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Lefty Prof

Lefty Prof's Public Library

  • 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?

  • 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 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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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • “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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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.

  • 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.

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  • Employing Sartre’s work on anti-Semitism Fanon explains that being black is made in confrontation with others and created by the racist’s gaze. Race and racism, Fanon argues in the book, are relationships of intersubjectivity that orbit around a superiority and inferiority complex, with whiteness at the centre of a supposed superiority.
  • Towards the end of 1956 Fanon decided he could no longer stay—for his family’s safety but also because he could not practise his profession. He resigned, stating in a letter to Algeria’s Resident-Minister (governor): “If psychiatry is a medical technique which aspires to allow man to cease being alienated from his environment, I owe it to myself to assert that the Arab, who is permanently alienated in his own country, lives in a state of absolute depersonalisation”.

  • according to the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), Black immigrants are detained and deported at five times the rate of other populations of undocumented people. As Black noncitizens, many of us experience the policy of criminal deportation as another manifestation of racist policies and state violence in the United States. Just like incarceration and felonies strip Black people in the US of basic human rights -- Black non-citizens are further criminalized and stripped of human rights via the U.S. deportation system.
  • As defined in our Justice Detained report, an aggravated felony "is a federal immigration category that includes more than 50 classes of offenses, some of which are neither 'aggravated' nor a 'felony' (for example, misdemeanor shoplifting with a one-year sentence, even if suspended). This category is one of the government's most powerful tools for deportation because it strips an immigrant of most choices in the deportation process. An immigrant - including a lawful permanent resident -- who is convicted of an offense categorized as an "aggravated felony" is subject to no bond (mandatory and indefinite detention) and no possibility of relief (mandatory deportation).
  • This term was first created during the War on Drugs by the 1988 Anti- Drug Abuse Act, but Congress expanded this term numerous times over the years, and most extensively in 1996."

  • In the abstract, especially to someone who grew up after the dismantling of the welfare state, a second New Deal in Europe sounds great. But I hope to have shown why that cannot occur under the current political context. Now that the left is in power in Greece, it must take the steps to strengthen the organizational capacities of popular classes in the long run. And the truth is that a working class that is highly fragmented in an economy that is weak and unproductive will have a difficult time organizing against capital in a sustained manner. Again the examples of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador are relevant. Given the weakness of the Greek economy, then, and given its potential fate of stagnation if it remains in the Eurozone, we must seriously consider what the alternatives are for raising its productivity as we begin navigating a path toward socializing it. And I think it's necessary and possible to be having those conversations sooner than later.
  • In a situation where the population can be mobilized but that remains largely unorganized, Syriza has the opportunity to, for instance, build on its earlier contributions to the network of neighborhood assemblies that emerged after the Syntagma occupation. And this time, instead of just articulating an anti-austerity politics, it can use these fora as places to really discuss what's needed for a sustainable transition out of stagnation and toward socialism.

  • The CBO reckons that the US trend growth rate will slow to just 1.7% and will never be above 2% a year for the foreseeable future!
  • In another paper just out, three economists find that long-run US real GDP growth has been declining for some time and the main reason is a slowdown in the growth of the productivity of labour ( Capitalists are failing to boost productivity growth enough through new technology.

  • the government has identified subsidies—oil, food and fertiliser—as the most important sector that must now be “rationalised” to unleash the economic potential of the country.
  • the Survey has pointed to a sharp decline in rural wages, declining rate of employment and also, a declining rate of agricultural growth.
  • all three worrying facts have been manipulated to argue that subsidies have not reached or are not reaching the people. Thus, they must be rationalised or done away with. The deep decline in rural wage rate has been articulated as a sign of recovery of the economy

  • The leadership of Syriza is faced with a dilemma that nearly all left governments have faced in one form or another: either neutralize the party’s left wing and continue marching down a path of retreat, or take stock of its failures and begin preparing for a more radical break.
  • This, then, is perhaps the clearest lesson from Friday’s deal: reversing austerity will require confronting political and business elites, both foreign and domestic, head on.
  • to force capital to accept a new growth strategy. If the party does not reorient its relationship to domestic elites, this will remain one of its largest blind spots.

  • But not speaking up when such inappropriate policies are being applied to Germany’s European partners is collectively disastrous. Indeed, what is so tragic in this crisis is how the center-left throughout Europe have not just accepted, but in many cases actively supported, policies that have done nothing but hurt their supposed core constituencies.
  • “Structural reform” used to be called “structural adjustment.” And European lefties like us used to condemn it as absurd, ridiculous, “neoliberalism gone mad” — and yet we seem quite happy to unleash these policies, despite the damage that they have done in the developing world, upon our European partners.


    When you ask for the content of what structural reform means, it seems to be a checklist of lower taxes, deregulate everything in sight, privatize anything not nailed down, and hope for the best. But are these policies not disturbingly American, if not Thatcherite? Indeed, isn’t this everything that the SPD is supposed to be against, and much of which the German public would never put up with?

  • First, and I know all about this being married into a family of East Germans, was reunification. Having ten million extra workers suddenly enter the labor market puts massive downward pressure on wages that begins to show up around 1994.


    Second, moving parts suppliers for the German Auto complex out to the former eastern bloc countries makes the inputs for German exports even more competitive. This starts around the same time.


    Third, German unions, at the same time, realize that globalization starts east of the Elbe and simply stop asking for wage increases. The combined result is a squeeze on wages that lasts for nearly twenty years that is masked by the transfers of the welfare system. This is where your competitiveness comes from.

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  • The strategy behind the attack aims at a polarization of French society, at an escalation of the conflict and, above all, at the resuscitation of the mantra of "the clash of civilizations." It further isolates the Muslim population in France (around 5 million people) and exposes it to a further escalation of the already worrying and rampant Islamophobia. It is pushing the white population to gather behind the banners of the national republican unity and identity, perceived as under attack from the new French--that is, the Muslim French. And, in order not to leave any option of resistance other than radical Islamism to the Muslim population, it is hitting the French left, the only barrier against an uncontrolled proliferation of Islamophobia in the country, where it hurts the most: in its troubles in dealing with France's colonial past and legacy, and in reformulating universalism in such a way as to give full inclusion to Arab and Muslim people.
  • Its defenders, in the wake of the criticisms and accusations of Islamophobia Charlie Hebdo started to receive, kept pointing out that its satire was addressed to all religions indiscriminately. Whether this is true or not (and I think it is not entirely true), this answer shows a fundamental misunderstanding about context
  • Muslims are not only a largely oppressed and exploited minority in France, they are increasingly becoming the scapegoat of the economic crisis, the mirror upon which white Europeans project their deepest nightmares and fears. Every single week in Germany, several thousands of people gather in various cities under the organizational denomination of PEGIDA for demonstrations against the "Islamization des Abendlandes" (PEGIDA stands for "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West")

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  • just over 5 percent of the money pledged to rebuild Gaza after last summer's devastating 51-day conflict with Israel has been delivered. What does this say about the international community's commitment to the beleaguered territory and its 1.8 million residents?
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