The Middle East, North Africa: The prospects for Revolution. 30.5.2011

The Middle East, North Africa

The Prospects for Revolution!

The recent uprisings that have rocked regimes in the Middle East and North Africa showed how quickly people can shatter what Marx called the “belief in the permanence of existing conditions”. Yet the local and international centers of power are even now trying to tame and turn back these movements. The women gathered on March 8th Women’s Day in Cairo’s Tahrir Square were told, “Back to your kitchens – the revolution’s over!” And we have seen how over and over again powerful mass uprisings that topple tyrants are absorbed back into the system – in the Philippines, Indonesia, Nicaragua, or think of Iran, where the overthrow of the Shah was followed by the Islamic Republic… – and for the great majority the wheels of oppression grind on … How can this be avoided? What kind of society is needed by the peoples of this region and people all over the world? This conference analyses the prospects for a thorough-going revolution that breaks free from the grip of imperialist domination. Join in a day of serious discussion and warm-hearted solidarity!

                                Speakers:

Nawal el-Saadawi, author of The Hidden Face of Eve, Daughter of Isis, Memoirs from the Women’s Prison, from Egypt

Amir Hassanpour, University of Toronto, Canada, from Iran

Raymond Lotta, revolutionary political economist, writer for Revolution newspaper, from the US

Shahrzad Mojab, academic-activist, Professor University of Toronto in gender studies, education & women and revolution, from Iran

Sami Ramadani, senior lecturer, London Metropolitan Uni, from Iraq

Aitemad Muhanna, researcher in gender issues in Gaza, Palestine

Panel Chair: John Hutnyk, Bad Marxism, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmith’s

Location: Conway Hall (Red Lion Square, Holborn tube)

Date: 30 May – Bank Holiday Monday

Time: 9:30 am to 5 pm (£9 – £7 concessions)

For more info, contact the Committee for a Revolutionary Alternative on facebook or email: lonconf2011[at]gmail.com or call 07904 550 033

Arundhati Roy, Jan Myrdal, Basanta Indra Mohan 12.6.2011 Euston

Please join us for a public meeting and an audience with celebrated authors who will discuss their recent experiences in India with a special focus on the raging war against the poorest of the poor, the tribal people living in the heartland of India.

Arundhati Roy

From India and the author of recently published books
Walking with the Comrades” and “Broken Republic”  

Jan Myrdal

From Sweden and the author of
“Red Star Over India”

Basanta Indra Mohan

From Nepal and the author of
“Imperialism and Proletarian Revolution 21st Century”

Program includes:
Presentations by the speakers,
film and Q&A session

Sunday, June 12, 2011
1:30 pm till 5:00 pm

Place:
Friends House,  Main Hall,
173 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ

Hosted by:
International Campaign Against War on People of India (ICAWPI)   www.icawpi.org       info[at]icawpi.org  
c/o Gorki House, 70 Stoke Newington High Street, London N16 7PA   Tel: +44(0)20 7193 1605

Co-organised by: IWA (GB), UNF Europe, ACDA, AFPRISA, TKM, GIKDER, 100FCC, WPRM-Britain, UfSO, CCRC,… (To be updated)   

For further information and contact with the organizers, please mail:  june12-London[at]icawpi.org

all-Nepal shut

The Workers Dreadnought

For International Socialism

Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) calls for all-Nepal shutdown on May 28th

Comrade Matrika Yadav, the fiery former UCPN(Maoist) leader, and his Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [a party that is a splinter from the UCPN(Maoist) and purportedly continues to grow with growing dissatisfaction and defections from that Party] have called for an all-Nepal shutdown on May 24th, and an indefinite shutdown starting on the 28th. Comrade Matrika Yadav has vociferously argued in the last few years that the UCPN(Maoist) has become a revisionist party, although he also maintains that the membership remains largely revolutionary in their orientation and has simply been misled by an increasingly opportunistic leadership. It has become increasingly clear, that it is unlike that there will be a people’s revolt in Nepal in just under 3 weeks [unless the political developments of the last few months since December have simply been a form of political theatre to distract the public about the Party’s true work, however, there is no evidence for this besides the development of the People’s Volunteer organization which have some have accused of developing a military structure] and that the Party is undergoing a political crisis, with senior leaders like Kiran and Gaurav openly attacking Prachanda in public, and attacks by Prachanda-supporters on pro-Kiran publications (it is very encouraging to see that Comrade Baburam Bhattarai has defended the Kiran-faction’s freedom of speech). Although, all sides continue seem to argue for unity and dismiss talk of a split, and the talk of a general convention seems to have died down once again. Indeed, this is further muddied by the Kiran-faction’s constant wrangling over ministerial posts which seems to fly in the face of his call for preparation for a people’s revolt.

