It should by now be safe to assume that among those of any seriousness on the left, a number of points are beyond dispute: (1) that the capitalist powers, both domestically and abroad, make extensive use of false flag attacks; (2) that the various species of Political Islam we will group under the general header of Takfirism* are of thoroughly Western-Capitalist provenance; (3) and finally that the contradictions of global capitalism have reached a point at which the majority of the core working class can no longer be maintained as compliant junior partners to their bourgeoisies’ imperial project.
This last point is simply to say that we must now really reckon with what has always been obvious to those unseduced by such chimeras as Euro-communism and Trotskyism: that the relative comfort of the metropolitan labor-aristocracy (not to mention the imperial clerical classes and lumpen-aristocracy) derives essentially from the coupling of…
Obstruction of Justice: How the British Government Protected 8,000 Soldiers of the Waffen-SS Galitsia Division
Ukrainian volunteers of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division-SS Galitsia march past (L to R) Fritz Freitag, Heinrich Himmler and Otto Wachter
Amid the continued support given to the fascist politicians and military of Ukraine by western governments, many people are asking how such a betrayal of the sacrifices of the Allies in World War Two could take place. However, what most people are unaware of, in large part due to an ever-more corrupted media, is that these governments have a shocking history of protecting the perpetrators of some of the most terrible crimes of that war. One of the most egregious examples of this practice of shielding war-criminals from justice was confirmed in 2005 with the declassification of British Home Office papers showing that the British government…
Communists in the global North have typically gone through several progressing periods of disillusionment with bourgeois historical perception and a growing recognition of its general untruth. Unlearning anti-communism is a long and difficult process full of twists, turns, and even an occasional catharsis of immediate negation. “Wait, so it was the Dalai Lama that was bad?” All of this unlearning involves a scale of study that most people would recoil from, even to get a degree in one or another bourgeois indoctrination scheme. Communist history is the most slandered political history that exists, and for reasons that Marxists should readily understand. After all, if you were in the ruling class of a system that exists through exploitation of the rest of the population and general murderous domination, wouldn’t you also produce an endless stream of lies about an alternative system that posed an existential danger to you?
The years of reaction (1907-10). Tsardom scored victory. All the revolutionary and opposition parties have been defeated. Depression, demoralization, splits, discord, renegacy, pornography take the place of politics. There is an increased drift toward philosophical idealism; mysticism becomes the shell of counter-revolutionary sentiments. But at the same time, it is precisely this great defeat that gives the revolutionary parties and the revolutionary class a real and very valuable lesson, a lesson in historical dialectics, a lesson in the understanding of the political struggle and in the skill and art of waging it. One gets to know one’s friends in times of misfortune. Defeated armies learn well.
The revolutionary parties must complete their education. They have learned to attack. Now they have to realize that this knowledge must be supplemented with the knowledge how to retreat properly. They have to realize — and the revolutionary class is taught to realize it by its own bitter experience — that victory is impossible unless they have learned both how to attack and how to retreat properly. Of all the defeated opposition and revolutionary parties, the Bolsheviks effected the most orderly retreat, with the least loss to their “army,” with its core best preserved, with the least (in respect to profundity and irremediability) splits, with the least demoralization, and in the best condition to resume the work on the broadest scale and in the most correct and energetic manner. The Bolsheviks achieved this only because they ruthlessly exposed and expelled the revolutionary phrase-mongers, who refused to understand that one had to retreat, that one had to know how to retreat, and that one had absolutely to learn how to work legally in the most reactionary parliaments, in the most reactionary trade unions, cooperative societies, insurance societies and similar organizations.
Something has changed, fundamentally. This is evident. What is it? Before, they all wanted to be the ploughmen of history, to play the active parts, each one of them to play an active part. Nobody wished to be the ‘manure’ of history. But is it possible to plough without first manuring the land? So ploughmen and ‘manure’ are both necessary. In the abstract, they all admitted it. But in practice? Manure for manure, as well draw back, return to the shadows, into obscurity. Now something has changed, since there are those who adapt themselves ‘philosophically’ to being ‘manure’, who know this is what they must be and adapt themselves. It is like the problem of the proverbial dying man. But there is a great difference, because at the point of death what is involved is a decisive action, of an instant’s duration. Whereas in the case of the manure, the problem is a long-term one, and poses itself afresh at every moment. You only live once, as the saying goes; your own personality is irreplaceable. You are not faced abruptly with an instant’s choice on which to gamble, a choice in which you have to evaluate the alternatives in a flash and cannot postpone your decision. Here postponement is continual, and your decision has continually to be renewed. This is why you can say that something has changed. There is not even the choice between living for a day as a lion, or a hundred years as a sheep. You don’t live as a lion even for a minute, far from it: you live like something far lower than a sheep for years and years and know that you have to live like that. Image of Prometheus who, instead of being attacked by the eagle, is devoured by parasites.
Over the past week, the news media have made noise about the unlikely but certainly not unwelcome prospect of an end to the Syrian war. If the general attack on the Syrian state does end, however, it will not likely bring an end to every arena of conflict in Syria. Among those arenas is that of the much-discussed Kurdish liberation movement. Less commonly discussed are Syrian liberation efforts against Israel waged in occupied Golan Heights. In this arena, the substance of colonialism and resistance are being shaped for the future. It is an arena worthy of serious attention, as it informs other aspects of the war, the region, and the information in circulation.
