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from 🐺 Goule de Varou 🌕

~ Musique ~

JARL (C) Dylan Picard 2019

Ravi que mon groupe JARL ait participé au Festival “Blues de Traverse” 2019. Le public, le staff de la Gare aux Musiques, les photographes et les autres musiciens ont tous été des éléments clés du succés de cette soirée et de l'excellent moment que j'y ai passé jeudi dernier.
JARL (C) Dylan Picard 2019

Photographies © Dylan Picard 2019


🐺 Goule de Varou 🌕

#musique #jarl #concerts #normandie #rouen #louviers

© Goule de Varou 2019

 
En savoir plus...

from Anarchist Mae

It was already unbearably hot, the dust kicked up from the dirt road as my father drove away filled the air. My mind felt almost as heavy as my packed school bag, full of books I'd never read and half completed assignments.

The bus would be here soon. There was no escaping this, the next nine hours of hell, nobody waiting to whisk me away to safety, nobody waiting to do anything good.

At least there was the bus. A set of bookends for my shitty days, a respite from the judgement of my peers and of my father, a place where nobody would dare touch me or yell at me lest they face the wrath of driver Bob.

Arms gnarled with age and sun, Bob was the authority on the bus, not feared so much as respected. Bob drove every day with the radio tuned to the AM, happily listening to the same Billy Joel and Marvin Gaye songs, sometimes even humming along.

Bob didn't care much about what happened on the bus, just so long as the kids sat down and didn't talk too loud, he was happy.

That's how I came about my strategy, if I sit close to Bob, nobody can mess with me, sure there would be the occasional shove as people got on or got off, and sometimes things were thrown, but behind or next to Bob was safe.

The country side moved on by, the same houses, fields and trees, the same me, numb to everything, content to just sit for a while and not think and be calm.

First past the Eckerts farm, our closest neighbours, their kids went to a different school, a Christian school, where poor Robbie, gay as all hell apparently had once gone. Before he was gone.

Then past the Daniels farm, not that you could really call it that nowadays, it's hard to run a farm when you're stuck in a wheelchair.

Up past the chicken farms, they always stank like something unbelievable, rows upon rows of chickens crammed into sheds in this weather?

Finally the town approaches, and so does my anxiety. How many times will I get yelled at by teachers today? Where can I hide during recess and lunch?

How long until I can get back on the bus.

 
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from What Is Tomat0 Up To?

Quite arguably, the most important legacy left by Marx's work was the “science of socialism”. This move to rationalize the socialist movement, of course, would contrast heavily with the utopian tendencies of the socialists of his time.

For the utopians, socialist society was their logical starting point; their analysis of the world around them and the process of socialism had to be extrapolated from their vision. While this allowed for stretched imagination and expanded discussion, it was not something sustainably pursuable. There had to be a move forward towards something more concrete.

While there is debate over whether Marxism is technically a science or not, the sort of cold, objective attitude associated with science was definitely present. More specifically, the “science of socialism” usually refers to Marx's structural analysis of capitalist society itself; the utopians formulated their critique in relation to their ideal, while the critique of Marx had to begin with the negation of the present.

And following the fallout of the Cold War and the breakdown of Marxism-Leninism, we seem to have reverted back to a state that hasn't just rejected structural analysis, but has instead forgotten it. Unable to conceive anything outside of capital, social democrats, anarchists, and state socialists have found themselves all retreating back to the same view of socialism as a moral struggle; this is exactly why I feel it is necessary to restate the structuralism that is capitalism.

The Historical Basis of Economy

It's important to include a historical element to our analysis, not just for establishing precedent, but because history gives us a look into how production evolves and manifests. History isn't static, and limiting yourself to one frame of reference, whether it be past or present, prevents you from getting a fuller picture of the situation at hand.

This section is a relatively brief restatement of historical materialism, as a simple matter of laying foundation.

As materialist historiography dictates, we see history take upon different stages that gradually brought a dispersed humanity consisting of hunters and gatherers into a society based around industrialization.

While there is a lot to be said regarding the specifics of the various stages, I'd like to focus on the key insights we get here.

Firstly, that the catalyst of this process is the introduction of trade into human relations. We can tell this for two reasons:

  • One, we see a coherent pattern arise when discussing historical progression, in that the evolution of production and society always precedes the evolution of society. Production itself is an extension of the relations of trade.
  • The trade relation is inherently axiomatic in that it presupposes all other social and material relation. Concepts of currency, ownership, industry, and value rely on this as a foundational justification for their existence.

So what exactly is the trade relation? I think the best way to explain it is to start by constructing a controlled environment; obviously there's going to be issues doing this empirically, so we'll have to rely on a hypothetical here.

Assume you are one of two people in a pre-civilization world. You have an excess of fruit you've picked, and the other person has an excess of crude knives they have crafted. For whatever reason, both of you want to eat some chopped fruit, so you decide to give him some of your fruit if he gives you some of his knives.

It's a rather basic example, which is why it's useful for a closer analysis. The first question each participant has to resolve is: how much fruit is worth how many knives? Intention is unimportant here; whether or not they are looking to make a fair deal or get a bargain, they still will need to make a mental judgement on this in order to decide.

Whatever answer they come up with determines the exchange value of each product. And once you begin creating more and more trade relations between different products, you create a relative system of value.

  1. Currency acts as a universal language of exchange-value, so to speak, aggregating all these trade relations into a numerical scale. As currency becomes the language of commodities, it becomes a necessity to survive: you accumulate currency by selling goods you produced, and industry is born out of many people producing and trading simultaneously.
  2. In order to ensure that a commodity can be produced steadily, industry takes control of resources that are essential to reproducing these commodities, control justified by claims of ownership, claims we call property.
  3. Because ownership is fundamentally exclusive in nature; there are going to be those who do not own property. What they do own, however, is their own productive capacity, their labor, which is a key component of transforming a raw resource into a commodity that can be traded.
  4. In order to convert that labor into the exchange-value necessary for survival, they negotiate with those who own property: they supply their labor to ensure the reproduction of the commodity being produced, and the property owner supplies them with just enough compensation to ensure they able to continue working and reproducing said labor.
  5. Ownership in name only doesn't do much; a person who rejects the claims could take whatever is being owned for themselves. So in order for the ownership to be protected and recognized, a state must be created, able to use force to maintain the validity of the claims of ownership.

Of course, there's a lot of concerning implications to this, but that's not the focus right now. Right now, above all else, what we are establishing is that, yes, all of this is interconnected and foundationally based upon the trade relation. I must stress this because before we can even get into criticizing structural economy, we have to first acknowledge that structural economy even exists.

The Necessity of Capitalism

So now, we have established economy as a structural process, but we still haven't talked about capitalism: after all, capitalism is not synonymous with economy but, rather instead, a stage of economy.

And in this sense, capitalism is a necessary evolution: it's an unsustainable and ultimately contradictory one, but it must be maintained it is necessary, not in the sense of “holding together the glue of society”, but rather instead necessary as the predecessor to communism.

It's an angle a lot of socialists seem to ignore, and the ones that don't usually misunderstand this as evidence supporting a gradual approach.

And I think its that conflation with reformism which tends to scare a lot of revolutionary socialists from acknowledging this fact. When we refer to communism as “seizing the means of production”, this has to be understood as an appropriation of it, not as the disowning of it. In simpler terms, there has to be production to seize before one can seize it.

And this truth reveals itself rather morbidly when we look at what capitalism has brought us.

  • English becoming a language of international communication required the ruthless destruction, erasure, and subjugation of countless communities and cultures.
  • Rail, telephone wiring, canals, and infrastructure required the central planning and the enslavement of countless in order to make sure things didn't just advance technologically, but also advanced in a coordinated fashion. It's much easier to build a new road than it is to build the entire interstate from scratch.

And it is precisely here we see Marxism break from moralism. Was any of this right? No, not in the slightest. Did the advances at all “redeem” or “justify” the countless atrocities in its wake? Absolutely not.

This analysis of capitalism is where Marxism immediately breaks from moralism; because capitalism is structural as opposed to humanistic. Yes, these actions have morality to them, but the morality has to be assigned in a non-structural context; those who do have to either reject Marx's approach, such as in the cases of the post-structuralists, or create a different structural interpretation as in the case of Federici.

The Structuralism of Class

One of the most glaring examples of this sort of structuralist/moralist divide can immediately be seen in the intense contrast between Marxist and “leftist” class analysis.

