Thursday, December 24, 2009

Foundations of Christianity by Karl Kautsky

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Merry Christmas.  I thought that this would be an appropriate time to remind people of the existence of this work.  We don’t have to do the whole warm-and-fuzzy liberal thing where we name every convictable other holiday people might be celebrating around this time of year, but needless to say, best wishes to all.  I’ll end with a plea for you to ignore the psuedo-leftist call for a “Xmas of restraint”.  Fuck thatBe epicureans

In his foreword, Kautsky expressed his hope that the book would be 'a powerful weapon in the struggles of the present, in order to hasten the attainment of a better future'. He began his analysis by looking for evidence that 'the person of Jesus' existed at all, using pagan and Christian sources. The next dozen chapters are then taken up with a materialist description of the ancient Roman society from which early Christianity sprang. Kautsky then went on to describe the history of the Jewish people, up to the point where Christianity began.

Having set the scene, Kautsky described the beginnings of Christianity. The next five sections are called 'The Primitive Christian Community', 'The Christian Idea of the Messiah', 'Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians', 'The History of Christ’s Passion' and 'The Development of the Christian Community'.

Kautsky contended that Christianity was born out of a group of Jewish proletarians in a decaying Roman empire, who sought to defeat the Romans through a violent insurrection.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Underground: My life in SDS and the Weathermen by Mark Rudd

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I haven’t finished it yet, but so far it’s much more thoughtful than Bill Ayers’ mess of a memoir.  I have little faith that Mark Rudd can fully answer the political questions that arose out of the New Left of the 60s, but it’s an enthralling account nonetheless.

With the war in Iraq provoking memories of Vietnam, Rudd gave up a 25-year silence on his role in the radical student movement of the 1960s when he lead the Weathermen. The group grew out of the Student for Democratic Society behind massive anti-war and social-justice protests at Columbia University. Rudd recalls his personal journey from idealistic freshman to student radical and the escalating violence that led to the riot during the 1969 Democratic party convention in Chicago and the bombing of a townhouse in Greenwich Village. Rudd spent seven years, from 1970 until 1977, living underground as a federal fugitive before turning himself in. Rudd writes from the perspective of a middle-aged teacher living in New Mexico, still concerned about social justice and heartened by the new administration and growing involvement of young people in politics and civic engagement. He admits shame and guilt about some of the excesses and violence of the radical 1960s, but maintains an enduring pride in the passion and idealism of the time. An engrossing look back at a turbulent time by an iconic figure.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

BLOOD RELATIONS: Menstruation and the origins of culture by Chris Knight

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"Imagine a time when women lived together, worked together, sang and danced together, and our lives, work rhythms, songs and dance rhythms were all governed by the cycles of the moon. Imagine a time when all our skins were dark, Europeans having newly arrived from Africa. Imagine a time when women had the power and solidarity  to make men leave their warm hearth-sides, go out into the howling wastes of Ice Age Europe to hunt giant and ferocious mammoths and then transport their kills proudly back to the women's camp.

This is not a feminist matriarchalist dream. This happened somewhere between 60,000 and 40,000 years ago, according to the latest scientific account of human cultural origins given by male Marxist anthropologist Chris Knight in Blood Relations. The 'Human Revolution', as archaeologists call it, sparked an explosion of symbolic culture that was carried from Africa into Europe, Asia and all the way to Australia 40,000 years ago, and later all over the planet"

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Meaning of Sarkozy by Alain Badiou

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A trenchant and witty dissection of the French political scene by the leading radical philosopher.

Alain Badiou, in this sharp and focused intervention, claims that, in and of itself, the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as President is not an event, nor is it the cause for wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth. To understand the significance of "Sarkozy," we have to look behind the insignificance and vulgarity of the figure and ask what he represents, namely a reactionary tradition which goes back to the early nineteenth century. To escape from the ambience of depression and fear that currently envelops the Left, Badiou casts aside the slavish worship of electoral democracy and maps out a communist hypothesis that can lay the basis for emancipatory politics in the twenty-first century.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

First As Tragedy, Then As Farce by Slavoj Zizek

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From the tragedy of 9/11 to the farce of the financial meltdown—but underlying both is the irrationality of global capitalism. In this bravura analysis of the current global crisis—following on from his bestselling Welcome to the Desert of the Real—Slavoj Zizek argues that the liberal idea of the “end of history,” declared by Francis Fukuyama during the 1990s, has had to die twice. After the collapse of the liberal-democratic political utopia, on the morning of 9/11, came the collapse of the economic utopia of global market capitalism at the end of 2008. Marx argued that history repeats itself—occuring first as tragedy, the second time as farce—and Zizek, following Herbert Marcuse, notes here that the repetition as farce can be even more terrifying than the original tragedy.

