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Showing posts from September, 2016

"Saving The Left From Itself"

Is there anything more annoying than those individuals who imagine that they are "saving the left from itself"? You know the people I mean and if you don't you will soon: self-proclaimed gadflies who believe that their own personal understanding of the world is more rational and correct that the left as a whole, who worry that the left is going to far (and sometimes inaccurately use the words "fascist" when they aren't using "totalitarian" to describe said left), who maintain that they are the true left critics of progressive populations who just don't get it, who natter on about liberal free speech as if this convention is inherently progressive, who are repulsed by political violence, and who occasionally like to cite Orwell. None of this is to say that the broad and mainstream anti-capitalist left does not deserve critique from this very same left, that lines of demarcation need to be drawn between tendencies, and that some practices the l

Cultural Exploitation Instead of Cultural Appropriation

Lionel Shriver's recent complaint about charges of "cultural appropriation" has caused me to think again about the uses and abuses of the term. For those unfamiliar with Shriver's speech regarding cultural appropriation it goes something like this: at the Brisbane Writer's Festival the author of We Need To Talk About Kevin  and The Mandibles delivered a speech about " fiction and identity politics " that was about the right of authors to write and represent any culture they desired and that all charges of racism or cultural appropriation were attacks on a writer's essential right to free expression. Since the speech was driven by her anger at a particular criticism made of The Mandibles , it was in many ways a knee-jerk "how dare you tell me what I can write about" screed. In the context of recent debates in literary forums about the ethics of representation that have raised a number of important concerns (i.e. when and how is it justified

My Favourite Summer Reads

This summer I was able to read a lot. This was partially due to the fact that my daughter became really good at playing at parks by herself and with other kids, leaving me to sit at picnic tables and read whatever book I brought along. Here are some (not all) of the things that I read and enjoyed from June to August. 1. After Finitude  by Quentin Meillassoux. This book had been sitting on my back-burner for a while. I bought it over a year ago but wasn't able to get to it until the beginning of the summer break. I was expecting something that, like so much French philosophy, would be unnecessarily turgid and sacrifice precision/rigour for obscurantism. But Meillassoux was pleasantly surprising: the book was focused, rigorous, and clear for anyone who is familiar with the philosophical canon. His argument against correlationism and for philosophical realism demonstrated a deep knowledge of both the analytical and continental traditions. I'm not sure whether or not I agree with

Review: Yogendra Dhakal's "Revolution, Yes! Right Liquidationism, No!"

The People's War in Nepal was a significant event for the Maoist International Communist Movement. Like the People's War in Peru years earlier, this protracted event was another site of theoretical and practical explosion that demonstrated that the revolutionary ethos of the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st Century was in fact Maoist. While it was indeed the case that the PW in Nepal was largely ignored by the mainstream left in the imperialist metropoles it was still something that mattered for those who cared about third world revolution: the theoretical developments it produced (for example Hisila Yami's work on proletarian feminism), the practical experience it imparted, seem all the more tragic in its failure to accomplish its aims when the Prachanda-led leadership capitulated to revisionism––the always present danger that the Maoist theoretical tradition has elucidated. Yogendra Dhakal's Revolution Yes! Right Liquidationism No!  is a book that returns u

Some Articles/Essays Promoting Continuity & Rupture

Having finally received advance hard copies of my upcoming book and, preparing for the necessary book launch and promotional activities, I want to alert faithful readers to a number of things I've written in anticipation of Continuity and Rupture 's publication. I did them on Medium ( as I advertised when the first one was up ) mainly as a change of pace from archiving PDFs on this blog. I'm not sure if these writing exercises will help to promote the book (one can only hope!) but they were definitely fun. First, there's my most recent and very short article,  The Story of Continuity and Rupture . This was written as an article submitted to the online marketing page of Zero Books guided by the ethos of "tell the story of the book in question." That is, I tried to think of Continuity and Rupture  like a story and explain something about that story rather than just writing a boring "this is a general summary of my book." I hit upon referring to a

Nathalie Moreau, Rest In Power

Although I have used the Maoist colloquialism about some deaths being "weightier than Mount Tai" in the past I have never truly and personally understood its significance until just recently upon hearing that Nathalie Moreau, a tireless organizer for the PCR-RCP who was also part of its historical leadership, passed away after a long fight with cancer. She was in her fifties but more than half of her five decades were dedicated to making revolution in Canada. Despite the fact that I only knew her for six years, and the actual time I spent in her company was most probably less than a month, she possessed more influence on my theoretical and practical development as a communist than anyone in academia or the local activist scene. Her significance to the contemporary Canadian Maoist movement at this early stage is monumental; her loss will be viscerally felt, though this loss will have far less impact than the contributions she has made, the people who have been touched by her l

Some September Posts from 2009-2015

Thinking back on the past seven years of this blog I figured it would be worth sharing posts (some good and some not so good) that were written in September from 2009 until 2015. So here they are: 1. People Who Don't Believe in the Labour Theory of Value Are Stupid [2009]. Apologies for the ableist language, something I've tried to delete from my lexicon in the past five or six years but apparently not in 2009. 2. On Anti-Intellectual "Leftism" [2010]. Kept going back to this one when I was critiquing the opposite tendency, academic obscurantism. 3. Marxism Beyond Marx, Leninism Beyond Lenin, Maoism Beyond Mao [2011]. The reflections here were actually influential to the years of draft work that would develop into Continuity and Rupture . 4. Interpreting the World [2012]. Another formative post, something that would eventually lead me to write a manuscript I am still working on about the meaning of philosophy from a radical left position… This was also wri

Reflections on Wood's "Eurocentric Anti-Eurocentrism"

Soon after Ellen Meiksins Wood died her 2001 essay A Critique of Eurocentric Anti-Eurocentrism was broadly circulated as if to demonstrate that the kind of Marxist political economy she practiced, i.e. “Political Marxism”, was a great fountain of anti-eurocentric wisdom and that the late Wood had something to contribute in debates about racism and the Marxist canon. Posted on multiple blogs, twitter accounts, and Facebook posts, exchanged by those who were unfamiliar with the debate it was meant to represent, the circulation of this essay was unfortunately a sad example of protesting too much: Political Marxism, long accused of being one of the more Eurocentric tendencies of Marxism, was attempting to defend itself, as part of a eulogy in Wood’s memory, as being free from the charges that it had endured and that Wood, in this essay, had attempted to defuse. The truth, however, is that those of us familiar with the reasons why Wood and Political Marxism were accused of Eurocentrism h