Two years after the publication of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, this international best-seller is still the object of a great deal of discussion and criticism. While its author is now listed among Time magazine’s 100 most influential figures, the economist Frédéric Lordon ,author of Willing Slaves of Capital has written a robust attack on Piketty’s book for this month’s Le Monde diplomatique. Its title – ‘Thomas Piketty, no danger to capital in the twenty-first century’ gives some idea of the kind of critique he is making.
Frédéric Lordon’s article sticks out like a sore thumb from the media consensus praising the quality and political depth of Piketty’s book; and well-aware of his both insightful and iconoclastic views on major contemporary debates, Frédéric Taddei invited Lordon onto his programme Ce Soir (ou jamais!), together with Piketty. The question that the two men debated was ‘Should we put capitalism straight?’
A day after what would have been Daniel Bensaïd's 69th birthday, we publish this interview with Chilean director Carmen Castillo, whose film We Are Alive draws continuities from his writing and activism to contemporary struggle across two continents. Here she recounts her meetings with Bensaïd as a young activist and her experience making the film.
Daniel Bensaïd in 2008.
Carmen Castillo was born in Chile, and worked for the Allende government before entering the clandestine resistance together with her partner Miguel Enriquez after the Pinochet coup of 11 September 1973. Arrested and then expelled from her homeland (after an international campaign for her release), she recounted her tragic history in two books and then her 2007 film Calle Santa Fe.
The director continues to be haunted by a number of questions. How can we pass on the memory of the defeated without suffocating it with nostalgia or bitterness? What can we do today to keep loyal to the ideas of friends, loved ones and comrades who are no longer of this world – a world that they were so passionate about changing? How can we hope, now that we know that nothing is written in advance (as some of us used to believe)?
Castillo’s next film, We Are Alive, comes to French cinemas on 29 April. Making use of the thought of philosopher Daniel Bensaïd, Castillo portrays the daily struggles of all those across two continents who throw themselves into the ‘joyous passion’ of struggle – despite everything, and however ignored they are by the big media cartels.
Marxist geographer David Harvey recently spoke with il manifesto about the contradictions inherent in capitalism, the possibilities for its undoing and where Syriza and Podemos fit within its opposition.
At 79 years of age and fresh from publishing a new book (Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, Oxford University Press), David Harvey is still reading social change with one eye on Marx and another on the social movements.