The common conception of class seems to be rich/poor, the haves and the have-nots. These are vague and relative terms, easily to project your own ideals onto. This is why politicians may be comfortable talking about the “one percent”, the “billionaire class”, or “the establishment”. It lacks any concreteness to be offensive. To the moralist, the billionaire has a duty to be a “responsible capitalist” and to fail to do so is a moral failing. It ultimately fails to do much beyond making people feel good and passing the buck to “the bad apples”.

The structural approach takes class in reference to its role in maintaining economy.

  • The proletariat is defined in clear and objective terms as the class of labor, key to the production of value. They do not own productive property, and they are forced to sell their labor to survive.
  • The bourgeois are defined as those who own the means of production, and thus own others' labor.

This distinction isn't meant to be one of good/bad or us versus them, but rather instead one that acknowledges the intense divisions and specializations of the whole productive process.

The proletariat isn't privileged for their moral superiority or their victimhood. Sure, they may resent the bourgeois, but that is due to the nature of class conflict; their interests remain diametrically opposed, and they only find freedom in the repression of the other. No, rather instead it is that as the class that is responsible for generating value, they alone are the only class inherently capable of putting an end to the capitalist structure.

Dangers of Humanizing Capitalism

And this humanization of capitalism is what tends to leave so many leftist tendencies and organizations stuck in the possibilist trap.

  • For the social democrats, they humanize the politicians, media figures, and brands whose ideology they deem “closer to the left”, regardless of if their actions match their words or not.
  • For the Marxist-Leninists, they humanize the states that take upon a communist aesthetic, despite their economies still maintaining the very same economic base as the countries they deem “the real capitalists”.
  • For the anarchists, they humanize unions and co-ops, even though “boss-less capitalism” is still subject to the repressive forces of economy itself.

To some of you, this sort of totalization in left-wing ideology might sound familiar, and that's because this criticism has been leveled before, most notably by the post-left. The Situationists, acting as a bridge between Marxism and this post-left current, echo this sentiment in their theory of the Spectacle.

The Situationists' seminal text, Society of The Spectacle, defines the Spectacle as the following:

In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation. The images detached from every aspect of life fuse in a common stream in which the unity of this life can no longer be reestablished. Reality considered partially unfolds, in its own general unity, as a pseudo-world apart, an object of mere contemplation. The specialization of images of the world is completed in the world of the autonomous image, where the liar has lied to himself. The spectacle in general, as the concrete inversion of life, is the autonomous movement of the non-living. The spectacle presents itself simultaneously as all of society, as part of society, and as instrument of unification. As a part of society it is specifically the sector which concentrates all gazing and all consciousness. Due to the very fact that this sector is separate, it is the common ground of the deceived gaze and of false consciousness, and the unification it achieves is nothing but an official language of generalized separation. The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.

I've gone through the trouble to bold the important parts here, read the full text if you wish, it's actually incredibly insightful. The whole book is a collection of theses, so the prose might be rather jarring. I'll try my best to restate exactly what is being said.

In the same way economy reduces all material relations to trade-relations, we witness a similar phenomenon occur as commodity begins to enter the realm of ideas. These social relations: our politics, our goals, our virtues, get reduced down to representation, or more specifically, imagery.

Taking this into context, we see the “human capitalism” for what it actually is. It's the incorporation, or more specifically, the recuperation of ideas into the totalitarian reign of the commodity.

This has already happened to the social democrats, it's happened to the Marxist-Leninists, and eventually even the anarchists.

It might be easy to shrug it off as a few idiots buying merch, and I most likely would've assumed the same, if there wasn't a fundamental connection.

  1. They start by humanizing individual structural entities; this is important because what the humanization does is that it fundamentally rejects capitalism as totalitarian. We know this because the idea of “good apples” and capitalist totality are mutually exclusive.
  2. All of these fields (geopolitics, electoral politics, industry) require either cooperation with the current hegemony or a sufficiently competitive counter-hegemony.
  3. Regardless of which strategy you take, you are eventually going to end up participating in the “game of capitalism” and in good faith, no less. Bad faith actors are crushed before they can centralize power, and by the time you do, your organization is too far in to consciously back out.
  4. Participating in the game means generating commodities, in this case, images. Unions need members, politicians need voters, and countries need a military. All of these, as you see in the above examples, require popular appeals, which can only be found by competing in the marketplace of spectacles.
  5. And as part of the marketplace of spectacles, you become just another face of the capitalist singularity.

Structuralism and Humanism

There's a reason I'm juxtaposing the terms humanism and structuralism with capitalism, and that's because there is a sect of Marxists who refer to themselves as “structural Marxists” in order to separate themselves from the “Marxist-humanists”.

It should be noted that the above discussion relating to capitalism is different from structuralism/humanism in the context of Marxism. Within Marxism, this refers to the debate between those who see the individual as subject to the structural and those who see the structural as subject to the individual.

To put it more simply, we've established capitalism as structural, but there still is the question of the individual, and whether or not the individual is capable of acting independently of the structure.

Arguments against the individual's agency usually cite the same social-relations we discussed earlier, which would be correct, if we were assuming capitalism itself is a totality. It is totalitarian, yes, but it is only totalitarian in the sense that it is converging on totality. It has not reached totality. For capitalism to have reached totality, it would have had to have transformed all relations into economic relations.

And this is where Marx's theory of alienation comes in. Alienation implies a dissonance; reification attempts to eliminate that dissonance. However, this proves more difficult than one may think; alienation isn't just man's dying breath, but rather instead evidence of an underlying contradiction, arguably the ultimate contradiction in capitalism. The contradiction of the workers' bond to their work and the economy's claims over everything. For the individual to have been totally recuperated, they would cease to become proletarians, for without alienation, they would remain just as exploited as a machine.

And this is where I do think the theory of the Spectacle outdoes Althusser's ideas of interpellation. Althusser attempts to demonstrate the subjection of the individual first by tying the terms “you/I” to a subjection, and then tying that subjection towards social structures itself. But in the process, he makes an incredible amount of assumptions and equivocates hard on the identity of the subjector. The concept is vaguely in the right direction, but its not concrete enough to carry the claims Althusser makes regarding humanism and the individual.

For Debord and the Situationists, the subjector was clear; it was representation through imagery. And this makes sense, because we can demonstrably see how symbolism is capable of turning abstract ideas into commodity. Flags and logos can be bought and sold, labels for people, movements, and ideas can be tossed around the same way one tosses a brand around.

And its through this understanding of how ideas become integrated into economy, that we get a clearer picture of alienation and how consciousness can come about. Because the individual's subjection requires their expression as an image, there are some avenues for self-autonomy. The Situationists experimented with the subversion of existing imagery to create a distance between the symbol and their actions.

And it proved incredibly effective in the age of liquid-modernity. Of course post-modernity has recuperated irony, but that is to be expected; the Situationists aren't meant to be a movement continuously clung onto for the rest of the time, but rather instead an example, that even during Althusser's time, it is possible to act independently of the structure.

 
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from What Is Tomat0 Up To?

Political Dichotomy Assessment: Where The Other Tests Fall Short

This was discussed earlier in the Introduction document, but one of the main goals of this project is to create a qualitatively distinguished model of politics as opposed to a quantitatively distinguished one. This is important because all current major models/tests still rely on quantitative methodology, which ends up severely handicapping their usability.

Left/Right Spectrum

1D Spectrum

As this model was born out of the French Revolution, it distinguishes people between those who oppose progress and those who support progress; during that time period it was used to distinguish those who supported the Revolution and those who supported the monarchy.

The issue with this is that the definitions of progress tend to be highly relative, and in some cases subjective. What can be considered “left” or “right” is still dependent on what the individual or larger society as a whole considers to be social progress. When we have different individuals, different time periods, and different cultures being cross-referenced, this model finds itself far too situational to be of any use.

If you're interested in a more in-depth analysis on why this is an issue, I'd recommend checking out Whig History by Herbert Butterfield.

Political Compass and 8Values/PolitiScales

2D Spectrum

Unsurprisingly, the problem wasn't solved. If anything, tacking on another axis only served to bring up more questions. Who is authority referring to in this case? One can be authoritarian but believe in that authority being enforced by someone other than the state; the opposite is true too, you can be libertarian in a non-statist sense.

We continued to get more and more models that slapped on more metrics: first there was the aptly named 8Values, but when that didn't work out, the creators of PolitiScales decided to double the axes.

I know some people swear by these tests, but the issue is that the scores don't really hold much application outside of the chart itself. If you just look at the ideologies that 8Values suggests, you'll see almost all of them are either vague, incorrect, or in some cases, completely made-up terms.

Questions

Keep in mind all of the above is just me discussing the final result and the presentation, we haven't even gotten to the issues with the questions on these tests yet.

