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Showing posts from March, 2010

The French Terrors

Apparently the so-called "Reign of Terror" of the French Revolution, where the Jacobins held the aristocrats to account before the Girodin counter-revolutionaries lead the Thermidorean Reaction,  is less acceptable amongst some of my leftist friends than I initially thought.  Obviously I believe, to quote Mao, "cutting off heads changes nothing, the point is to transform the ideas in the heads," but this does not mean that we should see the Jacobin suppression of monarchists and pro-monarchists as the shibboleth of "Terror" it has come to be called.

I have always said that you can usually tell a scholar of European history's political commitments by the way they treat the French Revolution.  If, like Edmund Burke, they dismiss the "Terror" outright without problematizing the fact that it was even called the Terror, then they're usually reactionaries.  Which is why I find it rather odd that some of my friends and comrades would agree with…

Our Petty-Bourgeois Selfishness

When I first encountered Mao’s Combat Liberalism I was just beginning my PhD and identified predominantly with autonomist Marxism (which, despite my problems with it now, still “saved” me from nebulous anarchism).  I was only just beginning to look to Lenin; I still had that ahistorical, Dulles-inspired, and orientalist understanding of Mao.  Maybe he wasn’t as “bad” as western pop culture would have me believe, but he was not someone I was actually interested in examining--either in theory or in practice.

I was at a party primarily attended by anarchists and activist academics who were wary of vanguardists (and were probably post-modernists) when someone produced Mao’s Combat Liberalism on his computer and decided to read parts of it aloud.  But as a joke.  And it was rather funny at the time--it even sparked running jokes that moved through disparate circles of friend about being this or that type of liberal.  It’s still something of an inside left joke to call someone the ninth, si…