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MLM Mayhem Year In Review [2017 Edition]

Well here it is again, as my New Year semester contract begins, the MLM Mayhem line-up of the most popular posts of the past year. Considering I've lacked the time and energy to post regularly, and my traffic has dipped here and there because of this, I can at least get at least one new post simply listing what entries did the best in the past year of 2017. So here's the round-up:

10. Guest Post: Narratives of Exclusion by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Faithful readers of this blog and my cultural blog, Achilles Powder & Lead, should be long aware that I'm an avid SFF reader and that one of my favourite contemporary authors is Benjanun Sriduangkaew. Close to the release of her excellent novella Winterglass at the beginning of December, Sriduangkaew embarked on a blog tour and I was more than happy to loan her the blog space to write about her narrative choices designed to push the margin to the centre. (Also, as most of you are aware, I have a book coming out in collaboration with Sriduangkaew, Methods Devour Themselves, in Summer 2018.)

9. Semiotext(e) Plays the Sun City of Los Angeles

When a radical publisher breaks a community boycott against gentrification and art-washing, shits on the community organizers and screeches "censorship", and then tries to use its past credentials to defend this decision, it is extremely disappointing. This was what happened when Chris Krauss decided, despite activists questioning her decision, to support Boyle Heights gentrifiers in the launch of her biography of Kathy Acker. I have a deep love of Kathy Acker, I used to have respect for Krauss and Semiotext(e), but this fiasco was extremely disappointing. Krauss and Semiotext(e) sounded like Paul Simon defending his decision to play Sun City… Or, more recently, Nick Cave deciding to ignore the BDS movement aimed at Israel.

8. Class Struggle in the Terrain of Theory

Something I wrote in the wake of Drexel University's decision to suspend George Ciccariello-Maher in the wake of reactionary pressure, about how sites of knowledge production needed to be understood as battle grounds and how liberal arguments of free speech acceded ground to fascists. More prescient now, sadly, that George was forced to abdicate this struggle due to concern over his family's safety.

7. The Argument of Continuity & Rupture

A post explaining to those nay-sayers who hadn't bothered to read Continuity and Rupture but still decided to hate it what its general argument was, how it could not be dismissed if it wasn't understood, and the general vicissitudes of that book. Hey, if you haven't already, buy Continuity and Rupture! It might be the most rigorous thing I ever publish.

6. On Attempts to Downplay Homegrown Fascism

Robin Philpot, racist apologist who hides his racism behind pseudo "left" Quebecois nationalism, spit on the victims of an Islamophobic attack in Quebec by claiming that it was an aberration, that Quebec cultural nationalists were not white nationalists. For some reason there are left periodicals and book publishers who still give this guy space. Shame on Counterpunch for publishing his crypto-fascist garbage.

5. Arguments from Authority are Not Scientific

One of my many complaints about dogmatism within the left. I crank out like––what?––two to three articles on this each year. This rant (yes it was a rant, apologies) concerned the weird tendency of anti-capitalists, particularly those in the ML/MLM milieux, to simply cite the words of important revolutionaries rather than make rigorous arguments as these important revolutionaries did. Lenin didn't just cite Marx, after all, and when he did he used those references as part of a rigorous argument. We need to do the same.

4. The Magical Thinking of the US Liberal Establishment

About the refusal of the Democrats to understand their loss to Trump as a deficiency of the US electoral system, as the poverty of the politics of their circus, but instead to waste their energy on tinfoil hat conspiracy theories. It's ongoing, unfortunately, and now we're being told that BLM and Indigenous resistance to the Dakota Pipeline is a Russian conspiracy.

3. Avoid the Left Internet Expert

This one landed me in some hot water on Twitter because I complained that people who elected themselves "experts" without any organizational or academic training––who designated themselves experts by pure individual fiat––should be summarily dismissed. People got mad that I defended academic training, even though I said organizational training was superior, because of that lovely undercurrent of anti-intellectualism that affects some factions of the left. Yeah I'm more than happy to say that my rigorous doctoral training makes me able to better understand Marxist theory than some guy living in a basement who only reads theory on wiki pages, while at the same time saying that I have the most to learn (as I have) from active proletarian organizers in a mass movement who have no academic credentials. What's the problem here?

2. Line Struggle in the PCR-RCP

Damn I wish this one wasn't that popular. The splinter of the Montreal cell of the PCR-RCP caused me a lot of stress in 2017. Some comrades who I deeply respected, who I worked with for years, made the ugly decision to cause the organization that I support significant trauma and in an unprincipled manner. The disinformation they spread in their leaving, amplified by the fact that they retained the main website by changing the codes and locking the rest of the country out, has been hell to combat especially since it caused some more naive comrades outside of Canada to believe outright falsifications. I truly wish this wound will be sutured, especially considering that the organization was growing exponentially when this minority splinter happened.

1. The Alt-Right Was Not A Response to Some "Alt-Left"

With the emergence of new fascist forces there is also an emergence, amongst the liberals who just want to maintain business as usual, the discourse that these forces are best combatted by debate and that they are the same as an "extreme left". The horseshoe theory has always been garbage, a relic from the Cold War, and yet some people on the "left" like to regurgitate it as doctrine. Fuck that doctrine, I say, and let's understand why fascism is emerging now and how it has nothing to do with any left attitude whatsoever.