March 2, 2013

Convergence and Divergence: A Reply to Comrade Hamerquist

Posted in Asia, Communism, Economics, Europe, Fascism, Imperialism, Politics, Social-Democracy, Theory, Trade, United Kingdom, United States tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 03:38 by Matthijs Krul

Since I recently wrote an extended, appreciative review of Zak Cope’s book of Third Worldist Marxism Divided World, Divided Class on this blog, some other radical commentators have provided reviews and replies as well. One of these is Don Hamerquist, who wrote what is in essence a review of my review. It can be found on the blog Sketchy Thoughts. Hamerquist’s commentary was critical of my analysis (on which it focuses more than Cope’s), but in a constructive manner, and has thereby given me occasion to restate and clarify some of the positions I have developed in recent times on this medium and elsewhere. Even though I don’t wholly agree, such focused, intelligent criticism as Hamerquist’s is of great value, and it would be foolish to dismiss it out of personal egocentrism or puffery. Read the rest of this entry »

January 3, 2013

Book Review: Zak Cope, “Divided World, Divided Class: Global Political Economy and the Stratification of Labour Under Capitalism”

Posted in Book Review, Class Struggle, Economics, History, Imperialism, Politics, Social-Democracy, Theory, Trade tagged , , , , , , , at 02:16 by Matthijs Krul

There are times when one encounters a book that is frustrating in a way particular to the intellectual life: that is to say, when one encounters a book that is precisely the book one wanted to write. Given the relative obscurity of my interests, this does not happen often to me, but Zak Cope’s Divided World, Divided Class is precisely one of these. I have harboured plans for the longer term to write a book on the history of the labour aristocracy and its interrelationship with the rise of social-democracy as the political expression of the imperialist rent required for the maintenance of that class, with all the necessary economic and historical detail; in fact, I almost undertook this as my PhD subject. If I had done so, I might well have been embarrassed. Cope has done just this, even up to much of the same bibliography I had had in mind! Be that as it may; these reflections are not to make myself seem important, but to underline the value I think this book has, being the only one of its kind and a real historical contribution to the critique of political economy under capitalism. Read the rest of this entry »

June 7, 2012

Unions and the West: The Scott Walker Affair

Posted in Class Struggle, Communism, Economics, Europe, Fascism, Imperialism, Politics, Social-Democracy, Theory, Trade, United States tagged , , , , , , , , at 23:19 by Matthijs Krul

Following a headlong confrontation over the Governor of Wisconsin, the reactionary Scott Walker, and his direct assaults on the public sector unions and their legislative achievements, much of the US left is now abuzz with the resounding failure of the campaign to recall him. In what had been seen as one of the last great revivals of the labor movement in the United States, workers officially and unofficially organized against Walker, even going so far as to occupy the Capitol building and to make the functioning of the Wisconsin legislature impossible. There were massive campaigns for opposition against the anti-union onslaught, and it was seen by many in organized labor as a decisive battle on whether the fight for union rights could be won in America. Laws undermining the public sector unions had already passed without much difficulty in Indiana and Missouri, but were defeated in Ohio. In this way, Wisconsin became something of a battleground, befitting a state which has a reputation for supplying leading politicians of both the left wing and the right wing, relative to American standards. But the Democratic Party took the leadership of the campaign together with the unions, and supplied a weak centrist called Tom Barrett against Walker – a candidate who, as mayor of Milwaukee, failed to even endorse unequivocally the union position, and who had lost the election against Walker in the first place. In the end, Barrett added about 150.000 extra votes, but Walker added 200.000 extra votes, and therefore won by a larger margin than before. For all the union efforts, the Democratic Party nationally put in no real support for the campaign, and President Obama could not be bothered to do more than post a Tweet about it. This despite his pledge, during his own campaigning, that in case of an attack on union organizing he’d “put on a pair of comfortable shoes and join them on the picket line”. Read the rest of this entry »

March 24, 2010

Arundhati Roy on the Naxalites

Posted in Asia, Class Struggle, Communism tagged , , , , at 12:02 by Matthijs Krul

The Indian magazine Outlook India has published a long article by Arundhati Roy, a famous writer and activist, on the Naxalite Maoist movement of the poor in certain parts of India. The Naxalites are often portrayed as mere fanatics, throwbacks to earlier historical periods, or ‘security threats’. Of course, one does not expect capitalist governments to see insurrections of the poor and exploited against their rule in any other terms, but what is more galling is the simple lack of attention for and understanding of the real causes of this movement’s existence and successes. All the more important the fact that Roy was willing to break this silence. This despite the fact that she herself had a negative idea of them, based on the general propaganda against Maoism as a purely barbaric form of cultural and social violence – similar to how the Chinese nationalist-religious revolts of Taiping and the Boxers were portrayed in the West in their day, and how they are often still understood. It is for this reason worth giving this article the widest possible readership, and therefore I reproduce it here, despite its considerable length. For more on the Naxalites and their relations to other groups, see http://mccaine.org/2009/06/24/communists-fight-in-india/ . Read the rest of this entry »

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