Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Alistair Hulett RIP

No no no - this is not so. What a tragic loss, way way way before his time - one feels for those closest to him. I only heard Alistair Hulett perform twice I think - once doing the songs of Ewan MacColl at 'Marxism' one year, and since then about a couple of years ago at a local gig 'Which Side Are You On? – The Life And Times Of Pete Seeger'. Both were really moving, powerful gigs. Once again, I'll add tributes/obits when I get time.

Jimmy Ross, 'Alistair Hulett, 1951–2010: musician, activist, socialist'
Diane Fieldes 'Alastair Hulett - comrade and friend'

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More from Moore

'Capitalism is an evil, and you cannot regulate evil. You have to eliminate it and replace it with something that is good for all people and that something is democracy.'
Michael Moore in Capitalism: A Love Story

This bit of historical detail about Roosevelt also caught my eye in Moore's recent interview with the Guardian:

Moore has dug out of a South Carolina archive a piece of film buried away 66 years ago because it threatened to rock the foundations of the capitalist system as Americans now know it. President Franklin D Roosevelt was ailing. Too ill to make his 1944 state of the nation address to Congress, he instead broadcast it by radio. But at one point he called in the cameras, and set out his vision of a new America he knew he would not live to see.

Roosevelt proposed a second bill of rights to guarantee every American a job with a living wage, a decent home, medical care, protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness and unemployment, and, perhaps most dangerously for big business, freedom from unfair monopolies. He said that "true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence".

The film was quickly locked away.

"The next week on the newsreels – and we've gone back and researched this – they didn't run that," said Moore. "They talked about other parts of his speech, the war. Nothing about this. The footage became lost. When we called the Roosevelt presidential library and asked them about it they said it wasn't filmed. His own family told us it wasn't filmed." Moore's team scoured the country without luck until they were given a tip about a collector connected to the university of South Carolina.

The university didn't have anything archived under FDR's speeches that fitted, but there were a couple of boxes from that week in 1944.

"We pop it in. It was all there. We had tears in our eyes watching it. For 65 years not a single American saw that speech, not one. I decided right then that we're going to fulfil Roosevelt's wishes that the American people see him saying this. Of all the things in the film, probably I feel most privileged that I get to share this. I get to give him his stage." It's a powerful moment not only because it offers an alternative view of American values rarely spoken of today – almost all of which would be condemned as rampant socialism – but also an interesting reference point with which to compare the more restrained ambitions of the Obama administration.

For more on Obama's conservatism in his first year of office, see 'President of Cant' by Tariq Ali in the new New Left Review, Megan Trudell From a bang to a whimper (and analysis of Obama's banking reforms and Richard Seymour 'Obama: the dream dies'.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

John Pilger on the kidnapping of Haiti

A very American coup indeed. See also another piece by Peter Hallward in this weeks New Statesman. On Haiti, see also the photos from Jess Hurd in this weeks Socialist Worker (which leads with a brilliantly hard-hitting front page which doesn't er, 'beat around the Bush', ' Blair is guilty of mass murder'), while the articles by Charlie Kimber and Mark L Thomas are also essential reading...

Edited to add: Philosophy Football's 'Aidez Haiti' T-shirt will help raise much needed funds via the TUC Aid Earthquake Appeal. All profits from the Aidez Haiti shirt will go to the Trades Union Congress TUC aid appeal for emergency relief and long-term rehabilitation of the victims of the Haiti earthquake.


Conference: The Left in Palestine

Weekend Conference
27-28 February 2010,
School of Oriental and African Studies,
London Brunei Gallery
Organized by SOAS Palestine Society
and hosted by the London Middle East Institute

On the subject of Palestine, a friend and comrade from London is currently out there and blogging about his experiences here...


Howard Zinn (1922-2010)

Though I only saw the legendary 'people's historian of the United States' once, at the 'Marxism' conference in London in 2000 (where his play Marx in Soho was also performed), news of Howard Zinn's passing is still very sad - as it is I am sure for many many readers of Histomat. His writings on race, class and power in America, the nature of history and the role and responsibility of the historian in society more broadly were an inspiration, revelation and education personally - and his sane, courageous voice will be sorely missed in the struggles ahead. I will add tributes/obits etc etc below when I get time.