However, something that I have been considering is whether a split, if it does occur, could possibly result in the merger of a Kiran-led wing of the UCPN(Maoist) and the Matrika Yadav-led CPN(Maoist) to form a Left alternative to the more mainstream Dahal-Bhattarai-led UCPN(Maoist) [which itself would be a very odd creature, although it too could merge with a section of the CPN(UML) led by current Prime Minister Khanal. I recognize that this seems odd because I have really not spent much time at all discussing CPN(UML) politics however, for those who are not aware, there has been a real and growing divide within that party with at least 2 clear factions: a “pro-Maoist” faction led by Khanal and an “anti-Maoist” led by senior party leader Oli]. Indeed, many argued that although they supported Comrade Matrika Yadav and shared his frustration at the developments in the Party, that believe that he he should not have left the Party when he did as his exit weakened the Party left. But the time may be soon approaching when the Kiran-faction may find itself inside a party that enjoys the name that first put them on the map. It is also possible that this could result in some other Maoist splinter groups reconstituting themselves within a revolutionary Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

Journalism of a type.

IMG_2774Some may think the quality of – ehem – journalism about the Maoist struggles in India is somewhat lacking in style. Others may think that this over-worked topic really pushed a writer to find a unique angle, a way in to the jungle that is the Naxalite narrative tradition (of demonization and ‘counter). But I warn over hasty readers that a subtle use of dialectics (here to be distinguished from literary ping pong) is often hard to discern. OK OK, in this one its really just ping pong, and certainly not of a type sourced in Yenan. How could so many neat reversals (contradictions to be handled?) be crammed into the one piece? And I am only quoting the first few paragraphs, see the whole thing here for the amazing unfolding truths.

This excerpt is from Dawn.com – ( I have no details as to who they are – they say they are my ‘window on news analysis and features on Pakistan, South Asia and the world’ – fab.).

Want to hate Maoists? Start calling them Taliban.

Jawed Naqvi 
Monday, 12 Oct, 200

IN the mosquito-infested inaccessible forests of Chhattisgarh, Maoist guerrillas often carry an insect repellent cream called Odomos. God help you if the security forces hunting the guerrillas — now for the first time with the help of helicopter-borne commandos — ever catch you with a tube.

Other than that there is little to distinguish a Maoist from an ordinary tribal or a Dalit, the two major communities that form the bulwark of their revolt straddling 20 Indian states.

Very little is made known about the Maoists except that they are a bloody-minded lot. The gap in information about their worldview can be partly ascribed to their cultivated aloofness from, and suspicion of, the mainstream Indian media. Otherwise too it has become a risky proposition for journalists to venture to assess them objectively.

The rest of the piece goes on to survey such wildly varied themes as poverty, water, kidnappings, the views of the PM, and of [confused] chief ministers, the BJP, the Business Standard, the Taliban, beheadings, including that of the Norwegian tourist in Kashmir more than ten years ago, Roman crucifixion and the marital peccadilloes of Henry VIII. It really does deserve to be read as abstracted (dialectic?) poetics. And in the last paragraph, the killer punch that assures this journalist his Pulitzer is the phrase: ‘Shoring up the chorus of unrelated idioms are the security forces…’ As I said, read the rest here.

OR, you can find better writing on Naxalites here and maybe here.

Godard “British Sounds” pt 1

UntitledYou can find Jean-Luc Godard’s “British Sounds” in all its glory on You Tube now. It is worth watching all the way through (6 parts) – from the ‘petroleum of pop music’ and excerpts from the great Shiela Rowbothom to the “gestapo of the humanist university” (they mean LSE). ‘No end to class struggle’ in the centre of the jack. All Godard’s great themes are here – the pan across the line of cars (weekday this time, not ‘weekend’) through to militant Maoist students concocting a twisted sympathy for the devil (Lennon not Lenin) and more. Thanks for the reminder to Iain Sinclair and his great rambling Hackney(ed) dossier (if you haven’t got it yet, get it – and read Sukhdev’s review of Sinclair’s book here). As Sukhdev says: “here’s another reason why Sinclair is such an important writer: he offers readers the critical tools for looking anew at wherever it is that they live.”