The financial meltdown signals that the fantasy of globalization is over and as millions are put out of work it has become impossible to ignore the irrationality of global capitalism. Just a few months before the crash, the world’s priorities seemed to be global warming, AIDS, and access to medicine, food and water—tasks labelled as urgent, but with any real action repeatedly postponed. Now, after the financial implosion, the urgent need to act seems to have become unconditional—with the result that undreamt of quantities of cash were immediately found and then poured into the financial sector without any regard for the old priorities. Do we need further proof, Zizek asks, that Capital is the Real of our lives: the Real whose demands are more absolute than even the most pressing problems of our natural and social world? .

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related reading on The Activist “In Defense of Slavoj Zizek”.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wars of Position: The Cultural Politics of Left and Right by Timothy Brennan

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Taking stock of contemporary social, cultural, and political currents, Timothy Brennan explores key turning points in the recent history of American intellectual life. He contends that a certain social-democratic vision of politics has been banished from public discussion, leading to an unlikely convergence of the political right and the academic left and a deadening of critical opposition. Brennan challenges the conventional view that affiliations based on political belief, claims upon the state, or the public interest have been rendered obsolete by the march of events in the years before and after Reagan. Instead, he lays out a new path for a future infused with a sense of intellectual and political possibility.

highly recommended.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

The Rebel by Albert Camus

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As usual… support the site if you have a moment, because I guarantee you won’t find this anywhere else.  Trust me I tried.

The Rebel (French title: L'Homme révolté) is a 1951 book-length essay by Albert Camus, which treats both the metaphysical and the historical development of rebellion and revolution in societies, especially Western Europe. Camus relates writers and artists as diverse as Epicurus and Lucretius, the Marquis de Sade, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Friedrich Nietzsche, and André Breton in an integrated, historical portrait of man in revolt.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus

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The Myth of Sisyphus is a philosophical essay by Albert Camus. It comprises about 120 pages and was published originally in 1942 in French as Le Mythe de Sisyphe; the English translation by Justin O'Brien followed in 1955.

In the essay, Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd: man's futile search for meaning, unity and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values. Does the realization of the absurd require suicide? Camus answers: "No. It requires revolt." He then outlines several approaches to the absurd life. The final chapter compares the absurdity of man's life with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a rock up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. The essay concludes, "The struggle itself...is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Coming Soon

Within the next week:

  • Albert Camus Collection:

The Stranger, The Rebel, The Myth of Sisyphus and others

Within the next month:

REQUEST: (please submit if you have a scan)

Jews without Money by Michael Gold

Hope all you comrades have a wonderful weekend,

Citoyen

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In Defense of Lost Causes by Slavoj Zizek

I like Zizek.  He might be full of shit 99 percent of the time, but it’s very entertaining shit.  And it is refreshing to hear a good defense of the metanarrative and the concept of revolution.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

How to Read Marx

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Peter Osborne, How to Read Marx
Norton | 2006 | ISBN 0393328783 | 144 Pages | PDF OCR | 1.4 MB

Drawing on passages from a wide range of Marx’s writings, and showing the links among them, Osborne refutes the myth of Marx as a reductively economistic thinker. What Marx meant by “materialism,” “communism,” and the “critique of political economy” was much richer and more original, philosophically, than is generally recognized. With the renewed globalization of capitalism since 1989, Osborne argues, Marx’s analyses of the consequences of commodification are more relevant today than ever before.
Extracts are taken from the full breadth of Marx’s writings, including Notebooks on Epicurean Philosophy, the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, and The Communist Manifesto to Capital.

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the promised Camus is coming later today or tomorrow.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Coming Soon: Albert Camus Collection

Good translations have been found and are being properly formatted. Look for it in the coming days and in the meantime support the site the obvious way.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ward Number Six by Anton Chekhov

It’s often said that this is the book that made Lenin a revolutionary.  It’s probably far more likely that his brother being murdered by the Tsar played a bigger role… it’s a great story anyway.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Karl Kautsky “The Road to Power” 100 Years On.

100 years on, still no power for the world proletariat.  Certainly there needs to be a reassessment, but there is a lot that still can be gleaned from Kautsky’s finest work.  It’s important to note that historically the parties of the left have fallen into the trap of class coalitionalism or mass strike fantasies and haven’t practiced the Kautsykan “strategy of patience”.  How realistic this strategy is in the 21st century is an open question.  Certainly new tactics will need to be devised, but the general principles of this piece though, in my opinion, are unassailable. 

