Marx Trot on again in 2019?

The Marx Trot is going to return in the summer 2019. Stay tuned for details.

 

In the meantime, some old reading (the original posts have comments but you’d have to search). At the end I also post some links to the Lord Sothhampton pub, thanks Stephen Emms (possibly now sold, or a youth hostel) and to some Dickens family stuff since they lived on the same street as the Marxs in the early 1860s (Marx family at no. 9. Dickens’ mother, widowed sister-in-law, and two nieces). Alos a piece on the Marx houses, again, thanks Stephen Emms. All the stuff gathered for the Marx Trot will be familiar, but the story of the walks, the kids, the sore feet, phots, riot squad visit (really), the beers, confrontations with crypto hindu-fascist nazi sportscar madness hippies and buffet meals in honour of Mao is a story still to be told in full.

 

The Marx Trot 2009

Marx is buried in Highgate. So we start  at the end. Meet at the East Cemetery gate at 4pm. Watch the film ‘High Hopes’ beforehand if need be. Bring cigars.

The Marx family would often walk from Haverstock Hill to Soho, so we can too. As its a nice day. We’ll walk through the park. Hamstead Heath in fact, though other parks might distract our thoughts. Marx took part in a Hyde Park demonstration against the Sunday Observance laws and wrote an article on the Anti-Church demonstration of July 1855. We can read this on the way and contemplate the production of nature.

At the far end of Hamstead Heath is a favourite pub of the Marx’s – so we could visit Jack Straws castle. I found the following info on a cursory search:

Jack Straws Castle

NW3

Jack Straw’s Castle ought to be the perfect place for an inspiring pint. The situation is good, the history intriguing and the ghosts distinguished. Karl Marx drank here on the corner of Hampstead Heath, high above the foul air of 19th-century London. So did Charles Dickens, Leigh Hunt and Max Beerbohm. Jack Straw himself – one of the leaders of the peasants revolt of 1381 – allegedly rallied his pitchfork-wielding mob from a haywagon nearby.

From here we can walk down Heath Street to Chalk Farm and Grafton Terrace.

Marx lived at 3 Roxburgh Terrace, now part of Prince of Wales Road Kentish Town. Then he moved to 9 Grafton Terrace. He drank at the Lord Southampton on the corner of Southampton and Grafton. We’ll obviously have to spend some time here.

Then we head to central London.

Marx fenced in a salon off Oxford street – in Rathbone Place (not far a from Tottenham Court Rd tube).

The Manifesto was drafted and approved at (according to internet gab – which I suspect is apocryphal):

The Red Lion, Soho [Closed] – pub details

Address: 20 Great Windmill Street, London, W1D 7LQ

Not many people know this but this pub is where Marx and Engels and others used to meet, where the first meetings of the Communist Party were held and where the Communist Manifesto was initially drafted and approved. This is a historic building in the history of Politics and it should have a Blue Plaque on it. I hope the people that live there when its converted know the relevance of this place.

Now apparently reopened as an “AT One” – we could I suppose heckle them a little [its an awful bar – heckle a lot – they have no idea where they are, adn beers were 4 quid for a bottle of sol – pah!]

When he first came to London Marx lived on Dean Street – We can visit Marx’s House and Blue Plaque – its on the second floor.

Then across to the British Museum. Obviously. There will be a test on your recall of particular passages from the footnotes. Someone will recite the bees and architects passage.

And finally, though I disagree with much of what Comrade Germain has done with Stop the War (or rather unstop it), here I think there is a hint of what is to be done as the evening closes in – a crawl up Tottenham Court Road starting at the Rising Sun.

“Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were refugees following the defeated 1848 revolutions in Europe. Marx wrote Capital in the reading room of the British Museum. He and Engels enjoyed pub crawls on Tottenham Court Road” [from an article by Lindsay Germain]

And by then wee should be able to make up our own after dinner entertainments. I do think one day a less ad hoc version of this walk is necessary – and I will prepare it – but this seems ok for starters. Leaving now.

