Multitude redux Empire: wrong way, don’t go back, we should leave too.

People got wishful thinking a lot, and I am always for breaking the borders, but as this can be read from afar, I reckon yes, but the prognosis offered below by Hardt and Negri back in the Empire day ends up objectively anti-communist – the wrong side is lauded as abandoning the discipline of the system. What if rather, all the exploited under capitalism had pushed at the wall the other way, the former soviet block might not be a pit of cowboy corruption and proto-fascist gangsterism, but rather a renewal – walls can fall both ways, and maybe H&N were pushing the wrong way. I don’t mean everyone should now move to Mexico, but abandoning the shopping centre queues in favour of a Leninist discipline supporting an organised alternative to empty glitz is a long term better solution for all rather than this multitude exodus which does tend to me to sound a bit like Pol Pot’s year zero as well.

“A specter haunts the world and it is the specter of migration. All the powers of the old world are allied in a merciless operation against it, but the movement is irresistible. Along with the flight from the so-called Third World there are flows of political refugees and transfers of intellectual labor power, in addition to the massive movements of the agricultural, manufacturing, and service proletariat. The legal and documented movements are dwarfed by clandestine migrations: the borders of national sovereignty are sieves, and every attempt at complete regulation runs up against violent pressure. Economists attempt to explain this phenomenon by presenting their equations and models, which even if they were complete would not explain that irrepressible desire for free movement. In effect, what pushes from behind is, negatively, desertion from the miserable cultural and material conditions of imperial reproduction; but positively, what pulls forward is the wealth of desire and the accumulation of expressive and productive capacities that the processes of globalization have determined in the consciousness of every individual and social group—and thus a certain hope. Desertion and exodus are a powerful form of class struggle within and against imperial postmodernity. This mobility, however, still constitutes a spontaneous level of struggle, and, as we noted earlier, it most often leads today to a new rootless condition of poverty and misery. A new nomad horde, a new race of barbarians, will arise to invade or evacuate Empire. Nietzsche was oddly prescient of their destiny in the nineteenth century. ‘‘Problem: where are the barbarians of the twentieth century? Obviously they will come into view and consolidate themselves only after tremendous socialist crises.’’ We cannot say exactly what Nietzsche foresaw in his lucid delirium, but indeed what recent event could be a stronger example of the power of desertion and exodus, the power of the nomad horde, than the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the entire Soviet bloc? In the desertion from ‘‘socialist discipline,’’ savage mobility and mass migration contributed substantially to the collapse of the system. In fact, the desertion of productive cadres disorganized and struck at the heart of the disciplinary system of the bureaucratic Soviet world. The mass exodus of highly trained workers from Eastern Europe played a central role in provoking the collapse of the Wall. Even though it refers to the particularities of the socialist state system, this example demonstrates that the mobility of the labor force can indeed express an open political conflict and contribute to the destruction of the regime. What we need, however, is more. We need a force capable of not only organizing the destructive capacities of the multitude, but also constituting through the desires of the multitude an alternative. The counter-Empire must also be a new global vision, a new way of living in the world… If in a first moment the multitude demands that each state recognize juridically the migrations that are necessary to capital, in a second moment it must demand control over the movements themselves. The multitude must be able to decide if, when, and where it moves. It must have the right also to stay still and enjoy one place rather than being forced constantly to be on the move. The general right to control its own movement is the multitude’s ultimate demand for global citizenship. This demand is radical insofar as it challenges the fundamental apparatus of imperial control over the production and life of the multitude. Global citizenship is the multitude’s power to reappropriate control over space and thus to design the new cartography.”