Interestingly enough, despite all the novel ways they come up with to try and present information, we still end up with the exact same structure for how questions are asked and evaluated.

Questions

Often times a series of statements are given, and for each statement, the participant is asked to give a rating of how strongly they agree with it. This answer is then taken, converted to a number, then either added or subtracted to a score on one axis.

For example, answering “Strongly Agree” to the above question may give me +3 points on the authoritarian/libertarian axis, while answering “Strongly Disagree” may give me -3 points on the authoritarian/libertarian axis.

This method would be fine, assuming the question is relevant to every participant and could only be answered in two ways; often times, however, that isn't the case. For a lot of these questions, someone could take a position that would lead them to be neither, against, for, or even neutral towards a statement because the statement would make an assumption that doesn't apply to them.

Quantitative Versus Qualitative

The reason all these tests have to rely on scoring systems and linear questions is because they all assume a quantitative model of ideology. That one's beliefs are based upon the intensity of a position they hold, how strongly they feel about something.

And this is why all of these models completely fall apart when they have someone who holds a strong position, but still a position that the test doesn't account for. It's not even that radical positions become discouraged by this model, but rather instead that they become inconceivable, outside the boundaries of what can even be imagined much less supported.

 
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from What Is Tomat0 Up To?

This is probably going to be the third of a set of pieces I'm doing regarding design choices for the project, not for self-indulgence, but rather instead for the purpose of getting my thoughts back in order following an immense amount of feedback I've received.

One of the biggest issues facing the test right now is well... the test itself. While the methodology itself proves effective, it's an incredibly dense and abstract test, making it difficult for people who aren't too ideologically conscious to answer the questions; this is an issue because those people are quite literally the target demographic.

So I think it's for the better I take a step back and think about how to approach this, going over the concepts I'm incorporating and so on.

Why use Marxist concepts?

I stated this in the last piece, but I have no intention to pretend to be neutral here; the decisions I make are ones I feel better reflect the true nature of the topic: there's no point to trying to do a balancing act for a balancing act's sake.

However, there is a reason I'm incorporating Marxist concepts apart from solely favoritism. Marxist theory tends to be heavily structuralist and as a result, it's rather “self-aware” for lack of a better term. There's a wealth of discussion regarding its priorities, historiography, and contextual placement of the individual, rather than solely discussing proposals and blueprints.

It should be understood that one's “political position” is not just a suggestion of what should be done but rather instead an understanding of what is going on around you.

So in this sense, so-called scientific socialism is able to act as a template of one specific understanding of society. From there, we can actually extrapolate the model Marxists apply to themselves and see how this can apply to other perspectives and their own understandings of the world.

The Tree Analogy

Since the test itself uses a combination of methods, I refer to it and its various components in the context of a “tree”.

The test can be best divided into two halves, the “canopy” and the “branches”.

Like the canopy of a tree, the first part is wide and full of “leaves” that eventually branch down; in other words, the canopy is actually a table, where the answers to two activities form different combinations which we refer to as “leaves”. These leaves, which are on the top of the tree, act as a starting point for the rest of the test.

Once a leaf has been found, a series of conditional yes/no questions are able to give you a much more specific answer. These are called branches because the questions vary based on your answers to previous questions, designed to conditionally “branch out”.

The Canopy: Spheres of Focus

As stated above, the canopy is a table, with the leaves acting as an intersection of two factors: what you believe society is and what you believe needs to be done regarding society.

This section covers the former, namely gauging how the test-taker sees the world around them.

Borrrowing from Althusser's theories of state apparatuses, we'll divide societal institutions and relations into one of three categories:

  • The Political sphere deals with a society's ability to maintain its order and stability.
    • Words associated with this include: power, influence, coercion, hierarchy, strength, force, conflict, domination, rule, elite, law, justice, violence, peace
  • The Ideological sphere deals with a society's dominant values/narrative.
    • Words associated with this include: culture, morals, ethics, values, ideas, discussion, progress, tradition, common sense, opinions, beliefs, art, media
  • The Productive sphere deals with how a society handles the creation and allocation of commodities.
    • Words associated with this include: economy, currency, production, labor, distribution, resources, trade, exchange, technology

Now that we've established the three spheres, the next step is applying them to the test by using them in a question/activity.

The question we will want to answer is: “how do these elements of society interact with each other?”

In order for the test-taker to convey this, I've reverse-engineered Marx's base/superstructure model. For Marx, this model served as a demonstration of his theory that society is fundamentally governed by economic relations.

Base and SS

In abstract terms, the theory goes as such:

  • The base is the foundation, the root cause of societal outcomes, serving to shape and guide the direction of the other spheres (the superstructure).
  • The superstructure is the reinforcement; it justifies the underlying base that guides it, and ensures that it continues to be maintained.

The neat thing about this model is that it gives a very clear and concise picture of how a communist would understand society. But there's nothing about the model itself that makes it exclusively communist in nature. By applying the same model elsewhere, we can get a structural model for the worldviews of all sorts of political and ideological currents.

A cleric may see sin as the base of our world, a king may see strength as the base, and so on and so forth. By having the test-taker sort these categories into base and superstructure, we get a better idea of their thought process.

The Canopy: Approach to Society

Now that we've determined what the test-taker believes society to be, we can begin looking into the other part of the table, what the test-taker wishes to do about it.

This question is two-fold: first the participant has to decide how they see the individual relative to society, more specifically relative to the existing judgement society has made regarding the topic.

The connection between the individual and society manifests itself in the idea of valuation. We refer to valuation in this context as the assigned worth/merit of an individual relative to the greater community.

The valuation of an individual can take one of three forms:

  • Innate valuations are judged upon a consistent, inherent, and transcendent standard. This standard is determined by what was selected as the Base.
  • Mutable valuations are judged upon a constantly evolving standard; all hold equal potential for value, but that potential may have varying results.
  • You can also choose to deny any standard of valuation, seeing the concept as completely Invalid.

The above tells us what the test-taker personally believes about valuation, but we still haven't connected the test-taker's conceptions with society's conceptions.

So the next directive is to understand the test-taker's position towards society's conception of valuation:

  • Agreement, with the wish to either preserve or slightly reform these conceptions.
  • Disagreement, with the wish to control and mold these conceptions to a different standard.
  • Rejection, fundamentally criticizing the conceptions with the aim of abolishing the standard itself.

A combination of both of these will give us the next factor of the table. Now by evaluating the answers of both, we can determine a leaf.

The Branches: Narrowing Down

We have the leaf, which gives us a broad idea of a worldview, but we can still get more specific. Luckily since the Canopy narrowed down the field so far, we can complete the rest through a series of specific and conditional questions, utilizing the process of elimination to come to our final answer.

Once we have established a branch, we have finished the test.

 
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from 🐺 Goule de Varou 🌕

~ Musique ~

Jarl (folk/rock) © Jarl 2017

Mon groupe a été sélectionné pour participer au tremplin/festival “Blues de Traverse”, organisé par les programmateurs de la célèbre salle de spectacle de Cléon (Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart, Michael Schenker, Popa Chubby, Ange, Paul Personne...). Le concert aura lieu à Louviers, en partenariat avec les studios de la Gare aux Musiques.

Jeudi 14 novembre 2019 – 20h30 JARL (folk/rock – Rouen) –> La Gare aux Musiques / Louviers (76) https://latraverse.org/C-Gem-the-Red-Moon-Orchestra-The-Jamwalkers-JARL

Au plaisir de vous croiser là-bas!

🐺 Goule de Varou 🌕

#musique #jarl #concerts #normandie #rouen #louviers

© Goule de Varou 2019

 
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from What Is Tomat0 Up To?

I have just finished up the Identitarian page for the Political Dichotomy Assessment and I think this is a good time to discuss my reasoning behind the selection of information to include on the site.

I'm not going to hide behind any pretenses of neutrality here, I fully believe these types of nationalists are morons to the highest degree. And it seems quite a few of you agree:

Fascists are anti-intellectual by nature. Intellectualizing the anti-intellectual is an exercise in futility that is most likely to be capitalized on by said fascists.

This is common feedback I hear from people regarding the site. I think the topic itself is worth discussing, and as it is a bridge we're going to have to eventually cross, I figured it'd be best to discuss my reasons for including far-right literature in the project.

Quality Control

One of the main goals I outlined in the project introduction was the focus on filtering out “trash politics” in order to create a much more constructive learning environment. So before we discuss the relation between ideology and quality control, it's important we establish what my bar is for “quality”.