Ambre Ivol 'Howard Zinn: Bridging generations'
Howard Zinn on Making History (2007 interview)
Howard Zinn.Org
Brian Kelly 'Howard Zinn: a life of insubordination'
Alan Maass, 'The people's historian'
Dave Zurin 'Howard Zinn: The Historian Who Made History'
Geoffrey Hodgson 'Obituary'
Michael Greenwell 'Howard Zinn: Radical Historian'
Victoria Brittan 'Howard Zinn's lesson to us all'

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Meanwhile back in the land of the free...

Confused Texas Education Board bans kids' author from curriculum

What do the authors of the children's book 'Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?' and a 2008 book called 'Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation' have in common?

Both are named Bill Martin and, for now, neither is being added to Texas schoolbooks.

In its haste to sort out the state's social studies curriculum standards this month, the State Board of Education tossed children's author Martin, who died in 2004, from a proposal for the third-grade section. Board member Pat Hardy, R-Weatherford, who made the motion, cited books he had written for adults that contain "very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system."

Trouble is, the Bill Martin Jr. who wrote the Brown Bear series never wrote anything political, unless you count a book that taught kids how to say the Pledge of Allegiance, his friends said. The book on Marxism was written by Bill Martin, a philosophy professor at DePaul University in Chicago.

Bill Martin Jr.'s name would have been included on a list with author Laura Ingalls Wilder and artist Carmen Lomas Garza as examples of individuals who would be studied for their cultural contributions.

Hardy said she was trusting the research of another board member, Terri Leo, R-Spring, when she made her motion and comments about Martin's writing. Leo had sent her an e-mail alerting her to Bill Martin Jr.'s listing on the Borders .com Web site as the author of Ethical Marxism. Leo's note also said she hadn't read the book.

"She said that that was what he wrote, and I said: ' ... It's a good enough reason for me to get rid of someone,' " said Hardy, who has complained vehemently about the volume of names being added to the curriculum standards.

In an e-mail exchange, Leo said she planned to make a motion to replace Bill Martin and sent Hardy a list of possible alternatives. Hardy said she thought she was doing what Leo wanted when she made the motion.

Leo, however, said she wasn't asking Hardy to make any motions. She said she didn't do any "research."

"Since I didn't check it out, I wasn't about to make the motion," Leo said, adding that she never meant for her "FYI" e-mail to Hardy to be spoken about in a public forum.

Hardy said that her interest was in paring down that list and she didn't mean to offend anyone.

For some, however, the mix-up is an indicator of a larger problem with the way the elected board members have approached the update of state curriculum standards.

Board members will take up social studies standards again in March. They plan a final vote on updates in May.

Hardy's motion is "a new low in terms of the group that's supposed to represent education having such faulty research and making such a false leap without substantiating what they're doing," said Michael Sampson, Martin's co-author on 30 children's books.

The social studies standards update, which started last spring when groups of educators met to suggest revisions, has brought criticism from the right and the left about politicizing the process. As trustees worked their way through a draft this month, political ideas like imperialism, communism and free enterprise were at the heart of some of the changes.

Traci Shurley,

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Friday, January 22, 2010

Meanwhile back in US Occupied Haiti

[From The Life and Struggles of Negro Toilers (1931) by George Padmore]

For over 15 years [since 1915] Haiti has been under the political domination of the United States, which maintains a military dictatorship over the island. During these years several revolts against American imperialism have broken out among the Haitian workers and peasants, but these have all been ruthlessly suppressed. It has been estimated that over 3,000 Haitians have been murdered by the United States’ marines during their occupation of the country.

Because of the position of Haiti proper, which overlooks the Panama Canal and the proposed canal through Nicaragua, the island is considered the most valuable strategic base for the United States navy in the Caribbean, as well as a fertile field for the investment of finance-capital in the development of tropical products, such as coffee, cotton, tobacco, cocoa, sugar, etc., etc. These are the principal factors which dictated the military annexation of the island in 1915.