 

Marx Trot 29.5.2011

Hi all,

As promised in one of the last lectures of Capital and Cultural Studies this year, it is proposed that we convene for ‘The Marx Trot’ on Sunday 29 May 2011
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This involves various cultural social and political highlights, including visits to Marx’s grave, a couple of houses Marx lived in, Engles house, the pub in which the Communist Manifesto was adopted by the International Workingmen’s (sic) Association, some other places Marx and Engels drank in, and so on. Its mostly pubs…
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The day includes multiple options. Some of them are worthy and educational. The rest involve beer.
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It is suggested that we meet at Red Lion Square at 1.30 pm. The Alternative Press Fair is on, zines like Nyx, The paper, and …Ment have a table, we can go support them, or something. Peruse the other rags and lament the demise of Pravda.
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Then get to Archway by 3.00 PM, in time to be at Highgate Cemetery, a ten minute walk, for 3.30pm (you do the math).
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After that, visits to Marx’s houses, local pub, Hamstead Heath, and in into Soho…. and on into the evening. Dinner as and when (chinese in Soho?) and other insurrectionary fun.
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Sound like a plan?
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red salute.
John
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ps. Notes from a previous Marx Trot are here. Pic From Sascha.
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pps. There are plenty of very excellent reasons to come out to Goldsmiths this month too – talks by Mick Douglas, Ishita Banerjea-Dube, Nawal el Saadawi – see here.
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ppps. for the 29th, the Alt PRess Fair here,
25 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4RL
020 7242 8032

Underground: Holborn

but feel free to join later on the route.

if all else fails – 4pm at the grave. Bingo cards for the dead comms buried nearby might be a good idea.:
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Highgate Cemetery Opening times:  from 10 am weekdays, 11am weekends

Closing time:   5pm British Summer Time (last admission 4.30pm) 4pm British Winter Time (last admission 3.30pm)

Please note: the Cemetery only accepts cash.

Entry:  £3 per adult / £2 for students with valid NUS card or equivalent

 

Marx Trot 2012 – July 7

Notice. The date has just been announced – The Marx Trot this year will be on July 7. Hurrah! Leaving from Archway tube 2:30 pm, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave about 3pm – heading across the Heath to the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace – and onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub – now crappy cocktail bar – where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, and much more… All welcome.

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Last year’s trot (and links to previous) here: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/marx-trot-29-5-2011/

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Pics of the houses: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/photo/london/index.htm

 

Marx Trot 2013 – July 7

karl-marx-grave-highgate

All welcome. A day of revolutionary dawdling, pints, and ending up awash somewhere on Tottenham Court Rd… The annual Marx trot this year will be on July 7. Lal Salaam!

We will again be leaving from Archway tube 2:30 pm, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave about 3pm – heading across the Heath to the Lord Southhampton pub which was the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace – then onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, – now a crappy cocktail bar – and more… All welcome (kids could surely come for the first couple of hours – but warning, its a longish walk across the heath between Highgate and the Grafton Terrace HouseBYO libations for the first part.

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Last year’s trot = https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/marx-trot-2012-july-7-2/

(and links to previous) here: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/marx-trot-29-5-2011/

Pics of the houses: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/photo/london/index.htm

Other links:

http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

The Great Windmill Street venue is where Liebknecht says the Manifesto was adopted by the League of the Just/German Workers Educational Association/Communist League – but some say it was at the White Hart in Dury Lane. In any case Marx lectures on Capital at Great Windmill Street, but see here:http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

For Leninists – a diversion on the trot might take in Charing Cross station, and areas near Kings Cross and Pentonville:http://sarahjyoung.com/site/2011/01/16/russians-in-london-lenin/

Dancing the first international! http://history-is-made-at-night.blogspot.co.uk/2009_10_01_archive.html

A pub crawl with Karl http://www.mytimemachine.co.uk/pubcrawl.htm

 

Marx Trot 2014

Marx Trot on sunday 13 July, starts at 2.30 archway tube…\

<note, May 2016, the next Marx Trot is planned for August 14, 2016. More details on this blog soon. This is just a date holder>

Mshelfie

A day of revolutionary dawdling, pints, and ending up awash somewhere on Tottenham Court Rd… The annual Marx trot this year will be on Sunday 13 July. All welcome. Lal Salaam!

We will again be leaving from Archway tube 2:30 pm, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave about 3pm – heading across the Heath to the Lord Southampton pub which was the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace – then onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, – now a crappy cocktail bar – and more… All welcome (kids could surely come for the first couple of hours – but warning, its a longish walk across the heath between Highgate and the Grafton Terrace House BYO libations for the first part).