I define quality content as content that encourages further learning as opposed to acting as a substitute for it. YouTube talking-heads and celebrity books tend to not pass this bar for the following reasons:

  • Their content tends to be incredibly abstracted from primary sources, often times quoting out of context or heavily paraphrasing.
  • The product is not the content itself, but rather the personality behind the content; this promotes reliance on the personality as the sole source of information and a shifting of discussion away from ideas and onto personal character instead.
  • Content is not made with the intention of academic scrutiny, meaning that there's less emphasis on backing and creating a piece that's able to generate discussion.

There is undeniably a lot of this in far-right circles, due to the hero-worship, distrust of reason, and general manipulative character; if you'd like to read further on why this is such an issue, I'd highly reccomend Paxton's Anatomy of Fascism.

This sort of manipulation is why I've taken extra care to avoid shallow works like Mein Kampf and literally anything by Richard Spencer; it's difficult to take the majority of this at face value, so a lot of cross-referencing and structural analysis is necessary.

Asymmetric Ideology

You might notice me refer to fascism specifically a lot here, and that's because it remains the most well-documented form of modern hyper-nationalism. While other far-right sects may have their gripes regarding fascism, they still hold a significant amount in common; hence why people like Marinetti and Evola still supported Mussolini despite the magnitude of their disagreements.

One of these similarities is in how the ideology is structured; other movements usually operate on the assumption that the masses and leaders are on the same page, that there's a level of transparency involved.

It's more complicated with the far right; the intellectuals, the demagogues, and the masses all hold differing (often times conflicting) motivations, positions, and levels of understanding.

  • The demagogue operates on a principle of power; their goal is to accumulate and project strength at all costs; their actions all work towards building themselves up as a personality. Because of this, works by fascist leaders/heroes tend to often be deceptive and self-serving.
  • I think the best word to describe the masses during these periods of reaction is paranoid. There's this overwhelming and emotionally-rooted sense of fear/distrust that the demagogue is able to exploit, both by sowing distrust of all other authorities and by creating a sense of fraternity between all those who share this paranoia. Because the feelings remain abstract and emotional, the ideas don't get further explored, relying on vagueness and hearsay to defend themselves against academic refutations.
  • And then we have the intellectuals, and I think this is where it gets interesting. The intellectuals typically hold some sense of esoteric elitism, which quickly comes into conflict with the reactionary and populist sentiments of the demagogue. Both Rosenberg and Marinetti found their stances on traditional religion to be in conflict with their respective states' usage of the Church, stances which remained fundamental to their thought. In the case of Marinetti, he was forced to integrate Catholicism to remain politically relevant, and in the case of Rosenberg, his hardline paganism was the only thing that kept himself politically distanced from the NSDAP.

Dealing With The Problem

So, yes, I would say this topic would require some caution. Anti-intellectualism can prove dangerous not just for society, but also for the integrity of debate. Often times the tactics employed by anti-intellectuals are often underhanded and encourages the selective ignoring of facts and ideas that contradict one's worldview.

A milder example of this would be Duane Gish, who often would exploit the format of a debate to make his opponent look bad rather than honestly conveying ideas. His tactics would later be dubbed the Gish Gallop. Was it obvious he was playing dirty? Of course, but it didn't matter because he was playing to people's confirmation bias rather than arguing anything of integrity.

Sure, arguing for YEC is harmless enough, but this same cherry-picking of facts gets increasingly dangerous once we veer into the territory of Holocaust deniers and racial conspiracy theorists. This same relationship between the demagogue's thirst for mass appeal and the public's wanting to have their beliefs reinforced creates an atmosphere of ignorance that can be used to rationalize nearly anything.

However, I do think there's an opening, namely being with the far-right intellectuals. These books attempt to lay out a clear, consistent case for the beliefs and in the process give up the demagogue's greatest weapon, the shield of ambiguity. This is precisely why there's such a strong tension between intellectuals and demagogues. Often times, they threaten each others' existence: the leader's absolute dogmatism and the intellectual's absolute skepticism are diametrically opposed.

The demagogue may give lip-service to this or that writer, maybe pepper in an out-of-context quote, but ultimately engaging with their thought in full will only reveal things that serve to question his legitimacy. You'll see this often: reactionaries equivocating hard on what they do/don't believe, because they know if they're forced into specifics, they're going to be held up to much more scrutiny. By forcing engagement with the specific theory as a primary source, what we end up doing is creating terrain in which it is a lot easier to pin down contradictions and inaccuracies with the fog of ambiguity gone.

Regarding the Exclusion of National Socialism

Gonna throw a quick addendum on National Socialism because often times there seems to be questions regarding how to approach it; my stance follows as such:

National Socialism in and of itself is too vaguely defined, baseless, and self-contradictory to the point that it remains more akin to a personality-cult moreso than anything that can be concretely examined. The exclusion of National Socialism from the test is a choice based on its lack of qualitative merit, specificity, and distinctiveness.

 
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from Adriano Maini

Caterina Segurana

Mi sono imbattuto in Caterina Segurana, eroina della resistenza di Nizza all'assedio del 1543, commissionato da Francesco I° Re di Francia, ma attuato dai Turchi guidati dal Barbarossa, anni fa nell'Enciclopedia Britannica, ancor prima di trovarne tracce nel capoluogo delle Alpi Marittime francesi.

Della combattiva popolana si sostiene anche la genesi leggendaria.

Invero, nei documenti di encomio rilasciati dal Savoia subito dopo la liberazione di Nizza non si fa menzione di Caterina. Il primo a parlarne é il sindaco Pastorelli agli inizi del secolo successivo.

Sono diverse le versioni, quasi tutte pittoresche, di come la Segurana, talora in nizzardo chiamata anche Maufaccia, il che non é proprio un complimento, desse ai difensori il segnale della riscossa. Qualsiasi fosse l'oggetto contundente (lascio indeterminato il battoir in cui mi sono imbattutto) con cui iniziò la pugna, si tramanda che stese con armi raccolte sul campo di battaglia diversi nemici già penetrati nella mura della Cittadella. E che dileggiasse i turchi ormai in fuga, mostrando loro “una parte carnosa della sua anatomia”.

In diversi, a partire dal Seicento, con una particolare insistenza in epoca napoleonica e dopo il 1860, con Nizza francese, insomma, parlarono di Caterina. Anche in versi. E la città oggi la ricorda in diversi luoghi. Wikipedia aggiunge che ella é “l'espressione di un forte sentimento patriottico ed identitario”.

 
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from Storia minuta

L’etnocentrismo critico di Ernesto De Martino

Come tanti altri scrittori e intellettuali della sua generazione, Ernesto De Martino (nato a Napoli nel 1908 e morto a Roma il 9 maggio 1965), aveva aderito da giovane alle iniziative che in campo culturale il fascismo andava proponendo o imponendo per moltiplicare sostegni alla sua azione ‘pedagogica’. Ben presto passato dalle file del GUF (Gioventù universitaria fascista) e dalla redazione de “L’Universale” alla conoscenza delle opere di Benedetto Croce, De Martino maturò con la guerra la sua definitiva vocazione e la sua svolta ideologica. Ne Il mondo magico, pubblicato da Einaudi nel 1948, c’è già tutto il De Martino che si rivelerà nel campo degli studi storico-religiosi ed etno-psicologici. Giunge poi propizia la lettura del Cristo si è fermato a Eboli di Carlo Levi e dei Quaderni del carcere di Antonio Gramsci, quando già il Nostro è diventato un intellettuale militante ed è stato chiamato in Puglia a dirigere la segreteria della federazione socialista, prima del suo passaggio decisivo in casa comunista.

È l’epoca delle lotte contadine, della Riforma agraria, dell’inizio di una straordinaria stagione di indagini (ma De Martino le chiama spedizioni) incentrate sulle plebi del Mezzogiorno. Egli arriva nel Sud più profondo armato di un’équipe formata da medici, psichiatri, psicologi, storici delle religioni, antropologi, etnomusicologi, documentaristi cinematografici e fotografici (i più assidui furono Arturo Zavattini, figlio del famoso Cesare, Franco Pinna e Ando Gilardi). È l’inizio di una ricerca multidisciplinare mirata a studiare direttamente, con interviste, colloqui e registrazioni audio e video, ciò che rappresenta l’Altro, l’Alieno: ne indaga lo spessore antropologico, ne intuisce e ne ricava una ‘lezione’ politica, finisce per definire quella realtà come l’espressione della ‘crisi della presenza’. Tipico, al riguardo, è il racconto dell’episodio del contadino calabrese di Marcellinara, che allontanatosi con un automezzo dal suo paese e non vedendone più il campanile, fu colto da sintomi d’angoscia. La perdita degli antichi spazi geografici si risolveva in crisi della propria integrità.

