Category: Culture & History

Racist Societal Views of The Black Male Body

And Appreciating My Black Body for What It Is

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This work is a creative nonfiction work which highlights the imperialist white supremacist capitalist colonial gaze of the Black male body, conventional beauty standards, systemic weightism, and instances of subversion against these oppressive norms in appreciating my body for the way it is.

On the Conditions of Ignorance

ImageIn a recent article from Politico, a new poll was discussed that suggests that nearly half, 49 percent, of Trump supporters believe that he won the popular vote in the 2016 election. (He didn’t; he lost by nearly three million votes.) Spurred on by Trump’s claims that millions (!) of people voted illegally in the election, this portion of Trump’s base have been lied to and misled by a politician they think they can trust. What are we to make of this?

Book Review

The End of Islamic Liberalism?

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Cihan Tuğal, The Fall of the Turkish Model: How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic Liberalism (Verso, 2016).

In the short time since the 2016 publication of Cihan Tuğal’s The Fall of the Turkish Model: How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic Liberalism, Turkey has endured an attempted coup, nearly a year of rule under a state of emergency, the widespread repression of dissent through imprisonment and mass firings of teachers and civil servants, and a (likely fraudulent) referendum that has institutionalized the autocratic rule of President Tayyip Recep Erdoǧan. Yet, unbelievable as it may seem, these developments are part of a continuum rather than a rupture, and Tuğal’s book is essential—if not unproblematic—reading for understanding contemporary politics in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.

Who Are These Anime Nazis, Anyway?

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On the very off chance you haven’t heard, Angela Nagle has come out with her first book: Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right. Best known for her essays, often on the alt-right, in outlets like Jacobin and The Baffler, the socialist left has been anxious to dive into what appears to be the first book on the alt-right written by one of us — myself included. Ms. Nagle first caught my attention last year with her incredibly insightful essay “The New Man of 4chan,” and I’ve been reading her regularly, and eagerly awaiting this book, ever since.

review

Art Spiegelman on Si Lewen

Reading, actually looking obsessively at the pages of, this volume and non-volume inevitably brings to mind an unpublished, uncompleted 1967 essay by Herbert Marcuse, “Lyric Poetry After Auschwitz,” translated and published after his death. Here Marcuse says, in part,

The Tragic Fate of Workers’ Russia

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[This is the second of three articles commemorating the Russian Revolution of 1917 and analyzing its fate under Stalin. The first part, “Glorious Harbinger of a New Society: the Bolshevik Revolution,” was published in the previous issue of New Politics, number 62, winter 2017. The text below is slightly expanded from what appeared in the print issue.]

 Soon after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed on March 3, 1918, the Soviet republic was under siege. Various anti-Bolshevik forces, some supported by the Allies or the Central Powers, were gathering. If these forces succeeded in reversing the October Revolution, what would be the result?

Polish Video Tribute to Joanne Landy

This video in honor of Joanne Landy was made at the request of Piotr Niemczyk, an activist in the 1980’s in the Polish independent peace group “Freedom and Peace.” It was shown at an event in New York City on June 1, 2017, honoring Joanne Landy.

 

One Hundred Years of the Russian Revolution: A Retrospective View

 

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At a distance of one hundred years, the Russian Revolution, which truly shook the world, deserves to be remembered once more in terms of its emancipatory significance and its downfall and betrayal. This revolution would not have happened had it not been for the crucial role played by the Bolshevik party. It is true that the profound crisis affecting the Russian society, worsened by the country’s disastrous participation in World War I, could have sooner or later led to a massive upheaval. But it is questionable that a socialist revolution would have taken place without the organizational skills of the Bolshevik party and the political, strategic, and tactical genius of V.I. Lenin.

Russia: The Revolution and Beyond, continued

Our last issue included a special section on “Russia: The Revolution and Beyond,” with articles by Thomas Harrison, Dan La Botz, Saeed Rahnema, and Stephen Shalom. In this issue, we continue with articles by Samuel Farber, Thomas Harrison (part 2), and Stefanie Prezioso, and an interview with Suzi Weissman.

The Russian Revolution, Soviets, and Socialist Democracy

An Interview with Suzi Weissman

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“Revolutions are the mad inspiration of history”

Leon Trotsky, My Life

 

Fake News: from Satirical Truthiness to Alternative Facts

ImageIn the wake of the 2016 election, Oxford Dictionaries declared “post-truth” to be the 2016 international word of the year.[i] The viral spread of fake news stories (such as the infamous “Pizzagate”[ii] scandal alleging that Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta secretly ran an illegal sex trafficking ring out of a Washington D.C. pizzeria) no doubt helped to install America’s lunatic POTUS and his clown car of white supremacist cabinet members into the Oval Office.

Mass Incarceration and Its Mystification: A Review of "The 13th"

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When prisoners in Alabama last spring proposed a national strike to protest “prison slavery,” they called out the infamous clause in the Thirteenth Amendment. The amendment most known for abolishing slavery included a rider that sanctioned slavery “as punishment for a crime wherein the party shall have been duly convicted.”

In Putin’s Head: Book Review

ImageMichel Eltchaninoff. Dans la tête de Vladimir Poutine. Arles: Solin/Actes Sud, 2015. 171pp.

