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Showing posts from August, 2012

"Atheism and Theism" is not a Class Contradiction

Recently, EDB, comrade blogger of  The Fivefold Path , wrote an insightful post about controversies within the New Atheist movement.  Her commentary on blog atheist Jen McCreight's account of chauvinism within this movement explained what so many of us leftists have known, for quite a while, about the inherent contradictions of this movement: that it is a club primarily for privileged pro-imperialist petty bourgeois males who imagine that they're subversive for rejecting God while, at the same time, accepting everything capitalist-imperialist society has socialized them into believing is holy.  EDB's article, along with the McCreight article she was referencing, got me thinking about the long-standing [non-]issue of atheism and communism.  Moreover, it made me again think through the reasons why Marx and Engels, who did not believe in God or any non-materialist account of reality, at the same time rejected atheism  as a viable political project. As many of my readers ar

Nationalism and Internationalism

Let's begin with a dialectical tension: the proletariat, being an international class, has no nation; at the same time the proletariat is everywhere embedded in nations––this is because nations exist.  To be more precise, capitalism produces a global situation where the proletariat everywhere shares a common destiny (it is an international working class capable of uniting against international capitalism), and yet the proletariat emerges in concrete situations of nations, and nations that are sometimes parasitical on other nations, because global capitalism is also not a one world state but, rather, multiple states––some of which are imperialist, some of which are settler states, some of which are peripheral, and many of which share the previously mentioned characteristics.  So the proletariat, on one hand, should move towards a position of unity with its counterparts throughout the world but, on the other hand, cannot escape the fact that it is embedded in very concrete circumstan

Two Sides of Vacuous Anti-Imperialism

Over a year ago I complained about the false anti-imperialism that was being used to defend the NATO interventions in Libya.  At the time, I argued that this was due to a failure to understand imperialism  but assumed that those who made these arguments (then, people such as Gilbert Achcar and Jean-Luc Nancy) would be quickly relegated to obscurity, go the way of Christopher Hitchens, or hopefully recant in a year's time when imperialism consolidated its aims in those areas that these very uncritical "leftists" were woefully misunderstanding.  And though it is clear that the majority of the left has either dismissed or chastised these pseudo anti-imperialists as cruise missile socialists , they still continue to babble on about NATO as some sort of "lesser evil" that is supposedly supporting organic freedom movements in Libya and Syria. Internet leftists such as Pham Binh and Louis Proyect, for example, have continued to endorse this pro-imperialist lefti

"Dividing the Working Class"?

The marxist analysis that explains the existence of  x  oppression as merely an ideology promoted by capitalism to "divide the working class" is an analysis I have always found extremely crude and theoretically useless.  Usually this analysis is the result of a class essentialism that, in its effort to foreground class struggle, ends up explaining oppressions as supposedly outside of the proletariat-bourgeois contradiction (i.e. racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.) and thus imported  by a ruling class conspiracy.  In the entry linked above, as well as other similar entries, I have tried to explain how to understand other oppressions in a manner that does not simply treat them as an imported ideology (but instead attempts to understand them in a historical manner that connects with class composition) so I'm not going to retread old ground here.  Rather, I'm interested in discussing the larger problems that have led me to be deeply dissatisfied with this "dividing th

Pause For A Moment: yet again, what I'm all about…

Based on the odd comments and/or personal emails I've received from new readers about this blog, I figure that I should take the time to explain something about the general nature of MLM Mayhem  that might not, at first glance, be obvious.  It seems that, at some random moment in the past year when my readership quadrupled (for reasons I still can't understand), a small population of my new readership is either curious or bemused as to what this blog is about aside from being marxist-leninist-maoist in tone. For example, there are a few readers who seem to be expecting robust posts on political economy and are a little confused when they encounter numerous posts that, as at least one commenter complained, seem to be more about an interior critique of the general left. First of all, to extrapolate on my About  page, this is partially a site where aborted academic labour is relegated.  As a semi-employed academic I spend a lot of time engaging with ideas, often writing journal

There is No Such Thing as a "Fourth International"

All talk of some supposed "Fourth International" has always annoyed me, even before I gravitated towards the maoist realm of revolutionary communism.  This annoyance has less to do with my feelings about Trotskyism and more to do with rationality.  Look: you can't call yourself an International  if your "internationalism" is about as international as a successful academic conference.  And you especially can't call yourself an International when there's about fifteen competing "Fourth Internationals", all led by sectarian groups who think they're the legitimate heirs to this bullshit venture. Anyone who thinks that there is such a thing as a legitimate "Fourth International" really needs to stop and consider history in a rational manner for more than one minute.  Such a consideration would make them realize that this supposed "International" suffered from two primary flaws at the moment of its inception: a) the fact

Comrades, can we stop reviewing Batman already?

What is up with all of these leftist reviews of the new Batman movie?  I could be remembering things wrong, but I cannot recall the previous two Christopher Nolan Batman films generating as much fascination amongst lefty film critics as The Dark Knight Rises .  It seems like there has been a new critical review of this movie every week since its release.  First there were all those reviews that complained that it was an attack on the #occupy movement.  Then, perhaps realizing that the screenplay was completed and the movie entered pre-production before #occupy , some reviewers soberly decided (and I felt that this, at least, was correct and interesting) the movie was more of a general representation of ruling class angst over possible revolutionary sentiments amongst the masses.   The reviews did not stop here, however, because every internet leftist wanted to write about Batman ––more than we even wanted to write about Avatar it seems––and soon lefty websites and blogs were cl

Anecdotes and Memory as Class Struggle

Nebulous anecdotes are always treated as evidence when it comes to the supposed evils of communism: "I know someone who lived under a communist regime, they had a horrible time, and so you are naive  for even bothering to challenge cold-war dogma."  Well I've met some people who lived through the fall of these regimes who have a different perspective, who did not necessarily have a horrible time until, say, perestroika, but apparently their stories don't count.  More importantly, I know a lot of people who are living under capitalist regimes and having a horrible time but I don't rely on their anecdotes as proof of capitalism's vileness.  This is because anecdotes are generally useless when it comes to critical thinking: it needs to be said that anecdotal "evidence" has never counted, and never will count, as scientific or logical evidence. From the always funny Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal There is a reason that any historical text that

Hang the Last Bureaucrat?

It seems entirely natural to despise bureaucracy and compare bureaucrats to capitalists, imagining that an anti-capitalist politics is also synonymous with anti-bureaucracy.  In order for capitalism to function, after all, a vast bureaucracy is required––the rational distribution of exploitation, the maintenance of surplus, accumulation, militarism, and all of the institutional departments required for the machinery of capitalism to keep chugging along.  From the smallest to the largest site of exploitation, some form of bureaucracy is necessary to manage value.  The state is renowned for the level of bureaucracy it allows to develop.  All capitalist institutions, to a greater or lesser degree, require bureaucratic management; the larger the institution, the more arcane its bureaucracy. And so it's entirely too easy to despise this bureaucracy and feel that this spite is politically motivated.  Just the other day, for example, I was forced to [yet again] deal with the overly byza