Negli anni ’50 partì per numerose spedizioni in Puglia, Lucania e Calabria. Famose le sue “Note di campo”, le sue annotazioni su ogni più piccola manifestazione di quella cultura arcaica incontrata tra le vie e i bassi di Pisticci, San Fele, Tricarico, Copertino, Nardò, Galatina. Fu così che, sorprendentemente, si rivelò al mondo la diversità di un universo coi suoi riti e i suoi simboli, la persistenza dell’alieno e dell’esotico sul confine di civiltà coesistenti e concorrenti. E fu, insieme, la scoperta di come il potere dello Stato e della Chiesa fosse stato capace di condizionare per secoli una massa di esclusi e di subalterni. Gramsci e Marx e prima di loro, Malinowski e Lévy-Strauss, diedero una mano a Heidegger per aprire il varco ad una comprensione più piena del rapporto che s’instaura tra ricercatore, dotato del privilegio della cultura borghese, e componente di una plebe immersa in una dimensione ancestrale.

Con i suoi grandi libri – Sud e magia, Morte e pianto rituale, La terra del rimorso – De Martino riavvicinò due Italie divise e bisognose di comprendersi, di rispettarsi, di superarsi in un nuovo orizzonte culturale, definito in modo originale come ‘etnocentrismo critico’.

“Questo è da intendersi – scrive Vittorio Lanternari – come sforzo supremo di allargamento della propria coscienza culturale di fronte ad ogni cultura ‘altra’, e come sofferto processo di presa di coscienza critica dei limiti della propria storia culturale, sociale, politica”.

Un umanesimo, in sintesi, che sfocia in un mondo liberato dai suoi preconcetti e però attento a preservare ‘un villaggio vivente nella memoria’, a non dimenticarsi del suo passato, a guardare più fiducioso ad un futuro costruttivo.

di Sergio D’Amaro in Reti Dedalus (http://www.retididedalus.it/)

BOX: L’eredità culturale e scientifica lasciata da Ernesto De Martino (1908-1965) è di capitale importanza per gli studi etnoantropologici. Fondatore della scuola antropologica dell’Università di Cagliari (da cui provengono studiosi del calibro di Alberto M. Cirese, Clara Gallini, Pietro Clemente e Giulio Angioni), De Martino ha pubblicato opere che oggi sono dei veri e propri classici: Morte e pianto rituale nel mondo antico (Einaudi, 1958; n. ed. Bollati Boringhieri, 2000), Sud e magia (Feltrinelli, 1959; n. ed. 2002), La terra del rimorso. Contributo a una storia religiosa del Sud (Il Saggiatore, 1961, ristampata continuamente), Furore, simbolo, valore (ivi, 1962; poi Feltrinelli, Milano, 1980 e ivi 2002).

 
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from Storia minuta

Il partigiano “Rensu u Longu”

La mia storia nella Resistenza è legata a filo doppio con Renzo Rossi. Nell’agosto del 1944 mi aggregai al gruppo partigiano di Girò (n.d.r.: Pietro Gerolamo Marcenaro di Vallecrosia (IM), detto anche Gireu), che operava nella zona di Negi (n.d.r.: molto più vicina a Seborga, é Frazione di Perinaldo). Dove godevamo anche dell’appoggio di Umberto Sequi a Vallebona e di Giuseppe Bisso a Seborga; tutti e due membri del CLN di Bordighera. Negi era il punto di contatto tra le varie formazioni partigiane che operavano nella zona, tra queste, quelle sotto il comando di Cekoff (n.d.r.:Mario Alborno di Bordighera) e di Gino (n.d.r.: Luigi Napolitano di Sanremo, poi, dal dicembre di quell'anno vice comandante della V^ Brigata d'Assalto Partigiana Garibaldi “Luigi Nuvoloni”). Facevo da staffetta tra Negi e Vallebona. A settembre 1944 insieme a Renzo Rossi partecipai all’incontro con Vittò (n.d.r.: Giuseppe Vittorio Guglielmo, in quel momento comandante della V^ Brigata , da dicembre comandante della II^ Divisione Garibaldi “Felice Cascione”). Ci accompagnò Confino, maresciallo dei Carabinieri che aveva aderito alla Resistenza. Vittò investì formalmente Renzo Rossi del compito di organizzare, per la nostra zona, il SIM (Servizio Informazioni Militare) e la SAP : io fui nominato suo agente e collaboratore. In novembre mi aggregai al battaglione di Gino Napolitano a Vignai, ma dopo alcune operazioni di collegamento tra Vallebona e il comando di Vignai, il comando mi richiamò ad operare nel Gruppo Sbarchi di Vallecrosia. Nell’estate 1944 i servizi segreti americani avevano inviato sulla costa una rete di informatori, capeggiati da Gino Punzi. Dovendo tornare in Francia, per attraversare le linee Gino Punzi si avvalse della collaborazione di un passeur, dal quale, poiché era passato al soldo dei tedeschi, durante il viaggio venne ucciso. Il comandante tedesco si infuriò perché avrebbe voluto catturare vivo il Gino. Sul suo cadavere furono rinvenuti dei documenti, dai quali i tedeschi vennero a conoscenza del fatto che sarebbero stati inviati altri agenti e telegrafisti alleati. I tedeschi predisposero una trappola e quando arrivò il telegrafista “Eros” lo catturarono ferendolo. Si avvalsero di lui per trasmettere falsi messaggi al comando alleato di Nizza. Con questi falsi messaggi fu richiesto l’invio di un’altra missione: la missione “Leo”. La missione andò a rotoli con il ferimento di “Leo”, che venne nascosto nella cantina di casa mia. I tedeschi rastrellarono tutta la zona cercando “Leo”; “visitarono” anche la mia casa: sulla porta rimasero le impronte dei chiodi degli scarponi di quando sfondarono l’ingresso a calci. Ma non cercarono in cantina, si limitarono ad arraffare del cibo dalla cucina. Con Renzo Rossi nascondemmo tutti i documenti del SIM e del CNL nel mio giardino, preparandoci al trasferimento di “Leo” in Francia. Il Gruppo Sbarchi Vallecrosia aveva frattanto predisposto una barca. Renzo Rossi con Lotti avevano preavvisato i bersaglieri della necessità di effettuare l’imbarco quanto prima possibile. La collaborazione dei bersaglieri fu determinante per tutte le operazioni del Gruppo Sbarchi. Il sergente Bertelli comandava un gruppo di bersaglieri a Collasgarba – sopra Nervia di Ventimiglia – e aveva manifestato la volontà di aderire alla Resistenza. Fu avvicinato dai fratelli Biancheri, detti Lilò, per stabilire le modalità della diserzione, quando il plotone fu distaccato alla difesa costiera giusto sulla costa di Vallecrosia in prossimità del bunker alla foce del Verbone. I Lilò convinsero allora i bersaglieri a non disertare, ma ad operare dall’interno per consentire ed agevolare le nostre operazioni. Alla data convenuta, in pieno giorno trasferimmo “Leo” a Vallecrosia, facendolo sedere sulla canna della bicicletta di Renzo. In pieno giorno, perché approfittammo di un furioso bombardamento. Le strade erano deserte, solo granate che esplodevano da tutte le parti. Ricoverammo “Leo” in casa di Achille (n.d.r.: Achille Lamberti di Vallecrosia, “Andrea”), aspettando la notte. Al momento opportuno ci trasferimmo sul lungomare; il soldato tedesco di guardia, come al solito, era stato addormentato da Achille con del sonnifero fornito dal dr. Marchesi (del CLN di Bordighera e con varie responsabilità in seno alla Resistenza), laureato in chimica. I bersaglieri ci aiutarono a mettere in acqua la barca e a caricare “Leo” ferito. Cominciammo a remare, ma, dopo poche centinaia di metri, la barca cominciò ad imbarcare acqua. Non potevamo tornare indietro. Mentre io e “Rosina” (Luciano Mannini) remavamo, “Leo” e Renzo si misero di buona lena a gottare, con una sassola che, per puro caso, avevamo portato con noi. Riuscimmo a tenere il mare e ad arrivare al porto di Monaco. Con la pila facemmo i soliti segnali, ma non ricevemmo alcuna risposta; entrammo nel porto e accostammo alla banchina. Chiamammo una ronda di passaggio, che ci portò al comando di polizia, dove chiedemmo di informare Milou, l’agente di collegamento. Arrivarono gli inglesi e “Leo” fu finalmente ricoverato al Pasteur di Nizza. Anche io e “Rosina” ci facemmo medicare il palmo delle mani piagate dal remare. Il nostro ritorno fu programmato subito con il motoscafo di Giulio “Corsaro” Pedretti e di Cesar, con il quale si dovevano recuperare anche alcuni prigionieri alleati; ma il motoscafo in mare aperto andò in panne e non ne volle sapere di riavviarsi. Eravamo in balia delle onde: Renzo Rossi, Pedretti e Cesar sotto un telo, al chiarore di una lampada, rabberciarono alla meglio il motore. Quasi albeggiava e la missione fu annullata perché ormai troppo tardi. Sulla spiaggia di Vallecrosia il Gruppo Sbarchi attese invano con i 5 piloti. I piloti vennero trasferiti in Francia nei giorni successivi da Girò e Achille. Io, Renzo Rossi, Achille Lamberti e Girò ritornammo in un'altra occasione dalla Francia con un carico di armi. Per sbarcare dovemmo attendere il segnale dalla riva, ma, come altre volte, non arrivò alcun segnale. Sbarcammo proprio davanti alla postazione dei bersaglieri, vicino al bunker. Pochi giorni dopo, senza Achille, che rimase a dirigere il Gruppo a Vallecrosia, effettuai con Girò un’altra traversata, accompagnando “Plancia” (n.d.r.: Renato Dorgia) a prendere armi e materiale. Il ritorno lo effettuammo con la scorta di una vedetta francese, che accompagnò il motoscafo di Pedretti. Vi furono momenti di apprensione perché da bordo della vedetta si udì distintamente il rombo del motore di un motoscafo tedesco; i nemici non si accorsero della nostra presenza e passarono oltre. Trasbordammo sul motoscafo e sul canotto gli uomini e il materiale delle missioni “Bartali” e “Serpente”, composte da agenti addestrati al sabotaggio. Nelle operazioni di trasbordo alcuni caddero in mare e recuperarli nel buio non fu cosa facile, dovendosi osservare il silenzio assoluto. Attendemmo i segnali convenuti da riva. Anche quella volta nessun segnale. Gli ordini erano di annullare tutto, ma Girò accompagnò ugualmente a terra tutta la missione, mentre io tornai a bordo della vedetta, e nel buio pesto riuscì ad individuare il tratto di spiaggia dinanzi a casa sua. Le difese di quel tratto di costa erano così composte: un bunker alla foce del torrente Borghetto, uno nei pressi della foce del Verbone, un altro quasi alla foce del Nervia. Tra il bunker del Borghetto e quello del Verbone, era tutto un campo di mine, eccetto, giusto alla metà tra i due bunker, un passaggio largo meno di un metro, dalla battigia fino al rio Rattaconigli. Sbarcarono a Rattaconigli e superarono il campo minato attraverso quel sentiero. Quella sera dal bunker di Vallecrosia fino alla foce del Nervia era tutto un pullulare di tedeschi e fascisti. Ci aspettavano. La fortuna fu dalla nostra.

