What comes after Critical Theory? (video recording)

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Chris Cutrone on the dictatorship of the proletariat

Following up on a panel discussion for the Platypus Affiliated Society, Chris Cutrone stops by to ambush Douglas Lain about whether he’d support a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Other topics include whether Christopher Lasch was a conservative or a socialist, the nature of bourgeoise justice, the political character of Donald Trump, and what it means to be an aging Gen Xer today 무한도전 311.

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Chris Cutrone

Chris Cutrone is a college educator, writer, and media artist, committed to critical thinking and artistic practice and the politics of social emancipation. ( . . . )

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The negative dialectic of Marxism (audio and video recordings)

The Politics of Critical Theory

Chris Cutrone

Chris Cutrone’s opening remarks begin at: https://youtu.be/Xo2WOy7vgN4?t=2099

Presented on a panel discussion with Dennis Graemer (Association for the Design of History), Doug Lain (Zero Books) and Douglas Kellner (UCLA) at the Platypus Affiliated Society International Convention on Saturday, April 3, 2021.

I will present on the reason why Marxism was and must be “dialectical” — to demystify this word and specify it and its necessity for Marxism. What is the necessity of the dialectic for Marxism? It is of an essentially negative character. — For instance, all degeneration of Marxism can be called “undialectical,” the abandonment of this essentially negative and dialectical character. The Frankfurt School thinker Theodor Adorno titled his last completed book Negative Dialectic, and he thus sought to recapture this original sense of Marxism, which had been progressively abandoned in Adorno’s lifetime in the 20th century. Moreover, as Adorno emphasized, the task is to “think dialectically and undialectically at the same time,” because getting beyond capitalism would mean getting beyond the dialectic, or as Adorno wrote, “no longer a totality nor a contradiction.”

Looking back upon the history of Marxism, there are three different moments for considering this problem: Marx’s own formative moment of Marxism; the height of Marxism as a political force in the world, in the time of Lenin; and the degeneration of Marxism into what Adorno called “dogmatization and thought-taboos.” — Our own moment today is the product of a century of such degeneration Love fee mp3.

By contrast, for Marx in his own time, the necessity of the dialectic was to be found in the self-contradictory character of not only capitalism but of the struggle to overcome it in socialism. Marxism has its origins in the dialectical critique of capitalism which also includes — at its core — the dialectical critique of socialism. It is significant that Marx and Engels began with the dialectical critique of the socialists and communists of their time, of the Young Hegelians and others such as Proudhon.

In the subsequent height of Marxism as a political force, during Lenin’s time, the proletarian socialist movement and its organized parties became self-contradictory — subject to a dialectic — for instance, as Rosa Luxemburg critiqued of reformist Revisionism in Marxism, there was a contradiction between the movement and its goal, or between means and ends, which also involved a contradiction between practice and theory, etc. Lenin went so far as to say that this contradiction — division and split — within the workers’ movement for socialism was what made political and social revolution possible and necessary 연계교재. How was this so?

First, it is necessary to address how Marx and Marxism understood capitalism as a problem to be overcome. What kind of society is capitalism, from a Marxist perspective?

Marx defined capitalism as a mode of production as the contradiction of “bourgeois social relations” and “industrial forces of production.” This is the essential character of the dialectic for Marxism, from which several other contradictions can be derived, for instance, the contradiction between the bourgeois “ideological superstructure” of “false consciousness” and the “socioeconomic base.” There, Marx defined the contradiction as temporal and historical in nature: the ideological superstructure “changes more slowly” than the socioeconomic base.

“Bourgeois consciousness” is of a historical and not class character in a sociological sense of a particular group of people. Bourgeois means “urban” in the original French, and workers as well as capitalists are bourgeois in the sense of not members of the traditional rural classes — castes — of preceding agricultural civilization (peasants, manorial lords, parsons of the parish church, guild craftsmen of the village and traveling merchant traders serving the lord, et al). The new situation of society in the bourgeois epoch brought with it new forms of self-understanding that are well-established and continue in capitalism, especially the autonomous individual as social subject of production and exchange. 

