Democracy Against Representation: A Radical Realist View

by Paul Raekstad

Abstract: 

In recent years, radical movements from the Arab Spring to Occupy and beyond have been calling for “democracy.” These movements also claim to reject representation—a keystone of many contemporary liberal understandings of democracy. How can we make sense of this? There is ongoing debate about this in these movements and their descendants, part of which consists in figuring out what we should take “democracy” to mean. This article tries to contribute to this process of collective self-clarification by reconstructing one notion of what we could take “democracy” to mean. Thereafter, we will see how we can use this concept to make sense of the critique of representation in many contemporary radical movements and how useful it can be for helping to guide social change and the practices seeking to bring it about. I will thus argue that a coherent conception of democracy can be found, and that it can be a powerful tool both for understanding and critiquing the shortcomings of contemporary societies and for guiding our efforts to overcome them.

Read More

UC Democracy: A Manifesto – Demilitarize! Deprivatize! Democratize!

This manifesto is a demand to finally have our voices heard, as well as a call to action to resist the neoliberal forces encroaching on our university that are increasingly present in higher education systems worldwide.

On May 17, 2017, I traveled with a group of students to the University of California Regents meeting in San Francisco. Originally, we had planned to speak in the “public comment” portion of the meeting, in protest against the Board of Regents and the UC Office of the President (UCOP). However, because of strict security measures, few of us spoke at all. Our experiences being silenced and policed are not unusual and reflect a decades-long struggle against corruption in the UC system, alongside worsening conditions of inequity, social injustice, and a lack of transparency.

Read More

Abolish Border Imperialism! – Seeking Proposals for a Convergence

Call for Proposals:

Abolish Border Imperialism!

a weekend convergence for working towards abolition and decolonization

October 6-8, 2017 – Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota

Resurgent border imperialism is producing a new round of repressions, deportations, and bans. It is emboldening white fascism and militarizing walls. From the reservation to the city, Indigenous peoples, immigrants, women, workers, queer and trans folks, Black and brown communities are facing criminalization, exploitation, deportation, incarceration, harassment, and violence. The organizing collective of Abolition: a journal of insurgent politics invites your proposals for a multi-faceted, multi-group convergence in the Twin Cities this fall!

Read More

They Want You to Perfume the Sewers

by Meridel Le Sueur

…Death is the only product of imperialism today. It’s an obvious problem. They tell us they are going to kill us, and they do kill us.

So the artist has a great wonder and a tremendous influx of new life and at the same time has a great responsibility, because he must bring his skills to the rising people who contain the creation of the new world. It no longer exists in the middle class. It no longer is any good to get the grants. They just want you to perfume the sewers. They need artists to bring perfume to the terrible stench of their death. It isn’t doing the artist any good. There is no place to go except to the struggle of the people today. There is no place for the artist. There is no artist arising except from the struggle of the people. …

Read More

Is Marxism Relevant? Some Uses and Misuses – Part 2: Revolutionary Vision

– by David Gilbert, political prisoner –
Many of the examples of Marxist-Leninist formations make it tempting to echo Marx in saying, “I’m not a Marxist.” I’m not if Marxism is understood as a pat dogma, as small sects vying to claim leadership of the movement and carrying out political debates by citing opposing quotes from old texts, and especially when it’s used as a “revolutionary” rationale for continuing white and male domination. At the same time, I would encourage today’s activists not to lose a treasure trove in both method and many specifics of analysis by dismissing Marxism out of hand.

Read More

Is Marxism Relevant? Some Uses and Misuses – by David Gilbert, political prisoner

A blanket dismissal of Marxism runs the risk of losing some important building blocks for analyzing the nature and vulnerabilities of capitalism. In addition, my experience during more than 50 years in the struggle has shown that those who were able to sustain activism over the long and difficult haul often had some foundation in theory and in a sense of history.

What follows is not an argument for or against Marxism as the defining framework, and it certainly isn’t an attempt to provide an overall or in-depth explanation. Instead I want to talk about a few broad concepts which I found very useful and still seem very relevant today. Often these ideas are markedly different from the more visible versions put forward by various predominantly white and male Marxists.

Read More

Trump: The Neo-Authoritarian Tendency & the Epochal Crisis of Capitalism

– Luis Arizmendi –
“Make America great again” is a slogan that represents an unquestionably confused and intransigent project of reconfiguration of the US-led capitalist system and the restructuring of US global hegemony. Trump’s aims are not only to integrate the US working class, but also to push forward an authoritarian integration of this group in the government’s efforts to maintain its global influence. He sponsors escalating political violence as response to the present economic crisis. Donald Trump’s capitalism personifies the neo-authoritarian tendency of capitalism in the 21st century.

Read More

#ResistCapitalism to #FundBlackFutures: Black Youth, Political Economy, and the 21st Century Black Radical Imagination

– by David C. Turner III –
Critical Black Youth Politics takes all forms of resistance into account, & suggests that riots are just as important for democratic repair as nonviolent civil disobedience. … Black youth are engaging in forms of activism that deeply connect systems of oppression, especially how these systems are monetized, and no singular theoretical analysis can possibly capture all of it. Our youth are giving us new ways to re-imagine and think about the world: it’s about time we pay attention.

Read More