[word to the wise: bring some tinnies in a bag – and sunscreen, umbrella as weather dictates and dosh for dinner (possibly in a footba-oriented venue). The early part of our route involves considerable walking – on the heath – kids are very welcome for the first few hours but after 7.00 it possibly gets a bit adult oriented – well, I mean we visit pubs Marx used to haunt – gespenst-like – in Soho. Mostly harmless, but its cup final night]

Previous trots = https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/marx-trot-this-sunday-2-30-archway-tube-2/ and https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/marx-trot-2012-july-7-2/and here: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/marx-trot-29-5-2011/

Pics of the houses: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/photo/london/index.htm

Other links:

http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

The Great Windmill Street venue is where Liebknecht says the Manifesto was adopted by the League of the Just/German Workers Educational Association/Communist League – but some say it was at the White Hart in Dury Lane. In any case Marx lectures on Capital at Great Windmill Street, but see here:http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

For Leninists – a diversion on the trot might take in Charing Cross station, and areas near Kings Cross and Pentonville:http://sarahjyoung.com/site/2011/01/16/russians-in-london-lenin/

 

see also Lincoln Alpern: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/lincoln-emery-alpern-says-come-to-the-2014-marx-trot-in-this-teaser-from-last-year-marx-london/

 

Marx Trot Sunday August 14, 2016 #Marx #walkingtourlondon

This year the Marx Trot is planned for August 14, 2016

Meet 1pm Archway Tube.

bring enthusiasm, vox pop speechifying, money for drinks, drinks, sunscreen (we hope we will need suncreen).

Pic above is from the Maidan, in the area near Rani Rashmoni Avenue, Lenin Sirani, S.N.Banerjee Rd,  Kolkata, West Bengal.

Previous Marx Trot itinerary (roughly followed each time): We will again be leaving from Archway tube, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave – heading across the Heath to the Lord Southampton pub which was the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace [they also sell juice] – then onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, – now a crappy cocktail bar, so we prob won’t enter – and more… All welcome (kids could surely come for the first couple of hours – but warning, its a longish walk across the heath between Highgate and the Grafton Terrace House BYO libations for the first part).

[word to the wise: bring some tinnies in a bag at the start – and sunscreen, umbrella as weather dictates and dosh for dinner (if interested in Mao’s favourite London place late on). The early part of our route involves considerable walking – on the heath – kids are very welcome for the first few hours but after 7.00 it possibly gets a bit adult oriented – well, I mean we visit pubs Marx used to haunt – gespenst-like – mostly harmless]

 

Sort of part of this course in Nottingham:

https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/reading-capital-in-nottingham-every-wednesday-11am-from-july-20-until-28-sept-2016/

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Pics of the  Marx/Engels houses:

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/photo/london/index.htm

Other links:

http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

The Marx Trot is Party agnostic and non sectarian, except against Tories, other social fascist parties, brexit-racist pogrom enablers, and the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, with 40 or so exceptions.

Previous trots were =

https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/marx-trot-2014/

https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/marx-trot-this-sunday-2-30-archway-tube-2/

https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/marx-trot-2012-july-7-2/and here: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/marx-trot-29-5-2011/

 

The Great Windmill Street venue is where Liebknecht says the Manifesto was adopted by the League of the Just/German Workers Educational Association/Communist League – but some say it was at the White Hart in Dury Lane. In any case Marx lectures on Capital at Great Windmill Street, but see here:http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

For Leninists – a diversion on the trot might take in Charing Cross station, and areas near Kings Cross and Pentonville:http://sarahjyoung.com/site/2011/01/16/russians-in-london-lenin/

All hail our boozers: #1, Lord Southampton, NW5

 

In a new weekly series, we go behind the scenes of a popular local boozer. First off, meet landlady Martha Mcgrath

A well-used dartboard at the Lord Southampton. All photos: Stephen Emms/ LBTM ltd
A well-used dartboard at the Lord Southampton. All photos: Stephen Emms/ LBTM ltd

Firstly, congratulations. With 43 years under your belt, we hear you’re the longest serving publican in the borough of Camden. How did you end up in this corner of NW5? 
I grew up in Ireland and we came over here when I was 17. We had a place in Blackfriars first, and in those days it was promotion to come to a bigger venue like this. When we took over in 1972, we were familiar with the area because my family already had pubs nearby: the Rose & Crown on Torriano Avenue was owned by my sister and brother-in-law in the late ‘60s, while the Exmouth Arms in Starcross Street was run by my brother.

