This piece first appeared in LookLeft.
The statue of a Jewish Marxist intellectual in Budapest is being taken down, while at the same time, the statue of an anti-Semite fascist (Bálint Hóman) is being raised up. This is a deep insult to all those who fought against fascism. A trampling of history typically accompanies any fascist regime. One need only look at Spain under Franco, Greece under the Colonels, Brazil under Vargas and so on: a recurring trend is the revision of history and the expulsion of facts that don’t gel well with the predominant narrative.
Since 2015, we've seen the deterioration of refugee rights across the world and growing hatred towards them. Corporations sense the public mood and political opportunity and behave accordingly.
This piece by Kim Moody was first published in the September/October 2012 issue of Against the Current.
Strikers surround a mail truck, Oakland General Strike, 1946.
Inspired by the boldness of the movement, activists of Occupy Oakland issued a “call for a general strike” in that city for November 2 — a sign of the movement’s radicalism and its sense of where social power lies.
One criticism of the Occupy activists was that they had not consulted the unions. Had they done so, however, it is very unlikely that very many union leaders would have agreed to jointly “call” such an action. But what’s more important, as I will argue, is that general strikes or mass strikes are seldom simply “called” from above, if at all, or until they are well underway — and those that are “called” tend to be called off just as easily.
Continued from part 1.
The new class
From then saying “farewell to the working class” to electing themselves the new agents of change in New Times was but a short and logical step. For the shift from industrial to postindustrial society or, more accurately, from industrial to information society did not just remove the industrial working class from its pivotal position but threw up at the same time a new information “class.” Since, however, information operated differently at two different levels — at the economic, as a factor of production (information in the sense of data fed to computers, robots, etc.), and at the political, as a factor of ideology, so to speak (information as fed to people) — the combined economic and political clout of the old working class also got differentiated, with the economic going to the technical workers and the political to the “information workers,” the intelligentsia. And in a society “over-determined” by the political/ideological, the intelligentsia, who had hitherto no class as such, had come into their own. Except that the Right intelligentsia knew that the means of information were in the hands of the bourgeoisie and they were merely the producers of ideas and information and ideology that kept the bourgeoisie in situ, while the Left intelligentsia were convinced that the ideas and information and ideology they produced would overwhelm, if not overthrow, the bourgeoisie itself.
Communities of Resistance: Writings on Black Struggles for Socialism — the second collection of essays by A. Sivanandan, longtime director of the Institute of Race Relations and editor of Race & Class — was published by Verso in 1990. In an interview with Quintin Hoare and Malcolm Imrie which opens the book, Sivanandan elaborates its subtitle:
Any struggles of the oppressed, be it blacks or women, which are only for themselves and then not for the least of them, the most deprived, the most exploited of them, are inevitably self-serving and narrow and unable to enlarge the human condition. It's not just a question of having the experience of opression but missing its meaning but also of failing to make the meaning flesh...Any liberation struggle which is not socialist in the first instance ends up in tyranny. The means are the ends, there can be no distinction between them. There is no socialism after ilberation, socialism is the process through which liberation is won.
In the essay below (reproduced here in two parts), first published in Race & Class in 1990, Sivanandan undertakes a thorough critique of the New Times current developed within the Thatcher-era Marxism Today, and which would prove an influence on the rhetoric of Labour in the 1990s.
Marxism Today editor Martin Jacques, 1985.
Dedicated to those friends with whom, out of a different loyalty, I must now openly disagree.
New Times is a fraud, a counterfeit, a humbug. It palms off Thatcherite values as socialist, shores up the Thatcherite market with the pretended politics of choice, fits out the Thatcherite individual with progressive consumerism, makes consumption itself the stuff of politics. New Times is a mirror image of Thatcherism passing for socialism. New Times is Thatcherism in drag. 1