Open Threads is an open blogging platform, for debate and exploration of ideas among communists and radicals. Content presented here is contributed by Kasama site users.
Long live the memory of justice Chinnappa Reddy on 1st death anniversary!
by Miles Ahead
Haven’t we all experienced those moments—spurred on by not only events, but within literature (fiction and non-fiction), music, film, the arts, when something resonates so deeply, that it impacts our lives, view of the world, way of thinking, and that changes our consciousness--where there’s no going back? We may have an epiphany, and that epiphany isn’t necessarily based on an individual’s direct experience. There is something very powerful with a shared collective and cumulative experience—that goes beyond one particular story.
On April 5th, Peter Matthiessen, author of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse died....
Comrades & Friends-
We are excited to announce the publication of the second issue of Red Skies At Night: A journal of Revolutionary Strategy and Praxis. We hope that this project can serve as a platform for comradely and non-sectarian dialogue and debate among those forces seeking to build a revolutionary movement against capitalism and for the emancipation of humanity.
Table of contents:...
In the final section of my recent article, The Solstice, I raise “the party” as a key conceptual question in the era of riots. The attempt built on previous efforts by the likes of Bruno Bosteels, Gavin Walker, Jodi Dean, Jason Smith and Endnotes, all of whom have recently returned to concept of “the party” in an attempt to sever the term itself from the often repeated equation of party and state or party and delusional leftist sect. All of this has, meanwhile, been occurring in an atmosphere where intellectual forces as disparate as Slavoj Žižek and Tiqqun have been calling for a return to “the party,” at least in the abstract.
But this level of theoretical abstraction has also led to a confusion of the term in practice. For some American Tiqqunistes, “Building the Party,” has meant nothing more than the eternal lifestylist tropes: squatting a house, dumpstering food, and maybe at some point going “back to the land.” For Žižek, Dean and Bosteels, meanwhile, the separation between “the party” and social democratic experiments such as SYRIZA remain vague, tending to reinforce the mistaken equation of “the party” with electoral politics.
In order to avoid these errors, I attempted to explore the multiple and contradictory components of “the party” and, rather than referring to it only in the abstract, intended to link these components directly to examples in the present. An unfortunate side-effect of this, however, has been the risk of abbreviating the concept itself by only exploring its present formulations. I explore the process (by no means that unique) of general social partisanship made more volatile in an age of riots, but I do not explore the process (much rarer) of a thoroughly communist partisanship. The reason for this is simple: there is no actual communist party today.
On March 12th,2104 this year,late Comrade Arvind turned 50.His life ignited a spark in the hearts of all cadres of the revolutionary movement/Although he left us so early the revered comrade illuminated the flame of Marxism-Leninsm -Maoism like a red light shimmering .He was a crusader to the revolutionary cause and one of the best comrades ever of the Communist movement.
Com Arvind was born in a middle class family from Sultanpur district in Bhela village.In 1965 his family migrated to Varanasi.He metriculated from Kating memorial Inter college and did his intermediate from Central Hindu school,Banaras. Then he joined Banaras University where he procured honous in B.S.C.....
From 10th March to 14th March the Arvind memorial Trust held a historic seminar on the question of Socialism and it's transition.It made an effort to analyse and summarize the achievements and flaws of past Socialist Societies.For 5 days about 200 people thronged the venue at Vigyan Bhavan in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh to debate and understand this issue.The author participated in this event and in this article gives his observations.
In my view this seminar was one of the most remarkable efforts to debate and defend the achievements of Socialist China and U.S.S.SR in light of the attacks by the bourgeois current on Socialist Societies.The representatives of the Arvind memorial Trust made a remarkable effort to defend the achievements of Socialist Societies and the ideology of comrades like Marx,Lenin,Stalin and Mao as well as the mistakes of comrades like Stalin or the errors during the Cultural Revolution.I particularly praise the efforts of the comrades to defend the achievements of Stalin against the bourgeois attack on him as well as the wrong currents within the world revolutionary camp.A very analytical paper was presented by Abhinav Sinha as well as met Dr Amritpal from Ludhiana.The latter made an incisive analysis of Stalin. Papers were also presented on Socialist China,distortions of the New Left,50 years since the general line of the CCP on ICM,analysis of Bolivarian and Nepalese revolutions,on Italian Marxism etc.The author was impressed in the meticulous work done to write the papers,particularly that of comrade Abhinav.A huge range of questions were answered.I myself presented a paper and asked some important questions.What was most important that the organizers allowed such a huge range of views to be discussed and debated and freely allowed activists to present papers and views which had variance from the line of the organizers of the conference.I was impressed with the discipline exhibited by the comrades and the efforts made to educate the cadre.It showed the commendable work done to educate cadre politically.The cadres worked day and night with splendid spirit and dedication.Few forums encourage such a broad range of views on Maoism and such abroad forum for activists to air their views....