Martha McGrath sitting by the open fire. Photo: SE
Martha McGrath sitting by the open fire. Photo: SE

What was the area like back then?
Queen’s Crescent, the high street nearby, had a Woolworth’s, a Sainsbury’s – it had it all.So tell us about the pub.
There were two fireplaces, a wall by the jukebox, and another where the arch is now, plus saloon, public and private bars. There was an off-license too, which the brewery got rid of in about ’74. There was also a bridge to the toilets (pictured), which remains. The whole back area was called the Kelly Bar, with a porthole and other memorabilia originating from the HMS Kelly Ship, commanded by Mountbatten in the Second World War. Sadly it was cleared out one day many years ago when we were on holiday.

What’s this about a Karl Marx connection? 
A pub was first put on a map in this position in 1752, apparently, but this building dates back to the 1850s. Yes, Karl Marx used to come in, but rumour has it that he wasn’t very generous. He liked people to buy him drinks rather than spending his money, so he’d have one or two, then go up and down the road knowing he’d bump into acquaintances who’d then shout him a pint.



A quirky bridge leads to the gents toilet. Note the inaccessible doors from the railing. Photo: SE
A quirky bridge leads to the gents toilet. Note the ‘floating’ doors, inaccessible from the railing. Photo: SE

Fast forward to 2015: what’s it like nowadays?
Much harder. Drinks are expensive, people haven’t got the money, and we’re competing with the supermarkets.Who are your customers now?
Four-fifths are regulars and very nice people: all men, a few women – but it’s a man’s pub, really – all in their forties or older. Our oldest is just coming up to eighty; youngest is in his thirties.

What about doing some food?
Years ago I used to do sandwiches and stuff like that, but then the building works in Maitland Park stopped. Now it’s all residential so people are not going to bother coming out to the pub to eat, are they? Very few of them go out for a meal round here. And as we’re up the backstreet not everyone knows we even exist. When I won an award for being the longest serving publican in Camden they had to look for us to find out where we were. So if they can’t find us, how do you expect to find customers?

Hopefully you’ll get a few more now that this is out.
Hopefully!

Handsome exterior. Photo: SE
Handsome exterior on the corner of Grafton Terrace, opposite St Pancras Almshouses. Photo: SE

What are your funniest memories? 
There are quite a few but they’re all too rude for publication. I mean rude. But loads of celebs have come in over the years: Chris Moyles, for a couple of years with his gang. Getting back a bit there was Peter o’ Toole, Pete Postlethwaite, Bananarama – it was the first pub they drank in when they arrived round here – and quite a few Eastenders. Bill Nighy was a very young boy when we came here, training in the old Bubble Theatre in Southampton Road.Any unusual customers?
My husband Phil is like Dr Doolittle: when he goes out to the park, he feeds everything. One day we were here and in comes a squirrel and it sits on the floor, waiting for some nuts. We’ve also had a fox wander in and have a walk around. And one of our regulars, Brian, arrives with his snake now and again.

Finally: we hear you’re up for sale? 
Yes, it’s true. We’ve not signed anything yet but loads of people have been in. Some are wanting to do more food. We’ll have to see. But whatever happens, we’ll still stay living in the area.

Find the Lord Southampton at 2 Southampton Road NW5. Next week: we meet Ben McDonald from The Junction Tavern.

 

 

“learned scribes” – Marx to Kugelman 1868

Marx writes to his publisher-friend to explain, clearly, why it is a critique of political economy:

And then the vulgar economist thinks a great discovery has been made when, as against the revelation of the inner interconnection of value and things, the proud claim is that in appearance things look different. In fact, the boast claims to hold fast to appearance, and takes it for the ultimate. Why, then, have any science at all?

But the matter has also another background. Once the interconnection is grasped, all theoretical belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions collapses before their collapse in practice. Here, therefore, it is absolutely in the interest of the ruling classes to perpetuate a senseless confusion. And for what other purpose are the sycophantic babblers paid, who have no other scientific trump to play save that in political economy one should not think at all?

