Archive | February, 2013

Book Review: Voline’s 1917

25 Feb

[Blogger’s note: I neglected to mention that 1917 is part of a much larger work entitled The Unknown Revolution, which I likewise commend to your attention.]

For some time now I have been trying to convince my fellow anti-capitalists (to little avail) of the need to unite the Left. The authoritarian and libertarian wings of the workers’ movement have been pelting each other with recriminations, often bitter, since the feud between Marx and Bakunin detonated the International. The span has widened, driven less by further theoretical divergence than by the logic of subsequent events and an ever-expanding list of grievances. The longer the rift persists, the more firmly rooted it becomes, retarding our progress with its obtrusive presence and deepening all the while from neglect.

Most frustrating of all, as Orwell pointed out in Homage to Catalonia, the ideological ground between authoritarian and libertarian socialism is precariously narrow and unobstructed, yet it remains untraversed. One might hope that as a united Left we could review the modern history of social revolution and come to some agreement, but this has not occurred, quite the opposite. Each camp has for so long been insisting upon its analysis and strategy as the correct one, that even the most conspicuous theoretical problems are denied or attributed to sabotage or unfavorable circumstance (as though theory and practice were incommensurable).

It would be an absurdly optimistic to suggest that Voline may resolve the impasse, but nothing I have read exposes the theoretical fault lines of Leftist discourse to more light than this book.

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Lecture Review: Some Straight Talk On The Bolivarian Revolutions In Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela By Jeffrey Webber And Mike Gonzalez

3 Feb

I believed in Chavez and Morales. I was excited about them, even wrote about them.

I was wrong.

I was a fool.

I apologize.

But eventually I did come to my senses. And when I did I took a good deal of abuse when I suggested that the attempted assassination of the pig in Quito was a staged event. People want to believe in Chavez, Morales, and Correa, but they are not on our side folks. Even believers in authoritarian socialism must now concede that that is not what is happening in South America.

If you are interested in South America, history, or radical politics, don’t miss this. Webber and Gonzalez repeatedly hit the nail right on its head. [I recommend Webber’s book, also Revolution as Spectacle, Rafael Uzcategui’s book on Chavismo.]

There is a follow-up discussion to this video which can be found on you tube, but it is not nearly as interesting.

Lecture Review: What Is The State? Ask Gerry Conlan

3 Feb

Here’s a good look at its underbelly. Warning: This is difficult to listen to.

The introducer’s solemnity, while entirely justified and appropriate, is fawning and oppressive nonetheless. Don’t be put off, Conlan’s recounting of his ordeal is worth the wait, numbing as it is.