Daniel Bensaïd’s Theses of Resistance

I was reading a short essay by Daniel Bensaïd – Temps de la résistance, temps de l’utopie – and eventually came across this interesting document from 2004:

Theses of resistance

The text below, written by Daniel Bensaïd for the journal “Viento Sur”, represents a bold attempt to track the theoretical challenges faced by Marxism today. According to the author, the theoretical sterility of modern social democracy and other major political trends could result in Marxists sitting on their laurels and merely affirming orthodoxies inherited from the past. But, he insists, revolutionary theory must now attempt to come to grips with huge changes in the world since the collapse of Stalinism. His discussion ranges over modern imperialism, the balance sheet of the Soviet Union and similar countries, the class structure of contemporary capitalism, new nationalisms and community identities, social movements and political parties and postmodernist notions of difference and diversity – and much else besides. This is a dense and difficult text. We have made it available in English here because of its important insights into the weaknesses of and challenges to modern Marxism, and because of its significant signposts for future research and reflection; despite its difficulty, it will interest and provoke many of our readers.

“We are faced with a double responsibility: the transmission of a tradition threatened by conformism, and the exploration of the uncertain contours of the future”.

The rest of the document is here.

“Критика земли”. Марксизм как критическая традиция.

Выступление Артемия Магуна в Вечерней Школе Критической Мысли «Что делать?» Февраль, 2008.

Критика – это один из главных лозунгов современной мысли. Благодаря Канту, философия стала в критическую позицию по отношению к действительности. Дальнейшая история современной философии может рассматриваться как радикализация критики, критика самой критики, и поворот от критики разума к критике самого мира и бытия. Ключевую роль в этом процессе сыграл Карл Маркс, все большие произведения которого, как и у Канта, называются критиками, и который в раннем тексте бросил лозунг “От критики неба – к критике земли!” Реализация этой задачи в высшей степени трудна, и нельзя сказать, что Маркс раз и навсегда ее решил.

“Критика земли”. Марксизм как критическая традиция.

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(RadioZanzibar) Continue reading

Toscano on Meillassoux

Infinite Thought has a paper by Toscano on Meillassoux, a good read:

Without dwelling on the under-determined and exceedingly allusive references to contemporary fanaticism which lend Meillassoux’s claims their charge of urgency, as well as on the rather dubious claims made about the relation between Christianity and Western reason, in the rest of this presentation I want to challenge the plausibility of Meillassoux’s Enlightenment reloaded, as I mentioned by a detour through Colletti’s Marxism and Hegel. I want to put forward two inter-related arguments. First, that attending to the distinction between Kant and Hegel as formulated by Colletti, allows us to cast doubt on the very possibility of a speculative materialism, and provides a qualified Marxian defence for weak Kantian correlationism as a component of a genuine materialist thinking. Second, and much more briefly, that Colletti’s related discussion of hypostasis and ‘real abstraction’ demonstrates the weakness of Meillassoux’s attempt to revitalise the Enlightenment attack on fanaticism. Behind these two claims lies the conviction that, despite its undeniable subtlety, Meillassoux’s attack on the idealist parameters of correlationism is ultimately idealist in form, a problem which also affects it attempt to ideologically intervene, through a recasting of the Enlightenment fight against fanaticism, in the contemporary ‘return to the religious’. 

Read the rest.

Rethinking Marxism CFP

Rethinking Marxism: CFP

RM09: New Marxian Times will be held over four days, beginning on Thursday evening, 5 November 2009 and ending on Sunday afternoon, 8 November 2009. In addition to two plenary sessions and an art exhibition, there will be concurrent panels, workshops, and art/cultural events. We invite the submission of organized sessions that follow traditional or non-traditional formats (such as workshops, roundtables, and dialogue among and between presenters and audience) as well as individual presentations. Since Marxism covers a wide variety of fields, from literature to public health and forms of political practice, from environmental organizing to opposing global inequality and envisioning new economic and social practice, anyone engaging with Marxism in any discipline or form of activism is encouraged to submit paper and panel proposals. We encourage those working in areas that intersect with Marxism, such as critical race theory, feminism, political economy, anarchist studies, cultural and literary studies, queer theory, working-class and labor studies, postcolonial studies, geography and urban studies, psychoanalysis, social and natural sciences, philosophy, and around issues of class, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, and disability, to submit proposals. We also welcome video, poetry, performance, and all other modes of presentation and cultural expression. Continue reading

Capitalism Hits the Fan: A Marxian View

Click here to listen and/or watch Richard Wolff’s perspective on the recent financial meltdown (Wolff is an economics professor at UMASS and editor of of the journal Rethinking Marxism). Wolff presents a rather passionate analysis delivered with a healthy dose of back slapping and self-congratulating in the vein of “We’ve been telling you all along this would happen.” Now, Wolff’s take can certainly be reduced to the rather pat (or more accurately, obvious) statement: “American consumers have been borrowing and even more, they have been borrowing in order to consume.” Yes, of course. However, I think Wolff’s closing statement was a bit more interesting, but I wonder if it’s even remotely true. Wolff suggests that the global economic meltdown has generated a space to criticize the hegemony of free market capitalism and propose new solutions outside market driven capital. Oddly, for one example, a possible alternative space has been routinely hinted at by ex-World Bank Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz, who seems to be harping on similar issues, e.g. debt. Here’s Stiglitz talking about the bailout bill with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman:

Well, I think it remains a very bad bill. It is a disappointment, but not a surprise, that the administration came up with a bill that is again based on trickle-down economics. You throw enough money at Wall Street, and some of it will trickle down to the rest of the economy. It’s like a patient suffering from giving a massive blood transfusion while there’s internal bleeding; it doesn’t do anything about the basic source of the hemorrhaging, the foreclosure problem. But that having been said, it is better than doing nothing, and hopefully after the election, we can repair the very many mistakes in it. But this particular way of getting it through, I have to say, really smells. Continue reading