Paul Mason: What Shakespeare taught me about marxism.
Excerpts from Guy Debord’s “The Muppets.” "Though the name 'Guy Debord' is now synonymous with two things: Situationist philosophy and The Muppets, this pairing of passions was not as easily reconciled as you might think. 'I had to fight really hard not to be pigeon-holed as a Marxist theorist in the puppeteering community,' Debord once said. 'They told me 'Kids don't want to hear about how the concrete life of everyone has been degraded to a speculative universe, Guy.' I said 'How about we let the children decide that?' Decide they did..." [Previously, Via]
Producer Michael Shamberg Wants to 'Invent the Future' With BuzzFeed Motion Pictures - "I don't think there's ever been a Hollywood R&D model like we have here." (previously 1,2,3) [more inside]
When I reached out [to Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti] yesterday, asking whether he saw Buzzfeed as embodying the trends described in the paper or as subverting them, he simply replied, "lol."
The non-profit digital library of Marxist texts, The Marxist Internet Archive, has received a copyright take-down request from the radical publishing house Lawrence and Wishart, asking that all material from the Marx and Engels Collected Works be removed from the site by May 1 2014. [more inside]
Fifty years on, we're still coming to terms with Guy Debord's 1967 situationist text, The Society of the Spectacle. Debord presented an eerily-accurate portrait of our image-saturated, mediated times. You can find all kinds of insights into the spectacle of 2014, from Instagram and viral marketing to hipster culture and personal brands. Fittingly, he also did it with a series of short, aphoristic sections that could almost be described as proto-tweets. Leveraging the Tumblr aesthetic, Ryan Oakley has created an Illustrated Society of the Spectacle (start there, then click "Newer Post" to progress.) The images aim to resonate with Debord's text, rather than provide on-the-nose illustrations. NSFW. [more inside]
A Generation of Intellectuals Shaped by 2008 Crash Rescues Marx From History’s Dustbin [more inside]
Dwarf Fortress: A Marxist Analysis
What one does in Dwarf Fortress is create a colony of an existing dwarven fortress – you’re always sent out as a team from a much larger existing stronghold elsewhere, and your foreign relations with other dwarves are limited to that particular fortress, on the whole. Even though your settlement is independent and self-governing, and the relations with the mother fortress mostly those of trade, the purpose of the game in all its open-endedness can be nothing other than to create oneself in the image of the previous fortress. In other words, fundamentally in Dwarf Fortress you reproduce the existing structure of dwarven society on a merely quantitatively expanded scale.[more inside]
Warning! The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased, entry for the United States of America
Joseph Tomaras reflects on the Mauna Loa data and concludes that the main tasks of the moment are neither political nor economic, but ethical or moral. [more inside]
British capitalism already has many of the hallmarks of Brezhnev-era socialist decline: macroeconomic stagnation, a population as much too bored as scared to protest about very much, a state that performs tongue-in-cheek legitimacy, politicians playing with statistics to try and delay the moment of economic reckoning. Will Davies on the stagnation and repetition of neoliberal economic culture.
Ha-Joon Chang on why separating politics from economic policies is bad for democracy. What free-market economists are not telling us is that the politics they want to get rid of are none other than those of democracy itself. When they say we need to insulate economic policies from politics, they are in effect advocating the castration of democracy. (Related FPP.)
Cosmarxpolitan! Karl in the bedroom: "From each according to his ability, to each according to her needs."
Drucilla Cornell On Dating. Drucilla Cornell on Feminism. Drucilla Cornell on Marxism.[obfuscated link to pdf]
Political Identification: communist"Dear Bloody Red Heart, Always remember that information is power, and functions as such." [more inside]
Your problem: I have recently started seeing a communist woman, and I really like her, but my problem is that I still have overwhelmingly strong feelings for the communist woman I had a thing with in the summer, and who has gone to fight the good fight in other lands. Should I tell the comrade I’m currently seeing about my divided affections? As we are not yet in full communism, I fear I may not have enough to go round… From: Bloody Red Heart"
Buddhism and Marxism have been called two of the most compelling arguments we have against capitalist exploitation. The Dalai Lama would agree. Once in a discussion about his meeting with Chairman Mao he spoke of his affinity for the ideals of communism, adding with a finger to his temple, "The revolution is inside, in the determination of mind." The Tricycle essay Occupy Buddhism is very well written and perhaps interesting for those who believe another (post-capitalist) world is possible.