Renzo Biancheri, “Rensu u Longu”, in GRUPPO SBARCHI VALLECROSIA < ed. Istituto Storico della Resistenza e dell'Età Contemporanea di Imperia – Comune di Vallecrosia (IM) – Provincia di Imperia – Associazione Culturale “Il Ponte” di Vallecrosia (IM) > di Giuseppe Mac Fiorucci

 
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from Storia minuta

Da Zanzibar, un camporossino il 28 agosto 1888

ZANZIBAR, 28 agosto 1888

Amatissimi Genitori

Già stavo pensando che cosa ne sarà della mia famiglia; ma finalmente ricevetti notizzie che mi sollevarono il cuore. Non sapete miei cari genitori la gioia e contentezza ch’io nutro, quando ricevo notizzie da voi, e del paese sebenché siano pocche ; pare che si ripresentino d’avanti quell’anime ch’io lasciai alla casa paterna; e anche lontano lontano io sia da voi; il mio cuore e il pensiero è sempre da viccino, mi duole assai non poterci essere fra noi un più continuo scambio di notizzie motivo di cui è la lontananza che ci divide e perciò v’invio una presente credo che possa in certo modo darvi una prossima idea del paese di Zanzibar e suoi contorni. Zanzibar stato ancora indipendente è governato da un Pasciá comunemente chiamato Sultano; è compreso nella Zona Torrida ed in numero di latitudine Sud entrando in porto di notte e specialmente esse quando sono direste in un piccolo Parigi tanto che echeggia la luce in vari punti del paese, e sopratutto nel palazzo del Sultano; ma questa beltà vi rende ben tosto illusi allo spuntar dell’ Aurora in cui l’occhio in lungo d’aspetarvi quello che figuravi, gli si présenta din’anzi le tracce di un paese selvaggio ove la civiltà sta ancora sepolta. A pochi passi dal mare sorge nel mezzo di una piccola Piazza il palazzo Reale a 3 piani sporgenti ……… e terrazze e sorrette da colonne sovraposte l’una dall’altra. Dinanzi al medesimo si eleva un ‘altra torre la quale compie gli uffici di orologgi publici e di semaforo. Semaforo s’intende un punto in cui rende avviso anticipato di provenienze di bastimenti. A destra e a sinistra è circondato da case che man mano che si allontanano dal palazzo del Sultano, si fanno sempre più rozze, finché terminano di ampie Capanne ricoperte di foglie di palme. Le strade strettissime e piene d’ogni mondizia e salano un puzzo talmente nauseante da subito rendervi nausea la discesa a terra. Nessun negozio è alquanto Cristiano se nonché due o tre piccole betole apartenenti ai Turchi sono i mezzi di passatem- po di alcune ore. Alla sinistra del palazzo del Sultano sono messe in comunicazione per mezzo di anditi altre case più piccole di proprietà del medesimo in cui trovarsi rinchiuse una gran quantità di giovanette a disposizione del Sultano e queste case sono chiamate Serraglio. Nessun può avere comunicazione colle donne del Serraglio, ad eccezione della servitù ivi destinata; ritenuto che esso è considerato come un tempio di schiave, o un vero monastero di Monache. Davanti a queste case per un lungo spazzio di terreno è costruito un giardino fiancheggiato dalla parte del mare da un vapore materiale, e dalle cui parti laterali sorgono moltissime fontane. Molte gabbie di ferro contenute da varie razze D’animaliers ferroci fanno seguito al giardino, ed in vicinanza al mare. Queste sono le uniche bellezze di Zanzibar, il resto vastissime pianure e verdeggianti abitate d’infinità di bestie ferroci. Di ogni speccie di frutta è abbondantissima fra i quali è da notarsi, gli Ananas, Dateri, Banane, Cacchi, Aranci ecc ed altri infiniti squisiti son il loro sapore. Zanzibar è atraversato in lontananza da un fiume il nome non lo so; pieno di Cocodrilli e frequentato da Leoni, Tigri, Pantere Leopardi, Scimie ecc Il Venerdì giorno riconoscente dai Turchi, più che la Domenica dagli Europei, e si rapresenta d’inanzi una giornata di Carnavale. Al colpo di un cannone alle ore 4 Antemeridiane, è il segnale dell’alzata della loro Bandiera; a quell’ora in poi gran parte di gente nere, incomincia a percorere i vicoli seguiti da rintocchi di tamburi e da pifferi, finché cerca di riunirsi sulla piazza de Sultano. Poi l’esercito del Sultano schierato sul d’avanti del palazzo composti di circa un migliaio, senza l’aggiunta del popolo che attende con impazienza l’arrivo del loro Sovrano. É inutile descrivere le loro armi da fuoco, perché da voi medesimi potrete bene immaginarvi, notando però essere la grande abilità e divertimenti il maneggio di bastoni e delle frecce. Allo spuntar del Sultano è subito intonato da alcuni indigeni composti in una specie di fanfara, Le marce che dai medesimi vengono suonate sono molto lontane dalle nostre, ma che quantunque diaboliche, si sente un’agradevole piacere nelle varie specie di strumenti che noi altri non conosciamo. Quindi il Sultano seguito da alcuni Individui suoi Sudditi, Prende a passare in visita la trupa ; compiuta in pochi minuti la visita tra le acclamazioni e gli aplausi Rientrando in casa, pago della sua funzione per la sua riconoscenza della festa si fa entrare nel Serraglio. Scopo della visita al così detto monastero, è di togliervi dal medesimo una fra le quali più simpatiche; la quale viene condotta dalle madamigelle nelle sale del palazzo e resta a disposizione di lui finché giunga il venerdì seguente: viene ricondotta la scambiata come una simile e così di seguito. Le donne esistenti nel Serraglio ammontano per quando ho potuto sapere ad una Cinquantina. Durante il giorno continuano le feste con accompagnamenti di musica e pifferi nella piazza del Sultano e vanno consecutivamente perdendosi all’inoltrarsi della notte. Il clima considerato la posizione Geografica e la stagione in cui siamo, è da notarsi una gran parte depresione di temperatura nel percorso della notte, però il Caldo s’avvicina sensibilmente. Continuando a descrivervi non voglio trala- sciare di dirvi due parole intorno agli usi e Costumi degli abitanti. I ricchi distinguon- si dai poveri , perché questi ricoprono solo in parte le loro Carni nere con lunghe Camice e di tutti i colori. Mentre i ricchi alla grande diferenza della finezza degli Abiti, aggiungono ; non solo avere completamente la persona ricoperta, ma anche calzano una qualità di stivallini chiamati sandalie. Nessuna bellezza distinguesi sia negli uomini che nelle donne essi son tutti di colore nero, ed hanno i capeli nerissimi e ricciuti. Non tutte ma in gran parte le donne hanno il naso atraversato da un perno di metallo lucente terminante ad una estremità di anello e dall’altro in una piccola palla. Quantunque mi sia affaticato a domandarne spiegazzione non rimasi contento; ma però non ho ancora finito la mia descrizione, per ora mi arresto e vi spiegherò meglio il rimanente al ritorno Se iddio …….. Ricevetti il giorno 8 di agosto notizie di voi inviatemi il 27 giugno , ma già io aveva una mia lettera in cammino dandovi notizie del mio viaggio. Non credette miei cari genitori che la lontananza che passa tra le mie notizie sia per mia trascuratezza, ma è soltanto perché la posta non parte che una volta al mese, perché tutti i postali che partono da Zanzibar spedisco le mie notizie benché si paghino 75 cent.mi ogni lettera. Ora per quanto posso dirvi che la salutte sia di me del S. comandante non dico che sia perfettamente buona ma c’è la passiamo ancora discretamente. Il nostro ritorno non sappiamo quando sarà, può essere fin da domani ma non si sa. Tanti salutti alla famiglia dell’amico Cavaré a tutti i miei parenti ed Amici ed un bacio ed un abbraccio a tutta la famiglia e passo a dichiararmi il Vostro Amatissimo ed Obbed. mo Figlio GIO:BATTA UN bacio al nonno

