B. Traven’s Jungle Novels

convened with the Indigenous Peoples Reading Group

“My personal history would not be disappointing to readers, but it is my own affair which I want to keep to myself. I am in fact in no way more important than is the typesetter for my books, the man who works the mill; no more important than the man who binds my books and the woman who wraps them and the scrubwoman who cleans up the office.” —B. Traven

The writer with the pen name B. Traven appeared on the German literary scene in 1925, when the Berlin daily Vorwärts, the organ of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, published the first short story signed with this pseudonym on 28 February. Soon, it published Traven’s first novel, Die Baumwollpflücker (The Cotton Pickers), of which the first book edition was Der Wobbly, then the common name for members of the Industrial Workers of the World. Traven introduced for the first time the figure of Gerald Gales (in Traven’s other works his name is Gale, or Gerard Gales), an American sailor who looks for a job in different occupations in Mexico, often consorting with suspicious characters and witnessing capitalistic exploitation, nevertheless not losing his will to fight and striving to draw joy from life. Mexico was a good place for a European revolutionary refugee to re-make himself. The Mexican Revolution, ten years of armed conflict between 1920 and 1920, had ended the thirty-year dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. The man to be known as the writer B. Traven, abandoned his past and immersed himself in Mexican culture, and by 1935 was receiving favorable reviews in The New York Times. He wrote The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Death Ship, and the six volume series we will read this term.

The Jungle Novels are a group of six novels published in the years 1930–1939 and set just before and during the Mexican Revolution from 1910-20. Traven’s purpose in the Jungle Novels is to describe the conditions of a people who are ripe for change, and to trace the beginnings of how consciousness changes and sometimes leads to revolt.

The Jungle Novels are:

The Carreta (1930) The hero of The Carreta is an ox-cart driver. More sophisticated than most of his companions who work in debt-slavery in the great mahogany plantations,
Government (1931) Depicts the political corruption that infected even the smallest villages in Mexico, the novel tells the story of Don Gabriel, a minor government functionary who has a virtual license to steal from every village where he is secretary―except there is nothing to steal.
March to the Montería (a.k.a. March To Caobaland) (1933) March to the Montería is the third of B. Traven’s six Jungle Novels, set in the great mahogany plantations (monterías) of Mexico in the years before the revolution. Celso works two years on a coffee finca, but when he returns home he must hand over his money to ladinos who claim his father has a debt to them.
Trozas (1936) Trozas (the word means logs) captures the origins of the rebellious spirit that slowly spread through the labor camps and haciendas, culminating in the bloody revolt that ended Porfirio Díaz’s rule.
The Rebellion of the Hanged (1936) This fifth Jungle Novel culminates in a revolt by the long-oppressed workers against the owners and overseers of the camps, and in a treacherous march through the jungles at the height of the rainy season—a human feat of epic proportions.
A General from the Jungle (1940) Juan Mendez leads an ill-equipped and hungry band against the government forces. With brilliance and cunning, Mendez brutally attacks the federally protected fincas. The sixth and last of The Jungle Novels is filled with marvelously drawn characters, yet the true hero is the army itself―illiterate, uneducated, and poor, but resourceful and dangerous.

THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES READING GROUP which has grown from the enthusiastic call for the need of greater understanding of the long history of the peoples of North America and other continents of the world who were of those continents before and remain after the European colonists came to settle and bring this capitalist relations to every corner of the globe. Our group began following a stirring presentation by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz September of 2014 where she introduced An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.

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60s New Left: National and International

A New Left Begins
2nd sessions
Beginning Tuesday, May 2 — sessions continue through July
with Mitch Abidor, Jenny Brown, Michael Pelias and others