It has been a bad week for contemporary Marxist scholarship [earlier this morning]. This past Saturday, the geography world lost Neil Smith, versatile theorist, advocate for social justice, LA Times Book Award winner, and founder of the Center for Place, Culture and Politics at CUNY. Best known for his theory of the uneven spatial development of capitalism and for changing the way we think about gentrification, his numerous contributions to the field of critical human geography include a sustained critique of neoliberalism, a history of American empire, and the declaration that there's no such thing as a natural disaster. Here's Neil on Occupy Wall Street, urban securitization, deconstructing USA Today in 1984, and singing the Socialist ABCs.
One thing the historical record makes abundantly clear is that Adam Smith and his laissez-faire buddies were a bunch of closet-case statists who needed brutal government policies to whip the English peasantry into a good capitalistic workforce willing to accept wage slavery.Yasha Levine's detailed review of historian Michael Perelman's The Invention of Capitalism.
Человек с киноаппаратом ("Man with a Movie Camera") is a classic experimental documentary film that was released in 1929. Directed by pioneer Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, this classic, silent documentary film has no story and no actors, and is actually three documentaries in one. Ostensibly it documents 24 hours of life in a single city in the Soviet Union. But it is also a documentary of the filming of that documentary and a depiction of an audience watching that documentary and their responses. "We see the cameraman and the editing of the film, but what we don't see is any of the film itself." [more inside]
Marx for Beginners (running time: 7 minutes)
Ereese-a yuoo preesuners ooff sterfeshun. Ereese-a yuoo vretched ooff zee iert. Fur joosteece-a thoonders cundemneshun. A better vurld's in burt. It is zee feenel cunffleect. Let iech stund in hees plece-a. Zee Interneshunele-a shell be-a zee hoomun rece-a.
BORK BORK BORK!
BORK BORK BORK!
Was your favorite childhood book written by a radical lefty? Scholars reveal the socialist history of 20th century American children's literature. Discover the myriad connections between midcentury American socialism and Crockett Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crayon), Syd Hoff (Danny and the Dinosaur), and the authors of many of the Little Golden Books and I Can Read Books.
Roubini warns of global recession risk. In a video interview with the Wall Street Journal, Economist Nouriel Roubini of Roubini Global Economics warns that the risk of a global recession is higher than 50%, suggests investing in cash, blames George Bush for the United States' economic predicament, advocates higher taxes, warns of a possible break-up of the European monetary union and states that "Karl Marx was right". [more inside]
A conversation with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. A long interview with Spivak, one of the foremost literary and philosophical thinkers of her generation, published today in the Hindu Times. Topics covered include her arrival in America as a 19 year old grad student, translating Derrida, falling out with Kristeva, her family, feminism, the complexity of her critical language, and the future of Marxism, among others.
In 1936 in the Jim Crow South, Robert F. Williams was an 11-year-old black boy in Monroe, North Carolina, who watched helplessly as Jesse Helms Sr. (father and namesake of the former senator) beat an African-American woman to the ground and "dragged her off to the nearby jailhouse, her dress up over her head, the same way that a cave man would club and drag his sexual prey." Years later, after a stint in the segregated military, Williams returned home to Monroe and worked as an NAACP organizer, where he brought international attention to the Kissing Case, a 1958 incident in which two black boys under the age of 10 were sentenced to a reformatory for kissing a white girl. By then, Williams had also attracted controversy for his advocacy of armed self-defense, a position he outlined in the book Negroes with Guns. But it would all change overnight in 1961, when Williams landed on FBI's Most Wanted list, after being charged with kidnapping a white couple that Williams claimed he was trying to save from an angry black crowd. [more inside]
Chris Ware was commissioned by Fortune to illustrate their May cover. His "hilarious, beautiful, meticulous" submission, which included "Guantanamo Bay prisoners, Mexican factory workers, and a few potshots at business execs and money-grubbing politicians," was rejected. Hi-res Flickr version here. Previously (1, 2)
Leszek Kolakowski, a distinguished Polish philosopher who critiqued the Communist system and helped inspire the Solidarity movement, passed away last Friday in Oxford, UK. [more inside]
Everything you ever wanted to read about left-wing political theory but were afraid to look up. [more inside]
Kiki and Bubu! Austrian art collective monochrom presents the adventures of two sock puppets. Part One: Kiki and Bubu and The Shift. "Bubu wants to know why his dad is busy all the time. And Kiki explains him why... because of the neoliberal shift." Part Two: Kiki and Bubu and The Privilege. "Bubu ran into a bunch of liberals and they gave him a book. They said if he doesn't read it, they're going to beat him up. But Bubu can't read! And so Kiki helps..." [Via BB]
"Žižek!" is a feature documentary exploring the eccentric personality and esoteric work of the "wild man of theory": the eminent Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek. Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7. [more inside]
Delirious Moscow: a survey on stellar and interstellar Soviet constructivist architecture, or, buildings in the time before Stalin (with pictures).