Dall’Archivio di Silvana Maccario di Camporosso (IM)

P.S.

L’estensore della lettera, di cui qui sopra viene riprodotta la prima facciata ed alla quale, a parte errori di comprensione, non sono state apportate modifiche, fu Sebastiano Raimondo, vulgo Gio.Batta (di Agostino e Celestina Piombo), nato a Camporosso (IM) … e morto a Genova il 25 luglio 1959. I suoi fratelli furono: Rosa (nata nel 1855), Teresa (nata nel 1857), Paolina (nata nel 1858), Giovanna (nata nel 1862), Costanza (nata nel 1871), Carlo (1867-1940). E a questo link si può leggere l’esito di analoga operazione compiuta per una precedente lettera da Zanzibar di Sebastiano Raimondo.

 
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from 🐺 Goule de Varou 🌕

~ Poésie/ Politique / Humour noir ~

Bram Stoker's Dracula (Gary Oldman) © Francis Ford Coppola 1992

Sale temps pour les couverts. Certains convives, l'affect piqués au vif, menaçent en effet de proscription fourchettes et autres pointus du service de table au motif de nous préserver, dit-on, de dangereuses ripailles à base d'yeux mayonnaise et autres brochettes de veufs. Cette bonne intention m'apparaît comme une foutue intoxication élémentaire. Nos repas seraient plus paisibles si nous tentions plutôt de limiter la casse des assiettes fiscales, de revoir nos plats de résistance citoyenne et de ne plus flamber ces indigestes desserts médicaux... M'est avis que l'on peut sereinement casser la croûte entre croquants pour peu que nous ayons le même usage des fourchettes. Encore faut-il avoir le courage d'enseigner ; et faire l'effort d'apprendre. Je nous souhaite d'aiguiser autant notre esprit que nos couverts.

🐺 Goule de Varou 🌕

#politique #poesie #humournoir

© Goule de Varou 2019

 
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from Kodiak

Grace

The light in the air grows luminous in the moments before twilight Soft and clear, we step down into the water, onto the stone ledge The last, faint echo of chores comes near to an end Rolled blue-green tea leaves flush with the persistent rainfall of the WuYiShan valleys Playful steps down in the water We move gently together in the waning owl light down with the sprinkle bugs and the fireflies down before the deep red lamplight hold my hand down on the ledge, out in the wet early summer night hold my hand gently as a child does move closer to me in the soft, satin-violet night Lush and clear and sure

 
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from What Is Tomat0 Up To?

Preface: This was originally a video, however I am beginning to feel that the video format acts as a bottleneck for topics such as this; I've taken the time to rewrite this topic from scratch in a written format to see if it improves the quality of the content.


There's often a joke that goes around that the one thing a leftist hates more than capitalism is other leftists. Leftist infighting is not at all a new phenomenon, we've seen it from the original rivalry between Marx and Bakunin to the countless Trotskyist splinter parties.

The expansion of liberal imperialism and the rise of reactionary regimes throughout the 20th century only served to make the chaotic and fractured left seem incompetent in comparison. There was this sense, both among authoritarian and libertarian socialists that there needed to be a united front in order for the left to slay Goliath.

Yet, here we remain, little over a century after the initial Bolshevik insurrection, and we have to ask ourselves, what has our organization brought us? Yes, it's unfair to take a cursory look and write off the approach, so instead, I'd like to take a closer look into these centralist ideas and where they have brought us.

Democratic Centralism

Lenin's influence on political thought cannot be understated; what he brought to discussion was one of the first serious attempts at answering this question of Left Unity, in the form of democratic centralism.

What followed the First Internationale of Marx's time was a wave of various decentralized leftist insurrections and organizations, each one eventually either sabotaged or crushed in a counterrevolution. Lenin noted this, and came to the conclusion that a revolution must not just overthrow power, but also maintain it. The Bolsheviks' military success in the Russian Revolution only served to further cement this notion; it was clear they had successfully seized power. As the 20th century continued on, countless revolutionaries across the world followed the Leninist example and found themselves in control.

The interesting thing here is that due to the widespread influence of Marxism-Leninism, we actually do have an incredibly wide array of case studies to reflect upon.

Wide not just in the sense of quantity, but also in the variety of pre-existing conditions. This is important, because Marxism-Leninism, especially the more recent incarnations, make it a focus to adapt their theory to the differences in pre-existing conditions.

To quote Mao Zedong[1]:

Now, there are two different attitudes towards learning from others. One is the dogmatic attitude of transplanting everything, whether or not it is suited to our conditions. This is no good. The other attitude is to use our heads and learn those things that suit our conditions, that is, to absorb whatever experience is useful to us. That is the attitude we should adopt.

If we wish to level a critique against Marxism-Leninism, we'll have to account for the varying conditions. Luckily, the aforementioned “wide array of case studies” gives us an opening to do this.

First we must ask, what is shared? Yes, there are conditional adaptations, but ultimately, the underlying theory is going to remain consistent in an abstract sense. The most obvious answer is the existence of the workers' state, the dictatorship of the proletariat so to speak, as the ultimate expression of the will of the worker. It remains forceful, yet democratic, crushing all opposed to the proletariat while remaining as the vessel of the proletariat.

The two most obvious threats to this model are internal and external: internal, in the sense that an unchecked vanguard may lose their integrity, and external in the sense that these states are prime targets for imperialism. And to the credit of the Marxist-Leninists, these remain front and center topics for the majority of their theory.

Yet, historically, what we see is that the Marxist-Leninists have struggled greatly in maintaining the power they ever so effectively seized. Hauntingly, there seems to be this sense of gradual decay coming in from all angles.

I'll be focusing within the context of the Cold War for two reasons: one, enough time has passed that we're able to make clearer analyses, and two, the role these states played in geopolitics at the time were significant enough that it serves as a sufficient test of the effectiveness of the methods.