May 2, a reading and discussion of Marat/Sade. Watch the film if you have the opportunity
May 9 and 16, RD Laing, counter-psychiatric / anti-psychiatry. The Politics of Experience and more. Presentations and discussion with Michael Pelias on May 9 and May 16.
May 23 and 30. Paris. May, 1968. These talks will investigate the events May 68 in France through an analysis of the writings of Daniel Cohn-Bendit, one of the most important and interesting of its leaders, as well as the experiences of rank and file militants interviewed by Mitch Abidor for his forthcoming oral history, May Made Me.
Mitchell Abidor is the principal French translator for the Marxists Internet Archive and has published several collections of his translations, among them Jean Jaurès’ Socialist History of the French Revolution and A Raskolnikoff by Emmanuel Bove, and previously untranslated works by Victor Serge and Daniel Guerin, as well as writings from the French Revolution, are forthcoming. His May Made Me will appear in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the May events in France.
June 6 and 13. The music didn’t die. A look at the many cultural influences of the first generation born with the bomb and mutually assured destruction from day one. An overview and music and a reading and discussion of Jeff Nuttal’s Bomb Culture.
The growth of Women’s liberation and the experience of the growth of this mass movement in the 1960s and what this meant for the new left. Jenny Brown from National Women’s Liberation will select and help focus these our discussion at dates to be determined.
Jenny Brown is an organizer with National Women’s Liberation and has been involved in feminist theory and organizing since 1988, first with Gainesville Women’s Liberation in Gainesville, Florida and then with the Redstockings Women’s Liberation Archives for Action, a movement think-tank and archive based in New York. She co-authored the Redstockings book, Women’s Liberation and National Healthcare: Confronting the Myth of America and the Labor Notes book How to Jump Start Your Union: Lessons from the Chicago Teachers along with numerous essays and articles. She was also a co-chair of a Labor Party Local Organizing Committee in Gainesville, Florida and is a former editor of Labor Notes.

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Day 3, Session 1: Slackers, Sabotage, and Syndicalism

American Labor History and the Refusal of Work
Kristin Lawler

In this session, we will consider the labor movement tactic most associated with the Industrial Workers of the World — sabotage, or the collective withdrawal of efficiency — engaging the history of the American slacker to think through possibilities for working-class freedom and power vis-a-vis capital today. The term slacker originated during WWI and disparaged those (primarily Irish) coded “lazy,” “vagrant,” and resistant to a proper Protestant work ethic; it also referred to those who would not fight on the side of the Americans (and of course, the British) during WWI. We can deploy this history to analyze the relationship between labor supply and worker power, and between anti-imperialist national liberation struggles (like Ireland’s) and struggles at the point of production, drawing out these connections for a new generation of scholars taking a look at the militant radicalism of the IWW in the context of a resurgence in the US and Europe, since at least 1999, of an anarcho-syndicalist, direct action-oriented politics.

Kristin Lawler is Associate Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx. Her first book, The American Surfer: Radical Culture and Capitalism, was published by Routledge in 2011 and examined the politics of American surf culture during the twentieth century. She is a member of the editorial collective of the journal Situations: Project of the Radical Imagination; her work has been published there as well as in several edited collections, Z Magazine, and the digital forum of the Social Science Research Council. She is currently at work on her new book, Shanty Irish: the Roots of American Syndicalism.

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Marxist Summer Intensive: July 15-17

21st Century Class Struggles and the Generalized Proletariat:
Further Lessons towards Working Class Consciousness within our Social Movements

Thursday, July 14 through Sunday, July 17

Featuring: Mitch Abidor, Kazembe Balagun, Mark Bergfeld, Rebecca Boger, Dennis Broe, Charmaine Chua, Claude Copeland, Marika Diaz, Russell Dale, Walter Daum, Pete Dolack, Kate Doyle-Griffiths, Mark Dudzic, Anthony Galluzzo, Janet Gerson. Harmony Goldberg, Marcus Graetsch, Ursula Huws, Dan Karan, Lisa Maya Knauer, Kristin Lawler, Laurel Mei-Singh, Ras Moshe, Fred Murphy, Manny Ness, Stuart Newman, Marie-Claire Picher, David Schwartzman and Yuko Tonohira.