Thanks J Adams for the reminder of this bit of Empire

My longe essay critiquing Empire is here

Advertisements

Innovations… Conference 4-5 October 2019, TDTU, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

http://issh2019.tdtu.edu.vn/

Innovations in the Social Sciences and Humanities

4th and 5th of October 2019.
Ho Chi Minh City, Socialist republic of Vietnam

Welcome to the website for the conference Innovations in the Social Sciences and Humanities, jointly organised by The University of Trieste, Italy; the Universität Leipzig, Germany; National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan; University of Warwick, UK; College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences (CHESS) at Purdue University Northwest (PNW), USA; and Ton Duc Thang University, Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Conference Venue – Ton Duc Thang University

Address: 19 Nguyen Huu Tho Street, Tan Phong Ward, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Invitation and Call for papers:

For the International Conference 4-5 October 2019 at Ton Duc Thang University, HCMC, Vietnam, we would like to hear from those working on innovative approaches to public engagement in the social sciences and humanities. Methodological, empirical, archival or conceptual-theoretical work is encouraged, especially where a keen interest in application, consequence, practice or outcome is involved. Sometimes this is called impact on the one side, or intervention on the other, but we are nevertheless interested in all inquiries and investigations which advance the emancipatory possibilities of scholarship in a radically changed global context.

Social and cultural practices in both modern life and in the preservation of historical memory, could suitably connect sociology, social work, history, ethno-anthropology (museums, exhibitions, fairs, monuments, collective ceremonies), cultural tourism, eco-preservation policies, and other urgent contemporary social issues. Comparative studies are welcome, but not the only focus. We are especially interested in deep and detailed studies which have wider significance and suggestions for ‘best practice’. After many years of ‘interdisciplinarity’, or at least talk about this, we are interested to see examples where this works well in practice. We can assume all studies are comparative and interdisciplinary in a way, and all certainly have consequences, implications…

We are especially keen to hear from those working in three overlapping areas of engaged activity: these may be people working as anthropologists, historians, museum and preservation/heritage studies; cultural geographers, sociologists and in cultural studies; or on border studies, migrant labor and workplace and institutional inquiries. Our themes will interact within the structure of the conference, but we are keen in particular to go deeply into each area.

With Innovations in Public Engagement we anticipate discussions of the ways scholarship might best go about communicating in public the experience of the past and of human, cultural and environmental diversity, including technological and bio-political innovations and their contemporary reshaping of pasts and presents. Challenges to questions of who produces scholarship and why, for whom and by whom, can apply to past and present uses of knowledge, where the models of research and inquiry are actively reworked in the face of new public demands.

With Historical/contemporary practices and policies we seek to address issues related to contemporary forms of social conflict, including unequal citizenship and new racisms, the rise of right-wing populist movements and infiltration of religious power in secular governmentality, migrant workers as neoliberal slavery, questions of human trafficking and refugees, developmentalism and environmental pollution, crony capitalism and geo-economic zoning politics.

With Innovations of methodology, training and new skills for the future it seems to us crucial that our work respond to rapid reconfigurations of the very possibility and consequences of engaged social sciences and humanities scholarship. Whether the changing context is imposed by governments by industry or by civil society, when we deal with institutional change and competitive and imperative demands, we do need to develop new tools for knowledge(s) and new sensibilities/sensitivities. Education, reform and responsiveness, new skills and objectives, new modes of investigation and teaching in general. An urgent and targeted focus on how scholarship might remain relevant and critical in the face of global trends – funding cuts, social constraints, new demands, new conservatism, and crises of certitude.

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam will be our venue, but it need not necessarily be the context or focus of all papers, nor are comparative, or East-West or ‘post’ or neo-colonial framings always to be foregrounded in the papers. We are interested however in papers that encourage us to think anew about the implications of where we are and about how to re-orient humanities and social sciences scholarship in contexts where rising tensions in East Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia call on us to innovate and apply once more.

On acceptance of your paper, we will provide you a letter of acceptance or an invitation letter for your visa application to Vietnam or financial sponsorship from your institution. Therefore, you are encouraged to submit your paper at the earliest time possible.

Language:

The conference proceedings and papers will be in English.