On the occasion when the first batch of American marines landed their leader, Admiral Caperton, was instructed by the United States State Department to impose a treaty with the following conditions upon the Haitians:

1. That the mining, commercial and agricultural resources of the country be developed exclusively by American financial interests.

2. That the United States was to provide a general receiver and financial adviser to the Government and thereby assume complete control over revenue.

3. That Haiti would not float any new loans or change her tariff unless first approved by the United States.

4. That Haiti would neither lease nor cede territory to any foreign power.

5. That the United States should supply officers for the Haitian gendarmerie (police force).

Since the American occupation the conditions of the 2,500,000 Haitians, especially the workers and peasants, have become terrible.

Land Robbery

Nearly all the fertile lands held by the peasants since the establishment of the republic in 1804 have been appropriated by the imperialists and turned into large plantations controlled by foreign corporations. As a result of this policy most of the Haitians are now a landless proletariat and are compelled to become wage-earners on the plantations and in the factories of foreign corporations.

So intense has been the policy of exploitation and its effects upon the living standards of the toiling masses, that spontaneous revolts have broken out throughout the island from time to time. All these manifestations of the workers for liberation have been ruthlessly stamped out. The marines have spread a network of terrorism throughout the country. They have muzzled the press, abolished freedom of speech and assembly, and either exiled or thrown into prison all who dared to champion the cause of national independence.

In order effectively to carry out this programme of subjugation the United States State Department maintains naval rule under the direct supervision of a High Commissioner, General John H. Russell. This marine officer is the real dictator of Haiti. He operates through a puppet president, Louis Bruneo, and a Council of State. This council is a small committee or cabinet selected by the “president” from among his henchmen, who in turn select the “president.” Both the council and the “presidents” must be approved of by the High Commission, who in turn is responsible to the United States Government in Washington. Thus the Haitians have absolutely no voice in the Government.

All of the large plantations, railroads, street railways, electric and gas companies in Haiti are owned by American bankers. Thousands of natives are employed as unskilled labourers in these concerns. The average wage of a Haitian worker is between 20 and 30 cents a day. Wherever they are employed, whether on the plantations or in the factories, they are forced to work long hours, and are most brutally treated by the American superintendents and managers, who are some of the most cruel slave-drivers to be found in the colonies.

The Tipinor and the Reginier-Pinerd Companies, which own some of the largest coffee plantations in the island, have the reputation of being the most brutal exploiters. They employ over 10,000 Negroes, who are supposed to get one dollar a day; but out of this a tax of 75 cents is collected and turned over to the Government, in order to meet its interest on foreign loans. The balance goes to the workers, who are expected to provide themselves with food, clothing and shelter during the period of their contract.

Exclusive of the agricultural and transport workers, there are about 5,000 stevedores employed by European and American steamship companies at Port-au-Prince, the national capital. The rate of wage is between 40 and 50 cents for loading and unloading ships. These workers are unorganised, and as a result their labour-power is being exploited to the maximum. The stevedores, together with the railroad and factory workers in the sugar refineries, form the bulk of the industrial proletariat of Haiti.

Thousands of women and children are also employed as agricultural labourers on the coffee and tobacco plantations. These workers are even more viciously exploited than the men. The average wage for women is 15 cents per day and children 10 cents. Like the men, women and children work from 10 to 15 hours under the most awful conditions, especially during the rainy season of the year, when malaria is very prevalent. The low standard of living among the Haitian toilers due to small wages and the rationalisation of the American capitalists contribute to the high mortality. The majority of Haitian agricultural workers suffer from hookworm and other tropical diseases...

These high-handed methods of imperialist exploitation, perpetrated against the Haitians, especially the peasantry, were the underlying factors which led to the revolt in November, 1928, which was drowned in blood by the machine guns of the United States marines.

