This post first appeared at Research & Destroy.
We can imagine a person slowly becoming aware that he is the subject of catastrophe. The form of consciousness might be likened to someone peering out the window of a plane. They have been aboard for a long time, years, decades. From cruising altitude the landscape below scrolls past evenly, somewhat abstracted. The stabilizing mechanisms of eye and brain smooth the scene. Perhaps they are somewhere above the upper midwest. Their knowledge of the miseries that have seized flyover country hovers at the periphery of a becalmed boredom. Steady hum of the jet engines, sense of stillness. Borne by prevailing winds the first balloonists detected no wind whatsoever. So this flight. Though the passengers will never travel faster than this they scarcely feel any motion at all.
Today marks the 169th anniversary of the publication of one of the most influential documents in world history: The Communist Manifesto. In this introduction to the new edition, published alongside Lenin's April Theses, Tariq Ali contextualises the period—the eve of the 1848 revolutions—in which Marx and Engels penned their masterpiece and argues that it desperately needs a successor.
The first English-language edition of Armed Insurrection was translated from French and Germany by Quintin Hoare and published by New Left Books in 1970, as "classic document" of the Third Period. Written in 1928 under the direction of the Agitprop division of the Comintern, the book was to be a tactical manual for insurrection — containing detailed studies of uprisings in Reval (Tallinn), Hamburg, Canton (Guangzhou), and Shanghai — to be used by communists around the world.
A work of illegal propaganda written by a collective of Comintern military and political specialists (a group which included Palmiro Togliatti and Ho Chi Minh), the book's authorship was attributed to the pseudonym "A Neuberg." In the excerpt below, published as a preface to the NLB edition, one member of the "Neuberg" group — Erich Wollenberg, a KPD functionary and military leader of the Bochum rising in North Germany in 1923 — explains the process of the book's composition, identifies the authors of some of its sections, and highlights some distortions to the accounts contained within it and the motivations behind them.
In the spring of 1928 Piatnitsky [An Old Bolshevik who was liquidated during the Stalinist purges (1936-8)], the Organizing Secretary of the Comintern, called me into his office. I was at that time on the technical staff of the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow, in charge of its military bureau, and taught in the military schools in which German communists were trained as specialists in insurrection.
This transcript of Vincent Emanuele's interview with David Harvey appeared first in Counterpunch.
March from El Alto to La Paz, June 2011.
Emanuele: You begin your book Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution, by describing your experience in Paris during the 1970s: “Tall building-giants, highways, soulless public housing and monopolized commodification on the streets threatening to engulf the old-Paris… Paris from the 1960s on was plainly in the midst of an existential crisis.” In 1967, Henry Lefebvre wrote his seminal essay “On the Right to the City.” Can you talk about this period and the impetus for writing Rebel Cities?
Harvey: Worldwide, the 1960s is often looked at, historically, as a period of urban crisis. In the United States, for example, the 1960s was a time when many central cities went up in flames. There were riots and near revolutions in cities like Los Angeles, Detroit, and of course after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968 — over 120 American cities were inflicted with minor and massive social unrest and rebellious action. I mention this in the United States, because what was in-effect happening was that the city was being modernized.