Important dates:

  • Abstract Submission: By February 28th, 2019
  • Notification of Paper Acceptance: Before March 30th, 2019
  • Full Paper Submission: By May 30th, 2019
  • Registration and Payment by: August 20th, 2019 (early bird discounts apply)
  • Conference Dates: October 4th– 5th, 2019

We look forward to receiving your contributions and kindly ask you to disseminate the call to your colleagues who may be interested in participating the conference.
Please do not hesitate to contact us at issh2019@tdtu.edu.vn if you need any further information.

________

Assoc. Prof. Le Thi Mai, Ph.D
Head of  Sociology Department

 

Screenshot 2018-11-26 at 16.03.23http://issh2019.tdtu.edu.vn/

Mapping (by) the Indian Express on Maoists in India

This Ashutosh Bhardwaj article from Indian Express is at least five months old (its a general page, so no date), but is maybe worth a look since a few people recently have mentioned the Maoist struggles of the 1960s and 1970s. The continuities between then and today are convoluted, but they exist.

Plus there is this map, somehow visualising what is going on today can better displace relegation of Maoist struggles to the past. Talk of a reaffirmation of the party and direction towards work in urban areas has been about of late too:

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 17.49.23

Five Maoists were arrested in the southern peninsula this month, and Home Minister Rajnath Singh said last week that incidents of Maoist violence were on the decline. How relevant is that claim? ASHUTOSH BHARDWAJ answers key questions on the activities of the CPI (Maoist), both in its forest strongholds and clandestine urban bases, and gives a status report on its operations.

Is the CPI (Maoist) on the decline?

Compared to the 2006-2010 period, attacks have been fewer in the last two-three years. But they remain entrenched in the forest zone across central India, and dominate a far wider territory in Dandakaranya now than they did in 2004, when the MCC and CPI (Maoist) merged. In Chhattisgarh, over 50,000 CRPF, BSF, ITBP and state police personnel are fighting the Maoists, but politicians and officials still cannot enter many areas. 2014 is considered among the calmest years in a decade, but it was also the year in which the CRPF suffered its second biggest casualty in a calendar year in Chhattisgarh.

According to Home Ministry figures, from 2008-14, 992 LWE cadres were killed, 13,657 were arrested, 2,608 surrendered. But the data does not distinguish between CPI (Maoist) and other groups, several of which are active in Jharkhand.

What is the Maoists’ urban network?

Underground cadres who operate from cities, sympathizers and supporters. Maoist documents stress on building a strong base in cities, and mention three kinds of urban mass organisations: secret, open and semi-open, and legal, the last including cover organisations and affiliated activists. The forest-based rebellion survives mostly on what Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao calls the “movement in urban areas”. From the urban network come logistics, moral and intellectual support, and the ideological argument for violence. The network is in several cities, and sympathisers occupy prominent positions. Central Committee member Malla Raji Reddy’s daughter Snehlata and son-in-law C Kasim live on the Osmania University campus in Hyderabad. Kasim teaches Telugu, Snehlata edits a journal on revolutionary politics. “We support the Maoist movement, the only path available for the poor and oppressed. There have been setbacks but the movement will go on,” says Kasim.

How does the CPI (Maoist) operate?

A mammoth hierarchical structure operates on a ‘need to know’ basis. At the top is a 20-member Central Committee headed by Muppala Laxmana Rao or Ganapathy. Other CC members include Nambala Keshava Rao or Ganganna who heads the Central Military Commission, military expert and Giridih resident Misir Besara, and Dalit Maharashtrian Milind Teltumbde whose brother is married to the sister of Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of B R Ambedkar.

Under the CC are four regional bureaus, the most significant and active of which, the Central Regional Bureau, is headed by Katakam Sudarshan alias Anand. The CRB has three units: Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee, North Telangana Special Zonal Committee and Andhra Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee. Slain leader Kishanji’s younger brother and CC member Mallojula Venugopal Rao or Bhupathi is in charge of the DKSZC, the headquarters of the CPI (Maoist), and home to some of the top leadership. CC member Akkiraju Haragopal, who led the talks with the YSR government in 2004, is in charge of AOBSZC. Its secretary is Modem Bala Krishna, also a CC member. CC member Pulluri Prasad Rao alias Chandanna heads the NTSZC. The North Regional Bureau comprises units in Delhi, Punjab, J&K, Himachal, Uttarakhand and UP, and is mostly defunct.