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I only have mirrors for the 1909 A.M. Simons translation.  I am looking for the Raymond Meyer 1996 translation.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Military Operatives Spying on Activist Groups

Is there like a new COINTELPRO directed at anarchist and anti-war groups?  I suppose dreary “orthodox” Marxists like myself aren’t the threat to the ruling class at the moment :)

If readers want to advertise any campaign or petition related to this state interference with non-violent protest, feel free to use the comment box below. 

Some new releases will be coming in around a week or so, support the site if you can be bothered to.  If not, I’m not complaining.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Platypus Synthesis

The Platypus Synthesis: History, Theory, and Practice

At the 1st annual international convention of the Platypus Affiliated Society, in Chicago, June 12-14, 2009, the concluding plenary event, a discussion on the Platypus's theoretical stance, its raison d'etre, and where the project will be going.

http://platypus1917.org/about/convention2009/schedule/

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Revolutionary Strategy by Mike MacNair

A very important work that I would recommend to any leftist.

Articles on this book:The Activist, Perm. Revolution, The Commune

And of course MacNair is a member of the CPGB

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Reformism or Revolution by Alan Woods

Reformism or Revolution

This book by Alan Woods is a polemic against a well-known (in Latin America) intellectual Heinz Dieterich. Dieterich claims to have invented a new "Socialism of the 21st Century" and much else into the bargain. He offers a great deal of advice to those involved in the Venezuelan Revolution dressed up in all manner of revolutionary rhetoric. However, when you clear away all the verbiage that surrounds his "new" socialist philosophy, there remains nothing new at all, simply a rehash of stale petty-bourgeois ideas of the past. The author of "Reformism or Revolution" seeks to answer Dieterich's extravagant claims and in doing so defends the real ideas of Marxism on a whole host of questions and in particular the way forward for the Venezuelan and world revolution.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Memorias del Subdesarrollo

Memories of Underdevelopment is the classic film of Cuban cinema. Directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, the story is based on a novel by Edmundo Desnoes. It was Alea's fifth film, and probably his most famous worldwide. The film gathered several awards at international film festivals.

Sergio, a wealthy bourgeois aspiring writer, decides to stay in Cuba even though his wife and friends flee to Miami. Sergio looks back over the changes in Cuba, from the Cuban Revolution to the missile crisis, the effect of living in an underdeveloped country, and his relations with his girlfriends Elena and Hanna. Memories of Underdevelopment is a complex character study of alienation during the turmoil of social changes. The film is told in a highly subjective point of view through a fragmented narrative that resembles the way memories function.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Coming Insurrection by The Invisible Committee

I haven’t read this book, not sure if I’ll get around to reading this book, but it’s getting a lot of attention so I figure I would post it here.  I assume it reads like a Crimethinc neo-Situationist work and contains lifestyle anarchist drivel, but I could be wrong.  I use the term “neo-Situationist” loosely, due to my respect for the original grouping.  I’ll have more (bigger) releases coming, but please support the site.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

The Two Souls of Socialism by Hal Draper

This extended essay is a MUST read for anyone who claims to be a leftist or a socialist of any stripe. He was however in my estimation a bit too harsh and generalizing in his appraisal of anarchism.  It doesn’t hurt the credibility of his other points.

The Two Souls of Socialism is a socialist pamphlet written by Hal Draper and published in the journal New Politics in 1966. An earlier version of the pamphlet was published by Draper in 1960 in the socialist student magazine Anvil. In his work Draper rejects what he calls "Socialism-from-Above" in favor of "Socialism-from-Below". According to Draper, the divide between these two souls of socialism is the "fundamental" one that underlies other divisions such as "reformist or revolutionary, peaceful or violent, democratic or authoritarian, etc."

Among Socialism-from-Above, Draper includes such varied forms of socialism as utopian socialism, Communist dictatorship and Stalinism, social democracy, and anarchism. Confessing that Socialism-from-Below "has had few consistent exponents and not many inconsistent ones", he nevertheless identifies it with Marx, "whose notion was from the very beginning that the emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working class itself."

The pamphlet is organized primarily as a brief history of socialism and important socialist thinkers, beginning with a critical glance at "ancestors" such as Plato, Pythagoras and the Gracchi before turning to Babeuf, Saint-Simon and utopians such as Fourier and Owen. Draper then lauds Marx as the first champion of Socialism-from-Below, "who finally fettered the two ideas of Socialism and Democracy together".

The next sections of the pamphlet consider in turn anarchists (specifically Proudhon and Bakunin), Lassalle, the Fabians, Eduard Bernstein, and American socialists such as Edward Bellamy, all of whom are criticized for being Socialists-from-Above. The final sections separate out "six strains of Socialism-from-Above" (philanthropism, elitism, plannism, communionism, permeationism, and Socialism-from-Outside) and conclude with a call to intellectuals "to choose the road of Socialism-from-Below".