From March 18 to May 28 1871, working people for the first time rose up and successfully seized power, if only briefly. Their radical vision of egalitarianism and popular power has echoed ever since -- in our highest hopes.
May the memory of this Paris Commune never die! May we be worthy in our time.
Vive la Commune!...
When I was younger my radical politics was truly an extension of my hyperactivity. They would cart me to school where I was basically a caged animal for about six hours a day. I didn’t work. They made me sit in my seat quietly and I was always bursting with energy. Any unleashing of this energy was a transgression against the rules of stillness and silence, and thus a rebellion of sorts, if not an effective one.
Those days are so gone....
The following is the third and final part of a three part series investigating the recent resurgence of right-wing mass movements across the world. The first section, available here, gives a brief overview of this resurgence. The second section, available here, looks in detail at what I argue is the most developed of these right-wing movements, found in Thailand. This third and final segment returns to the questions raised at the beginning, exploring them from the perspective of the "age of riots" hypothesis and the theory of the "historical party."
The People vs. The People
In the fall of 2010, while the country was still under a state of emergency after the crushing of the Red Shirts, I was living and working on an organic farm an hour or so outside Bangkok. The farm was owned by an expat who had some marginal connections to Santi Asoke, since they ran the most extensive organic agriculture network in the country. But the expat himself had a house off-site, and I was living alongside and working mostly with the farmhand family, who—like the undocumented workers constructing a new railroad down the street—were migrants from Isan, with some family in Laos. They spoke a Laotian-inflected dialect of Thai that, I discovered later, was a clear marker of class and ethnic status, in the same way that a strong Hispanic or redneck accent can be in the US.
The Thai family was paid better than many others in a similar situation, such as the railroad workers. But, after remitting a certain percentage of their income to relatives in the north, they were still unable to afford childcare, meaning that their oldest daughter, at thirteen, was forced to stay home from school to watch the younger children while both parents worked. If they were lucky, the oldest child might be able to find a job in the next few years, and her wages could be used to pay for one of the two youngest to go to school.
In Late October there was massive flooding in the area and I went with a team of volunteers to help emergency-harvest a cassava field that had been partially destroyed. The owners of the field were middle class Thais, friends of the expat, who not only had money to purchase the land to farm cassava, but also ran a small business on the side. They drove an enormous diesel pickup, similar to the ones I was familiar with in the American heartland—though in Thailand they have decals that read “Long Live the King” rather than “God Bless America”—and the glove compartment was stuffed with name-brand snacks for the family’s three children, slightly older than the children who lived on the farm, and all currently in school, despite the fact that both their parents worked.
After ripping several small mountains of cassava from the mud, the volunteers ate lunch with the family at a noodle-shop around the corner from the small, suburban farming plot. Across the street, stray dogs with distended bellies dug through the flood-turned soil. The mother of the family explained that, after lunch, we’d have to load the cassava into the pickup to take it to a processing center, where they’d pay a sum based on the weight. Someone asked if the family made much money from the cassava and the woman shook her head. They hardly made any profit from it at all—the land itself was just barely paid off.
Why do you plant the land, then? Someone else asked. The woman smiled. In broken English, she explained that her “great king Bhumibol” had asked Thai people to farm and become self-sufficient, and that this would help make the country strong. She explained that the government was very corrupt, and this created a dependence on foreign powers. But, led by the king, “good Thai people” could return to their cultural roots and rejuvenate the nation.