The Revolt

The underlying factors of the 1929 Haitian revolt against American imperialism, like the uprising in Nigeria, were (I) the worsening of the conditions of the peasantry, due to the world crisis which has caused a falling of the prices of agricultural products, especially coffee; (2) the expropriation of lands for the development of industrialised agriculture by American capitalists, and (3) the attempts on the part of the imperialists to force the natives to contribute labour for road building without pay.

As soon as the uprising occurred, martial law was proclaimed by Colonel Richards Coots, the American officer commanding marines in Port-au-Prince. The troops were immediately got in readiness, and bloody attacks were made against all those who participated in the uprising.

The first stage was a strike among the students of the National University. They held parades through the principal streets of Port-au-Prince, protesting against the educational bureaucracy saddled upon them by President Borneo and his American educational advisors. In order to cut down national expenses, the Government recently made a sweeping reduction in the education budget. So incensed are all sections of the population against the present fascist dictatorship that no sooner had the students walked out of their classes than the native staff in the Customs Department joined in the strike. The clerks attacked the American officials with ink bottles, parts of typewriters and other office accessories, chasing them out of the building. The dock workers also declared a general strike, and within a few hours the entire business life of the city of Port-au-Prince was at a standstill.

Thousands of Haitian workers gathered before the Government administration building and the President’s palace, shouting “DOWN WITH BORNEO!” “DOWN WITH AMERICAN IMPERIALISM!”

The most serious manifestations, however, took place in the country districts. Because of their impoverished condition the peasants showed the most militancy. Immediately after learning what had taken place in the city they organised their forces and began a march on the capital.

Thousands of them gathered at a place called Aux Cayes, an important agricultural settlement. An advance guard of about 150 men and women armed with machetes (long knives used for cutting sugar canes) and sticks, marched ahead of the demonstrators. They were bent upon driving the American officials and their puppet, Borneo, out of Port-au-Prince.

As the column advanced on the capital, shouting “DOWN WITH BORNEO!” “DOWN WITH FREEMAN!” (who is the most vicious agent of American imperialism on the island, enjoying a salary of $10,000), they were met by a regiment of marines armed with every device of modern warfare.

The soldiers demanded that the peasants halt and return to their villages, which they refused to do. The marines then opened fire, killing five and wounding twenty. Despite the overwhelming superiority in numbers and equipment of the American forces, the natives fought heroically, making successful counter-attacks upon the military outposts at Chatel and Torbecks. By bringing up their reinforcements the peasants were able to break into the national guard-house at St. Michael, where they inflicted a severe assault on Lieutenant George Bertein, a Haitian petty-bourgeois renegade in the service of the American imperialists.

As the struggle increased more marines as well as American business men, who volunteered their services as a special fascist corps, were hurried off in armoured cars to various sections of the island to suppress the insurrection which was spreading from village to village.

While all this was taking place in the outskirts of the city, General Russell, the then High Commissioner, telegraphed to President Hoover informing him of the uprising. The American “dictator,” who is fast adopting to himself the mantle of Mussolini, ordered the cruiser Galveston, then at its naval base in Cuba, to proceed to Haiti. The bombing plane, Wright, with 500 more marines, was also dispatched on its mission of “peace and goodwill.”

With this formidable array the revolt was crushed with the same ruthlessness which characterised the marine campaigns in Nicaragua.

The reaction that has followed has created an atmosphere of widespread terrorism. Workers are afraid to express opposition sentiments for fear of being thrown into jail or murdered by the soldiers.

These outrages have aroused such world-wide protests among the working class and toiling masses of the colonies, especially in Latin-America, where Yankee imperialism rules supreme, that the Wall Street controlled Government in Washington was forced to dispatch a commission to “investigate” conditions. The Commissioners will merely carry out in the commission the instructions of their masters and whitewash the marine murderers of their bloody crimes, as has been done in the past.

The Haitian toilers know this only too well, and on the occasion of the arrival of the Commission at Port-au-Prince organised boycott demonstrations, demanding the immediate withdrawal of the marines and the abolition of the present dictatorship. The masses are still in a fighting mood. This was demonstrated when 5,000 workers and peasants shouting “LONG LIVE LIBERTY!” held a protest meeting before the Government buildings.

