Stendhal wrote cela [that] with a double l, which got him in trouble when he was working as a functionary at the War Ministry. In fact, he was no good at literature when he was studying, and his goal was to enter the École polytechnique — like Octave in his Armance, as well as his Lucien Leuwen. His whole life, he wrote in an unreadable spidery scrawl with countless errors – so much so that he had to dictate The Charterhouse of Parma. He did so in seven weeks, which is pretty quick for what is not a thin volume. Sainte-Beuve found Stendhal’s novels "frankly detestable." He could not stand Balzac, to the point that he refused to attend a dinner where he risked meeting him. He really liked Baudelaire, however, finding him a to be "nice boy, fine in his language and entirely classical in form." Balzac would have loved to be in the Académie française, but when he presented himself as a candidate he only got four votes, and it was instead the Duke of Noailles who was chosen to replace Chateaubriand. Baudelaire had also thought of putting himself forward, and when he withdrew his candidacy, Sainte-Beuve congratulated him on having left "a good impression."
From the explosion in border walls to the rise of Donald Trump to the books that they've read along the way, Verso authors reflect on one of the most shocking years in recent history in this 2016 review.
With contributions from: Franco Bifo Berardi, Christine Delphy, Keller Easterling, Nick Estes, Liz Fekete, Amber A'Lee Frost, Andrea Gibbons, Owen Hatherley, Eric Hazan, Helen Hester, Karen L. Ishizuka, Reece Jones, Costas Lapavitsas, Andreas Malm, Geoff Mann, Jane McAlevey, Ed Morales, David Roediger Nick Srnicek and Wolfgang Streeck.
Ninety-nine years after the Soviet Revolution the stage is set for precipitation into global civil war. While the financial class exacerbates its agenda fuelling unemployment and social devastation, the dynamics that led to Nazism are deploying worldwide. Nationalists are repeating what Hitler said to the impoverished workers of Germany: rather than as defeated workers, think of yourself as white warriors so you’ll win. They did not win, but they destroyed Europe. They will not win this time neither, but they are poised to destroy the world.
After two centuries of colonial violence, we are now facing the final showdown. As worker’s internationalism has been destroyed by capital globalisation, a planetary bloodbath is getting almost unavoidable.
After centuries of colonial domination and violence, the dominators of the world are now facing a final showdown: the dispossessed of the world are reclaiming a moral and economic reward that the West is unwilling and unable to pay. The concrete historical debt towards those people that we have exploited cannot be paid because we are forced to pay the abstract financial debt.
The year now coming to an end has abounded with bad news on the political front. After a foul and very long debate on how we could ‘strip’ French citizens of their nationality – ultimately reaching the conclusion that this was impossible with regard to both French laws and international conventions – the government abandoned the bill. Immediately after that, a fresh bill was presented to ‘reform’ the labour code, largely getting rid of the majority of the guarantees enjoyed by workers. There was a mass mobilisation against this plan, lasting across the whole spring and part of summer. It opposed demonstrators in all France’s towns and cities to a police which, as the prime minister Manuel Valls put it, ‘had not been given any orders to show restraint’.
227 years ago today the people of Paris stormed the gates of the Bastille and in doing so starting one of the most momentous occasions of the French Revolution. To celebrate Bastille day, we bring you this short extract from Eric Hazan's People's History of the French Revolution in which Eric discusses the events of July 14th 1789.
A statement published in Libération on 17 June: Five dozen intellectuals, activists, and trade unionists call for resistance against the government and for continuing strikes, blockades and occupations. Translated by David Broder.
So here we see it. Their great fear, and their great efforts to try and hide it by playing the tough guy who won’t give in. We’ve been expecting it for months, and here it is: they’re waving around the threat of banning demonstrations. The height of the unacceptable? With this government, something worse might always be around the corner. This is the same government that cynically commemorates the 1936 strikes of the Popular Front era. It may well defend its own interests, the interests of the powerful, the interests of profits and money. That makes sense — that’s the fight it’s waging. But if only it’d rein in its celebrations and recuperation of a past it never stops trampling underfoot.
This editorial was first published in Libération. Translated by David Broder.
According to [French prime minister] Manuel Valls, "anti-Zionism is quite simply synonymous with anti-Semitism." This argument is no surprise coming from a politician for whom "the state of emergency is the state of the rule of law" and who wants to combat unemployment by making it easier to sack people. But seriously, now — what exactly is "anti-Zionism"?
There are two possible answers. The first one depends on two assertions, one built on the other: the state of Israel speaks in the name of all Jews worldwide; consequently, to be an "anti-Zionist," criticising Israeli policy, is to denigrate not only the Israeli government but the country’s population and indeed all Jews — and this is anti-Semitism. Such is the claim at the galas hosted by the CRIF [council of French Jewish "community leaders"]