The following is the second part of a three part series investigating the recent resurgence of right-wing mass movements across the world. The first section, available here, gives a brief overview of this resurgence. This second section looks in detail at what I argue is the most developed of these right-wing movements, found in Thailand. The third, available here, will return to the questions raised at the beginning, exploring them from the perspective of the "age of riots" hypothesis and the theory of the "historical party."
“A Country is a Company” – Thaksin and the Corporal State
Thailand is a country marked by a sharp rural-urban divide, with a poor rural hinterland, particularly in the Northeastern Isan region, providing a cheap source of both agricultural resources and migrant labor for the wealthier urban core. It’s also a country with a deeply divided ruling class, with factions tied to the military and the crown (which is the largest single landholder in the country and the richest monarchy in the world), others tied to run-of-the-mill neoliberal interests, and still others having turned (after the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997/98) to a populist quasi-Keynesian capitalism. Each class fraction also frames its particular model of exploitation in anti-Western, anti-imperialist rhetoric, contrasting the decadence and corruption of the US-backed global economic order with the virtue of King and Nation. Power shifts generally signal some further fracturing of this ruling class or a shuffling of its allegiances. And such shifts occur with relative frequency: Thailand has experienced more coups than any other country in modern history.
The following is the first part of a three part series investigating the recent resurgence of right-wing mass movements across the world. This first section gives a brief overview of this resurgence. The second will then look in detail at what I argue is the most developed of these right-wing movements, found in Thailand. The third will return to the questions raised here at the beginning, exploring them from the perspective of the "age of riots" hypothesis and the theory of the "historical party."
After nearly three years of repression, the cycle of revolt that began with the Arab Spring in 2011 has met its winter on the Ukrainian steppe, in Italy’s mountainous north, and on Thailand’s Chao Phraya floodplain. This winter sits now at its pivotal solstice. It’s unclear if it will spread and, if so, how far. What is clear is that the left-wing mobilizations of the early 2010s have each been systematically suffocated, with most as of yet unable to consolidate many substantial gains. Even in Egypt, the heart of the last sequence of struggle, the revolution still sits in a violent gray area, with leftist militants drawn into alliance with the police and the military. As a member of the “original” Egyptian Black Bloc made clear in a recent interview:
After a while, these fake Black Bloc members even started negotiating with the head of police and the Minister of Interior, and they agreed to work together against the Muslim Brotherhood. Even friends of mine were involved in this, they said that now the army and police were on their side and that they would give us justice. They were traitors to the revolution and traitors to our friends who died. They forgot about everything we fought for.
In Greece, Golden Dawn made international headlines after gaining six percent of the vote in 2012. And Golden Dawn itself is only the most prominent of many revanchist parties sprouting up across the EU, most of which have, since the crisis, been capable of winning small but significant electoral victories while recruiting angry, white crisis-era youth into their ranks. But Golden Dawn and most other European far-right organizations, such as the French National Front or British National Party, though capable of gaining some seats in parliament and often attempting to intervene in recent political turmoil, have ultimately been incapable of leveraging the austerity-era struggles in their favor.
In the past few months, however, all of this has changed. In Italy and Ukraine, we have seen far-right movements gain a limited mass base—not only exploiting political faultlines to their benefit but actually calling new, if limited, mass movements into being. And in Thailand the monarchist and nationalist right-wing has broken the détente established in 2011, again mobilizing its base into a series of anti-government protests that may in the near future result in another coup—protests that, more importantly, have been explicitly mimicking the appearance of the past few years’ left-leaning occupations and blockades.
There is an assumption among much of the left that the state can take from us any information it wants. This is true to an extent. The NSA is certainly hovering up as much information as it can, but despite the best algorithms, it still requires human beings to determine the value of the data and how it can be used. We don't need to make it simple and easy for them. Resources are limited, and we can make them use more people, more effort, more time, and more money rather than letting them have it for free.
In addition, the government is not monolithic. It is many different and competing organizations and layers. Information is not shared perfectly. Interdepartmental jealousy causes information to be held back. The state's own rules hold it back in some ways (we should not assume this will always be the case). Further, there is a division between state, federal and local agencies. The fact that the NSA has information (even assuming they are aware of what they have) doesn't mean that the FBI has it, that the state police have it, that your local red squad have it. Criminal organizations are able to distribute billions of dollars of drugs without being substantially disrupted. Sadly, most criminal organizations have much better security culture than most leftists.
