Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, sites of increasing global inequality and laboratories for new forms of surveillance, policing and security. Yet, unlike our nineteenth century predecessors, deindustrialization has rendered a large part of the world’s population superfluous from the formal labor market, all the while forcing many others to accept low wages and a precarious existence. As capitalist classes scramble to maintain previous rates of profit, security has emerged as both an important political project, and site of conflict for millions whose very existence is closely monitored and surveilled by the various appendages of the security industrial complex. In recent years, George S. Rigakos and other scholars have contributed to a robust Marxist and materialist analysis of security through a critical examination of its role in forging a social order that is conducive to capitalist accumulation. In this process, pacification emerges as an alternative concept to the security project of capitalist elites, which helps us to make sense of how social order is maintained and reproduced. The theme of pacification is taken up in previous collaborative efforts, such as in a special volume of Socialist Studies (2013), select journal articles published by Rigakos, and more recently in his new book Security/Capital: A General Theory of Pacification (Rigakos 2016).
by Paul Raekstad
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.
by Liz Mason-Deese. December in Buenos Aires is known for its propensity to heat up. It was the eruption of protests on December 19th and 20th sixteen years ago that overthrew the neoliberal government of Fernando de la Rúa. Those days saw the emergence of an unprecedented cross-class alliance as the unemployed and middle […]
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.
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!
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. …
– 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.
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.