrats plan to attach themselves, tick-like, to a political movement that was born from resistance. They’ll drain it of its lifeblood and infect it with a debilitating disease, rendering the movement toothless, tired, and depleted. It’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Susan Buck-Morss: “Global Civil War: Solidarity by Proxy” (video)

“In the twenty-first century any world war is a civil war, and any civil war affects the world. Does this mean the end of the Age of Revolutions, or a whole new understanding of what revolution entails?”

“The Fate of the People’s War”: An Interview with CP of the Philippines founder José Mariá Sison

The revolutionary movement can be captured within the frame of the UN — dismantled, demobilized, and reintegrated. Even when “good” agreements with regards to social and economic matters [appear] to empower people, they are not implemented, but you conclude the peace agreement by signing the agreement to dismantle and decommission the people’s army.’

Todd Gitlin: “The Missing Music of the Left “

‘If there are to be global goals, goals that cross boundaries to inspire the multitudes, where might they be found? … So should idealists across borders persist in seeking the universalist grail—the moral equivalent of “The Internationale”? Some settle for anti-fascism; others strive to resurrect the lost traditions of anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism; a few scavenge among the ruins of communism. Nearly three decades after the collapse of the communist phantasm, the left has still not recovered its voice, let alone composed a melody you can’t get out of your head.’

Jonah Birch: “How Beautiful It Was”

“For a few brief weeks in France [in 1968], not just a government but an entire system was called into question.”

Jonathan Neale: “Remembering the Saur Revolution”

“The idea that Communism or socialism required a dictatorship by a minority was widely accepted among radicals in the 1960s and 1970s. … The Afghan Communists were simply doing what the Left globally knew had to be done if they really wanted to change the world. Their tragedy is, in an acute and terrible form, the same one replicated elsewhere.”

Éric Alliez & Maurizio Lazzarato: “Clausewitz and la pensée 68”

‘The new theory of war and power was not able to confront and draw on real political experiments, since between the end of the 1970s and the early 1980s, the radicalization that resulted from ’68 (“Rampant May”) faded, weakened, and finally collapsed in the repetition of the modalities of civil war codified by the revolutions of the first half of the century around the October Revolution of the Bolsheviks. After the failure of insurrection movements, the “Winter Years” began, and have yet to end.’

David Broder: “Historically Compromised”

‘The Red Brigades who took Moro hostage sought to prevent a reformist solution to Italy’s institutional impasse. Their actions, or at least the anticommunist blowback it produced, did help block the PCI’s path toward power. But while they thought that this would radicalize the Italian political landscape, they were sorely mistaken. The violence of these years ultimately expressed the decline of the extra-parliamentary left. … Moro’s death was the swansong of the postwar “First Republic,” marking the failed reform of the Christian Democratic order. This brought not renewal, but protracted decline and fragmentation. The debris continues to litter the present, in an Italian political system devoid not just of credibility, but of hope.’