The Very Idea of Communism.

draftprog-2tI am posting here this Open Letter from Raymond Lotta of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA to the attendees of the upcoming Birkbeck ‘On the Idea of Communism’ conference (see here) because I really like the critique implied in the phrase ‘back to the 18th century’ thinking. I can of course understand why the comm-fest programme could not be changed late in the day to accommodate BoB-thought. I mean, even Jean Luc Nancy seems to not have a formal place: in the program he just seems to be ‘in attendance’ – I hope he gets a chair to sit on, or maybe he has his own TV show and will do a roving reporter thing?? People have complained that its too expensive – 100 quid for a spot in a 900 seat hall, you do the math – but I think its a bargain just to be able to hear all these pundits, and to see letters like this appear as well. If we could just knock over a few of the big banks… [oops, the boards of directors of the banks already did that for themselves – 1.5 million a year ain’t a bad salary – gnnng]

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SPEAKERS OF THE “IDEA OF COMMUNISM” CONFERENCE AT BIRKBECK COLLEGE, MARCH

13-15 Dear Colleagues, The convocation of an international conference on the Idea of Communism is certainly salutary.

The world cries out for revolution. It would only make sense that Bob Avakian’s new synthesis be part of a major discussion of the idea of communism. But thus far, a presentation about this new synthesis has been unacceptably excluded from the program of the conference.

Communism is at a crossroads.

In the face of the reversals of the revolutions in the Soviet Union and China, we have seen a range of political-ideological responses that tend to fall into three broad currents:

First, there are those who religiously cling to the experience and theory of the first wave of socialist revolution of the 20th century—not summing up problems and shortcomings, not moving forward, but circling the wagons.

Second, there are those who ignore or dismiss real scientific analysis of the contradictions of the socialist transition. They look for inspiration and orientation even further back into the past–to the 18th century and the proclaimed democratic and egalitarian ideals and social models of the bourgeois epoch. One has to ask what it signifies that at a conference ostensibly addressing the “idea of communism,” Rousseau, Kant, and Jefferson are defining reference points. Where does that take you in the world, and didn’t Marx (and Marxism) effect a rupture with all that already? The only difference is that now this is being labeled communism.

Third, there is what Bob Avakian has been doing. He is not only the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, which has its sights set on the revolutionary seizure of power and the radical transformation of society, but also a visionary theorist. He has been acting on the understanding that communist revolution is the only way out of this madness and horror, and taking up the challenge of forging the path forward and further developing Marxism as a living and critical revolutionary science–so that communists are indeed a vanguard of the future, not a residue of the past. This involves a more scientific and visionary sense of communism, a reenvisioned model of socialist society and exercise of leadership, and related issues of epistemology and ethics.

For Avakian, there is both continuity with the first wave of socialist revolution in the 20th century, whose high water mark was the Cultural Revolution, and rupture with wrong conceptions and methodology. This includes continuation of Mao’s ruptures with Stalin but also, in some respects, rupture beyond the ways that Mao himself was influenced, though secondarily, by the dominant mode of thinking within the communist movement under the leadership of Stalin. Avakian’s writings and talks can be accessed at BobAvakian.net.

Given that the Idea of Communism conference is very much within this “back to the 18th century” framework, it would be highly important that a presentation representing Bob Avakian’s new synthesis be heard at this conference. It would also be highly important that other theorizations be interrogated and contested from this standpoint.

Again, the world cries out for revolution and the emancipation of humanity. What is the actual content of communism? What is the necessary theoretical framework for going forward? It is in this spirit of gaining clarity that I call on the conference organizers to include a talk on Bob Avakian’s new synthesis as part the formal program. I would be quite willing to give such a presentation. I also call on speakers and participants to bring their influence to bear.

For a new world,

Raymond Lotta

Critique as Ideology: The Dissident Left and Maoists in India

A seminar organised by the Xenos Research Group, Department of Sociology, with the collaboration of the Centre for Postcolonial Studies, Department of Politics

The first of two talks on communalism, secularism and the Left in India by Saroj Giri, Xenos Visiting Fellow. (See also Thursday 13 November 2008).


Event Information

Location: Room 307, Richard Hoggart Building
Cost: Free – all are welcome
Time: 12 November 2008, 18:00 – 19:30