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Showing posts from April, 2012

On Combat Liberalism [part 3]

As promised, I am going to conclude my series on Mao's Combat Liberalism .  The first entry discussed the first five examples of liberal behaviour; the second discussed examples six through eight.  This concluding entry, then, will examine the final three examples.  Although I will probably return to this topic of communist behaviour in the future, this will be the final entry in this specific series. Indeed, I think it must be said that communist behaviour, as briefly discussed in this small essay by Mao, is something that should concern everyone who would call themselves "communist" even if they do not belong to the historical trajectory of marxism-leninism-maoism.  For while Maoism has more of a theoretical history in examining the behaviour of communist cadre (after all, part of its moment of rupture/continuity is the fact that it grasps how ideological socialization produces generations of people who, even under socialism, might behave in a bourgeois manner a

Breivik is Not "Insane" but a Logical Product of Racist Social Relations

[I'm taking a brief break from the Combat Liberalism series to post this, but rest assured!  I shall return to the third and final part of that series in the next post.] In his essay Racism and Culture , Frantz Fanon remarked that, in societies where racism has become incorporated into the social relations of the mode of production, there is a tendency amongst the liberal members of these societies to regard racism "as a mental quirk, as a psychological flaw."  Rather than grasp the fact that unapologetic racists in a culture where racist relations have become institutionalized––implicit norms rather than explicit attributes that we would historically understand as virulently racist––are simply acting according to structural logic, we would rather dismiss them as aberrant.  "If in England, in Belgium, or in France, despite the democratic principles affirmed by these respective nations," Fanon wrote, "there are still racists, it is these racists who, in op

On Combat Liberalism [part 2]

Continuing from the last post , I'm following up on a promise made in an entry I logged two years and a month ago.  And though my audience in 2010 was barely a tenth of what is now, and it is doubtful that anyone now is going back and reading those old posts, some of recent concerns have caused me to follow up on that long delayed promise.  Indeed, I doubt anyone who read that old post cared enough about my blog to be upset that I never delivered on that promise.  Judging from the quality of my posts back then–– along with my uncreative URL and blog name I'm still stuck with, as well as that hideous old format I kept up until the end of 2011––apparently I didn't care enough about my blog either.  (The message in all of this is please don't waste your time reading through the posts of 2009 and early 2010.) Before proceeding to the other examples of liberal behaviour provided by Mao, however, I have decided that, after reading through my last post, it might be worthwhil

On Combat Liberalism [part 1]

Around two years ago, I wrote a post called Our Petty-Bourgeois Selfishness which was meant to serve as an introduction to a small series based around Mao's Combat Liberalism .  Unfortunately, perhaps due to my own liberalism, I failed to produce such a series.  Recently, however, I was reminded of that post and its promise when I wrote about the general failure, amongst the left, to be self-critical .  So now I'm going to try and deliver on the promised series, though maybe not in the way I originally intended, and we'll see how far I get. It seems to me that the instances of individual liberal behaviour described in  Combat Liberalism  tends to fall into two general categories.  The first is the liberal behaviour produced by general arrogance, the petty-bourgeois selfishness that, according to the dominant ideology of liberal capitalism, is natural and part of what it means to be human.  The second is the liberal behaviour produced by an unwillingness to confront th

Social Class and My Cognitive Disability

The other night, when my sister-in-law was visiting, I ended up in an interesting discussion regarding my auditory processing disorder ––a cognitive disability with which I was diagnosed when I was in first grade.  This disability has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, but due to the early diagnosis and help I received, and thus the medical attention I received and the coping mechanisms I was able to develop from a very young age, is not as traumatic and debilitating as it might have otherwise been.  And I rarely talk about this disability––partially because, due to a general state of ableism, I find it irrationally embarrassing, but mainly because, as I will argue below, my class position and social privilege is such that I have been allowed, more or less, to escape its more negative affects. Since my sister-in-law is almost finished her audiology degree, and APD is a cognitive disability that exists somewhere between the auditory and the neurological, she was inter

On the Failure to be Self-Critical

I have often been concerned with how communists should conduct themselves amongst the masses.  Some time ago I complained about that pernicious activist attitude to appear " more radical than thou " which is a common amongst the activist left.  That is, more experienced activists will work hard to cultivate an aura of radicalism, and work even harder to sneer at and belittle less experienced activists who are only beginning to learn that capitalism needs to go.  In this context, individuals will attempt to commodify themselves, competing to become the most important activist.  Rather than accept that becoming a revolutionary is a process, and that all of us require constant education and re-education , so many of us would rather pretend that we have already solved every question and are beyond criticism. Ironically, those who demonstrate this authoritarian attitude are most often self-satisfied anarchists (a contradiction which helped push me away from my youthful anarchism

Descent into the Reddit Abyss

Recently, I decided to involve myself in the Reddit community.  For those who don't know, reddit is a site where people can post links or comment and discuss/debate the postings and it is fragmented along various "subreddits" dedicated to a variety of topics.  Initially, when I first learned of Reddit, I was disinterested in wasting time posting and debating because the subreddit dedicated to socialism, the supposed lefty forum where communists were welcome, was generally a liberal cesspit filled with confused wind-bags yammering on about "free speech" and attacking almost everything that was actually progressive. (Which was why, months back, I jokingly argued that the socialism subreddit, or /r/socialism, should consider renaming itself /r/liberalism .)  But then communist bloggers I knew and respected became moderators of the communism subreddit  and, because of the discussion community they were building through principled and disciplined moderation, I chose

The Party as Process

When it comes to the proposition of the revolutionary vanguard party, the anti-capitalist left falls into two general camps: those who reject the entire notion, and those who believe it is still a worthwhile concept.  Within these two camps there are significant variations, but it important to note that the concept itself is divisive. The first camp is further divided between those who think that the entire notion of a party vanguard was worthless to begin with, and those who possess a slightly more nuanced view and who might argue, to a greater or lesser degree, for the historically embedded worth of the concept.  So we have a group that might be broadly defined as anarchist  who, in my opinion, promote an improper definition of "vanguard": rather than trying to wrap their minds around the idea of an "advanced guard", they simply and inaccurately define it as "authoritarianism" (once I made a bad joke about this) and sometimes, due to this conflatio

Rant on Sectarianism and Principles

As regular readers of this blog are aware, I have often discussed the difference between possessing coherent political principles and sectarianism.  Generally, I'm frustrated with how a principled approach to anti-capitalism is often conflated with sectarianism  on the part of people who pretend that they have somehow transcended ideology.  Thus, any discussion of revolutionary parties and vanguards is uncritically denounced as "sectarian" or "religious" or "dogmatic" on the part of those who don't realize that their a priori rejection is the precise definition of a religious mindset.  So once you talk about a combination of Marx, Lenin, and Mao––no matter how critically and with how much depth––or discuss the possibility that there might be a science  to revolution, you are immediately accused of fostering sectarianism due to a supposed religious mindset even though, in this context, you are actually being called a heretic . In any case, partial