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  • Daniel Bensaid: "Leaps, Leaps, Leaps" - Lenin and politics (July 2002) on Apr 15, 15
    • The vital, urgent question is that of politics from below, politics for those who are excluded and cut off from the state politics of the ruling class. We have to solve the puzzle of proletarian revolutions and their repeated tragedies: how do we spurn the dust and win the prize? How can a class which is physically and morally stunted in its daily life by the involuntary servitude of forced labour transform itself into the universal subject of human emancipation?
    • The experience of the past century poses the question of bureaucratisation as a social phenomenon, rather than the question of the form of vanguard party inherited from What is to be Done?
  • Privilege and the working class | SocialistWorker.org on Apr 15, 15
    • however modified today's version of privilege theory may be, and however unaware of its history its current advocates may be, contemporary privilege politics remain profoundly influenced by their Stalinist-Maoist theoretical origins.
    • Early privilege theory converted material reforms won through class struggle into undeserved "privileges." In similar fashion, today's model also converts non-material rights, and the non-experience of a particular kind of oppression, into unearned, undeserved "privileges." Contemporary analysis of non-material so-called "privileges" continues to hold, just as original white-skin privilege theory did, that those who are not oppressed in a particular way can be assumed to be participants in that oppression. The false presumption of guilt-by-identity today masks ignorance of, if not indifference to, the responsibility of ruling class institutions for racism and oppression.
    • The politics of privilege have come full circle. The privilege ideology circuit began among Stalinists, who brought privilege politics into the middle-class student movement, with common prejudices against workers, as part of the orgy of self-destruction of the New Left in the late 1960s. Ex-student radicals then carried privilege theory into the universities. There, it was perceived to be part of the legacy of the left, and accepted by liberals as a way to oppose racism that required no action in the real world. Privilege theory became the dominant discourse of many departments and university administrations, evolving and moving to the right (dropping, for example, both anti-imperialism and talk of revolution), as it accommodated the rightward shift and drift in American political and intellectual life. Today, newly radicalized students, completing the circuit, have brought privilege politics back from the conservative, neoliberal universities into the radical movement again.
  • The dead end of moral individualism | REDFLAG on Apr 15, 15
    • The German philosopher Friedrich Hegel, keenly aware of this problem, discussed a number of individual types who embody it.


      The “knight of virtue” was his name for one. These ethical individuals have a vision that the system can be used to pursue good. So we get “ethical entrepreneurship”.

    • Notwithstanding that the Vatican pioneered the sale of such “indulgences” hundreds of years ago, everyone feels happy – except those who are trapped as exploited victims.
    • Microfinance is an example of this. Hailed as “empowering”, microfinance enterprises in India granted loans of as little as $US100 to ultra-poor slum dwellers otherwise incapable of qualifying for loans. “India’s microfinance sector was once touted as a saviour of the poor and a good bet for investors …”, noted the Economist in 2013. “Things went downhill fast.” There were scores of suicides of small farmers. “It is alleged that they were hounded to their deaths by lenders’ coercive recovery practices.”

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  • SALVAGE on Apr 14, 15
    • The neoliberal era can be retrospectively identified as beginning with the economic crisis of 1973, or, more precisely, with the strategic response of state managers and employers to that crisis. Previous eras in the history of capitalism have tended to close with the onset of further period of systemic crisis; 1973, for example, saw the end of the era of state capitalism which began in 1929. The neoliberal era, however, has not only survived the crisis which began in 2007, but its characteristic features are, if anything, being further extended and embedded, rather than reversed.
    • Simply doing what the rich want is unlikely to produce beneficial results for the system as a whole, although it may help increase the wealth of individual capitalists. For not only are capitalists generally uninterested in the broader social interest, which we might expect, but they are also generally incapable of correctly assessing their own overall collective class interests, which might seem more surprising – although as we shall see, it is a long-standing phenomenon, observed by many of the great social theorists from late eighteenth century onwards. As a result, capitalist states – or more precisely, their managers – have traditionally acted to make such an assessment; but in the developed West at least, neoliberal regimes are increasingly displaying an uncritical adherence to the short-term wishes of particular business interests.
  • The government, the party and the people | SocialistWorker.org on Apr 10, 15
    • a "government of the left" isn't the final destination, with the task of "saving the country," but instead a transition point on a road that must lead toward socialist liberation.
    • Our policy must be to maintain an active call for a Europe-wide uprising to overthrow austerity.
    • THIS ASSESSMENT leads directly to the crucial role of SYRIZA as a party.


