Even a Clown Is Fascinated by Ideas: The Forty-Fifth Newsletter (2019)

7 November 2019 — Tri-Continental

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

In 2017, Issa Shivji delivered the Harold Wolpe Memorial Lecture at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Issa, who taught at the University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) for decades, reflected on the idea of revolutionary intellectuals. He remembered a lecture given by Ali Mazrui fifty years previously, where Mazrui defined an intellectual as someone who is fascinated by ideas. ‘Even a clown is fascinated by ideas’, yelled out one of the students.

Continue reading

Movie Review: The struggle to live in the present

25 October 2019 — MROnline

wark_extract_photo-.jpgOriginally published: Verso by McKenzie Wark (October 18, 2019)

Many of my friends disliked it, and not without reason. And yet Raoul Peck’s film The Young Karl Marx seemed to me to get the essential thing right.1 I saw it as a film about the struggle to live in the present. As such, it’s a film that can help us do exactly that. The Young Karl Marx is fiction, but like all good fiction is more real than the documentary evidence on which it is based. It tells us not what actually happened, but a version of what happened with which to think what is happening now. In that sense, it is a species of realism.2 And in another sense too. It is a work of cinema. It is in Pasolini’s terms (and Barad’s also) cut from the real itself.

Continue reading

‘Dual Power,’ Then… and Now? By Richard Fidler

29 August 2019 — The Bullet

Global capitalist crisis, impending ecological disaster, and new responses by popular movements in some regions, particularly in Latin America, inspire radical thinking about the need to go “beyond capital.” But how to attain the desired “system change” – today, an ecosocialist regime in place of capitalist rule – continues to be a matter for debate and experimentation.

Continue reading

Marx’s notebooks and the origins of Marxist ecology

18 August 2019 — Climate & Capitalism

Finally published in full, Marx’s notebooks from the 1860s provide important insights into his views on ecology and capital’s destruction of nature.


Teinosuke Otani, Kohei Saito, Timm Graßmann (eds)
MARX-ENGELS-GESAMTAUSGABE, IV, 18
Exzerpte und Notizen. Februar 1864 bis August 1868
(de Gruyter, 2019)

[Marx-Engels Complete Works, Part IV, Volume 18
Excerpts and Notes, February 1864 to August 1868]

Continue reading

Road-Map To Socialism -Democracy is the road to socialism By Binary Sarkar

6 July 2019 — Counter Currents

Win the battle of democracy
Do away with private property
Abolish the wages system altogether`
End employment to end unemployment
Achieve abundance for all and inscribe on the banners:
From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs!
An association, in which the free development of each is the condition of free development of all

“Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution.”
― Karl Marx, Private Property and Communism, 1844

Continue reading

Silvia Federici in Conversation with Astra Taylor

12 June 2019 — The Believer

“LIKE THE WELFARE WOMEN SAID: EVERY WOMAN, EVERY MOTHER, IS A WORKING MOTHER.”

What memory can do:
Re-signify the earth
Re-signify the local
Make the struggle visible

Read Silvia Federici and she will revolutionize the way you understand the world. She will turn it upside down and radicalize it. Part of a group of feminist thinkers who have reinvented and expanded Marxism, Federici has helped put women’s work, long banished to the margins of anti-capitalist analysis, at the center. Reproduction, the typically unpaid work of caring for others and sustaining common life, is as important as production, the waged work left-wing political economists have traditionally emphasized. 

Continue reading

Fully Automated Luxury Communism

11 June 2019 — Novara Media

A different kind of politics for a new kind of society—beyond work, scarcity and capitalism. In Fully Automated Luxury Communism, Aaron Bastani conjures a vision of extraordinary hope, showing how we move to energy abundance, feed a world of 9 billion, overcome work, transcend the limits of biology, and establish meaningful freedom for everyone. Rather than a final destination, such a society merely heralds the real beginning of history. On the day of his book launch he’ll be joining Michael to discuss the key themes of his book. Q&A at the end!

Continue reading

“The Lesson of the Soviet Union Is that the Bureaucracy Chooses Capitalist Restoration”

5 June 2019 — Global Research

By Eric Toussaint and Wilder Pérez Varona

Wilder Pérez Varona (WPV): My first question to you is about the issue of bureaucracy.

Before 1917 the issue of the socialist transition is one thing. The 1848 Revolution, the Paris Commune (which is a crucial episode, but of a momentary nature) were always limited to matters of theory, principles, projections (we know that Marx and Engels were reluctant to be very detailed about these projections). The Revolution of 1917 placed this problem of transition in another way, on to a different level; a level that involved essentially practical elements. One of them involved the issue of bureaucracy, which gradually appeared throughout the 1920s. On the issue of bureaucracy as it was being developed in those circumstances, how do you define the function of bureaucracy by according it an autonomous role of such a relevant actor at the level of the class triad: the working class / peasantry and the bourgeoisie? Why this important place? I would also like you to say something on the distinctness of “class”. You are cautious to talk about the bureaucracy as a class; however, other authors do.

Continue reading

Building Socialism from Below: A Conversation with Martha Lia Grajales By Cira Pascual Marquina

31 May 2019 — Internationalist 360°

Martha Lia Grajales, founder and organizer of the Unidos San Agustin Convive cooperative. (Venezuelanalysis)

Martha Lia Grajales, founder and organizer of the Unidos San Agustin Convive cooperative. (Venezuelanalysis)

Martha Lia Grajales is part of the Surgentes Collective (a human rights organization) and a founding member of the San Agustin Convive cooperative. She is a lawyer, holding a master’s in human rights and democracy. In this interview, we ask her questions about the dialectic between state power and popular organization, with a view to understanding how grassroots initiatives might breath new life into the socialist project.

Continue reading

Could this be the most Marxist film ever made?

14 May 2019 — MROnline – The Public Autonomy Project by Steve Darcy (May 8, 2019)

Boots Riley’s masterpiece of socialist cinema — Sorry to Bother You — may be the most self-consciously marxist film ever made. It is an exhortation to rebel, but to do so with our eyes open, with ‘sober senses,’ so we don’t replicate uncritically the logics that we aspire to contest.

[Note: this contains some plot spoilers.]

Those who avoided reading Karl Marx’s three-volume, 2,500 page magnum opus, Capital, in the improbable expectation that someday a movie version would come out, have finally got their wish. Boots Riley’s film, Sorry to Bother You, may indeed be the most marxist film ever made.

Continue reading