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Showing posts from March, 2013

Learning from Documents of Past Struggle

On my recent trip to the Maison Norman Bethune I found and purchased a significant document from Canada's New Communist Movement entitled Statement of Political Agreement for the Creation of the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) .  For those who are unaware of Canada's period of anti-revisionist marxism in the 1970s-1980s, the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist), which wold eventually rename itself the Workers Communist Party  [WCP], was one of the two most significant Marxist-Leninist groups in that period in terms of size and influence––the other being En Lutte!  [In Struggle!].  And though many of the WCP's documents––including the one I discovered at the bookstore–– can be found on the  Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism Online , it is always a joy to discover a dead-tree document from that period. As one of my good friends and comrades has often pointed out, there needs to be a thorough historical summation and assessment of that period––at the

Liberalism and Internet Leftism: the meltdown of "Maoish" Rebel News

Although much has already been made of Maoist Rebel News ' [MRN] public youtube meltdown , and indeed a very good blow-by-blow analysis of everything leading up to this meltdown has been written, I still believe it is worth examining here.  Not to internet "ambulance chase" (in this case, I'm not even sure what that would accomplish) but because the MRN meltdown is significant insofar as it can teach us something about correct communist practice. For those unaware of MRN and what I am speaking of, here is a quick summary of what happened: Jason Unruhe, the person responsible for MRN (a youtube channel that promotes a "maoish" analysis of public events) was challenged on his use of homophobic language; he refused to recognize the criticism and attacked his accuser, going so far as to imply she was a pseudo-feminist simply because she dared to mention gender; he released a youtube video defending his right to privacy and use anti-queer language, arguing tha

Reflections on "Maoism or Trotskyism"

Since the good folks at Maison Norman Bethune  have been selling a pamphlet form of my Maoism or Trotskyism  polemic , I was invited there this past weekend to speak about what I had written and answer questions from whomever was in attendance.  Aside from being my first experience talking with a translator––teaching me that, in such a context, I need to learn to change my pacing and pause frequently––the event gave me the chance to engage with questions directly pertaining to the content of the polemic. The discussion revealed that there were areas in the original piece, some of which were tangental but still important, that required expansion.  Already, from emails and internet comments, I had been made aware of points that needed to be further explained––and I worked some of this into my presentation on the weekend––but I discovered that there was still more to be explained.  What was most interesting, though, is that what required explanation had nothing specifically to do wi

More Reflections on Historical Materialism as a "Science"

Several weeks ago an interested reader emailed me about my entry on Charlie Post's review of Zak Cope in order to ask for clarification about my complaints of "crude empiricism".  Generally speaking, s/he wanted me to expand on my claim that historical materialism, and indeed all science, was not reducible to positivist empiricism (i.e. the simple mobilization of statistics and quantitative data) and why this sort of positivist exercise was actually, as I implied, contrary to a materialist understanding of the empirical method.  This question made me consider my usage of the concept of science in connection to marxism and how, in this day and age where the term "science" has now been reduced to being synonymous with the hard and "natural" sciences.  Thus, my initial attempt to explain why it is important to accept that Marx and Engels initiated a scientific methodology––to reclaim this language despite its unpopularity amongst academics (some "p

Lecturing on Marx!

Right now I am working on a lecture for an Introduction to Philosophy course on The Communist Manifesto .  Although this exercise is reminding me of how much I hate Power Point (there are several hundred students in the class, and now these slide shows have become normative), I am also excited at the prospect of teaching Marxism through the Manifesto  instead of, as is usually the case in philosophy, the essay on "alienated labour" in The 1844 Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts . This is the copy I've owned since the days of my undergraduate degree. Last semester, in a course entitled "The Meaning of Life", I was again teaching that essay on "alienated labour" and the strength of Althusser's argument regarding the young Marx was emphasized in a rather stark manner.  For years I have struggled with this argument about an "epistemic break" between the young and older Marx but is only recently, after returning to Althusser to work o