      In the mainstream media, the party is depicted in a negative light: as a dead weight that prevents its leadership from taking bold action (action to the liking of the lenders and markets, of course); as a nest of fossilized Marxists how won't allow the enlightened leaders of the government and the state to make the necessary overtures--for example, to the To Potami party--and guide the government safely to the calm waters of the center left, with an acceptance of the European lenders' oversight of government policy and a commitment to remain in the euro, no matter what.

  • Understanding Imperialism: Old and New Dominion | Solidarity on Apr 05, 15
    • “The very essence of globalization,” Wood writes, “is a global economy administered by a global system of multiple states and local sovereignties, structured in a complex relation of domination and subordination.” (141)
    • What, then, of war? Here again Wood has a novel account. By no means does she suggest that war withers away in the new form of capitalist empire. She does imply, however, that war between the economically dominant nation-states no longer has the inevitability ascribed to it by Lenin and others.


      At the same time, war itself becomes ever-present, given the always unfinished job of policing a truly global capitalism. Since popular protests, regional conflicts and nationalist insurgencies can all create conditions hostile to imperial power, globalized capital can’t invariably rely on local states to secure all the conditions of stable accumulation.

    • Consequently, the dominant players need to send out a chilling message everywhere — particularly in those regions of the world most hostile to the power of Western capital and states — that resistance to the rule of global capitalist markets will not be tolerated. They need to demonstrate that imperial power, most decisively that of the American state, will intervene anywhere, any time.

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  • A Policy Puzzle of U.S. Goals and Alliances in the Middle East - NYTimes.com on Mar 28, 15
    • In Yemen, the Obama administration is supporting a Saudi-led military campaign to dislodge Iranian-backed Houthi rebels despite the risks of an escalating regional fight with Iran.

      But in Iraq and Syria, the United States is on the same side as Iran in the fight against the Islamic State, contributing airstrikes to an Iranian-supported offensive on Tikrit on Thursday even while jostling with Iran for position in leading the operation.

      All that while the Obama administration is racing to close a deal with Iran to remove economic sanctions in exchange for restraints on its nuclear program, alarming Saudi Arabia and Israel.

    • an ever-growing patchwork of strained alliances and multiple battlefields in the aftermath of the Arab Spring four years ago.
    • The chaos gives regional rivals “more reasons to fight out that power struggle and more arenas to do it in,” Ms. Wittes said.

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  • Plantation workers interests sacrificed to keep owners happy - Radical Socialist on Mar 20, 15
    • The eastern states of India, Assam and West Bengal, together contribute around 70% of the tea produced in India. Employing 1.2 million workers in around 1,500 tea gardens,
    • 6-7 million people depend on the tea industry in the region for their livelihood
    • the most poorly paid workers in the organized sector.

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  • Branded Forever: How tribals are framed, tortured and raped by police | Tehelka.com on Mar 13, 15
    • Murugayee, Shelvarani and Latha belong to the ‘Denotified Tribe’ (DNT) called Korava in Tamil Nadu, a community that is absolutely alienated and marginalised from the great Indian debate of constitutional promises and fundamental rights. Branded by the British as one of the Criminal Tribes, along with 150 other communities throughout India, the Koravas are still treated as ‘criminals by birth’ by all the institutional mechanisms of the state including the police, judiciary, political executive and, significantly, mainstream media and influential ‘high’ caste people.
  • Where are we going after the agreement? | SocialistWorker.org on Mar 10, 15
    • THE LAST meeting of the Central Committee of SYRIZA showed what type of party SYRIZA is. It is a broad network of political activists with all of the resistance struggles against austerity of recent years running through it. It is a party marked by a transitional approach [in a situation that is not revolutionary] that seeks social and political victories. It is a party whose "base," the vast majority of its membership, is committed to achieving its demands for democracy and paving the way for the complete socialist liberation of society.
    • Faced with this two-pronged threat, the government retreated. There is no room for sugarcoating the February agreement and the list of measures that Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis promised to carry out. If the government chooses--or is forced--to honor this agreement, it will have renounced its commitment to overturn austerity. The same thing will happen to SYRIZA as a party if it is asked to politically defend and justify the bitter contents of this agreement among the people.
    • The actions of the government clarify a contradiction in the commitments made by SYRIZA leaders during the election. On the one hand, there was a sincere commitment to the promise to reverse austerity. On the other hand, they promised that this could happen smoothly and without instability, within the framework of the eurozone. The second part of the SYRIZA leadership's election rhetoric now appears unrealistic and even utopian.

    4 more annotations...

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