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Wobblies & Zapatistas by Andrej Grubacic, Denis O'Hearn

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Wobblies and Zapatistas offers the reader an encounter between two generations and two traditions. Andrej Grubacic is an anarchist from the Balkans. Staughton Lynd is a lifelong pacifist, influenced by Marxism. They meet in dialogue in an effort to bring together the anarchist and Marxist traditions, to discuss the writing of history by those who make it, and to remind us of the idea that "my country is the world." Encompassing a Left libertarian perspective and an emphatically activist standpoint, these conversations are meant to be read in the clubs and affinity groups of the new Movement.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

One of Godard’s Finest

I’m partial to Tout va bien as well, even though the Maoist undertones seem a bit dated.  His mainstream films as obviously classics as well, even though I think I prefer Truffaut.

The Accumulation of Capital by Rosa Luxemburg

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Rosa Luxemburg was a revolutionary socialist who fought and died for her beliefs. In January 1919, after being arrested for her involvement in a workers' uprising in Berlin, she was brutally murdered by a group of right-wing soldiers. Her body was recovered days later from a canal. Six years earlier she had published what was undoubtedly her finest achievement, The Accumulation of Capital - a book which remains one of the masterpieces of socialist literature. Taking Marx as her starting point, she offers an independent and fiercely critical explanation of the economic and political consequences of capitalism in the context of the turbulent times in which she lived, reinterpreting events in the United States, Europe, China, Russia and the British Empire. Many today believe there is no alternative to global capitalism. This book is a timely and forceful statement of an opposing view.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

A Very Short Introduction to Anarchism by Colin Ward

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What do anarchists want? It seems easier to classify them by what they don't want, namely, the organizations of the State, and to identify them with rioting and protest rather than with any coherent ideology. But with demonstrations like those against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund being blamed on anarchists, it is clear that an explanation of what they do stand for is long overdue. Colin Ward provides answers to these questions by considering anarchism from a variety of perspectives: theoretical, historical, and international, and by exploring key anarchist thinkers, from Kropotkin to Chomsky. He looks critically at anarchism by evaluating key ideas within it, such as its blanket opposition to incarceration, and policy of "no compromise" with the apparatus of political decision-making. Can anarchy ever function effectively as a political force? Is it more "organized" and "reasonable" than is currently perceived? Whatever the politics of the reader, Ward's argument ensures that anarchism will be much better understood after experiencing this book.

Also highly recommended: Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism

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A Very Short Introduction to Socialism by Michael Newman

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Michael Newman examines and explains the successes and failures of modern socialism by taking an international perspective -- ranging from communism in Cuba to social democracy in Sweden. Discussing its evolution from the industrial towns of the 19th century to its response to the feminist, green, and anti-capitalist movements today, Newman concludes that, with its values of equality, solidarity, and cooperation, socialism remains as relevant as ever but that it needs to learn lessons from the past.

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Understanding Power by Noam Chomsky

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Understanding Power is a wide-ranging collection of transcribed and previously unpublished discussions and seminars (from 1989 to 1999) with sociopolitical analyst Noam Chomsky.

The chapters, each covering discrete sessions with Chomsky, arrive in a question-and-answer format that at times becomes delightfully contentious. Chomsky holds forth on such disparate topics as American third-party politics, the stifling of true dissent, the illusion of a muscular media, heavy-handed American imperialism (from Southeast Asia to Mexico), a dysfunctional and self-destructing United States political left, the gilding of the Kennedy and Carter administrations, and the impotent state of labor unions.

The relatively accessibility of Understanding Power is a welcome balance to Chomsky's often formidable scholarly writings. This is a book best taken in doses: a sort of bedside reader.

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Here’s Chomsky speaking this week on the Brian Lehrer Show.

Hegemony or Survival by Noam Chomsky

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In this highly readable, heavily footnoted critique of American foreign policy from the late 1950s to the present, Chomsky (whose 9-11 was a bestseller last year) argues that current U.S. policies in Afghanistan and Iraq are not a specific response to September 11, but simply the continuation of a consistent half-century of foreign policy-an "imperial grand strategy"-in which the United States has attempted to "maintain its hegemony through the threat or use of military force." Such an analysis is bound to be met with skepticism or antagonism in post-September 11 America, but Chomsky builds his arguments carefully, substantiates claims with appropriate documentation and answers expected counterclaims. Chomsky is also deeply critical of inconsistency in making the charge of "terrorism." Using the official U.S. legal code definition of terrorism, he argues that it is an exact description of U.S. foreign policy (especially regarding Cuba, Central America, Vietnam and much of the Middle East), although the term is rarely used in this way in the U.S. media, he notes, even when the World Court in 1986 condemned Washington for "unlawful use of force" ("international terrorism, in lay terms" Chomsky argues) in Nicaragua. Claiming that the U.S. is a rogue nation in its foreign policies and its "contempt for international law," Chomsky brings together many themes he has mined in the past, making this cogent and provocative book an important addition to an ongoing public discussion about U.S. policy.

