In a post entitled 'Liberals and Reactionaries,' Lenin's Tomb reviews Domenico Losurdo's acclaimed Liberalism: A Counter-History. Richard Seymour, author of The Liberal Defence of Murder, focusses on the relationship between property rights and liberal ideology. Seymour emphasises that, whereas Marxist thinkers generally see private property as the mainstay of liberal ideology, Losurdo seems rather to point to "the logic of exclusion"—that is to say, to those subjects who did not benefit from liberal rights and freedoms.
According to Seymour, Losurdo's approach does not question the revolutionary essence of liberalism itself—it rather underlines the distance between its ideals and practice. The socialist blogger instead stresses the interrelation between capitalism and liberalism:
Property rights have always been structured in such a way as to allow white Europeans to expropriate non-white non-Europeans, from Locke to Vattel onward. After Katrina, the property rights of working class Americans, especially African Americans, were cancelled by fiat—but this didn't disturb the basic politico-legal order of property rights. In fact, I would bet on the idea that the state authorities and companies who carried out this expropriation worked very hard on devising a legal justification for this theft. Moreover, it is the nature of capitalist property relations, to which liberalism is committed, that builds exclusions into liberalism.
On Saturday, October the 8th 2011, the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, Trafalgar Square will turn into the meeting point for an "Anti-War Mass Assembly." The event will start at noon, and will be opened by Joe Glenton, an ex-soldier who was jailed for refusing to fight in Afghanistan, and Grace McCann, who in 2009 attempted a citizen's arrest on Tony Blair. Speeches and live performances will follow. A "Naming the Dead Ceremony" will be led by Joan Humphries, who lost her grandson in Afghanistan, and Rose Gentle, who lost her son in Iraq.
In September 2010, Verso published an anthology of writings on The Case fror Withdrawal from Afghanistan, edited by Nick Turse, and including contributions by Tariq Ali and Tom Engelhardt. The book is a must read for all those who oppose the deadly conflict that Barack Obama calls "just war."
Visit the Antiwar assembly website for more info on the demonstration, and to sign the "I will be there" pledge.
The last issue of the Jewish Quarterly features an insightful review of Esther Benbassa's Suffering as Identity: The Jewish Paradigm by Devorah Baum. The book, she writes, is "invaluable for both its political deconstruction of victimhood and its recollection of the lesser known, non-lachrymose history of the Jews."
In the review, Baum touches on the key points of Benbassa's book: the idea that shared suffering can be a powerful catalyser of collective identity; the emergence of a collective narrative of Jewish history as "lachrymose" that has also become a "model to imitate" for other oppressed groups; the relationship between Jewish historiography and religion; and the influence of the Christian tradition on the self-representation of Jewish communities:
this influence has only increased in the modern period, particularly post-war when Jews have often appeared in Jewish and Christian responses to Auschwitz as a martyred people whose martyrdom has been consistently compared to the figure of the suffering of Christ.
Who would be able to outshine Ed Miliband, Ken Livingstone and Paul Krugman as "the most influential left-wing thinker of the year?" According to a survey carried out by the political blog Left Foot Forward, the answer is Owen Jones, the author of Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class. Polling 42.1% of the readers' votes, Owen Jones came ahead of the leader of the Green Party Caroline Lucas, the media campaigner Tom Watson and the Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee.
In an interview with the Socialist Worker, Melissa Benn warns about the devastating impact of the coalition policies on the British schooling system. The author of School Wars: The Battle for Britain's Education emphasises how the introduction of academies de facto implies a privatization of education:
I think that what's really behind academies is getting rid of local democracy and shifting education towards the private sector. It will be state-funded-but not a state system.