But satis superque [there you go, and then some]. In any case it shows what these priests of the bourgeoisie have come down to, when workers and even manufacturers and merchants understand my book [Capital] and find their way about in it, while these “learned scribes” (!) complain that I make excessive demands on their understanding….

From 11 July 1868 letter of Marx to Kugelman. Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, 1955, pp. 250-53. The bold and the italics (except the Latin) are mine, to highlight the choice slurs, and the consequences.

Edit: Lenin says of this: ‘ It is only to be hoped that every one who begins to study Marx and read Capital will read and re-read this letter when studying the first and most difficult chapters of that book’ (Lenin: Published in 1907 in the pamphlet: Karl Marx. Letters to Dr. Kugelmann, edited and with a preface by N. Lenin. Novaya Duma Publishers, St. Petersburg. Published according to the text of the pamphlet.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 104-112. https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1907/feb/05.htm#bkV12E034)

Rosa now more than ever

Rosa now more than ever
Or why Rosa is someone who should be read at this point in time.
   To be a student of Rosa Luxemburg today is assisted hugely by the (hopefully ongoing) publication in English of her Complete Works, starting with the two volumes out so far on her anthropology studies and course on economics. This alone is enough to extend fourfold what most leftists might know of her, which is usually only a half-digested something or other about ‘spontaneity’ and a disagreement with Lenin.
   Now, over and over, more than ever, I see people worrying both about spontaneity and vanguards. They say it’s all terrible or it’s all fine (actually this borrows an early move from Mao, but still…). The communists hate the anarchists and the anarchists hate the communists, basically, for being too much like each other in all the ways that are wrong.
   My friend David Graeber for example says of the squares, Occupy, yellow vests and all future horizontal protests, that:
‘These new movements do not need an intellectual vanguard to provide them with an ideology because they already have one: the rejection of intellectual vanguards and embrace of multiplicity and horizontal democracy itself‘ infoshack, radioshackorsomesuch.com
Hence the need for Rosa. Against the idea that all we need is already delivered by those who say we don’t need the Party (albeit we don’t need some old fart Party, against the party I would lead, which would be available only to people who could name the stations of the Kronstadt). Anarcho adventures into the void will not do.
   At the same time, communist comrades are incensed that the anti-Leninist and verbose anarchists are undermining their theoretical primacy. Ha ha. Well overdue. As if their political, and philosophical, purity had been baptised and sanctified in previous militant vanguardist struggles such as … wait, I’m, where? When? Theoretical struggles perhaps. Bloody minded entryism, penetration and destruction. Fuck them too.
   So, Rosa for the Party and in symbiosis of a new moving type, moving with the masses – becoming masses, finding their unities, alongside and with Rosa, forming the Party that can keep forming across time. Since time is all the meantimes and meanwhiles where everyone but the caviariste class knows it’s long past the time when the shitty conditions in which most find themselves are such that with this up we cannot put.
Hence, Rosa now more than ever.
   A few brief words though. In common reception of Rosa, in particular with the spontaneity question, there really is a dangerous and defeating mistake made if Rosa‘s commitment to the masses is ever taken to mean no active organisation by the Party within the class forces. There were certainly, also shown in the Letters (same publisher, should be cheaper though), so many ways in which Luxemburg was committed to tendencies and factions within the Party, within the International and within the general Left movement. Her relationship with Kautsky grows fractious over time, her squabble with Lenin is really resolved by the time of the Bolshevik uprising, and between times Lenin had been visiting Rosa and stoking her cat – and being scratched by said kitten, because not all cats fell for Lenin right away. Though in due course…
   Luxemburg was well aware of the need for the class to be organised and able to move with the workers whenever the possibility presented itself, and without the ability to organise the Party to swiftly move into place alongside the ‘spontaneous’ uprising, there would be nothing afterwards. Listening to the sounds of adventurism crashing on the rocks – we need adventures and rock-moving teams (not rock spiders lying in wait with their entryism of doom). Rosa now more than ever. Albeit what organisation there was would be in large part itself only possible because of the tireless devotion of Luxemburg (or Cam) urging on the uprising at meeting after meeting. And indeed, what claim could she have for even being discussed by anyone other than adventurers at the barricades since we all know that her insurrection was crushed, she and her former lover murdered, by a repressive militarist counter-revolution. No, it would be dangerous not to realise that reaction is always already coming and that we also need to organise defense in offense. To say listen, stand aside, wait, all these give space for the reaction – fill the gap with forward and better, biger adn more power to the movements.