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Manufacturing Consent by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky

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An absolutely brilliant analysis of the ways in which individuals and organizations of the media are influenced to shape the social agendas of knowledge and, therefore, belief. Contrary to the popular conception of members of the press as hard-bitten realists doggedly pursuing unpopular truths, Herman and Chomsky prove conclusively that the free-market economics model of media leads inevitably to normative and narrow reporting. Whether or not you've seen the eye-opening movie, buy this book, and you will be a far more knowledgeable person and much less prone to having your beliefs manipulated as easily as the press.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

The World We Wish to See by Samir Amin

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The World We Wish to See presents a sweeping view of twentieth-century political history and a stirring appeal to take political culture seriously. Samir Amin offers a provocative analysis of resistance to capitalism and imperialism and calls for a new politics of opposition. Capitalism is a global system, so ultimately any successful challenge to it must be organized on the same level: an “internationalism of peoples.”

Throughout the twentieth century the socialist and communist internationals, national liberation movements, and great revolutions have presented challenges to the world order. Amin provides a succinct discussion of the successes and failures of these mobilizations, in order to assess the present struggle. Neoliberalism and the drive for military hegemony by the United States have spawned new political and social movements of resistance and attempts at international organization through the World Social Forum. Amin assesses the potential and limitations of these movements to confront global capitalism in the twenty-first century. The World We Wish to See makes a distinction between “political cultures and conflict” and “political cultures of consensus.” A new politics of struggle is needed; one that is not afraid to confront the power of capitalism, one that is both critical and self-critical.

In this persuasive argument, Amin explains that effective opposition must be based on the construction of a “convergence in diversity” of oppressed and exploited people—whether they are workers, peasants, students, or any other opponent of capitalism and imperialism. What is needed is a new “international” that has an open and flexible organizational structure to coordinate the work of opposition movements around the world.

The World We Wish to See is a bold book, calling for an international movement that can successfully transcend the current world order, in order to pursue a better world. Amin’s lucid analysis provides a firm basis for furthering this objective.

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The Liberal Virus by Samir Amin

The Liberal Virus examines the ways in which the American model is being imposed on the world, and outlines its economic and political consequences. It shows how both citizenship and class consciousness are diluted in "low-intensity democracy" and argues instead for democratization as an ongoing process—of fundamental importance for human progress—rather than a fixed constitutional formula designed to support the logic of capital accumulation.

In a panoramic overview, Amin examines the objectives and outcomes of American policy in the different regions of the world. He concludes by outlining the challenges faced by those resisting the American project today: redefining European liberalism on the basis of a new compromise between capital and labor, re-establishing solidarity among the people of the South, and reconstructing an internationalism that serves the interests of regions that are currently divided against each other.

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NATO’s Secret Armies by Daniele Ganser

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The CIA and the British secret service MI6, in collaboration with the military alliance NATO and European military secret services set up a network of clandestine anticommunist armies in Western Europe after World War II. The secret soldiers were trained on remote islands in the Mediterranean and in unorthodox warfare centers in England and in the United States by the Green Berets and SAS Special Forces. The network was armed with explosives, machine guns and high-tech communication equipment hidden in underground bunkers and secret arms caches in forests and mountain meadows. In some countries, the secret army linked up with right-wing terrorists who in a secret war engaged in political manipulation, harassment of left wing parties, massacres, coup d'etats and torture.

Haven’t read this, can’t comment on it, here’s a link to the Amazon

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Marx’s Theory of Alienation by István Mészáros

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Written in 1970 by a prominent Marxist philosopher and student of Georg Lukács, this book argues that alienation is the central idea in all of Karl Marx's work. To distinguish Marx's original concept from its use by other writers over the years, the topic is approached in three different ways. First, the origin of the idea of alienation is discussed along with an analysis of the way Marx structured it into a theory. Then alienation is explored beyond its political aspect, as it has been used in economics, ontology, moral philosophy, and aesthetics. The contemporary usefulness of the term is covered in the last section of the book, which concludes that current debates about the individual in society and the role of education can be fruitfully discussed in terms of alienation.

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Sartre (Oneworld Philosophers) by Neil Levy

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Combining information with an entertaining style, this concise guide to the life and work of the great philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre focuses uniquely on his life as a whole, not simply on his theories of existentialism.