Another way of describing capitalism is the contradiction between social being and consciousness. For Marxism, this contradiction of capitalism began with the Industrial Revolution. The consciousness of participation in society in practice and theory is bourgeois while its actual social being has become industrial 페북 동영상. The most important bourgeois ideology for Marxism is the consciousness of the workers as subjects of bourgeois society. The proletariat is a peculiar term referring to how the working class retained its formal rights as bourgeois citizens while substantially becoming expropriated of its property in its labor as a commodity, harking back to the Ancient Roman class of proletari citizens without property.

The Marxist critique of bourgeois consciousness as ideology is in its self-contradictory character. Hence, what distinguishes the Marxist dialectic is its critical character — from which it is distinguished for example from the Hegelian dialectic, which as a description of bourgeois emancipation of free labor from slavery and caste constraint — the bourgeois revolution — became an affirmative dialectic unable to address the problem of capitalism after the Industrial Revolution. So the critical theory of Marxist politics — to invert the title of this panel discussion — is essentially its negative character: the self-negation of bourgeois society in the Industrial Revolution, in which, for example bourgeois right became self-contradictory, self-undermining and self-destructive in capitalism.

It is important that most avowed “Marxists” today adopt Marxism in a false way as a positive theory, a theory of what capitalism is, for example, rather than as Marx and original Marxism approached capitalism, which was as a contradiction and crisis of society, a contradiction of its self-understanding and self-consciousness. I mentioned for instance social being and consciousness: for Marxism, social being does not define consciousness — in theory and practice — but rather consciousness, or bourgeois ideology as “false consciousness” is contradicted by the social being of industrial production in capitalism Download New West Organic7 3.

The temporal and historical character of this is crucially important — and usually neglected. From a Marxist perspective, bourgeois society was not capitalist — not self-contradictory — from the beginning (in the Renaissance and subsequent 16th, 17th and 18th centuries) but rather became so only in the 19th century, after the Industrial Revolution — in Marx’s own time. This means an essentially negative approach to history in capitalism. History in capitalism for Marxism does not unfold positively — as with Hegel, as the development of consciousness of freedom — but rather negatively, a broadening and deepening crisis of society, borne of the essential contradiction of industrial forces of production against bourgeois social relations.

Capitalism is not a form of society for Marxism but rather a self-contradiction and crisis of society — of bourgeois society specifically. The history of capitalism was for Marxism that of the unfolding task of socialism. But for the last 100 years, the task of socialism was abandoned in favor of the mere denunciation of capitalism, which was thus accepted as a positive fact rather than regarded properly as a negative task, something to be overcome. Involved in this was a collapse of the original distinction Marxism made between bourgeois society and capitalism — an elision of the contradiction between industrial forces and bourgeois social relations of production Mappy Dark.

The bourgeois social relations for Marxism are those of labor — cooperative social production. As Marx early on described about “alienation” — that is, the self-estrangement of social relations — in capitalism, social relations are not only between people in society, but also between humanity and nature, and our relations with ourselves. — Marx added to this three-fold character of bourgeois social relations a fourth dimension of alienation in capitalism, namely the estrangement of labor from capital as its product. So, for Marxism, social relations in capitalism are phenomena of contradiction and crisis, and no longer (primarily) the constitutive dimensions of society, as they had been in bourgeois consciousness, for instance for Locke, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Kant, Hegel and others. For Marxism, capitalism is not really a mode of production, but the self-contradiction of the bourgeois mode of production, that is, of the cooperative social production through the social relations of labor as a commodity.

Marx defined bourgeois society as commodity-producing society: a society of commodities that produce other commodities. Labor — and later in manufacture and industry, labor-power and labor-time — as a commodity produces other commodities. But in the Industrial Revolution, labor (including labor-power and labor-time) as a commodity becomes divided against itself: it produces two opposed commodities: use-values whose consumption reproduces labor in society; and capital as the objectification — and alienation or self-estrangement — of the social value of labor, which ends up contradicting and undermining the basis for the reproduction of labor in society — the social relations of cooperative production. Capital investment becomes divided between human labor and scientific technique in production. Marx called science and technology the “general social intellect,” which mediated social production in a fundamentally different way from that of individual human labor.

