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Showing posts from October, 2016

Against Revolutionary Pessimism and Optimism: Revolutionary Realism

A certain revolutionary pessimism has been enshrined, particularly in the imperialist metropoles, since the collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the victorious pronouncement that capitalism was "the end of history." Even before the rise of the so-called "new world order" this pessimism was becoming normative amongst an academic left jaded with "Stalinism", convinced that barbarism was defeating socialism. We can locate its precedent, for example, in the work of the Frankfurt School where human civilization is perceived (according to the most bleak reading of Adorno and Marcuse) as being attuned to its death drive, where Benjamin's "angel of history" metaphor is blasted from its essay in order to fixate upon the long catastrophe of human history.

Such an attitude, it needs to be said, makes visceral sense. When faced with all the failures of past communist movements, the collapse and fragmentation of a worldwide movement that challenged capitalis…

Review of Esteve Morera's "Gramsci, Materialism, and Philosophy"

I know I hinted at a review of Morera's Gramsci's Historicism but I'm going to break that non-promise and instead review Morera's recent Gramsci, Materialism, and Philosophy. Some background for this decision… First of all, a week after I finished Gramsci's Historicism I met with the author (who was also my former dissertation supervisor) to present him with an advance copy of Continuity and Rupture (since he wrote a lovely endorsement for it) and, because he's such a giving and sweet academic, Morera gave me a free paperback copy of his most recent book that, because of its size and engaging prose, I finished very quickly. Secondly, while it is clear that Gramsci's Historicism is a monumental work on Gramsci, and it is impossible to imagine contemporary Gramscian scholarship without it, the fact that the latter exists because of the former already means that this book has been thoroughly reviewed and absorbed into something that can vaguely and informally …