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Empire's New Clothes: Reading Hardt and Negri by Jodi Dean, Paul Passavant

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After September 11 this discussion of Empire's political and legal theories was closely linked with the struggle to redefine America's place in a changed world. The book was read as a diagnosis of our era and a call for liberatory action, while Michael Hardt was acclaimed as the next Jacques Derrida. Framing the debate about this landmark work, Empire's New Clothes brings together leading scholars to make sense of Empire's new vocabulary and tackle its claims head on. Does the authors' vision accurately describe the power structure of today's world? Do the processes of "globalization" today represent a fundamental break from the past? Is the book really a "communist manifesto" for the new age? Empire's New Clothes investigates these and other key issues, giving academics, students, and lay readers a handle on a work that touches the most vital themes of current political, social, and economic life.

Here’s Doug Henwood on Empire, incase your interested

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Late Capitalism by Ernest Mandel

Late Capitalism represents the first ever attempt to combine the general theory of the 'laws of motion' of the capitalist mode of production developed by Marx with the concrete history of capitalism in the twentieth century. Mandel sketches the structure of the world market and develops a bold schema for the 'long-waves' of expansion and contraction in the history of capitalism.

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The Revolution Betrayed by Leon Trotsky

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Written in 1936 and published the following year, this brilliant and profound evaluation of Stalinism from the Marxist standpoint prophesied the collapse of the Soviet Union. Trotsky employs facts, figures, and statistics to show how Stalinist policies rejected the enormous productive potential of the nationalized planned economy engendered by the October Revolution.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wall Street by Doug Henwood

**This book is now out of print and has been released to the public under the Creative Commons license.**

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“Doug Henwood's engaging book is a razor-sharp dissection of the world of high finance... Henwood has the natural-born teacher's ability to make the obscure transparent.”

-- Gary Mongiovi, The Nation

“If Karl Marx wrote as well as Doug Henwood, who knows what course history might have taken?”

-- James Grant, author of The Trouble with Prosperity

“Indispensable to anyone who wants to know where our economy is, where it is going, and why."

-- Eric Foner, author of The Story of American Freedom

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[If you enjoy this book, you can donate here to the author]

Specters of Marx by Jacques Derrida

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Linking Hamlet's ghost with the opening of the Communist Manifesto, the noted French philosopher meditates on the state and future of Marxism since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Developing two highly expanded lectures, Derrida notes that the current talk of the "new world order" and "the end of history" is the recurrence of a old debate, an attempt to exorcise the "spirit" represented by Marxism, just as Marx was concerned with the "ghosts" and "conjuring" of capitalism. Derrida argues that the deconstructive doctrine of "differance" and Marxism as an act posit many Marxisms. It is therefore the interpreter's duty to preserve the spirit of Marxism by pursuing the ghosts and laying bare the conjurings. This is Derrida's first major statement on Marx; an important book for academic collections.

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The George Orwell Collection

George Orwell was a lot of things.  He was an anti-fascist, an anti-imperialist and an anti-Stalinist.  He fought with the Troskyist POUM in the Spanish Civil War and never experienced much fame or fortune within his lifetime.  Whatever your thoughts of the specifics of his politics, he was a genuine leftist and an iconic novelist of the English language.  Here is a collection of his works.

INCLUDES:

  • 1984
  • Animal Farm
  • Coming Up For Air
  • Homage to Catalonia
  • Reflections on Gandhi
  • A Clergeyman’s Daughter
  • Burmese Days
  • Down and Out in Paris and London
  • Keep the Apidistra Flying
  • The Road to Wigan Pier

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The case for a “left-Kautskyan” approach

I’ll have some more releases coming later in the day, but I just read this article, which basically condenses the CPGB’s Mike McNair’s thoughts on revolutionary strategy into a short post.

In the 21st century in the developed world at least I’m a proponent of a retreat from the post-political identity politics of the left today into I suppose something more traditional.  The left has been reacting far too much, throwing support behind reactionary forces and betraying it’s principles left and right (no pun intended). Despite my respect for Trotsky and the Trotskyist tradition I think there is a lot to be learned from the lessons of the SPD.  Read the article and let me know what you think in the comment box.

You can stop listening to me and go back to leeching ebooks now :).

For They Know Not What They Do by Slavoj Zizek

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With the disintegration of state socialism came the re-emergence of aggressive nationalism and racism. The lid of repression lifted, the desires that emerged have been far from democratic. To explain this apparent paradox, socialist critical thought must turn to psychoanalysis says Slavoj Zizek. For they know not what they do seeks to understand the status of enjoyment within ideological discourse, from Hegel through Lacan to these political and ideological deadlocks. The author's own enjoyment of popular culture makes this an engaging and lucid exposition.

