Stuart Jeffries gives an overview of the mainstreaming of Marx in today's Guardian, featuring Verso authors Alain Badiou, Jacques Rancière, Owen Jones and Slavoj Žižek as well as the new edition of The Communist Manifesto.
Class conflict once seemed so straightforward. Marx and Engels wrote in the second best-selling book of all time, The Communist Manifesto: "What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable."...
Today, 164 years after Marx and Engels wrote about grave-diggers, the truth is almost the exact opposite. The proletariat, far from burying capitalism, are keeping it on life support.
Jeffries interviews Jacques Rancière, philosopher, radical social historian (and Ségolène Royal's favourite thinker) to shed light on the 'new Marxism':
Aren't Marx's venerable ideas as useful to us as the hand loom would be to shoring up Apple's reputation for innovation? Isn't the dream of socialist revolution and communist society an irrelevance in 2012? After all, I suggest to Rancière, the bourgeoisie has failed to produce its own gravediggers. Rancière refuses to be downbeat: "The bourgeoisie has learned to make the exploited pay for its crisis and to use them to disarm its adversaries.
There are Reds under the bed. Or in the academies. Or worse: about to spill into the streets. So warns Alan Johnson in World Affairs, the esteemed Washington-based international affairs journal. Tracing the rising profile of a group of authors such as Alain Badiou, Bruno Bosteels and Slavoj Žižek and the popularity of their books, the columnist outlines what he sees as a nascent threat lurking in the incendiary words of Terry Eagleton and Toni Negri.
Read an English translation of Alain Badiou's recent article for Le Monde. Translation kindly provided by Cristiana Petru-Stefanescu.
The Eastern wind is getting the better of the Western one. How much longer will the poor and dark West, the "international community" of those who still think of themselves as masters of the world, continue to give lessons of good management and behaviour to the whole planet? Isn't it laughable to see certain intellectuals on duty, disconcerted soldiers of the capital-parliamentarism that stands as a shabby paradise for us, offering themselves to the magnificent Tunisian and Egyptian peoples in order to teach these savage populations the basics of "democracy"? What a distressing persistence of colonial arrogance! Given the miserable political situation that we are experiencing, isn't it obvious that it is us who have everything to learn from the current popular uprisings? Shouldn't we, in all urgency, closely study what has made possible the overthrow through collective action of governments that are oligarchic, corrupt and—possibly, above all—humiliatingly the vassals of Western states?
Peter Hallward writes in the Guardian on how the recent Arab uprisings may mark the end of the era of "resigned submission" to neoliberalism:
In different ways in different places (including most dramatically some places that until very recently were often taken for granted as among the most "docile" and "stable" countries around), people all over the world are rediscovering a principle at work in every revolutionary sequence: if we are willing to act in sufficient numbers and with sufficient determination, we already have all the power we need to devise and impose our own alternative. If we are determined to pursue it, we now have an opportunity to help change the world.
This isn't to say that either the neoliberal order or the imperial power that protects it are in any imminent danger of collapse. An opportunity is nothing more, or less, than an opportunity. The governments led by people like David Cameron and Barack Obama continue to press an agenda of "reform" that amounts to little less than a form of class warfare.