Since this incident a number of minor skirmishes have occurred between the toilers and the police in different parts of the island. The Haitian toiling masses will carry on the struggle until their country is freed from marine rule and foreign domination.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

More Classical Marxism on the blogosphere

Though perhaps not quote officially part of the blogosphere, it is a delight nonethless to be able to inform readers of Histomat that those seeking further (and far more interesting)'adventures in historical materialism', will now - should they wish - be able to profitably spend several hours of time perusing the new website of veteran revolutionary Marxist theorist Colin Barker.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Politics of Irvine Welsh

Trainspotting's vocabulary, for most of the novel, hints at an engagement with revolutionary politics to come: 'Bad Blood', to those familiar enough with the tradition to recognise the allusion, offers instead denigration and reversal. Welsh's allusion is too subtle to be noticed by those not familiar with Trotsky's writing or Trotskyist politics but is, in the context of all the knowing asides and 'little words', impossible to miss by those who know the political context. Welsh does not extend an analysis of revolutionary socialism comparable to his attacks on reformist Labourism. The political function that 'Bad Blood's' narrative uncertainty fulfils, instead, is to shock and upset, to denigrate and to deny. His emotive material — suggested child torture — and his use of allusion, substitute emotional evocation for political analysis. Mitchell's narrative serves a purpose, but it is a purpose quite separate from the rest of the novel. He is written in to the story in order to allow a suitably dramatic and grisly mocking of the revolutionary tradition. It is in this sense, then, that one can describe 'Bad Blood' as being in bad faith: its narrative devices, and its subject material, exist to manipulate a political shock effect that the rest of Trainspotting cannot produce. Welsh displaces a political dilemma into a moment for allusive denigration. It is a moment of Trainspotting as an example of literary anti-Trotskyism.

From 'Is Life Beautiful? Narrative Uncertainty and 'Literary anti-Trotskyism' in Trainspotting' by Dougal McNeill in the International Journal of Scottish Literature - which includes among other things a discussion of an old classic International Socialism article by Audrey Farrell, Addicted to Profit - Capitalism and Drugs from 1997.
Hat tip - the ISJ pick of the quarter


Selma James on Haiti

From The Guardian yesterday - for more on Haiti see here:

It took a catastrophe to put Haiti back on the political map. Yet its contribution to world civilisation is considerable. Having extended the 1789 French revolution to Haiti, Black Jacobins ended slavery, leading the way for abolition in the Americas. Western governments never forgave this impertinence, imposing crippling debt, occupations and dictatorships.

But Haitians never lost awareness that they could overcome and, if necessary, overthrow. In 1986, a mass movement kicked out the murderous Duvaliers whom the west had backed for decades, and in 1990 elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a liberation theologist determined to move the population "from destitution to poverty with dignity". He prioritised food security, health and education, encouraged agricultural co-operatives, and raised the minimum wage. Within months a US-backed coup overthrew him. Elected again in 2000 with over 90% of the vote, he was again removed in 2004, not by "a bloody rebellion" (Haiti's exiled former president vows to return, 15 January) but by bloody US marines. Haitians continue to call for Aristide's return. Will the only person with a mandate to govern be kept from leading their recovery and reconstruction?


Sunday, January 17, 2010

I'll cut (and paste) these images...

More genius subversive photoshoping here. For some more political analysis of the Tories under David Cameron and their attempt to get elected see here


One Dimensional Woman

Writing from a Marxist theoretical perspective about contemporary questions of women's liberation remains a comparative rarity, so it was good to read a review of Nina Power's new book One Dimensional Woman in the Guardian by Natalie Hanman (there is another review online here). As Hanman notes,

Debates around gender equality have reached a particularly paralysing state, with a number of issues – from veiling to sex work – caught in a reductive dichotomy of good v bad. Individual choice is repeatedly deployed, conveniently ignoring a structural analysis or collective and historical dimensions. It is all very well to say one has a right to choose – but what about the ways in which that choice impacts on others? There are endless hypocrisies too: note those libertarians who argue that women "choose" to lap dance but ­often fail to ascribe the same agency to women who wear the veil.

