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Showing posts from October, 2013

Productive Forces Normativity

A solution to the problem of capitalism that lies in a "productive forces" approach remains quite normative.  What I mean, here, is the theory that capitalism will be transcended due to its inability to account for the development of its economy, specifically its "forces of production" (i.e. machines, technologies, etc.) and especially those productive forces that, by themselves, appear to be antithetical to capitalist logic.  This kind of economic/technological determination has been part of anti-capitalist ideology for a very long time; it has even manifested, quite famously, in numerous marxist tendencies.  And even within the dominant marxist tendencies that were primarily concerned with revolutionary agency (i.e. variants of Marxism-Leninism), a productive forces way of seeing reality still reared its determinist head––as should be obvious from the countless speeches of great revolutionaries who, though most probably aiming for polemical force rather than theo…

The Masses are Not Ready?

That the most revolutionary faction of the Canadian masses, what some of us call the "hard core of the proletariat", is not ready for revolution is an ideology perpetuated by those leftists who have no interest in strategizing the overthrow of Canadian capitalism.  Assuming that such an overthrow will happen at some unknown point in the future, due to spontaneous factors beyond our control, the typical and unimaginative assumption is that we must embark on a protracted legal struggle that will lead, through nebulous and pacifist propaganda activities, to some apocalyptic moment of insurrection.


Hence we are supposed to accept a constellation of tactics based on this general strategy, lifted from an uncritical understanding of the "October Road", that are then applied, unconsciously or dogmatically, upon our social context.  Unconsciously because many of those who advocate this stand-offish approach are often ignorant of the historical strategy that is speaking thr…

The Pseudo-secularism of the PQ Charter

I've held off writing about the recent Quebec Charter controversy for a variety of reasons.  First of all, the fact that the majority of my readership is outside of Canada means, on a really asinine blog logic level, that any post about this charter would begin with slight confusion as to what I was talking about.  Secondly, the fact that I tend to blog primarily about issues that are specific to communism would mean that any analysis of the Quebec's Charter might feel like a generally social democratic post, and social democrat bloggers would probably do a better job in this area.  Thirdly, the fact that most progressives who read this blog would understand the racist undercurrents of the charter means that I would be preaching to the converted (joke intended).  And finally, the fact that the PCR-RCP sponsored Partisan has already attacked the charter (here and here) from a communist perspective would render much of what I planned to say redundant.

And yet, despite the possib…

Whatever Happened to Martin Nicolaus?

A little over a month ago, when I was perusing my ragged copy of the Grundrisse, I decided to google the translator/introducer of the official English edition, Martin Nicolaus.  After all, the Grundrisse had made something of an impact on me nearly a decade ago when I was starting my Masters degree as one of the texts that, by re-presenting Marx's project, brought me out of anarchism and into the marxist fold.  Therefore, when I was looking at it again (and laughing with some embarrassment at my younger self's marginalia), I was curious about the man responsible for its translation and thorough introduction.


As it turns out, and much to my surprise, Nicolaus has re-invented himself as a self-help guru.  And no, this is not the website of another Martin Nicolaus; on the aforelinked site's blog, Nicolaus has written various entries about his work as the Grundrisse's translator and his time as a post-hippy marxist.  Am I the only person who finds this shift from an import…

"Proletariat" as Social Class[ification]

Since I discussed the category of massesin a recent post, and argued that it was not synonymous for maoists with the category of proletarian, I felt that it was important to briefly discuss what the latter category means––especially since there appears to be so much confusion and contention these days over its usage.  There is, after all, a prevalent desire to reject the proletariat as a category because: a) it claims to be a scientific categorization and it old-fashioned to talk about revolutionary science; b) it is a french word chosen by Marx and thus is nothing but a semantic way to speak about a general working-class; c) it obscures, in its scientific and semantic employment, the reality of "poor people" and their viscerally lived reality.

But I am not ashamed to refer to historical materialism as a science, and I have little patience for the first criticism which, to my mind, is little more than a rhetorical complaint.  Nor do I care very much about the criticism regar…

Shut-up About the "Me" Generation Already

Due to a popular but nauseating article about "Generation Y" and a witty but deserved rejoinder, in the past month and a half I have been thinking about this common sense presupposition that the North American and Western European young adult population are a bunch of whining, entitled brats.  Obviously I don't believe in this assumption, which is argued with hipster irony by the first aforelinked article, but I can also not deny that it is a popular axiom that has become, at least in some circles, an unquestioned dogma.  That is, the supposed "generation" that begins in 1979 and terminates in the early 1990s is a generation of selfish near-do-wells who are only having problems because of the belief in their especial identity; they would do better to accept, as apparently previously generations have, that they are not the centre of the universe and just humbly adapt to reality.

In some ways I think about this assumption, or at least some version of it, every ye…