In addition, not all of our threats come from the state. Employers routinely use Google and Facebook now to spy on employees as well as filter job applicants. It's not so easy to get a job anymore. Further, there are damaged, deranged individuals who wish to do physical harm to leftists and suspected leftists.
At the end of this article is a link to a list of various actions you can take to lessen the threat to you and your organization.
Reposted from https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/02/history-surveillance-and-black-community
The History of Surveillance and the Black Community
February is Black History Month and that history is intimately linked with surveillance by the federal government in the name of "national security." Indeed, the history of surveillance in the African-American community plays an important role in the debate around spying today and in the calls for a congressional investigation into that surveillance. Days after the first NSA leaks emerged last June, EFF called for a new Church Committee. We mentioned that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the targets of the very surveillance that eventually led to the formation of the first Church Committee. This Black History Month, we should remember the many African-American activists who were targeted by intelligence agencies. Their stories serve as cautionary tales for the expanding surveillance state....
A part of capitalism history that is seldomly acknowledged is how much primitive accumulation depended upon the forced labor of slaves. When Marx in Das Kapital speaks of the brutal primitive accumulation in England, he discussed the dispossession of the peasantry to create a modern proletariat. If we were to write a chapter on the development of capitalism in the United States, we would have to discuss not only how the Founding Fathers had not interest in abolishing slavery, but that the blood and sweat of forced labor helped to fuel the genocidal expansion of the USA.
Intro by Enaa
How Slavery Led to Modern Capitalism: Echoes
By Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman, originally posted at Bloomberg.com...
by Mike Ely
Nat posted recently , here on Kasama, about the wonderful discovery of DNA within the tooth of a human male who lived in Spain 7,000 years ago -- and whose body was found at the La Braña-Arintero cave site near León.
There were some headlines about this because this individual (who is currently known as "Braña 1") proved to have both blue eyes and dark (essentially African) skin coloration....
"There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others....Reefer makes darkies think they're as good as white men."
Harry Anslinger, first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930s, father of marijuana criminalization
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In April of 1994 I attended a speech given by Amiri Baraka at the Douglass College Student Center; my life changed dramatically. He said, “We are here to tell you that there is still a revolutionary movement in the United States.” I became Baraka’s student, what used to be called a disciple. He knew the things that I wanted to know, he said the things that I wanted to say, he did the things that I wanted to do. I listened carefully to everything he said and read everything he wrote. When I met Amiri he was in his sixties. He was hunched over and gray bearded, but wiry and quick witted-- always with a can of Lite beer from Miller. I, along with many others, worked with him on the revolutionary newspaper Unity & Struggle throughout the 90’s.
During this time, Amiri churned out political essays and political programs that have never been correctly gathered, organized or published. They were photocopies passed around among those in the local movement. Essays that are truly avant-garde: deep expressions of what is happening NOW. A wild mix of Marxism-Leninism, the Afro-American tradition, and modernist poetry, essays with titles like: “Revolutionary Democracy needs an Anti-Imperialist Cultural Revolution,” “The International Business of Jazz and the Need for Cooperative and Collective Self-Development of an International People’s Culture.” Essays describing the future RAZOR project – “Revolutionary Art for Revolutionary Culture,” essays describing organizations to sustain the creation of Jazz, essays describing the relation of urban institutions to revolutionary politics, essays describing the building of revolutionary organization and movement in the United States, along with cultural criticism and agit-prop poetry like: A Modest Proposal for Guiliani’s Disposal in 41 Verses which are also Curses. Baraka’s writings dazzle because he never allows his thinking to be constricted by the formality of language. Instead he forces the language to bend to the will of his thinking. He is an innovator of necessity. He isn’t an avant-garde writer for the sake of being avant-garde. The content of his thinking requires the formal innovations of his literary style.
Hopefully whoever the forces are that care about Baraka’s political legacy can work together to organize this stuff, and put it out as something like: “The Collected Political Writings of Amiri Baraka.”...