Power's analysis is brilliantly acute on all this, with a critique of capitalism running as a clear thread throughout her interrogation of muddled contemporary feminisms. Pro-war "feminists", for example, are taken to task over the veil. Drawing on Alain Badiou, Power writes: "On the one hand, any woman who wears the hijab must, by the logic of secular reason, be oppressed. On the other, if she makes too much of the rhetoric of choice to justify her wearing it, she misunderstands precisely what that rhetoric is for. The logic of choice, of the market, of the right to pick between competing products cannot be used to justify the decision to wear what one likes, if one chooses something that indicates a desire not to play the game."

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Capitalism, Class and Climate Change

Just a quick plug for two events in London regarding climate change, class and capitalism...

Wednesday 20 January, 6:30pm
Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS, London.
Part of ‘THE GLOBALISATION LECTURES’ Organised by the Department of Development Studies School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London

Susan George is an internationally known scholar-activist and “alter- globalist”; the author of a dozen widely translated books; honorary president of ATTAC-France, an organisation that campaigns for international taxation and other alternatives to neoliberal globalisation. She is Board President of the Transnational Institute (TNI), an international fellowship of scholar-activists with headquarters in Amsterdam that carries out cutting-edge analysis on critical global issues, builds alliances with grassroots social movements and develops proposals for a more sustainable and just world.

2) Gareth Dale and Jonathan Neale on Capitalism, Class and Climate Change: An International Socialism journal seminar.

Gareth Dale, author of "Corporations and climate change" and several books on East Germany, and Jonathan Neale, author of Stop Global Warming: Change the World and secretary of the Campaign against Climate Change(pc), present the latest in our series of seminars.

In the wake of the fiasco at Copenhagen, Gareth and Jonathan will be presenting an in-depth discussion of climate change, ranging from the science behind it through to the role of the working class in preventing it. This seminar will be of real benefit to all those concerned about climate change, whether new to the subject or a longstanding campaigner.

7pm, Monday 25 January, Kings College Waterloo Campus
(F-WB Classroom 2.40, 2nd floor of the Franlkin-Wilking building) Map: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/about/campuses/waterloo.html
This seminar is free to attend and open to all. For more information phone 020 7819 1177 or email isj@swp.org.uk

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Solidarity with the Haitian People

As the outstanding recent novelist of the Haitian Revolution, Madison Smartt Bell noted of the devastating earthquake in Haiti earlier this week, 'A disaster on this scale is opportunity for opportunism as well as an opportunity to do some real good; Haiti will undoubtedly get its share of both.'

Richard Seymour has superbly described some of the dangers associated with Western 'humanitarian intervention' that lie ahead (see also here, while Scott McLemee reminds people if they have not already done so to read CLR James's The Black Jacobins for an understanding of why racists like Pat Robertson still harbour so much hate for the people of Haiti and why Haiti finds itself in the materially if not culturally impoverished state it currently does.

This statement by Socialist Worker, 'A Very Unnatural Disaster', notes that 'Imperialist intervention and capitalism lie behind Haiti's nightmare' and after reminding people of the history of the island - on which also see here, puts forward the following demands:

We say:
-Rush food, shelter and other aid to Haiti now
-No to the use of aid as a political weapon to impose the US’s will
-End the neoliberal policies that squeeze Haiti’s poor
-End the occupation of Haiti by foreign forces

Others might add other demands such as allowing the return of former President Aristide to Haiti and the cancellation of Haiti's debt. I have also been informed of an emergency vigil in London, the details of which I will post below.

In support of the people of Haiti
Wednesday 20 January 5-7pm
St Martin in the Fields Church steps
Trafalgar Sq, London WC2N
Survivors are increasingly desperate, and angry that despite promises the aid is not getting to them.