   Reading Luxemburg can show us why now more than ever. She does not come across in her writings, or even in her actions as revealed in her biography, or the letters, as someone with a blind faith in going out to the streets. She goes out in the streets. Also, she reads, she teaches, she deploys vast troves of footnotes and argument in an ongoing polemic that always sought to teach, but was always making space for contemplation, education and polemical life that was more than simple or naive spontaneity.
   Her effort was to make links with those on the streets, and she did this as a life-long commitment, and through long patient but urgent work, through talks, classes, writing and editorial meetings, with those inside workplaces and working class areas of the city so as to build the organisation around issues such as hours worked, wages, prices, subsistence, work organisation and justice for women, justice for murdered workers, justice for all. And forever pushing for a better argument and better outcome, aspiring to get the idea accepted that the communist dream was something that could be. Could be by force of her will perhaps, but as an illustration, and a model to be replicated, the path to a revolution that can be sustained is made clear.
   Her polemic with co-revolutionaries always strove towards improving her own as well as their capabilities, through argument to express her own will to clarify and build a revolutionary capacity. And to be able to present her ideas before the masses and at any time strive for the uprising that after-all was – and today has been for a long time again – well overdue. Listening all the time, she is never silent, since participation in the revolution comes from saying, loudly, what is happening, what you can see.
   And read, with care. Rosa does not say no to the Party, does not say no to Party organiser going out to talk to the masses, urge them with ‘fire in their bellies, and their minds’, but she does say no to a Party that is above the dictatorship of the class, no to the dictatorship of a Party or of a clique –yes to ‘dictatorship of the class’ which means dictatorship of the proletariat ‘in the broadest possible form on the basis of the most active, unlimited participation of the mass of the people, of unlimited democracy’ (On the Russian Revolution).
   Without the Party, Luxemburg is nothing, the revolution is nothing, and the masses have no voice. The Party is the organisational form that best coordinates the preparedness required to build alongside the spontaneous uprising of the masses when its best chances arrive. On many occasions the potential of such an uprising might seem more or less apparent, but without robust organisational preparation in place, the political movement will always lack consequence, be subject to fluctuations of spontaneity in the random sense – as opposed to the general sudden realisation that now is the time we have been preparing for, and when the Party serves the masses as a rallying cry, vehicle for articulation direction and aspirations for a path out of the horror of persecution, oppression and inequalities.
   Many skirmishes and test case battles prepare the ground for spontaneity of the revolutionary type. These disconnected struggles are the school for revolutionaries, the training and honing of skills in single issue campaigns, in local initiatives, in building comradeship and Party organisation. They cannot yet be the mode of transition to a communist future but they develop the possibility. Through local wins, and no doubt losses, coordinated battles and preparedness, anticipation, analysis and expectation – knowing perhaps a little more though this of what we might expect – the groups that work together learn together and will face down the tanks together. The Tanks are coming. Do not think Rosa now more than ever means they won’t – the ruling class will want to through us all in the canal. But we will swim. For this, reading, writing, distributing newsletters and papers, forums and research groups, all build – and crucially, reproduce – potential for spontaneity. Swimming in the spontaneous flow.
   The reading and research group is not the only form in which this Party as the vehicle of the wider class interests can articulate and hone its skill base, but it is all the more important because this form of organising has a role in defining and producing knowledge and analysis of the situations in which we are faced with oppression, exploitation, desperation and despair at the hands of capital.
   The urgency of the situation. it is never all day every day, and a part of it is reading, together. meet to plan and talk, if only over a paragraph n between urgent tasks and planning. This research group, that has read its way into a Marxist analysis will move forward and articulate further connections with the oppressed  and offer the classes knowledge not by telegraphing it in, or posting it on this blog, but by sharing not only knowledge as knowledge, but knowledge as a knowledge making process. A revolutionary act whose patron figurehead is also Rosa. Now more than ever. What then if in the current conjuncture those who rise up in protest do so on the basis of having come together over time to develop a shared analysis of the ways an exit from capitalism and oppression can be achieved with equally for all?