Michel Eltchaninoff’s prize-winning Dans la tête de Vladimir PoutineIn the Head of Vladimir Putin—is a fascinating examination of the development of the Russian president’s ultra-conservative and nationalist ideology from assuming the presidency in 2000 until today.[1] Eltchaninoff, the author of two books about Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky and many essays, might seem like an unlikely candidate to write an intellectual biography of the twenty-first century president Putin, but as it turns out, Eltchaninoff’s knowledge of nineteenth and twentieth century Russian philosophers makes him the ideal author, because that is where Putin’s ideas come from, Russia’s conservative, religious past.

Remembering Connie Crothers

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Sometime in the late 1980s, as Against the Current was doing some cross-promotion with the European socialist magazine International Viewpoint, I was glancing through the list of U.S. subscribers to IV when a name jumped put at me: Connie Crothers.

This was interesting, because I had a wonderful duet recording “Swish” (1982) by jazz pianist Connie Crothers with the percussion giant Max Roach. (This was the inaugural recording of Connie’s New Artists label – an impressive debut!) I immediately wrote to Connie – this was back in the Middle Bronze Age, before we did everything by email – and soon heard back.  Indeed, she was the same Connie Crothers and delighted to hear from ATC.

The Toxic Games

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Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy. By Dave Zirin. Updated Olympics edition. Haymarket Books, 2016. 238pp. + notes and index. $17.95 paperback.

I celebrated with great relief back on October 2, 2009, when my hometown Chicago was the first city eliminated by the International Olympic Committee from consideration for hosting the 2016 games. The scale of the pillage, cronyism and social cleansing that “Mayor One Percent” Rahm Emanuel would have inflicted in the name of preparing for the party was horrible to contemplate. And I wasn’t wrong, as reporter David Haugh has shown in his piece of bidder‘s remorse, “In retrospect, losing 2016 Olympics to Rio a big victory for Chicago” (http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/columnists/ct-haugh-olympics-spt-0803-20160802-column.html).

review

Memory and the Movies

This book is a fascinating incursion into the multiple oppositional uses of memory in world cinema. It shows, in a lively and insightful way, how movies bring the memory of past struggles forward into the present, to serve as an inspiration for the future. 

Inez Hedges distinguishes eight types of cultural cinematographic memory, which correspond to the eight chapters of the book:

The Neo-colonization of Central America

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The colonization of Latin America never ended, it merely changed forms. Today this conquest continues, with transnational companies driving neo-colonization grounded in the continued exploitation of natural resources. This is nowhere more true than in Central America. The force of neo-colonization is strengthened by free-trade agreements and development plans that guarantee a company’s right to investment above the rights of the citizenry. Meanwhile, the indigenous populations face renewed dispossession and eviction to make way for global capital’s conquest.

Kiddin’ on the Square

The Politics and Poetics of Mose Allison’s Blues

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In October 1969, pianist/ singer/composer Mose Allison recorded “Monsters of the Id.” At a time when recent history had witnessed a police riot at the 1968 Democratic Party Convention, the police crackdown on protesters at Berkeley’s People’s Park, and popular backlash against anti-war, New Left, counter-culture, and Black Power sentiment, Allison began by warning that the title characters no longer remain hidden, but have come out in full view. To the accompaniment of a slightly discordant horn section, Allison—singing in his characteristic style, with its idiosyncratic pauses and accents—spins a variety of often ghoulish metaphors that remain just as timely in today’s era of Tea Party, torture reports, Stand Your Ground, and Donald Trump: “They’re sprouting through the cracks … They’re deputizing maniacs / Creatures from the swamp rewrite their own Mein Kampf.”

The Contemporary Crisis of the American Ideology

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Surveying the political scene in America, we are now witnessing the shattering of the last remnants of the American ideology that has maintained itself—despite strains—for almost 70 years. The ideas that justified the American economic and political system in the minds of most of our citizens throughout that long period came under stress during earlier storms—from the 1950s to the 1970s in particular—and a few beams and joists cracked but did not give way. Today the manifold crises of capitalism mean that the entire existing intellectual structure of American capitalism is breaking up. And because of the role that the U.S. capitalist class plays in the world, this represents a crisis of world capitalist leadership and legitimacy. The question then arises: What will the country’s rulers attempt to put in its place, and what alternative explanation will we on the left and in the labor movement be able to offer to the country’s workers?

Third Camp Politics: An Interview with Phyllis and Julius Jacobson

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[This interview was originally published in Left History, vol. 18, no. 1 (2014).]

Phyllis Jacobson (1922-2010) and Julius Jacobson (1922-2003) were socialist activists in New York City from the mid-1930s through the first years of the twenty-first century. They were members of a radical generation that came of age during the great depression and embraced the language of socialism, communism, and Marxism. They were also the children of working class Jewish immigrants who grew up in the city’s outer boroughs. For their parents, the First World War, the Bolshevik Revolution, and the general strikes and mass uprisings that convulsed many countries after the war were all recent events. The near collapse of the global economy in the early 1930s confirmed for many of their cohort the basic assumption that capitalism was inherently impermanent. Adopting a socialist outlook in a period characterized by social upheaval and economic crisis was easy; the challenge had to do with selecting a suitable group or tendency from a fissiparous menu of options.

C.L.R. James and the Race Question

A New Politics Forum

On March 25, 2016, New Politics sponsored a forum centered on its release of a never-before-published lecture by Afro-Trinidadian socialist C.L.R. James on Oliver Cox’s Caste, Class and Race.

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