Social cooperation in capitalism was mediated by capital (hence, “capitalism”) — and for Marxism as a form of Hegelianism, what “mediates” is also what embodies contradiction: what mediates also contradicts. So capital contradicts social cooperation; but also social cooperation — the bourgeois social relations of labor as a commodity — contradict capital, hence, the class struggle of the workers as subjects of social cooperation versus the capitalists as stewards of the social value of accumulated labor in capital. Labor and capital confront each other as aspects of social self-contradiction — capital is the self-contradiction of labor, and labor is the self-contradiction of capital in industrial production.

The workers’ demand for the value of their labor in capitalism is historically regressive in that it seeks to restore the value of labor as a commodity that industrial production has contradicted and undermined. However, although the workers demand the reconstitution of the social value of labor as a commodity, and thus the reconstitution of bourgeois society, this is also the inevitable form in which the demand for socialism will be manifested: socialism will inevitably be posed as the restoration of society in bourgeois terms, that is, in terms of the social relations of labor.

This means that the workers’ struggle for socialism is inherently self-contradictory: it is divided and indeed torn between the contradictory impulses to restore and reconstitute labor as well as to transcend labor as a social relation and value.

In the crisis of Marxism itself that came at the end of the First World War as the cataclysmic culmination of the Second Industrial Revolution, there was a division between the old Socialist and new Communist Parties over the issue of whether and how to save society from the devastation of war and political and social collapse and to revolutionize it beyond capitalism. There was an actual civil war within Marxism in the revolution that unfolded 1917-19. One side defended the working class as it existed in capitalism, while the other sought to overcome it. Socialism itself became divided between the interests of the workers. The anti-communists considered revolution to be a threat above all to the working class itself.

The socialist political party that had been built up to overcome capitalism became its last bulwark of defense. The power to overthrow and smash the capitalist state proved to be the power to save it. And both sides claimed not only to represent the true interests of the working class but the ultimate goal of socialism itself. Both had right on their side — at least apparently.

This was the most powerful demonstration of the dialectic ever in world history. And that is entirely appropriate since the Marxist dialectic was designed to address precisely this problem, as it had first manifested in the workers movement for socialism in the 1840s and the Revolutions of 1848, repeating itself on a higher level and in more drastic and dramatic — and violent — form in the Revolutions of 1917-19, and the division of Marxism between the parties of the old Socialist Second and new Communist Third Internationals.

But this political conflict within the Marxist-led workers movement was not a de novo phenomenon but had long historical roots, which pointed to the development of contradictions within Marxism itself. This demanded a dialectical critique — a Marxist critique — of Marxism itself. Just as Marx had engaged in the dialectical critique of the socialism and communism of his time, so Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and other radical revolutionaries in the Second International engaged in the dialectical critique of their own Marxist socialist movement. — Later, Trotsky engaged in the dialectical critique of Stalinism. In subsequent history, successive generations’ rediscovery of Marxism was the rediscovery of the dialectic, which however proved ephemeral and elusive, and fragile as a red thread that has been lost — broken — many times.

This tradition of negative dialectical critique was carried on by the Frankfurt School, under the rubric of “Critical Theory” — as I already mentioned, including Adorno’s magnum opus Negative Dialectic, but also Horkheimer and Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment, etc.

But the dialectic fell out of style in the 20th century, with Marxism itself rendered undialectical and discontents of the failure of Marxism blaming the dialectic for the impasse of Marxism. Undialectical “Marxists” made explicit return to pre-critical — indeed pre-Socratic — philosophy such as Althusser and his followers. Postmodernists such as Foucault rejected the “grand narrative” of history as the struggle for freedom. Unable to grasp the nature and character of the dialectic at a standstill in capitalism as the crossroads of socialism or barbarism, the domination of the contradiction of capital was blamed on the dialectic — and often on Marxism — itself. And yet the ironies of the Hegelian cunning ruse of reason were hard to shake off entirely, leaving the lingering question of meaning at the supposed “end of history.”