Writings to read if you have the time:

Susan Watkins from New Left Review, survey 2014

https://newleftreview.org/II/90/susan-watkins-the-political-state-of-the-union

Susan Watkins, 2016
https://newleftreview.org/II/98/susan-watkins-oppositions
Marc Dudzic and Adolf Reed Jr from Socialist Register on Crisis of Left and Labor in the US

http://www.commondreams.org/sites/default/files/dudzic_and_reed_the_crisis_of_labour_and_the_left_in_the_united_states_sr_2015.pdf

A Selection from the blog of Ursula Huws (if you have time read more of her postings, listed off to the side on her blog)

https://ursulahuws.wordpress.com/2016/06/25/the-unmaking-of-the-english-working-class/

https://ursulahuws.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/uber-and-under/

https://ursulahuws.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/a-workhouse-without-walls/

Mitch Abidor
On Paris, May ’68

http://insurgentnotes.com/2016/06/may-68-revisited/

Ian Birchall’s response to Mitch:

http://insurgentnotes.com/2016/06/response-to-may-68-revisited/

Kazembe Balagun
In The Guardian, 2011

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/mar/17/race-protest
on the Fanon Phenomenon in The Indypendent: https://indypendent.org/2014/12/16/fanon-phenomenon-documentary-unearths-africas-anti-colonial-struggles

Mark Bergfeld

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/05/the-next-portuguese-revolution/

About Mark in 2011 as activist:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8440413/Student-protests-The-Marxist-revolutionary-aiming-to-lead-the-NUS.html

Dennis Broe
On the World Film Beat with recent Cannes reports:

http://politicalfilmcritics.blogspot.fr/p/world-film-beat.html?

The most most recent article of Dennis in Situations on Mediterranean Noir:

http://ojs.gc.cuny.edu/index.php/situations/article/view/1706/1614?

Russell Dale from Situtations:

http://ojs.gc.cuny.edu/index.php/situations/article/view/1631/1581

Charmaine Chua:

https://thedisorderofthings.com/2014/09/09/logistics-capitalist-circulation-chokepoints/

https://thedisorderofthings.com/author/charmchua/

https://thedisorderofthings.com/2015/02/07/the-chinese-logistical-sublime-and-its-wasted-remains/

https://thedisorderofthings.com/2015/01/27/landlessness-and-the-life-of-seamen/

Harmony Goldberg
On McDonald’s

http://www.salon.com/2014/04/06/how_mcdonalds_gets_away_with_rampant_wage_theft_partner/

Ras Moshe
An interview from Jazz Right Now:

https://jazzrightnow.com/2014/03/10/interview-ras-moshe/

Walter Daum
Exchange in NY Review of Books:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2014/04/03/imperialism-and-world-war-i-exchange/

Stuart Newman
all –

https://legacy.nymc.edu/sanewman/social.htm

especially

https://legacy.nymc.edu/sanewman/PDFs/CNS_GM_foods_09.pdf

https://legacy.nymc.edu/sanewman/PDFs/CNS%20Synbio_12.pdf

David Schwartzman

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/12/cop-21-paris-climate-change-global-warming-fossil-fuels/

http://tratarde.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Schwartzman-Saul-CNS-2015.pdf

http://www.redandgreen.org/Documents/Solar_Communism.htm

As capitalist relations penetrate every nook and cranny of our planet and the most intimate realms of our lives, a growing proportion of the world’s population is incorporated into the global proletariat—paid and unpaid workers and our families, the unemployed and underemployed, and the growing numbers who will never work. The laboring part of today’s global proletariat is greater than the world’s entire population 40 years ago. Now there are workers from all parts of the globe working for the same set of bosses.

Capitalists continually seek new avenues to expand their capital and commodify all that exists. The digital revolution has sped all this up, quickening accumulation which lays the basis for more frequent crises. Capital continues in ever new forms the process of enclosures that began with the forcible removal of the peasantry from the land in medieval Europe. Throughout the global south, displaced peasants are forced to migrate to cities or internationally, working in factories or informal economies. Many others are conscripted into comprador armies to protect the extractive industries ravaging their regions. There is also outright robbery: the Panama Papers reveal the extent to which capital has fleeced the global proletariat. After more than three decades of assault on organized labor, privatization, austerity and structural adjustment have gutted hard-won social programs. Automation, digitization and strategic relocation of work, combined with just-in-time assembly, make millions “redundant”. At the same time Walmartization, Uberization, Amazonification exemplify our marginalization and precarity.