For starters, those Syrian liberation efforts in the Golan account for much of the context of recent propaganda targeting Hezbollah in the Western press. For unbeknownst to far too many Western observers, including those on the left holding a…
An unfortunate lapse in historical sensibility compels us — once again — to return to this question. First, let’s take one facet of the issue in the abstract, since that’s how it’s been presented to us by all the dedicated journos and self-appointed legal experts: is the barrel of a gun more lethal than a pen? Preempting the too obvious and expected (embarassingly misappropriated) Marx quote on “Freedom of the Press” (let’s keep in mind Marx was writing on political developments in the Prussian Empire and not a modern liberal republic having in fact already established the goals he was advocating under the historic conditions of the bourgeois revolutions of the time, that is to say, we are no longer battling feudal overlords in Germany or France–but what is specificity for the 140-character-frenzied reaching of dedicated experts?), I will merely point out that in our current historical moment, pens (keyboards, other such metonymic figures of ‘expression’) facilitate, some would say produce, lethal results. In the context of what is sadly still considered journalism these symbols of enlightenment might not sign off on orders to kill, bombs to drop, sanctions to impose, but they can repackage dominant tropes that further enable the dissemination of imperialist mantra. Satire, one should say, only works if it is subversive, and to be subversive means to challenge–not reinforce–hegemonic symbolic orders. All this, of course, does not a “censorship” necessitate–one does not even have to broach that subject–but it does belie the notion that the executed staff of Charlie Hebdo were martyred in the name of freedom, progress, and modernity.
Second, not so abstractly and more crucially I should say, the inability to interpret acts of terror in a non-caricatured light is painfully ironic, and in perceiving this irony Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons seem less a satirical commentary than a realist take on a caricature-infused popular imaginary. It comes with great shock to the average European citizen to hear that speech might not in fact be the issue; that the “ISIS” PR campaign might have nothing at all to do with the…hypocrisy of liberal values; even less to do with some reaction to the tropes of racist empire. This last point arrives to the great dismay of European Trotskyists and beautiful “left” souls who seem hellbent on convincing public opinion that takfiri insurgency is an “indigenous reaction” to empire, which more or less reproduces Cold War discourse and hasbara on Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. More cynically, the offensive content of the images could even be highly strategic a choice for targeting, as it will polarize precarious segments of the popular classes, and such a target functions well both strategically and symbolically for the purposes of war. The French state armed and trained FSA “rebels” in Syria that would later be declared terrorists in both contexts of domestic security and “defection” to Nusra and ISIS in Syria. That is, volatile situations where shifts in location and allegiances (the Islamic Coalition that saw the convening of all the Syrian opposition groupuslces into a belligerent front) curiously transformed their epithets. This inability to get past the clash of civs vernacular is more a reflection of Western “left” myopia, a refusal to look past cartoonish tropes it steeps itself in as well as the tropes it manhandles Others into, than such looming threats to “our civilization.” That is to say, all that has been discussed in the broader echo chambers of French “how could this happen” is that modern secular values are imperiled at the hands of intolerant cave dwellers.
Fruitless it would be to engage in another debate teeming with contextual acrobatics over if the cartoons were *really* intended as commentary against the right or meta-critiquing the racism contained within the images, when such images are so ripe for ideological re-purposing, such pliable clay as to be so readily appropriated by the French state in its current demands for national unity. The endless hand wringing in capitalist democracies over free speech, its martyrs, and the necessity for such freedom’s “redistribution” totally and deliberately elides some inconvenient facts: a) that freedom of expression, like any other right in bourgeois law (to assembly, property…), is form without content, scarce and highly concentrated (like capital, to the propertied); b) that terrorists seek out precisely those avenues of action which heighten and sharpen social tensions and foment precarious conditions–that is to say, by playing right into the hands of expanding French fascism they actively engender a situation where the most vulnerable Muslim citizen and immigrant workers will be alienated by the increasingly xenophobic and violently racist community of “national unity.” That is, perhaps, acting in hopes that they will be rendered vulnerable enough to sympathize (it is no wonder then that, already, IS, Al-Qaeda in Yemen, and Al-Qaeda in Syria have scrambled to compete for the spotlight). This desperate refusal to see potential strategy in deep-state collusion with domestic terrorist incursions is more a reflection of your own decayed-civilization complex, one that is being exploited to oil the war machine and continue plundering Syrians. And these stubborn facts, so unfortunately overlooked, sort of totally neuter Europe’s mighty pen.
You tell us
It looks bad for our cause.
The darkness gets deeper. The powers get less.
Now, after we worked for so many years
We are in a more difficult position than at the start.
But the enemy stands there, stronger than ever before.
His powers appear to have grown. He has taken on an aspect
We however have made mistakes; there is no denying it.
Our numbers are dwindling.
Our slogans are in disarray. The enemy has twisted
Part of our words beyond recognition.
What is now false of what we said:
Some or all?
Whom do we still count on? Are we just left over, thrown out
Of the living stream? Shall we remain behind
Understanding no one and understood by none?
Have we got to be lucky?
This you ask. Expect
No other answer than your own.