This is the most difficult aspect of Marxism but also the most essential; it is the most esoteric but also the substantial core of Marxism: it is the most enchanting but also most frustrating quality of Marxism. It will inevitably return, as Marxism continues to haunt the world of capitalism and its manifest contradictions: but can it be sustained? Will the capitalist world be brought back to the point of its dialectical contradiction that points beyond itself? If so, then the necessity of the Marxist negative dialectic will be felt again and anew. | P

Socialism, Liberalism and Marxism (video recording)

August Nimtz and Andrew Arato, moderated by Chris Cutrone

In the 20th century, socialism and liberalism became opposed political categories, with liberalism associated with the defense of capitalism and socialism associated with increased state control all the way up to totalitarian states led by nominally “Marxist” Communist Parties 영화 비버. Previously, however, socialism sought to advance freedom beyond what was possible in capitalism, and accused liberalism of falling short of its own social and political ideals Flash video. The turning point seems to have come with the Russian Revolution led by the Bolsheviks under Lenin. The Soviet Union, while continuing to promise socialism, brought not greater but less political and social freedom ebs 프로그램 다운로드. At the same time, anti-Communism often brought about political alliances between liberals and authoritarians and even fascists, compromising freedom in the name of freedom 에피소드. In the Cold War era, millions died in the conflict between liberalism and socialism. More than 30 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and allied Eastern European states, how do we now stand regarding the relation of liberalism to socialism Download Opera YouTube? How do we make sense of their vexed history today? What is the current status of the struggle for freedom under capitalism, and how might the history of Marxism help — or not — to contribute to this struggle?

Chris Cutrone on the Death and Life of the Left, the Hidden Potential of Liberalism and Potential Futures (audio and video recordings)

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Chris Cutrone

Chris Cutrone interviewed by Laurie Johnson (Political Science, Kansas State University) on the origins of Platypus, the death and life of the Left, socialism and the hidden potential of liberalism and potential futures 연애 서큘레이션.

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James Vaughn interviews Chris Cutrone on post-neoliberalism (George Washington Forum Radio podcast audio)

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Chris Cutrone

September 12, 2020 | George Washington Forum Radio podcast Episode #2

Chris Cutrone (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) joins George Washington Forum Radio to discuss Trump and U.S Download the gif image. politics, the present crisis of neoliberalism, and the global shift toward post-neoliberalism.

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All episodes at: https://gwfohio.org/gwf-radio/ 

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The fate of the American Revolution (audio and video recordings)

American Psycho

Chris Cutrone, Reid Kotlas, Spencer Leonard, Pamela Nogales, James Vaughn

2020 summer lecture series by the Platypus Affiliated Society

Panel Discussion by the lecturers James Vaughn, Chris Cutrone, Reid Kotlas, Spencer Leonard and Pamela Nogales

The red thread running through the lecture series, and the question discussed in this final panel among the lecturers, is the persistence and legacy of the revolution 사전 파일. How does Marxism appear today in light of the American Revolution, and vice versa?

Background reading:
Chris Cutrone, “The American Revolution and the Left” (2020)
https://platypus1917.org/2020/03/01/the-american-revolution-and-the-left/

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The philosophy trap (Is theory good for anything?) Zero Books interview (audio and video recordings)

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Chris Cutrone is a college educator, writer, and media artist, committed to critical thinking and artistic practice and the politics of social emancipation 나혼자 레벨업 텍스트 다운로드. He returns to the Zero Books channel to discuss his 2014 essay “Defending Marxist Hegelianism against a Marxist critique” and to discuss the role that critical theory should play in the struggle for socialism Nintendo Switch nsp.

Suggested reading:

Mike Macnair, “Lukács: The philosophy trap,” Weekly Worker 11/21/13 https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/987…

Chris Cutrone, “Defending Marxist Hegelianism against a Marxist critique,” Weekly Worker 8/11/11
https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/878…

Georg Lukács, Original Preface (1922) to History and Class Consciousness (1923)
https://www.marxists.org/archive/luka…

Chris Cutrone, “Why still read Lukács 브라운아이드소울 right 다운로드? The place of ‘philosophical’ questions in Marxism” (2014)
https://platypus1917.org/2014/02/01/w…

Suggested viewing:

