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Showing posts from October, 2012

"Capitalism Is Still Women's Enemy"

Although I believe that all communists should be feminists, in the communist camp there tends to some confusion over the concept of feminism .  First of all, there are those communists who will still argue that any endorsement of feminism is some sort of "petty-bourgeois" deviation that splits a supposedly united working-class : they might agree that a communist project can and should include the emancipation of women, but feel that all talk of feminism ignores the fact that only the working-class can emancipate the working-class and that, since working-class emancipation is the prime duty of the communist, to speak of feminism is to lose our focus.  Then, there are those communists who, by correctly recognizing the persistence of patriarchy, uncritically endorse an anything-goes feminism that ends up being little more than a cherry-picking from multiple feminist traditions. I've addressed the first confusion, the rejection of feminism, at various points in this blog an

Addendum to "Maoism or Trotskyism?"

Although the 25 page polemic Maoism or Trotskyism?   offered in the previous post has generated a lot of positive feedback in emails and the places where it has been posted, like any work of this type it has also produced the occasional critique and counter-argument––some of which were supportive and others of which were predictably dismissive.  Obviously any work that attempts at an ideological struggle between two theoretical terrains will generate this kind of discussion; even had I been longer-winded, refusing to content myself with only summarizing the philosophical situation, and produced an entire book there would still be critiques––perhaps even the same ones!  But this indicates that the piece possesses some sort of vitality; it would be worse if it had been met with utter silence. Thus, because I think it is important to participate in the debate one's work produces, I've decided to use this post as an addendum of sorts and clarify areas of my critique of trotskyis

"Maoism or Trotskyism" – Free Download!

After my recent rant regarding Goldner's hatchet-job on maoist theory , a friend/comrade emailed me to suggest that I should a prolonged polemic about the actual (rather than imagined) differences between maoism and trotskyism in order to demonstrate why some of us believe that the former is a better marxist avenue than the latter.  And since I've also spent some time on this blog discussing the hegemony of the trotskyist discourse in academia , as well as arguing out the historical differences between maoism and trotskyism on numerous comment strings, I figured that it made sense to provide a much more thorough engagement with this problematic. As some commenters have occasionally pointed out, I tend to give summations of certain issues and often fail to provide the historical and theoretical depth necessary to understand them in a thorough manner.  Generally, this is a limitation of the blog medium; I have indicated that  MLM Mayhem  tends to be a place where either the ge

Down With the NGO-ization of Feminism!

By now I am thoroughly annoyed by the " Because I am a Girl " campaign that is advertised on innumerable subway posters and represented by pleasant hipsters on street corners.  Drawing on a rather liberal articulation of feminism, and claiming to be about "empowering" girls in third world countries, this NGO campaign proudly proclaims that "girls' rights are human rights" and asks people to sponsor individual girls and thus learn about "the plight" of girls at the global peripheries. One would think that such a campaign, with all its talk about girls being the future and such, would satisfy our feminist desires.  "Yes," we think when we see these advertisements, "girls' rights are indeed human rights!"  And now that I am the father of a child with two x chromosomes, I am also concerned with the issue of "girls' rights" insofar as my child will be socialized as a girl, experience patriarchy, and only be

Message to "Insurgent Notes": please consider dropping "insurgent" from your name

When a magazine calls itself "Insurgent Notes" and proclaims that it is interested in communism, you would think that it would also be interested in the most revolutionary communist insurgencies that have been happening throughout the world since the fall of the Soviet Union.  You know, those revolutionary movements that are in some ways proving that capitalism is not necessarily the end of history and that there still are mass movements that care enough about communism to pursue it with armed struggle?  Yes, you would assume a communist magazine that proudly declares itself "insurgent" would at least know something about the large-scale communist insurgency that has plunged large portions of India into civil war.  And you would especially assume that when this magazine publishes a paper on the theory of maoism––since maoism is the main theory of revolutionary communist insurgencies the world over––this paper would at least demonstrate, due to its apparent interest

Let's Avoid Being Sucked Back into the Movementist Mire

At the centres of world capitalism there has been, for a long time, a knee-jerk reaction to the kind of politics associated with revolutionary parties.  Indeed, one of the problems I've been investigating, interrogating, and generally complaining about on this blog has been this mental block amongst the mainstream left at the imperialist centres when it comes to thinking of political organizing within the framework that was once considered normative for revolutionaries throughout the world––and still is  considered normative by the most revolutionary movements at the global peripheries.  And yet here, in North America and Canada, the entire notion of a revolutionary party united in theory and practice is still treated by large sectors of the mainstream left as a throwback to the early days of the twentieth century. But ten or fifteen years ago it was considered old-fashioned to define as a communist  and most of us were "anarchists" by default because we were raised at

Once Again: the Contradictions of Liberal Notions of "Free Speech"

Some time ago, I wrote something about the liberal notion of free speech called Whose Speech and for Whom .  At the moment it's one of my more popular posts [oddly enough, the rather strident entry about the attractiveness of the young Stalin is the most popular] and now and then, when I chase down the links that appear in my traffic, I discover cross-postings where it is either enjoyed or reviled.  Generally, my reason for writing it in the first place was because I was growing rather tired of the uncritical acceptance of liberal notions of freedom––and the entire liberal ideology of "free speech"––amongst the internet left.  Indeed, those internet leftists whose entire anti-capitalist praxis appeared limited primarily to internet forums and/or university class rooms were the same leftists who tended to yammer on about some platonic notion of free speech, complain about "censorship" whenever they were banned from anti-capitalist forums for problematic speechify

On Bad Marxist Engagements With "Post" Theory

It has now become something of a rite of passage for those of us who declare fidelity to marxist theory––especially those of us who are also academics––to spend some time and energy bashing that semi-unified field of theory which falls under the rubric post : post-modernism, post-structuralism, post-marxism, and post-colonialism.  Obviously, since this post tradition has often set itself up as a radical rejection of the "totalizing" theory of marxism, those marxists who encounter Foucault, Butler, Spivak, Said, etc. usually feel that they must mount a counter-defense for marxism.  Especially since this post  theoretical terrain, like marxism, often seeks to set itself up as a rejection of capitalism.  So almost every year there's at least one marxist text devoted to attacking the Foucaults and Butlers of the world, generally in the hope of proving that these theorists are all secret liberals who have nothing important to say. Clearly, when it comes to the revolutionar

"Animal Farmism"

Recently I have been reading Cat Valente's novel Deathless .  In the past I have thoroughly enjoyed Valente's novels––the Orphan's Tales  were a beautiful and intricate neo 1001 Nights , the Dirge for Prester John  was gripping and invocative––but I have found this book terribly annoying.  Since the setting is the early decades of the Soviet Union, beginning with the Russian Revolution, I had hoped Valente's exploration of Slavic folklore in this context would be as thoughtful as her treatment of medieval and renaissance history in the Dirge .  Unfortunately, this is not the case; the revolutionary Russia she depicts appears to be lifted from an American cold war film or the pages of the reactionary historiographies of Robert Conquest and his ilk.  Or maybe this depiction is just the result of family anecdotes gleaned from her husband––who would have been, it should be noted, born in a Russia already fully dominated by capitalist roaders who wanted the Soviet Union to c