Scenes from the class struggle: Argentina

The popular defense of State controlled social welfare is not in itself anti-capitalist.  However, the State driven privatisation of social welfare, if placed within the context of broader forms of violent accumulation (e.g., land and resource dispossession, the imposition of salaried labour and forced migration, the marginalisation and subordination of women and of other social groups – which is to say the invention of these groups – for needs of the reproduction of oppressive social relations, and so on), reveals itself as a fundamental moment in the expansion and intensification of contemporary capitalist social relations.  To then disturb or sabotage the politics of “neo-liberal market expansion” is potentially radical, or radicalising, to the degree that it overflows the boundaries of a politics of merely preserving the Welfare State.

A radical defense of social welfare transforms what is essentially a defensive gesture into one which transforms what is at stake in the struggle: the aim becomes one of liberating social welfare from the State, of returning it to communities of people who are the best placed to care for themselves, and of understanding that such care is only possible within (overlapping human and non-human) communities capable of autonomously creating and governing themselves.

Argentina is once again a stage for violent capitalist experimentation; may the stakes be high …

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Catalonia after the storm: Tomás Ibáñez

El Roto

The debate among anarchists around the Catalan independence movement continues unabated.  From a distance, as always, it is difficult to follow events, to grasp all that is at stake, to draw reasonably clear conclusions.  It is however our conviction that the events are important (not only to understand what is going on, but also to understand the position of anarchists with regards to a mass movement of national self-determination) enough to justify our ongoing concern to present, in translation, some of the protagonists in this controversy.

We share below an essay by Tomás Ibáñez, published earlier this month, on the 1st of December, in response to an essay by Santiago López Petit, and which follows earlier interventions by him on the anarchists in the Catalan referendum.

We can only leave to more informed readers or participants in the events, the judgement of where the truth lies.

And we close with a brief note by Octavio Alberola, added here as a kind of coda to Ibáñez’s essay.

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Catalonia as a political laboratory: Santiago López Petit

The rebellion of Catalonia, falsely presented as a mere exercise in institutional and national self-determination, and its repression, demands reflection.  What was lived and continues to be lived, resonates well beyond judicial decisions, constitutional debates or future regional elections (scheduled for the 21st of December).  In a step towards greater understanding of what is at stake, we share a short essay, in translation, by Santiago López Petit, entitled Catalonia as political laboratory.  (Originally published in Crític – 27/11/2017 – and published again in spanish by comite disperso, and posted with a las barricadas).

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The shifting territories of the body

But what is a body? … For Spinoza, the individuality of a body is defined by the following: it’s when a certain composite or complex relation (I insist on that point, quite composite, very complex) of movement and rest is preserved through all the changes which affect the parts of the body. It’s the permanence of a relation of movement and rest through all the changes which affect all the parts, taken to infinity, of the body under consideration. You understand that a body is necessarily composite to infinity.

Gilles Deleuze, On Spinoza (Lecture)

It has become common place to speak of the politics of the body; less common is a politics that begins from the plurality and plasticity of the body.  By Paul B. Preciado (Liberation 10/11/2017) … 

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An anarchist primer

For those of us born into a captivity gilded by the blood and sweat of less fortunate captives, the challenge of leading a life worth living of stories worth telling is a lifelong project, and a formidable one; but all it takes, at any moment, to meet this challenge is to contest that captivity.

An Anarchist Primer

An anarchist manifesto against manifestos; an apology for anarchism that hurls anarchy against all “isms”; a manifesto as testimony of the experience of anarchy: the beauty of anarchy distilled into the words of a “primer … from the crimethinc. collective …

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The russian revolution of 1917: Carlos Taibo

We close our series – without for a moment suggesting that this is the last word – on the russian revolution of 1917 with an interview with Carlos Taibo, author of the recent work, in spanish, Anarquismo y revolución en Rusia (1917-1921).  Though the interview focuses on Taibo’s concern with calling attention to the role of anarchists and libertarians in the events of the russian revolution, it takes us beyond the past; the revolution remains a lens through which to think through our political present.

Originally published in Contexto y acción, we present the essay below in translation.

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The russian revolution of 1917: Cornelius Castoriadis

The autonomous activity of the masses belongs by definition to what is repressed in history.

Cornelius Castoriadis

Cornelius Castoriadis’ saw in the Bolshevik seizure of power the beginning of the end of the russian revolution; an end marked by the administrative dispossession of the autonomy of the soviets and the factory committees by a nascent bureaucracy grounded in a vanguardist political ideology.  Castoriadis’ reading of the destruction of the revolution – and a revolution there was – remains pertinent, not only for the understanding of the events of the time, but also because it raises a fundamental question: what institutional form can autonomy assume?  Castoriadis’ question remains ours.

A further contribution to our series on the russian revolution of 1917.

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The russian revolution of 1917: Rosa Luxemburg

In 1917 there were more than twelve million members of the Russian consumers’ Cooperative societies; and the Soviets themselves are a wonderful demonstration of their organising genius. Moreover, there is probably not a people in the world so well educated in Socialist theory and its practical application. 

John Reed, Ten Days that Shook the World

It is sometimes those from within who see best, if they allow themselves to see.  Rosa Luxemburg, if critical of anarchism and the anarchists in russia, would nevertheless be among the first marxists to also criticise the direction of the Bolsheviks in the country.  As one more contribution to our series on the russian revolution, we publish below two chapters of Luxemburg’s The Russian Revolution (1918).

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The russian revolution of 1917: Max Nettlau

… Anarchism does not preach anything contrary to the principles which have always inspired men to strive for freedom and right. It would indeed be absurd to try and impose something new upon mankind. No! Anarchism is nothing but the full acknowledgment of the realisation of the principle that freedom is at the root of sound natural development. Nature knows no outside laws, no external powers, and only follows her own inward forces of attraction or repulsion. Everything is the result of the existing forces and tendencies, and this result becomes again in turn the cause of the next thing following.

Max Nettlau, An Anarchist Manifesto

Max Nettlau is arguably anarchisms first historian.  Militant and gatherer of memories, he could not but comment as well on the events of his time, including the russian revolution of 1917.  As part of our series on the revolution, we publish below Nettlau’s After Six Years of Authoritarian Revolution (anarchist library).

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capitalism is death

I’ve seen the future, brother: it is murder.

Leonard Cohen, The Future

In the time of our disaster, our waste directly kills us by the millions (i) and extinguishes the flora and fauna of all environments upon which all life depends.(ii)  And those who seek to protect the later are murdered.(iii)

In the time of our disaster, the living earth slips away, and what we inflict upon the creatures of this world turns back upon us in the man-made “natural” catastrophes and the violence of racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, religion: every one of them, our murderous children.  And to forget, to escape, we sever and separate emotion, thought, reality, so that by the end, nothing makes sense except the senseless flow of spectacles.

In the time of our disaster, when reality is replaced or becomes what is measurable, profitable; when the commodity becomes our master and our utility is measured by our ability to serve it, the majority of humanity falls into irrelevance. (iv)

In the time of our disaster, we have become and have been made superfluous, disposable, in a desert world ruled by objects.

In writing from the charred landscapes and cemeteries of carbonised bodies of once forested hills and villages in Portugal, one might be forgiven the tendency to apocalyptic ramblings; but then in greek and latin, apocalypse referred to revelation, illumination, a kind of sight not possible in “normal” circumstances.  In this sense, our disaster is also the time of seeing.  And it is in this context that we must think and act.

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