Chris Cutrone, “CPGB contra Lukács” teach-in at SAIC, 1/11/14 https://youtu.be/kKt3zePUtMI

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The legacy of the American Revolution: The Gilded Age (audio and video recordings)

Chris Cutrone

Audio recording available at: https://archive.org/details/gilded-age-7-17-20

The Legacy of the American Revolution 2020 summer lecture series by the Platypus Affiliated Society

6.) Chris Cutrone on the Gilded Age and Second Industrial Revolution

The retrospective view from the present allows for regarding the 20th century as the outcome of the Gilded Age — of the Second Industrial Revolution 나루토 만화 다운로드. We still live in the after-effects of the crisis that conditioned the 20th century. The inability to overcome the discontents of capital from a century ago still swamps us today Download kakaotalk animated emoticons. In the late 19th century U.S., the Second Industrial Revolution was governed by the Republican Party, which was the combined party of progressive liberalism and big capital Download the rain to walk through the night. Progressivism emerged as a reform effort from within the Republican Party against manifest problems of Gilded Age capitalism in the 1890s–1900s — most dramatically under President Theodore Roosevelt and his run for reelection as a Progressive in 1912 Download netflix computer. In America and Europe, discontents with the Gilded Age capitalism of the Second Industrial Revolution manifested in the Socialist Parties of the Second International log4net.dll 다운로드. Liberal capitalism was opposed by a mass industrial workers politics — for instance the Socialist Party of America of Eugene Debs.

Lecture based on Cutrone’s essay “The end of the Gilded Age: Discontents of the Second Industrial Revolution today,” available online at:
<https://platypus1917.org/2017/12/02/end-gilded-age-discontents-second-industrial-revolution-today/>

Republicans and riots

The Left in death, 1992 and 2020

Chris Cutrone

Platypus Review 128 | July 2020

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“The most magnificent drama in the last thousand years of human history is the transportation of ten million human beings out of the dark beauty of their mother continent into the new-found Eldorado of the West. They descended into Hell; and in the third century they arose from the dead, in the finest effort to achieve democracy for the working millions which this world had ever seen. It was a tragedy that beggared the Greek; it was an upheaval of humanity like the Reformation and the French Revolution. Yet we are blind and led by the blind. We discern in it no part of our labor movement; no part of our industrial triumph; no part of our religious experience. Before the dumb eyes of ten generations of ten million children, it is made mockery of and spit upon; a degradation of the eternal mother; a sneer at human effort; with aspiration and art deliberately and elaborately distorted. And why? Because in a day when the human mind aspired to a science of human action, a history and psychology of the mighty effort of the mightiest century, we fell under the leadership of those who would compromise with truth in the past in order to make peace in the present and guide policy in the future.”
— W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America (1935)[1]

 
“Life is tragic simply because the Earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death — ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life 정승환 응급실. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.”
— James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963)[2]

 
“The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. . . . And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
— Thomas Jefferson, Paris, November 13, 1787[3]

   

I QUIT THE “LEFT” in 1993, after the LA riots, the quint-centenary of Columbus’s Discovery and Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 — in that order. These events told me that there would be no struggle for proletarian socialism, no Marxism, but only Republicans, riots — and Democrats. In 2020, nothing seems to have changed since 1992 — or 1968.

Riots and republicans

Riots are bad for black people, turning them into targets for police and civilian vigilantes. Racism is real, and in the U.S. it targets blacks. There are no “people of color” but only blacks and more-or-less “white” people (the latter including “black” — African and Caribbean — immigrants, who do not readily identify with historically black Americans, and indeed actively do not) 스택독. During the recent riots, in Chicago’s Little Village, the Latin Kings harassed blacks, pulling them from their cars — they left the white hipsters, “Antifa” or not, alone. During the riots, mostly the police stood by; some people were arrested — and they were disproportionately black. The riots enacted the very anti-black racism against which they protested, ending up confirming it. Does it matter if there are black cops, black police chiefs, black mayors doing it? The glass is swept up (how many [black] workers’ hands will be cut?), streets cleared (how many toxins inhaled by [black] clean-up crews?), and normal life, such as it is, returns. But the bitter after-effects remain (how many stores closed permanently and their [black] workers cast into unemployment?). What was it all for? If the police are defunded or even abolished, private security will not be — nor will the state; but it might be privatized (further), perhaps with black contractors — or not. Perhaps the riots will have in the end been in vain. — Children, be careful what you wish for!