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Needless to say if you want to support the site, figuring out how to do isn’t exactly rocket science.  If you get Lacan you can probably figure it out :)

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

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An iconic work. No description is needed, but here’s one anyway:

A People's History of the United States is a 1980 non-fiction book by American historian and political scientist Howard Zinn. In the book, Zinn seeks to present American history through the eyes of those rarely heard in mainstream histories. A People's History, though originally a dissident work, has become a major success and was a runner-up in 1980 for the National Book Award. It has been adopted for reading in some high schools and colleges across the United States and has been frequently revised, with the most recent edition covering events through 2003.

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Empire by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt

Empire is a text written by Marxist philosophers Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt. The book, written in the mid 90s, was published in 2000 and quickly sold beyond its expectations as an academic work. In general, the book theorizes an ongoing transition from a "modern" phenomenon of imperialism, centered around individual nation-states, to an emergent postmodern construct created amongst ruling powers which the authors call Empire (the capital letter is distinguishing), with different forms of warfare.

HERE IS A CRITIQUE OF EMPIRE by Peter Di Nardo

If anyone has a copy of Multitude please share.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Spaces of Hope by David Harvey

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"[Harvey's] ideas, which, whether you agree with them or not, are generally brilliant. His 'spatiotemporal utopianism' is a bit of a mouthful, yet it is thought-provoking and shimmers with hope."

—The Nation


"There is no question that David Harvey's work has been one of the most important, influential, and imaginative contributions to the development of human geography since the Second World War. . . . His readings of Marx are arresting and original--a remarkably fresh return to the foundational texts of historical materialism."

—Derek Gregory, author of Geographical Imaginations

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Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins

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John Perkins started and stopped writing Confessions of an Economic Hit Man four times over 20 years. He says he was threatened and bribed in an effort to kill the project, but after 9/11 he finally decided to go through with this expose of his former professional life. Perkins, a former chief economist at Boston strategic-consulting firm Chas. T. Main, says he was an "economic hit man" for 10 years, helping U.S. intelligence agencies and multinationals cajole and blackmail foreign leaders into serving U.S. foreign policy and awarding lucrative contracts to American business. "Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars," Perkins writes. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an extraordinary and gripping tale of intrigue and dark machinations. Think John Le Carré, except it's a true story. 

Perkins writes that his economic projections cooked the books Enron-style to convince foreign governments to accept billions of dollars of loans from the World Bank and other institutions to build dams, airports, electric grids, and other infrastructure he knew they couldn't afford. The loans were given on condition that construction and engineering contracts went to U.S. companies. Often, the money would simply be transferred from one bank account in Washington, D.C., to another one in New York or San Francisco. The deals were smoothed over with bribes for foreign officials, but it was the taxpayers in the foreign countries who had to pay back the loans. When their governments couldn't do so, as was often the case, the U.S. or its henchmen at the World Bank or International Monetary Fund would step in and essentially place the country in trusteeship, dictating everything from its spending budget to security agreements and even its United Nations votes. It was, Perkins writes, a clever way for the U.S. to expand its "empire" at the expense of Third World citizens. While at times he seems a little overly focused on conspiracies, perhaps that's not surprising considering the life he's led.

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Spaces of Capital by David Harvey

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Harvey (anthropology, CUNY Graduate Sch.) is one of the most influential geographers of the later 20th century, especially as concerns the relationship among politics, capitalism, and the social aspects of geographical theory. His previous and still cogent works include Explanation in Geography, Social Justice and the City, and Spaces of Hope. His new book provides the daring reader with an introduction to fields of inquiry collectively termed the new geography or critical geography. Harvey delves deeply into the collective psyche of geography as a discipline and attacks long-held assumptions of scientific neutrality within it, particularly in the chapter titled "Population, Resources, and the Ideology of Science." He also gives a chronology of his own geographic thought and his philosophical underpinnings such as Hegel, Marx, Kant, Heidegger, and the like and a unique perspective on capitalism as a driving force in shaping the physical arrangement of societies. Most geographers may take much of this book as an indictment against their chosen field, but Harvey certainly gives us much to consider. Appropriate for larger public libraries and academic libraries.

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For Marx by Louis Althusser

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I’m proud to host this one, it’s quite rare.

This collection of essays includes the seminal moments of many concepts still alive in Marxism and academia at large. The essays on "Contradiction and Overdetermination", "On the Young Marx", "Marxism and Humanism", and on the 1844 Manuscripts deserve to be revisited by a wider audience today in light of the growing interest in Marxism informed by post-structuralist thought. Much of Derrida's work owes an unacknowledged debt to the interpretations presented here (e.g. Althusser's concept of overdetermination, and his principled anti-humanism). Highly recommended to those interested in Marxist philosophy.

