Looking at the Contours of the Crisis

capitalismisnotworking.jpg capitalism isn't working picture by adam_freedom

  With “Contours of the Crisis” in the latest issue of Upping the Anti #8 (see two posts previous), Aidan Conway interviews three leading thinkers on contemporary capitalism who also each happen to be professors of political economy at York University in Toronto as well. They are David McNally, Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch. Below are three highlights that raise worthwhile points to think about around the financial crisis and building “the other world that is possible” as we might say.

  Here on the relationship between class struggle at home and imperialism abroad, which are intracately interwoven.

  Sam Gindin: If and when, during the next decades, the foundations of American empire were to really crumble, class struggles within the imperial heartland itself would likely play a major role in bringing this on – precisely because of the way in which the external and internal dimensions of American empire are intertwined. At the same time, the ability to pacify the citizens of the empire is critically dependant on the ability to maintain wider structures of global exploitation and integration. (emphasis added)

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What Would a Relevant Anarchist Politics Look Like?

ArgentinaMayDay.jpg picture by adam_freedom Workers and popular organizations connected to the anarchist movement rally on May Day 2009 in a public square in Argentina.

  What would an anarchist politics look like that spoke to the needs of today’s realities and to today’s movements? How can revolutionaries apply the values of anarchism to an understanding of building mass movements from below, an understanding of power, a vision of a future society with the understanding of the organization needed to reach it, coupled with a strong analysis of race, patriarchy, gender and issues of queer liberation?

 OvertownMiami.jpg picture by adam_freedom Miami Autonomy & Solidarity (MAS, pronounced like the word “más” in Spanish) is a small organization of revolutionaries based out of the fourth largest metropolitan areas in the US. While Miami is a hub of international trade and finance, it’s also the third poorest city in the US and with a majority immigrant and people of color population (nearly 60% were born outside the US). Much like the US/Mexico border, Miami is a city where the third and first world grate against each other. Interestingly, similar to the rest of the US South, the city lacks much of an established left as would other large metropolitan areas such as New York, Boston, Chicago and the Bay Area.

  The organization has been in a process of formation, study and debate for over a year prior to announcing themselves publicly in mid-May 2009. While there are certainly a number of well spoken and excellent individual thinkers in the anarchist milieu, MAS’s Points of Unity below represents one of the best collectively written organizational statements of anarchist politics in North America to this date in my opinion. A recommended read.

 

Miami Autonomy & Solidarity Points of Unity

  Miami Autonomy & Solidarity is an organization of people whom have come together for the purpose of developing a revolutionary organization that works within social movements, as well as on the revolutionary level with the ultimate goal of contributing to an autonomous popular class movement of the oppressed that will overthrow capitalism and the state, as well as ending all forms of oppression.    

Role of the Specific Revolutionary Organization 

  Our specific revolutionary organization is a group founded on and working towards theoretical and strategic unity, as well as tactical coordination amongst its members. These organizational principles serve to strengthen our efficiency and effectiveness in developing our ideas and strategies within the broader working class movement. It must be stated that the need for such a group arises out of the practical struggles of the working class to transform itself into a revolutionary class capable of overthrowing capitalism and the state; as well as building society along egalitarian, self-managed, and directly democratic lines.  

  Through our specific revolutionary organization we seek to contribute to the theoretical development of revolutionary social struggles. We engage in the creation of media that communicates the views and political line of the organization, and we directly participate in struggles based on a common strategic program and coordinated activity. The political organization helps keep a historical memory of struggle and ongoing organizational strategic assessments of struggle in mass movements . We strive to retain experiences of success and failures in order to strengthen the social struggle.

  However, unlike some political parties that try to use social movements as a tool to develop their own power, our organization’s relation to the social movement’s is reversed: our organization is a tool of our members and sympathizers within the social movement used to contribute towards the power of the social movements through the development of the autonomous consciousness, capacity, and solidarity of these movements.   We never seek to dominate, impose upon, manipulate, command or control the movements we’re a part of.  Rather we seek to participate as equals within the struggle, offering our ideas and methods as short and long term proposals for the movements towards liberation.  Continue reading

Lenin, Wallerstein and Understanding Imperialism

Leninsweepsup.jpg picture by adam_freedom

Lenin cleans house, but I think he missed a spot

 

 

Rough Draft

  What is the best way to understand what we call imperialism, which is basically the economic and political relationship between the first and third world? Lenin has been the main starting point around this question for most on the revolutionary left. Are there basic problems with the understanding of imperialism that derives from Lenin? I think so.

 

  Below Wallerstein describes the centrality of unequal exchange to capitalism as a system, which is the process of how profits are reaped from the third world (which he calls the periphery zones within the capitalist world economy) and the western or first world nations (which he terms the core zones). First are several points that I think are worth highlighting based on how Wallerstein explains this process and which are in contrast with the much of the left’s understanding of imperialism as it is derived from Lenin.

 

Feedback is welcome.

 

a)      Capitalism has always been an international system and as much so today as it was in the sixteenth century.

b)      Capitalism as a system has always been based on the relationship of core and periphery regions in the world whereby through the process of unequal exchange surplus flows from periphery to core regions.

c)      As production processes move down a hierarchy of processes they move from core to periphery regions.

d)      Core regions use their accumulated capital to build strong states and ensure that states in periphery area remain or become weak and therefore compliant in accepting the relationship of unequal exchange.

e)      There are no stages of capitalism whereby capitalism as a system moves from a presumed more localized, peaceful and competitive phase to a more international, militaristic and monopoly based phase, which what Lenin asserted in his writings on imperialism, which he called the ‘highest stage of capitalism.’

f)        While Lenin’s analysis is useful to explain the political moment that faced the world at the early twentieth century, it does not explain well the system of capitalism as it has existed historically.

g)      Lenin’s analysis of imperialism, which is focused on economics and how the imperialist states must use violence in colonization and will eventually resort to war in competition between each other over colonial spoils, offers a weak explanation of how imperialist and colonial states relates to one another.

 

LeninChillaxin.jpg picture by adam_freedom

 

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Wallerstein’s essential analysis

Notes on Wallerstein’s “Historical Capitalism”

immanuel_wallerstein.jpg picture by adam_freedom

Why the hell do I find Wallerstein so interesting? To be honest, when close friends have told me that I’ve been stuck on him for the last year or so, they are absolutely right. So now I aim to explain to them and others why this is the case and why I think Wallerstein is nearly essential to any critical and revolutionary understanding of the world and how it works. I wish I could offer an outline of sorts, but below are choice quotes that I found most interesting.

 

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