Republicans point out that the U.S. is not a democracy but a constitutional republic; that it is a nation not of people but of laws — a nation based on an idea or ideas: that all are equal, with rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and all are equal before the law — if not exactly with respect to each other. Republicans hold to the value of freedom over mere life; that law should prevail and provide the true meaning of life, over mere living; and that, while generations pass, freedom endures. This is the — revolutionary — legacy of the American Revolution to which they adhere. And so should we.

The law is not tyranny. Crime is not revolutionary. Rioting is not the revolution. Trump is not the Tsar; Biden is not Kerensky; the DSA are not the Bolsheviks (nor the Mensheviks); the anarchists are not the anarchists 이니셜 d. The Third Precinct is not the Bastille; Jacobin is not the Jacobins; CHAZ/CHOP is not the Paris Commune. Raz Simone is not Huey Newton or Robert F. Williams; BLM is not the Jewish Bund; 2020 is not 1917 — or 1968. But it might be 1992.

While 1992 led to the election of the Democrats, in 1968 and 2020 it led and will lead, now as before, to electing Republicans — let there be no doubt. The DNC riots (and George Wallace) led to Nixon’s victory; the Days of Rage and Kent State led to his reelection. In 1992, George H.W. Bush sent in the U.S. military (active duty troops, not National Guard) to “pacify” Los Angeles; and there were dozens of bodies felled in the streets and hundreds more sent to hospitals — thousands to jail. But the riots did not harm Bush’s reelection: Clinton would have lost if Ross Perot had not split the electorate, allowing Clinton to win with a minority of the vote. Donald Trump was a supporter of Perot’s Reform Party (out of opposition to Bush and Clinton’s NAFTA) — before he and Jesse Ventura left in protest later against its Right-wing takeover under Pat Buchanan, a true “America first” nationalist and isolationist. As in 2016, the silent majority will speak again; again, it is only a question of how loudly they will do so. Perhaps more loudly than the vocal minority. Prepare to be gobsmacked — again. Even if it’s Biden/Harris in 2020, it could be Trump again in 2024 — do not expect him (of all people) to go gentle into that good night 너나해 다운로드!

Columbus

The other event in 1992 that convinced me of the impossibility of struggle for proletarian socialism was the observation of 500 years of the Columbian Discovery of the New World in 1492 — which the “Left” protested as the beginning of “500 years of racism, sexism and homophobia,” neglecting that all human communities, in all places, ever, for thousands — tens of thousands — of years, have been racially chauvinistic and genocidal, enslaved those they conquered and did not simply kill, were patriarchal, and asserted murderous sexual morality over all their members; and that the transformation of the world and of humanity in our modern bourgeois emancipation, of which the Renaissance Italian Columbus’s voyage was part, was the very first time that the potential for overcoming myriad generations of racism, sexism and homophobia had ever emerged in history.

Genghis Khan was a protagonist of history even greater than Columbus, in both action and atrocity — should the people of Asia (and beyond) mourn who and what he made them? But of course Khan was just a prominent and particularly dramatic example of what humanity has carved in its blood over the course of millennia — or eons. Only since Columbus has slavery been abolished, genocide made a crime, and sexual freedom and gender equality been achieved. The epochal bourgeois revolution, of which Columbus’s Journey of Discovery was part, is the first — and only — successful slave revolt in history. 1992 marked not 500 years of oppression but five centuries of liberation, for the entire world. It put an end to ancestral guilt and began history anew. This change continues to this day. Its task is not over yet.

In Mexico, Columbus Day is celebrated as the “Day of the Race,” celebrating the marvelous mixture of European and indigenous people, the new modern race of Americans. — Shall we regret them as “illegitimate children” instead? Republican U.S. Congressional Representative Steve King said that all existing human populations are the products at some time or other of rape and incest, but that it is not the children’s fault for the sins of their fathers and mothers. — Shall we prefer that they were aborted?