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Saviours and Survivors: Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror by Mahmood Mamdani

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From the author of Good Muslim, Bad Muslim comes an important book, unlike any other, that looks at the crisis in Darfur within the context of the history of Sudan and examines the world’s response to that crisis.

In Saviors and Survivors, Mahmood Mamdani explains how the conflict in Darfur began as a civil war (1987—89) between nomadic and peasant tribes over fertile land in the south, triggered by a severe drought that had expanded the Sahara Desert by more than sixty miles in forty years; how British colonial officials had artificially tribalized Darfur, dividing its population into “native” and “settler” tribes and creating homelands for the former at the expense of the latter; how the war intensified in the 1990s when the Sudanese government tried unsuccessfully to address the problem by creating homelands for tribes without any. The involvement of opposition parties gave rise in 2003 to two rebel movements, leading to a brutal insurgency and a horrific counterinsurgency–but not to genocide, as the West has declared.

Mamdani also explains how the Cold War exacerbated the twenty-year civil war in neighboring Chad, creating a confrontation between Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi (with Soviet support) and the Reagan administration (allied with France and Israel) that spilled over into Darfur and militarized the fighting. By 2003, the war involved national, regional, and global forces, including the powerful Western lobby, who now saw it as part of the War on Terror and called for a military invasion dressed up as “humanitarian intervention.”

Incisive and authoritative, Saviors and Survivors will radically alter our understanding of the crisis in Darfur.

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Ten Days that Shook the World by John Reed

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Ten Days that Shook the World (1919) is a book by American journalist and socialist John Reed about the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 which Reed experienced firsthand. Reed followed many of the prominent Bolshevik leaders, especially Grigory Zinoviev and Karl Radek, closely during his time in Russia.

John Reed died in 1920 shortly after the book was finished, and he is one of the few Americans buried at the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in Moscow, a site normally reserved only for the most prominent Soviet leaders.

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Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano

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It seems like thousands and thousands of people have been looking for this book since Chavez gave it to Obama as a gift… so here it is!

In Open Veins of Latin America Galeano analyzes the history of Latin America as a whole from the time period of the European discovery of the New World to contemporary Latin America arguing against European and later U.S. economic exploitation and political dominance over the region. The Library Journal review stated, "Well written and passionately stated, this is an intellectually honest and valuable study.”

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The New Imperialism by David Harvey

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Harvey is scholarly but adamant about the hidden dynamics behind the U.S. war on Iraq. Though the U.S. does not fit the old model of an imperial nation, it nonetheless has shown such predilections for some time. Harvey cites the U.S.' ruthlessness in pressing global hegemony since the 1800s, including the internment of Japanese in World War II and the recent Patriot and Homeland Security Acts. Exploring the geopolitical and economic issues that are driving the hostilities in Iraq, Harvey views the war as a diversion from domestic issues and a perfect opportunity for neoconservatives to press their hegemonic agenda. He examines the symbiotic and parasitic relationship between Wall Street, the U.S. Treasury, and the International Monetary Fund as he explores how the U.S. has used an array of tactics, from trade embargoes to military force, to gain geopolitical influence.

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Change the World Without Taking Power by John Holloway


DISCLAIMER: I respect some of the ideas in this book and I’m certainly in favor of a “socialism from below”, but leftists shouldn’t be afraid of state power.  There needs to be new idea for the future, a new plan, a new type of party, and we need to reassert our commitment to maintaining bourgeois democratic rights, but if your ceding state power to the oppressors your guaranteeing yourself a lifetime of being the oppressed.  That’s the same reason I prefer more substantial politics than “resistance for the sake of resistance”.  Even if we have to make concessions to the market, the idea that we can exert real power outside the state is kind of ridiculous. This book is still worth reading for its great influence on many actors in the anti-globalization movement.

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A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey

Neoliberalism--the doctrine that market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action--has become dominant in both thought and practice throughout much of the world since 1970 or so. Writing for a wide audience, David Harvey, author of The New Imperialism and The Condition of Postmodernity, here tells the political-economic story of where neoliberalization came from and how it proliferated on the world stage. Through critical engagement with this history, he constructs a framework, not only for analyzing the political and economic dangers that now surround us, but also for assessing the prospects for the more socially just alternatives being advocated by many oppositional movements.

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No Logo by Naomi Klein

No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies is a book by Canadian journalist Naomi Klein. First published by Knopf Canada in January 2000, shortly after the 1999 WTO Ministerial Conference protests in Seattle had generated media attention around such issues, it became one of the most influential books about the anti-globalization movement and an international bestseller.

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