Edited to add: Despite the slow speed with which aid is arriving, Christopher Hitchens still predictably cheers the presence of US imperial power once more on Haitian soil ('the biggest [humanitarian] work of all will be performed by carrier groups and airborne brigades of the United States, the taxpayer-financed forces of a secular republic'), though Greg Palast rightly remains one angry and appropriately sceptical man:

Send in the Marines. That's America's response. That's what we're good at. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson finally showed up after three days. With what? It was dramatically deployed — without any emergency relief supplies. It has sidewinder missiles and 19 helicopters. But don't worry, the International Search and Rescue Team, fully equipped and self-sufficient for up to seven days in the field, deployed immediately with ten metric tons of tools and equipment, three tons of water, tents, advanced communication equipment and water purifying capability. They're from Iceland.

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Lukács Symposium

Symposium on Georg Lukács's ''Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat'

2–6pm, Saturday February 6, 2010, at the London Knowledge Lab, 23-29
Emerald Street, London WC1

Gordon Finlayson
Tim Hall
Michalis Skomvoulis

Gordon Finlayson is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of
Sussex and is the author of many books and articles on the Frankfurt

Tim Hall is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of East
London. His article ‘Reification, Materialism & Praxis: Adorno’s
critique of Lukács’ is forthcoming in Telos (2010) and he is the co-
editor of The Fundamental Dissonance of Existence: New Essays on the
Social, Political and Aesthetic Theory of Georg Lukács
(New York,
Continuum: 2010)

Michalis Skomvoulis is a PhD student at the University of Paris 1:
Panthéon-Sorbonne and has written extensively on Lukacs.

Attendance is free and open to all. To register e-mail Meade
McCloughan: m.mccloughan@ucl.ac.uk

Directions and map: Tube stations:
Holborn and Russell Square.

Marx and Philosophy Society: http://www.marxandphilosophy.org.uk/


Hommage à Daniel Bensaïd (1946-2010)

Another terribly sad blow to our side...but again, Daniel Bensaïd's revolutionary life and work should be a matter of celebration alongside commemoration and condolence. I will collect some of the tributes/obituaries etc below. There will be memorial meetings in Paris on 24 January and in central London on 9 February.

Daniel Bensaïd Internet Archive

Tariq Ali 'Remembering Daniel Bensaïd'
Alex Callinicos, 'Obituary'
Gilbert Achcar 'A revolutionary who fought steadfastly'
François Sabado 'Militant, Intellectual, Friend'
Josep María Antentas 'A revolutionary for our times'
Liberation 'Daniel Bensaïd'
Lenin's Tomb 'Mort'
Rustbelt Radical 'Tribute'

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Monday, January 11, 2010

International Socialism # 125

Issue 125 of International Socialism journal includes, among many many other goodies, a short analysis of the shifting sands of the crisis, Mike Gonzalez on Honduras and Jeffrey Weber on Bolivia, Paul Blackledge on Marxism and anarchism, an article on the sex work debate and John Rose on Jewish intellectuals and Palestinian liberation. It also includes the final two articles of the late Chris Harman - former editor of International Socialism - on the legacy of Louis Althusser and a defence of Marx's concept of the Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall (TRPF) in the context of the current crisis. Ernest Mandel once wrote a book entitled Late Capitalism - implying capitalism was at least in some sense dead or at least rather past its sell by date as a system - and Chris's last book Zombie Capitalism seems to play on this idea, suggests the system is maybe not only partly 'dead' but also possibly also 'undead'. Well, maybe - but for another more serious examination of Zombie Capitalism see this piece by Guglielmo Carchedi. There are also a number of tributes to Chris in the journal - which I will add to the others collected on this blog at some point - see here.

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Remembering Frank Henderson

Though I only saw Frank Henderson speak once (at a memorial meeting to Duncan Hallas if I remember rightly), this blog would like to pay tribute to someone who was a revolutionary socialist in Britain at the cutting edge of the class struggle - mainly at the Longbridge car factory plant in Birmingham - since joining the anti-war Independent Labour Party during the Second World War. His memoir, Life on the Track - an important source on the history of the post-War British working class movement - is reviewed by here by Ian Birchall, here by Roger Cox, and here by the socialist blogger 'Resolute Reader'. Condolences to friends and family.

Edited to add: Frank Henderson (1925-2009) Obituary by Matt Perry

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