Slavery

We are told by those such as the Mayor of Minneapolis and the Governor of Minnesota — the Speaker of the House of Representatives and various Senators and other Governors and Mayors — Democrats, all — that today in the U.S Download focus games. we are living in 400 years of slavery and its effects, of “white supremacy” — really! One wonders whether they are truly ashamed or rather proud to say so; anyway, various Hollywood actors, music and sports celebrities tweet their applause. It must be very kick-ass to be white nowadays. (Remember The New Jim Crow and Orange is the New Black that everybody was reading and watching: Poussey Washington’s death was protested, however that did not end well.) But isn’t present misery much more specific (and much less sexy): the deindustrialization of the past neoliberal capitalist generation; not 400 years of racism but 40 years of postindustrial poverty, in which not only the black underclass but also the black middle class has grown? The unexpected plot-twist after the achievement of Civil Rights reforms in the 1960s against racism was that the working class as a whole would be thrown onto the scrapheap of neoliberal capitalism. A century earlier, the Robber Baron Jay Gould had declared that he could hire one half of the working class to kill the other. Is this what we have been seeing for the last generation, the “poverty draft” — not only to the military but the police (including prison guards)? Jean-Paul Sartre asked whether there was any sense to life in a world where there are people whose job is to break our bones. He was right 70 years ago — and is still.

The “white” underclass has also grown since the 1970s — has been decimated (starved, sickened, bastardized, drug-addicted, criminalized — lumpenized) — as well: has this been the “white genocide” that the actual “white-supremacists” (or “-nationalists”) bemoan? Shall we look forward to a “race war” to settle the issue; shall we prove the old white racist fears of black revenge true; or are we beckoned by another future? Frantz Fanon declared that slavery was long overcome, and said that there is no black mission and no white burden — that he had no desire to crystallize guilt in hearts, and wanted to move into a future in which children would not scrutinize their color. Fanon said that excessive consciousness of the body is destructive of our humanity, psychologically and spiritually: it is not only mortifying but morbid, succumbing to morbidity. Fanon called on us to reject the destructive impulse of Thanatos, the Death Drive, and instead to embrace Eros, “to build the world of the You;” and prayed, “O my body, make of me always a man who questions!”[4] He was right 70 years ago — and is still.

Slavery is not the remarkable fact of American history, but its abolition is. The abolition of slavery in the U.S. was the attempt to prevent, for the whole world, it ever coming back. It is the extremely brief century and a half of the ban on slavery that is the exception to history, the difference from countless ages of slavery across the eternity of time — it is in fact what makes the U.S. exceptional and indeed the leader of the freedom of the entire world, to this day. The U.S. is the land of the free and home of the brave — the U.S. banishing slavery has been an act of unprecedented bravery and freedom, and still is.

But the guilty liberals’ 1619 Project last year, claiming indelible blackness and the permanent effects of the past visible in our bodies, will be taught in schools instead. Democrats don kente cloth this year and take a knee for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. — “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[5] — A true mortification of the flesh, but without any sort of spiritual redemption.

Thomas Jefferson said that the world belongs to the living and not the dead. But in tearing down a statue of Jefferson we might not claim the world that actually belongs to us, the world of not mere life but of living — in freedom — but only the world of the dead. Shall we let the dead’s claims dominate us? Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death!” was not a mere phrase. “Live free or die” does not mean literally dying but not really living. Are we actually living, or is our life rather a living death? Are the living today only the evidence of past death; are we only living monuments to the dead?

Pathology of freedom, or death

When looking up at a statue of Columbus today, the rage we feel is the frustration and confusion of our liberation. We hate Columbus for his role in making our freedom inescapable. We blame the herald and harbinger and seek to kill the messenger for the bad news that, as Rousseau said, society has forced us to be free. Christopher Columbus the man is long since dead; but his image haunts us with all the terror — what Fanon called the “pathology” — of freedom. This is the fear and hatred of the revolution — our hatred and fear of freedom. We feel freedom itself as an oppression. Of course it has been and continues to be traumatic. But no destruction of symbols, no matter how furious, can cure our ills. As Freud observed, what is painful can nonetheless be true. The truth is that we are — painfully — free.