Zonal or state committees are divided into area committees, which form the Revolutionary People’s Council in villages. These have successfully replaced panchayats in many areas of Dandakaranya.

What is their military capacity?

Bastar has two major battalions, Jharkhand has a fledgling one. The South Bastar battalion, formed in 2009 and headed by Hidma, has the finest guerrillas and has carried out nearly all major attacks in recent years. The Abujhmaad battalion, headed by Ramdher, was formed in 2012 primarily to protect the top leadership soon after CRPF entered the area. Each battalion has formations of company, platoon and squad, but their numbers vary. Bombmaking capacity was hit after the head of the Technical Research Arms Manufacturing Unit Sadanala Ramkrishna was arrested in 2012. His aide Deepak Parghania, an award-winning technician from SAIL’s Bhilai plant, was arrested too. Units in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Jharkhand and Andhra manufacture artillery, rifle parts, pressure mines, rocket launchers.

Are there any fissures within?

Over the last decade, several senior cadres have questioned the preeminent focus on violence, to the exclusion of mass awakening, building bases in universities. Public executions in Jan Adalats have earned the wrath of tribals in many cases. “They are leading a necessary movement, but they need to review their violence,” surrendered CC member Lanka Papi Reddy has said. Former DKSZC spokesperson Gudsa Usendi alias Sukhdev has voiced reservations against highhandedness by cadres. Of late, the Maoists have issued several apologies for attacks.

Where has the state failed?

A democratic state functioning within the Constitution and law has a fundamental handicap in dealing with the challenge. There have been no killings in Andhra and Telangana of late, but teachers, writers and journalists in cities from Warangal to Guntur feed the movement many ways. Seminars in Hyderabad celebrated the 10th anniversary of the CPI (Maoist) last year. Spokesperson Azad lived in Delhi for years with his wife. There are enough disillusioned youth who are attracted to their ideology, and to the lure of the gun and romance of a forest life. In the end, the state must be able to demonstrate that the political system is not just for the moneyed, manipulative and powerful.

– See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-how-why-and-what-next-of-the-maoist-story/#comments

Nat Winn: Our enemies are human: Mao against Carl Schmitt

From Nat Winn at Kasama Project:

Posted by Nat Winn on Thursday, 10 April 2014 in Theory

I wrote this essay around the time when the Iraq war was in full gear. I post it hear as part of the dialogue that we have had recently on Kasama about revolutionary strategy and communist orientation, particularly the recent pieces by Enaa on Blanqui and his Rock beats scissors piece.

Here I look at the German political philosopher and jurist Carl Schmitt and his ideas about the distinction between friend and enemy and contrast them to Mao’s understanding of friends and enemies and the actual experience of the Chinese revolution. Carl Schmitt had a strong influence on the Nazis and at one point joined them as they rose to power. Some leftists have argued that there are things we can incorporate from his prolific body of work but this has been contested by others like Zizek. Some of that is touched on here.  

The paper was an academic paper, though I was never too good at sticking to academic concerns. At the time I wrote it part of my goal was to persuade academics to look more at Mao tse-tung’s political theory (something still needed) and that comes out a bit at the end of the piece. I was also just coming into familiarity with thinkers like Zizek and Badiou. Believing the piece still has some theoretical value, I’m posting the pieces here slightly edited from its original edition, warts and all. I think the points made about the period of the Iraq War regarding how we can conceive of friend and enemy still hold up in today’s international situation.

 by Nat Winn

 

This essay is a response to a challenge posed by the Marxist cultural studies scholar John Hutnyk to Jacques Derrida in his book Bad Marxism – Capitalism and Cultural Studies.(1) My understanding of Hutnyk’s book is that it is a challenge to left scholars to develop theory that can be used in practical struggles against capitalism. Particularly he calls for a new Marxism, a Marxism that “declares itself open to critique.”(2)