‘Citizen Marx/Kane’ in “Marx at the Movies”, 2014

Citizen Marx/Kane’ – Hutnyk

This chapter addresses the question of how, today, to start reading that rich book that is Marx’s Capital — of which an immense, even monstrous, accumulation of commentary on the Marxist mode of literary production appears to have already shaped its elementary forms. In reading Capital, if anything about beginnings should be considered necessary, it is usual to say it is good to start at the beginning — not always of course, but usually to start with what is immediately at hand. Commentaries, primers, prefaces, intros, first sentences and first chapters start at the beginning and continue on from there. This is itself debated, but my argument is that we can only approach Capital through the already existing commentary, even as we would like to start as if the book were new. And the commentary that exists is not only that which is explicitly marked as such, but also includes all the ideas we have already received about so many things — about Marx, capitalism, communism, exchange, commodities and so much more. A vast accumulation of things filter reading, so it would be naive to simply say that materialism might start with things themselves, even if it makes sense to start with commodities, the objects that are the souvenirs or detritus of our lives.

Keywords

Capitalist Class Capitalist Mode Moral Testimony Commodity System Film Poster 

Screenshot 2018-12-09 at 11.35.23

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

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/

Protests in Vietnam (guest post)

Guest Post by Sally Mju

About the current protest in Vietnam. I support and I do not support!

This article is analyzed from the perspective of Karl Marx and Rosa Luxemburg.

The “99 years” rally is taking place all across Vietnam. It is a protest in the immediate sense against the lack of consultation in the legislative proposal to rezone land and provide open leases for companies that relocate to new Special Economic Zones. There have been three short strike actions and larger protests, sometimes violent, in several cities. As part of the context we must acknowledge the protests and strikes entail a rise in nationalism, which perhaps is provoked by opportunists who would challenge the authoritarian state. This raises issues of positive and negative importance for the country.

After considering the situation, visiting the strikes, and reviewing a series of articles, I identify and question the single and most serious aspect of the problem: Why did the state move forward plans to lease land through the 99-year special zone without consulting the people?

This “99-year” event has prompted uproar and indignation across the country in large part because it involves China. From every layer of the society people who had knowledge about the legislation raised criticisms: lawyers, doctors, farmers and workers protested against the government. But the criticisms were amplified not only because the Vietnamese people would want to have a say in decisions about how they live, but also because opportunists were able to access a long-standing hatred of China and the criticisms had suggested that benefits to Chinese businesses are at the expense of the people.

“1000 years of Chinese invasion, 100 years of the French”

Nationalism has long existed in parallel with the development of the country.

Nationalism is often utlilised within the government to support economic and political expansion in its various enterprises. But there is also the form of nationalism arising among the oppressed class in the face of authoritarian tendencies that prevail within the ruling party state.

Rosa Luxemburg argues for the analysis and development of Marxism including criticism of all forms of nationalism. Rosa’s arrival in the Marxist revolution supported the class struggle of peoples oppressed by the bourgeoisie all over the world. Rosa’s principle is “workers of the world unite!”. According to Rosa, nationalism is a form of bourgeois thought that must be opposed by proletarian ideology and socialist aims. Almost all forms of nationalism have developed and are deeply rooted in the proletariat in cases that span the whole world. In some instances, this involves ‘patriotism’. Some opportunist socialists opposed her revolutionary standpoint and Lenin developed his views on nationalism quite differently, distinguishing between nationalism among the oppressor nations which should be opposed by the revolutionaries and the nationalism of the oppressed nations, that revolutionaries should support. Lenin argued that revolutionary nationalism was needed to counteract imperialism and oppose the rule of the empires of the world.

Lenin’s view easily led to one-sided bias toward the right and this cannot be reconciled with the current class struggle in Vietnam as Vietnam is no longer oppressed under colonialism, notwithstanding that it is now under an authoritarian state that contracts with the capitalist system. Whether all things should be attributed to class struggle on a national level is a wider question for discussion elsewhere.