The painful truth is that we are not living through a revolution in the riots, or even a prelude to revolution; but the riots are only the expression of pain at the actual revolution in capitalism, a “cry of protest before accommodation”[6] to the new post-neoliberal reality, the change at the political Center that is being led by Trump. We look at Trump and see the effect of Columbus. We look at Columbus and see Trump. But while we decapitate Columbus, Trump keeps his head — and we brain ourselves. — Children, don’t let statues fall on your head!

Like Sally’s brother James Hemings, freed by Jefferson, we might become lost, and drink ourselves to death, after our manumission. That is our liberty. But the world goes on — and we cannot, or at least ought not to, hate others for living.

They will live and they will die but they will be free. Free to suffer and free to die, to find their own paths to death — which is the only possible meaning of life. Can our lives (our deaths) find their true meaning in freedom? Or will we be freed only from “this mortal coil”[7] and not from our mere mortality? The riots were provoked by the death of George Floyd and memorialized him: were they a true celebration of his life? Floyd’s family says they were not. The protests called for convicting the police who killed Floyd, to hold their lives responsible for his death. The righteous police will hold the wrongful police to account, and they in life along with Floyd in death will be sacrificed to redeem our collective guilt, the living deaths of our own lives, in memory of his dying. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor called the riots a “festival of the oppressed”[8] — but can they be anything beyond what Rosa Luxemburg called the “dance of bloody shadows without number”?[9] Can they bring meaning to life, or only to death?

Is the dying of the oppressed the only meaning of our life — is death the only meaning of black life? What will our meaning be — can there be any meaning to us — in history? Beyond riots and Republicans, law and order, and, for now — today and tomorrow — Trump? Will we look only at ourselves, with morbid fascination and rage, and not look beyond ourselves to “the open door of every consciousness”?[10] — Children, I hope that you hope for more than death — for more than mere life! | P


[1] W.E.B. Dubois, Black Reconstruction in America (Rahway: Quinn & Boden Company, 1935), 727.

[2] James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (London: Michael Joseph LTD, 1963), 99.

[3] Thomas Jefferson, “Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson,” in The Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States of America, ed. Edward Livingston (Washington: Blair & Rives, 1837), 2:116.

[4] Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, trans. Charles Lam Markmann (London: Pluto Press, 1986), 232.

[5] 1 Cor. 11:24 ESV

[6] The phrase “a cry of protest before accommodation” is a paraphrase of “Passionate self-assertion can be a mask for accommodation” from Bayard Rustin in “The Failure of Black Separatism,” Harper’s Magazine (January 1970); See also, Chris Cutrone, “A cry of protest before accommodation? The dialectic of emancipation and domination” in Platypus Review 42(December-January 2012) available online at <https://platypus1917.org/2011/12/01/cry-of-protest-before-accommodation/>; Adolph Reed, “Black Particularity Reconsidered,” Telos 39 (1979), later expanded as “The ‘Black Revolution’ and the Reconstitution of Domination,” in Stirrings in the Jug: Black Politics in the Post-Segregation Era, ed. Adolph Reed (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1999); and Adolph Reed, “The Limits of Anti-Racism: Vague Politics about a Nearly Indescribable Thing,” Left Business Observer 121 (September 2009), available online at <http://www.leftbusinessobserver.com/Antiracism.html>.

[7] William Shakespeare, “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,” in Shakespeare: Complete Works, ed. W.J. Craig (London: Oxford University Press, 1966), 886.

[8] Keeanga Yahmatta Taylor, “How Do We Change America?,” The New Yorker (June 2020), available online at <https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-do-we-change-america>. The phrase “festival of the oppressed” originates from V.I. Lenin, “Two Tactics Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution,” in Collected Works, trans. Abraham Fineburg and Julius Katzer, ed. George Hanna (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1977), 9:113. Available online at < https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1905/tactics/index.htm>.

[9] Rosa Luxemburg, The Junius Pamphlet: The Crisis of German Social-Democracy, trans. Dave Hollis. Luxemburg Internet Archive, <https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1915/junius/>.

[10] Frantz Fanon, op. cit., 232