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Showing posts from September, 2013

"What is a Theoretical Terrain?" [PDF download]

Based on some emails I've received regarding previous posts where I have talked about the practice of philosophy, and used terms such as theoretical terrain, I have decided to post a draft PDF fragment of an essay that might or might not explain this problematic.  This draft was written while I was working on a manuscript for a [still incomplete] book about what it means to practice philosophy as a marxist.  Originally it was intended to be part of a chapter in this book but, deciding it was too fragmentary, I edited out of the book draft and replaced it with something that was much more concise and less metaphorically abstract.  For the past year and a half I have tried to think of a way to reincorporate it with a book in question but have continuously found it out of step with the narrative tone.  Although I might still find a way to force this reincorporation, at the moment it is still far too abstruse to function within that manuscript as it has developed without a substantial…

The Masses

For some reason, because we maoists tend to speak of the category of masses, there is often a rather bizarre assumption that, simply by using this category, we are liquidating class categories so as to replace the antagonistic contradiction of bourgeois-proletariat with some amorphous concept of "masses".  Ortho-Trotskyists tend to make this complaint, certain that marxism has been violated as soon as maoists babble on about "the masses" and the "mass-line" and this category that is supposedly meant to replace the class contradiction that determines capitalism.  Indeed, two years ago a would-be critic of maoism made a similar point in a straw-personing of maoism that resulted in a rather hostile post on my part.

The truth, however, is that we maoists are not interested in getting rid of class concepts in favour of some nebulous category of masses––we did not adapt the USAmerican "tired/poor/hungry masses" platitude as a political axiom.  Nor is…

Maoist (re)Appropriations of Gramsci (promotion and discussion of Amil K.'s "Towards the War of Position")

In lieu of producing a completely original post, and in order to prevent the month from going by without much activity on this blog, I'm resorting to the tried and true blogger tactic of referring to other online posts/documents.  Specifically, I want to promote and discuss a document written by the Revolutionary Initiative's Amil K. entitled Towards the War of Position: Gramsci in Continuity and Rupture with Marxism-Leninism.  Those unfamiliar with this recent document, but who are interested in the subject matter of this blog (or, at the very least, are interested in Gramsci) should read this essay which is only the first part of a longer document, the second part of which will be offered, according to the Revolutionary Initiative website, in early 2014.

Amil K.'s essay is a reading of some of Antonio Gramsci's key ideas through the lens of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, particularly Gramsci's concept of "war of position", although other connected and signifi…

Let's Stop Being Assholes

Why is it that so many of us leftists are raging assholes?  If we really want to win the masses over to our line, you would think that we would learn how to behave properly amongst the masses rather than coming across as self-righteous shits who prefer to yell at each other and sanctimoniously declare the purity of our politics.  Earlier, I joked about making communism hip––perhaps I should have added that we need to make it hip without the stereotypical "hipster" arrogance, thus reversing the leftist arrogance that persists without any foundational hipness.

Clearly online sites of discussion and debate tend to amplify the asshole behaviour amongst leftists.  I know that I've found myself embroiled in online arguments that have increased my jerk factor (this is one of the reasons that, over the summer, I've tried my best to limit my internet engagement), and I am pretty sure that the normative internet leftist––that is, the communist/anarchist whose politics are limi…

On Critique of Identity Politics (and the inability to read)

One of my blogging pet peeves is the inability of people to read.  This is not a complaint about someone's possible illiteracy, because I understand the limitations to comprehension that the accessibility of education causes, but about the self-proclaimed literate crowd of smug and satisfied internet experts who feel that, after reading a paragraph quickly, they can pipe in with comments or complaints that demonstrate they haven't even read even that paragraph very well.  In many ways this is a problem of the medium, and I would be lying if I pretended that I was not also guilty of quick-reading blog posts and internet articles (there is so bloody much!) and sometimes putting my proverbial foot in my suddenly ignorant mouth.

Still, the innumerable hasty and inaccurate readings get on my nerves.  First of all, there are the readings that obviously misinterpret what was written.  Then, and this is more of a problem, there are the readings that demonstrate an inability to underst…

Syria and "Hitchensification"

After two years, the "Arab Spring" discourse has reached its nadir.  Empty of anything except for the recognition that rebellion is justified (which is correct), it was incapable of asking the deeper questions that anti-imperialists, and especially marxists, are required to ask whenever we are confronted with spontaneous uprisings: what is required for an uprising to pass from rebellion to revolution, what can transform a legitimate rebellion to one that is manipulated by the forces of reaction, and, above all, when and how are rebellions conditioned by the primary global contradiction of imperialism against the oppressed masses?

Following the mass uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, we were presented with rebellions in Libya and Syria and, because they fit with the general Arab Spring discourse they caused confusion for those who were not asking the difficult questions.  Hence, the moment a NATO no-fly zone on behalf of the rebels in Libya was enacted, some leftists committed t…