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Showing posts from August, 2013

Anti-Communist Memorial Forbids Memory

The government of Canada, which apparently sees itself as humanitarian, is supporting the construction of a public memorial to commemorate the "innocent victims" of communism.  Former minister of immigration (now minister of multiculturalism), Jason Kenney, is a staunch supporter of this memorial; despite the fact that he is an inveterate racist, notable as an immigration minister for being anti-immigrant, he is now a crusader against injustice––just as long as that injustice is called "communism" and has nothing to do with the people whose lives he helped destroy during his tenure as minister of immigration and citizenship.  There are, of course, a number of criticisms that can be levelled at the construction of this anti-communist memorial, most of which have already been made and that Kenney and his reactionary friends in the Conservative government are quite happy to ignore.

The first and most obvious criticism is the fact that Canada is building a memorial to …

Addendum to "The Possibility of Abandoning the Left"

Coincidentally, the day after I finished my recent post on "selling out" was the day that I encountered the trailer for this delightful looking documentary about Brandon Darby.  I had forgotten about Darby, one of the more farcical repetitions of abandonment and collaboration, since I thought his story had run its course five years ago and that he would be relegated to obscurity and a sad life of isolation.  Of course not: he serves as a perfect example of the "tragic" figure of abandonment who, having "grown up", is celebrated by the ruling class for having embraced a more pragmatic view of reality.

Although Informant, the documentary about Darby, has still not emerged from the festival circuit, if the way in which it is being marketed is an accurate representation of its content, then it will be a prime example of the "common sense" ideology that celebrates those who turn their back upon their naive left-wing politics.  I mean, just look at it…

The Possibility of Abandoning the Left

The history of the left is replete with its own abandonment.  Abdications, collaborations, betrayals: ways in which different leftist individuals have "sold out", time and time again.  This possibility is one that every leftist must face; at some point in the future, regardless of what we think now, there is always the terrible potential of rejecting everything that we once stood for.

Past failures have, of course, conditioned this abandonment.  Those who lived through the degeneration of the Soviet Union and Communist China, the collapse of anti-revisionism, the end of large and small world historical radical moments either rejected their politics or continued, often isolated, upholding a politics that many of their former comrades had abandoned.  As for those who embraced rejection: some were forced into positions of collaboration and betrayal due to the onslaught of counter-revolution; some became jaded nihilists.

These large-scale failures aside, abandonment is a potenti…

Dirty Communist Doublespeak

One [non-] concept that I cannot stand is doublespeak.  Used by every liberal who imagines that s/he is being critical by trotting out this term to attack a political claim or discourse s/he finds uncomfortable, doublespeak is a polemical cipher for "I want to appear critical without having to think critically."  So it's a good thing that George Orwell, purveyor of liberal anti-communist pulp and pseudo-intellectual journalism, has gifted liberals with this pseudo-concept.  The fact that nobody who uses this term without irony bothers to question its origin in thought––and thus wonder why the hell some smarmy petty-bourgeois journalist who writes terrible fables about animals is an authoritative source for conceptual terminology––is not entirely surprising… The same people are happy to employ the equally asinine pseudo-concept of "totalitarianism" whenever they see fit.

People who make use of the term doublespeak usually do so in order to dismiss a position the…

Let's Make Communism Hip

As much as we all like to complain about hipsters (including so-called hipsters), hip trends tend to insinuate themselves in every context.  Academia, for example, whose participants imagine themselves beyond the common hipster culture of clothing fashion, is not immune to this problem.  Theory tends to develop in cycles of hipness, and one can chart the development of various journals and institutions––what is being published, what projects are considered worthy, who is getting a job––based on what is in at a given time and place.

Having been a part of academia for a decent amount of time, I've had the opportunity to observe and sometimes dabble in a variety of chic theoretical fashion currents.  And though my general concerns are mostly such that I have doomed myself to being "left behind" by the tides of fashion, there are a few moments where my concerns have happened, luckily or unluckily, to overlap with what happens to be in fashion, or a few years out of fashion, …

Lament for Dialectical Thinking

I know I've said it before (though I can't remember where) but one of the deficiencies of the general anti-capitalist left, a population to which I belong, is its inability to think dialectically.  Even more of a problem is that, amongst marxists, this inability to think dialectically is often disguised as "dialectical"––so much so that there is a long history of one marxist group or individual calling another marxist group or individual "undialectical" for reasons that have nothing to do with dialectical logic.  And the semi-popular tendency of leftish academics calling every set of relational terms "dialectical" tends to produce all manner of confusion.

In an old post, On Dialectical Materialism, I attempted to provide a simple primer, short and to the point, of what it meant to use dialectical logic as a historical materialist.  And while it may indeed be a fact that "dialectical materialism", which has a curious history of being shor…