But what is the purpose of the current protests? Their purpose as I see it at first was one that I am very supportive of, especially in the way they bravely stand against the government’s lack of transparency. However, opportunists fostering patriotism and nationalism intervened and the protesters had not yet reached a level that could connect with the workers organised against the bourgeoisie, thus to that extent it remained an independent action by the peasantry to retain control of their land and we can surely understand. We would expect that in any case where peasant lands were sold to a wealthy official in Hanoi, without any compensation to the peasants using that land, then the same sort of protest would arise. But because of the nationalist antipathy against China in Vietnam, something that probably unites almost all Vietnamese, national feeling becomes an element of the case here. Those who fight the sale of land will “use” this element to inflame passions and gain support. This nationalist tendency should be opposed, even as the underlying action and its aims I would support. Looking in two directions at once is a very difficult policy to operate.

The opportunists saw a flicker of anger and they thought they could steer the people to where they wanted. They crept to the front and provoked the government. From the moment the opportunists entered, the protest was no longer a protest but a commandeered attack vehicle for those who want to destabilise the present government. If this was the purpose of the protest, it would not change the substantive original cause, but lead only to sabotage and a dysfunctionality that will slowly subside. An objective phenomenon, without actual support in the class, it will fade without resolution like the 2014 Binh Duong strike in South Vietnam’s industrial parks.

To disentangle these issues we need to distinguish between three categories: demonstrations, sabotage and marches.

A march is a kind of celebration of something that is beneficial to oneself or to society, like that in 2015 with the LGBT parade in the pedestrian street of District 1, Ho Chi Minh City;

Protest strikes and demonstrations are the action of a group of people supporting a political or economic cause;

Sabotage is militant action, used especially for escalating political advantage, and it can be either armed interference aimed at overthrow of the government or part of a development of the widening struggle of the revolutionary class that Rosa Luxemburg calls the Mass Strike.

Right now, surprisingly with no attention from the wider press and public in Vietnam, including the opportunists, there are 300 workers in Nghe An on strike over a two-hour extension of their hours with no wage increase. While there may be less people involved, the issues a more clear-cut, their base is sound, and they have a cause.

Would this small economic demand escalate into nationalism or generalise into a political struggle based upon nation or class? The opportunists do not move into this strike, they do not see it as a place for sabotage that would access the national and patriotic elements they manipulate. Yet it is this kind of economic struggle that holds promise for a better Vietnam, even though it is not escalated into a political stage and is not, yet, directed to the Mass Strike strategy.

Only on the basis of the economic struggle of the working class would be possible to widen the struggle, build the Mass Strike and establish a new government, a new institution, or anything else, because that would by necessity have to build on the strength of the truly revolutionary class. Anti-government opportunism, and every country has such examples, rarely is revolutionary where the upper class people of the country also go in for sabotage, such as the United States with President Donald Trump for example. But without the revolutionary workers these opportunist actions only introduce chaos, it does not change anything substantial. Looking to France, workers ‘protests at the Amazon plant have boosted wages and added workers’ welfare, albeit to a modest extent, with little change in their living conditions, but on their own strength.

Luxemburg argued that previous analyses of the Mass Strike had tended to separate economic and political struggles and in 1905, she said, the strike could initially start with what appear to be small economic demands but could rapidly generalise to become and challenge on a broader political level. This would only happen if led by the mass working class, it cannot happen if led by the opportunists because they have no actual political demand beyond opportunist sabotage. Sabotage here is not a political struggle that can feed back into weaker sections of the working class who would in turn strike over their economic grievance. Opportunist sabotage has no mass base and so will fade away.

The low profile of the left in Vietnam means the right-wing cause of economic inequality has become a pressing nationalist problem. The SEZ Special Economic Zones are no advantage for the nation because with less regulation and constraints upon capital, they often cause more worker exploitation. No workers movement can support them. They certainly attract capitalists from all over, not just China, but the jobs they bring are compromised and the workers have identified this drawback. At the present time, nationalists and opportunists have tried to take this moment and turn it into a protest against China and in effect bring the country back to a time when Vietnam was subject to colonial exploitation at the hands of the imperialists.

Vietnam has no left-wing opposition to offer other economic development policies.

The key to solving this problem is not the issue of nationalism but the problem of class struggle. Think about the needs of the movement, if the working classes of all nationalities around the world oppose the bourgeoisie?

Sally Mju.

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