Off The Grid: Life On The Mesa. A new documentary explores life in 15 square miles of northern New Mexico. With no cops, no official authority, and barely any understanding of who even owns the land, a special environment has arisen. Hippies, rednecks, and other assorted loners exist in either the last outpost of true American freedom or "the largest outdoor insane asylum" - and then they are tested by self-proclaimed revolutionaries with their own idea of how to run things. Check out the official MySpace page for the trailer and some clips.
Have you ever run into Trotskyites before? You know, those dour, uptight dudes handing out free papers at demonstrations? They can spout some pretty colorful rhetoric but apart from that, most of them lead dull, constricted lives devoted to Party meetings and getting out the Party newspaper. Juan Posadas was the exception to this rule. Señor Posadas was a high-octane Trotskyite superfreak who advocated a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the USA in order to hasten the proletarian revolution. He looked to the skies and saw UFOs as evidence of the triumph of communism on other planets. Fidel Castro banned the Cuban section of his movement for trying to organize an attack on the U.S. base at Guantanamo. They don’t make ‘em like Posadas anymore. That’s for sure. (If you’re curious, there’s an archive of his works stored here. And some people are still keeping the faith.)
(NSFW) “If you are denying yourself pleasure then you have to take responsibility for where you are right now. When you get to a place where you are happy then love comes into your life. When you begin to love yourself then people recognize that and you can start receiving it. Self-pity will get you nowhere. Our society is sexist, racist, ageist, but I am a biological creature with all these amazing gifts of orgasm and I cannot wait for the world out there to change for me to be happy. I have all the happiness I need inside myself and I’m keeping it. I have denied it and avoided it for myself for too long. I have waited around for other things to be arranged before I gave myself happiness and I’m not going to do that anymore. It wasn’t until I stopped wallowing in all that self-pity and took matters into my own hands that things started to change for me. . . . Don’t wait around for another person to give that to you, give it to yourself. . . . We have been taught to not like ourselves and it takes a lot to unteach that to ourselves. There is a lot of conditioning and everyone has their own kind of conditioning that they have to unlearn. . . . All I can tell people about myself is that I give it to myself just as I can. My area just happens to be sex, while others have art, painting or public health or whatever. I’m just as true to myself as I can be.” --Nina Hartley
Wonderful system of government. Fake democracy, fake elections, fake political system surrounded by humbug and greedy lawyers. This allows business to get on with its tasks, buying candidates, a bribe here, a bribe there. An interview with Karl Marx.
Film Schools obsessed with theory David Weddle complains that in film schools "discussions about movie characters, plots and the human beings who created them are replaced by theories such as semiotics, structuralism, post-structuralism, Marxism, psychoanalytics and neoformalism. [More inside]
Painting with Marxism. A gallery of socialist realism and the Mexican muralists, with a nice links section (such as the Chisholm Gallery's Russian, Spanish Civil War and Cuban posters. More at the Art of Marxism. (The children's literature page is quite intriguing).
Jesus, fix our taxes! A professor is criticizing Alabama's tax system with Bible verses in tow. Some are saying it just might work, and others are calling it baptised Marxism. Fat Tuesday indeed!
17 million Latin American people out of work Claimed to be the highest level since 1980. How much longer, or how many more, until nations revert to Che Guevarra or Pinochet and the US to the CIA and intervention? Will history repeat itself, or has history paved the way for an alternative outcome?
Utopian Socialism as the Basis of Contemporary anti-Americanism Lee Harris argues in this article that contemporary Marxist movements have abandoned the politically realist methodology that Marx claimed as the basis of "scientific" socialist thought, and have substituted an ad hoc utopianism. Based on this latter belief, they have unwisely shifted the target of their criticism from specific American policies to America the nation itself.
More than 1/3 of Americans think the U.S. Constitution is Marxist. Well, they think that it includes the phrase "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." I wonder what else people might think is in there . . .
Whatever Capitalism's Fate, Somebody's Already Working on an Alternative. "We may not know the region from which the next Marx will hail or his particular approach. But we can be sure that someone, somewhere will offer an alternative vision." You'll never guess what radical reformer the author has in mind. This is a very interesting piece.