Within the Cold War, we see these states take upon one of two roles:

  • A proxy role, due to the aggressive containment policies of the West. Vanguards that were vulnerable either due to not having completely held power or just a lack of scale were targeted often due to being the “weakest link”. The survival of these states is highly dependent on the international aid they can receive from stronger vanguards. Class wars became global ones as the US funded rebels and counterrevolutionary groups across the world.
  • Much more developed and powerful states took upon the role of the hegemon, as their own survival was dependent on the survival of the others. They were too strong to be attacked directly, so they had to remain on the alert for espionage, sabotage, and revision. As major superpowers, their decisions held incredible weight, and the decision process was where they were most likely to be attacked.

Like I said before, all of was not some new revelation to the Marxist-Leninists. They played their cards in a fashion to compensate for these weaknesses, yet the results don't show.

Why did the Soviet Union collapse under its own weight? Why does it seem that, as the years pass, the PRC becomes more and more assimilated into the world economy? Why do the sites of countless international revolutions seem so desolate and unrecognizable today?

It's easy to respond that this was due to the influence of revisionists such as Deng and Khrushchev, that the dependent nations cannot be expected to hold a revolution for so long against such an aggressive and powerful enemy. These are all fair responses, or they would be if the goal of democratic centralism wasn't specifically to prevent this sort of outcome.

I specifically attribute this to democratic centralism itself not just because the results have been replicated across a variety of circumstances, but also because often times the cause of these failures can be directly tied to the centralist model.

  • Both Cuba and Cambodia were instances in which the organized left united behind CIA plants in the name of anti-imperialism. Of course Pol Pot and Batista had their critics, however the mass line was able to be weaponized against the left instead of by them. The revolution didn't just stall, it became a counterrevolution, as the truly radical critics were able to be isolated and silenced.
  • The USSR is an interesting case because it is the one state that Lenin was directly involved in. There's a lot that can be said about what occurred in between, but I find it hard-pressed to believe that the eventual outcome of the USSR was by any means a success. The Bolshevik Purges, regardless of your opinion on them, acted as a pivotal turning point for Soviet history; the administrations of Khrushchev and his contemporaries would not have been possible without a Stalin to juxtapose themselves against; and because of the elimination of the majority of critical factions, the subsequent policies of liberalization and eventual capitulation were able to carry through much easier.
  • The shift from the Cultural Revolution to the post-Mao China seems jarring to many ML-Maoists, however, I'd argue there was most definitely precedent for the Deng-era. The Red Guard dedicated itself to eliminating the revisionist elements of the party, creating an atmosphere that fostered dogmatism and solidarity over criticism. The Gang of Four was efficiently and quickly deposed due to the same paranoid atmosphere they were once sowing shortly before.

And what worries me even more is that to this day, Marxist-Leninists are doubling down rather than taking their analysis to a theoretical level. Sure, there's a willingness to criticize individual leaders or acknowledge the crushing heel of imperialism, but these are treated as the cause of failure rather than failure itself. Revisionists and imperialism are exactly what the system of democratic centralism is intended to prevent, yet what we see instead is the united front work towards its amplification.

Platformism

Marxist-Leninists aren't the only ones guilty of this reliance on coalition-building: similar sentiments seem to pervade anarchist circles as well. Of course the anarchists have their gripes with the centralized model of the state-socialists, but their response ends up as less of a rejection of left-unity than just simply a reinterpretation.

One of the earliest and most-cited of these reinterpretations is the 1926 The Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists [2]. True to its libertarian roots, the Platform seeks to unite the left on a banner of abstract principle as opposed to party. The platform calls for anarchists to hold to four fundamental principles:

  • Theoretical Unity
  • Tactical Unity
  • Social Responsibility
  • Federation

The goal of the platform is to “reconcile the independence and initiative of individuals and the organisation with service to the common cause”, or in simpler terms, create a liberty free of egoism. The first two sections deal with unity, both in thought and practice: their should be common principles and concentrated action that corresponds with the greater anarchist movement.

Instantly, we begin to see the first problem an anarchist platform has to contend with: being authoritative without being authoritarian. What ends up resulting from walking this tight line is an incredibly vague sort of anarchist fundamentalism.

The Platform itself undeniably sets boundaries and direction for the anarchist movement, but the given definitions of the principles remain incredibly open-ended and unclear on how it should be read. Exactly how does the platform get revised, if at all? Is it inclusive or conclusive? If there's varying interpretations, how does one decide which interpretation is the correct one?

The Platform ended up facing severe criticism from other anarchists due to these issues, many of whom would go on to create “synthesis anarchism”[3]. Synthesis anarchism focuses on reconciling the three dominant currents (anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-communism, and individualist anarchism) in a positive fashion; in other words, instead of constructing a platform for people to align with, they emphasized the commonalities the different branches share in their struggle.

While this ended up addressing some of the issues of The Platform, synthesis anarchism ends up feeling less of a synthesis and more of a peace treaty. Both Voline[4] and Faure's[5] writings on the topic focus less on the synthesizing and moreso on decrying infighting, hence the focus on the most politically-relevant strains of anarchism. The underlying issues of “anarchist organization” still remain: what is the limit of tolerance in this unity, how should coalition and principle be balanced? It makes sense that the critics of this approach tend to be individualist anarchists; what do egoists have to gain when this idea of a united front is one born in social anarchism?

The political origins make synthetic centralism feel like a political Hail Mary; casting aside fundamental debates of Ego versus Collective in the name of making sure the Left can live to fight another day.

The Left, Criticism, and Revolution

From what I can gather, these failures of centralism stem from a misunderstanding of revolution and the Left's relation to it. The main reason Marxism gives primacy to the proletariat is not because of their moral superiority or victimhood, but because as the class that is responsible for the production of value, they alone are capable of bringing an end to capitalism.

Yes, one could argue there's crossover between the proletariat and the Left to some extent, however there remains a clear distinction between the two by definition. The proletariat is economically defined, the Left is ideologically defined.

One can be part of the Left and still not hold that economic role, in the case of Sartre and Kropotkin; does this mean they are somehow “invalid Leftists” or worse people for being so? No, because morality is irrelevant here; what's important to note is that an ideological grouping alone is inherently incapable of bringing about material revolution.

One of the most damning examples of this was the fallout of the 1968 French riots. This is an especially interesting case because we see the actions of both the proletariat and the Left and what they lead to.

  • We start with the Situationists developing a critique of the social relations within capitalism, with an emphasis on subversion and tackling boredom. These critiques were highly influential, directly challenging the ideology of late-modernity, giving room to a dystopian vision of the current conditions and exploring relations between the individual and larger society as a whole.
  • As tensions heat up, the most pivotal moment occurs: the unplanned, simultaneous strikes of five million workers. At this point capitalism had adapted to utilizing unions as a negotiation tool, so the spontaneous movement of workers with no room for bargaining or concessions was devastating. This is precisely what led De Gaulle to flee the country and the country to enter a panic.
  • What happened next, however, was the Left attempting to take upon the role of directing revolution.[6] The PCF negotiated another election in which they brutally lost, the student anarchists were won over by reforms to policy, and the proletariat, the one class with no demands or negotiations, found themselves suffocated and forced to return back to their role under capitalism.

The Left, as an ideological grouping, found themselves successful throughout the period of their ideological critique. However, their challenge against the material hegemony ended up becoming destructive because they, definitionally, did not hold the same fundamental stake in the class war as the proletariat. They could be negotiated with, their demands met, and their movement rendered useless.

Because they saw themselves as the class of revolution, their actions were centered around this faulty principle. The victories they fought for were victories for the Left, increasing awareness of their movement and passing “leftist” reforms. They compromised their own critical nature out of fears that the fate of revolution hinged on their own popularity. And as these vanguards grow, the dissonance between the will of the proletariat and the will of the Left becomes more and more apparent. The spark of revolution stems from class unity, not left unity.

Is this to decry the left as useless? Absolutely not. The Left has a key tool up their sleeve, and that precisely is criticism. Communism is the ruthless criticism of all that exists. It's our constant and unyielding critique that serves to break down the boundaries of liberal mythos and bringing inspiration for the revolutionary movement itself.

Which is why it remains so important that the critical spirit of the Left remains, because without it, you end up recreating capitalist ideology under a different name. Theoretical developments have always come from a place of criticism, whether it be Marx's attack on the classical economists or Lenin's polemics against the reformists. It's through criticism and not coalition building that our understanding of the world around us evolves.


Referenced Works:

  1. On The Correct Handling of Contradiction Among The People by Mao Zedong
  2. The Organizational Platform of the General Union of Anarchists by Delo Truda Group
  3. Reply By Several Russian Anarchists To The Platform by several Russian anarchists
  4. Synthesis (Anarchist) by Voline
  5. The Anarchist Synthesis by Faure
  6. Letter on The “May Events” by Louis Althusser
 
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