In a book, then, that challenges many of the theoretical currents on the academic left; Hutnyk explores Derrida’s engagement with Carl Schmitt and Mao Tse-tung in Derrida’s book The Politics of Friendship.(3) In looking at the evolution in Schmitt’s conception of the friend and enemy distinction as the essence of the political from The Concept of the Political to Theory of the Partisan, Derrida makes the assertion that “With Mao Tse-tung it (the myth of the national and autochtonomous partisan) represents a new stage in the history of the partisan, and therefore in the process of rupture with the classical criteriology of the political and that of the friend/enemy grouping.”(4) Hutnyk’s problem with Derrida around this engagement is Derrida’s reluctance to dig deeper into this “rupture” and engage with its theoretical consequences and usefulness. Instead Derrida focuses on the role of technologies in conceptualizing the political and Hutnyk argues that this leads to a determinism centered on speed. Hutnyk poses the challenge to Derrida:

Why speak so much of Marx and so much less of Mao if Mao’s ‘partisan rupture’ is so important even as a critique of Schmitt? In the Politics of Friendship, where Derrida talks of the technological speed break of the new partisan, instead of knowing who the enemy is, and other certainties, he seems to accept that ‘today’ cannot be understood. He is content to make an aside about being ‘ready to listen to this screaming chaos of the “voiceless”’ Voiceless because of an uncertainty, chaos because to ‘talk politics’ one must swallow ‘all the assurances of clear cut distinctions”’ and so, I guess like Mao, know who is ‘the enemy’ at any given time. Derrida is reluctant to do this, and instead of – as might have been expected – making some comment on Mao’s essay ‘On Contradiction’, which at the very least applies some dialectical sophistication to the ‘assurances’, offers rather a further extended aside devoted to computer espionage bugs, spy networks, cryptography, cybercrime and the ‘hopeless debate’ in the US about communications technology and privacy.(5)

My essay seeks to go where Hutnyk feels Derrida did not. It will examine the evolution in Schmitt’s conception of the friend/enemy distinction and the partisan in relation to this evolution. It will then look at Mao’s understanding of the friend/enemy distinction and how this differed from Schmitt’s understanding. In comparing these conceptions it will also compare the metaphysical existentialist methodology of Schmitt and the dialectical materialist methodology of Mao.

Carl Schmitt’s concept of the political

 The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy.(6)

This sentence sets the framework for Schmitt’s concept of the political in his classic work The Concept of the Political. For Schmitt this was a criterion and not a substantial definition or one with content. The friend/enemy distinction corresponded to the antithesis of other “relatively independent criteria” such as good and evil in the moral sphere or beautiful and ugly in the sphere of aesthetics.(7) Furthermore, any antithesis, be it religious, moral, economic, or ethical that is strong enough to group human beings effectively according to friend and enemy transforms the antithesis into a political one.(8) Schmitt points to the example of Marxists who take the class struggle seriously and are able to win people to consider the capitalist as an enemy. When this happens the antithesis between classes ceases to be economic and becomes political. Also if a religious group begins to wage wars against other religious communities it thus becomes a political entity.(9)

 For to the enemy concept belongs the ever present possibility of combat…The friend, enemy, and combat concepts receive their real meaning precisely because they refer to the real possibility of physical killing…War is the existential negation of the enemy.(10)

The Concept of the Political  was written when Schmitt still held to the concept of decisionism. Whoever was able to control the ability to conduct or stop a war constituted….

– See more at: Kasama project

Mango Mao

mangomaoMango Mao – in his article in Public Culture Michael Dutton documents the gift of mangoes made by delegates from pakistan/Burma/Africa/SEAsia (?) as ‘tribute’ to Mao. These mangoes were memorialised in hundreds of thousands of commemorative badges. (The link is only to the first paragraphs – I will try to heist the pdf in due course). Mangoes are, as metaphors go, juicier than NATO bombing campaigns (obscure joke for SC and DW).