As we plan this intensive, workers and students are in motion throughout France, from Nuit Debout gatherings to general strikes against austerity. Greek workers, hit harder still by austerity, are reaching out to support the tide of refugees. The contract just won by the Verizon workers in the U.S. after a nation-wide strike represents a major victory. The Sanders campaign has helped normalize the concept of socialism, but the Left and social movements have not figured out how to articulate a viable socialist alternative and build a corresponding movement.

Over the four days of this Intensive, we will study the causes behind these developments, learn about some obstacles to organizing and the challenges facing workers at work and in their communities, and consider various left analyses about social realities and the prospects for organizing. We will assess the lessons of workers’ movements globally and historically, with emphasis on prospects in the US and the global south. Through collaborative study and discussion, we aim to provide a challenging learning environment so each participant can develop his/her own theoretical and analytic tools to advance our organizing and movement building work in order to broaden opposition to capital locally, nationally and internationally.

FRIDAY, JULY 15 / 10:00 am • Imperialism Today: Super-Exploitation & Marxist Theory • WALTER DAUM • 1:00- 4:00 pm • Class Consciousness, Class Struggle & Self-Organizing Using Image Theater • presented by The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) • facilitated by JANET GERSON • MARIE-CLAIRE PICHER • 5:30 pm • Public Banking: A Marxist Response to Finance Capital • DAN KARAN • 7:30 pm • Southern Insurgency: Mass Movements Throughout the Global South • LISA MAYA KNAUER

SATURDAY, JULY 16 / 10:00 am • Slackers, Sabotage, & Syndicalism: American Labor History & The Refusal of Work • KRISTIN LAWLER • 1:00 pm • Beyond Bernie: The Crisis of Labor & The Left in the United States • MARK DUDZIC • 3:30 pm • Prometheus in Ruins?: Uses & Abuses of the Hero Who Stole Fire • ANTHONY GALLUZZO • 5:30 pm • Logistics, Capitalist Circulation, Chokepoints • CHARMAINE CHUA • 7:30 pm • Devils & Dust: Resisting War in New York, the Pacific, & the Middle East • CLAUDE COPELAND • LAUREL MEI-SINGH • YUKO TONOHIRA

SUNDAY, JULY 17 / 11:00 am • It’s Not Over: Lessons for Socialists from the October Revolution, Prague Spring and the Sandinistas • PETE DOLACK • 1:00 pm • Labor in the Global Digital Economy • URSULA HUWS • 3:30 pm • Sexuality, Gender & Neoliberal Capitalism • KATE DOYLE-GRIFFITHS • LISA MAYA KNAUER • 5:30 pm • Approaching Science from the Left: Uses & Abuses of Knowledge in the Planetary Crisis • REBECCA BOGER • STUART NEWMAN • DAVE SCHWARTZMAN • moderated by FRED MURPHY

As capitalist relations penetrate every nook and cranny of our planet and the most intimate realms of our lives, a growing proportion of the world’s population is incorporated into the global proletariat—paid and unpaid workers and our families, the unemployed and underemployed, and the growing numbers who will never work. The laboring part of today’s global proletariat is greater than the world’s entire population 40 years ago. Now there are workers from all parts of the globe working for the same set of bosses.

Capitalists continually seek new avenues to expand their capital and commodify all that exists. The digital revolution has sped all this up, quickening accumulation which lays the basis for more frequent crises. Capital continues in ever new forms the process of enclosures that began with the forcible removal of the peasantry from the land in medieval Europe. Throughout the global south, displaced peasants are forced to migrate to cities or internationally, working in factories or informal economies. Many others are conscripted into comprador armies to protect the extractive industries ravaging their regions. There is also outright robbery: the Panama Papers reveal the extent to which capital has fleeced the global proletariat. After more than three decades of assault on organized labor, privatization, austerity and structural adjustment have gutted hard-won social programs. Automation, digitization and strategic relocation of work, combined with just-in-time assembly, make millions “redundant”. At the same time Walmartization, Uberization, Amazonification exemplify our marginalization and precarity.

As we plan this intensive, workers and students are in motion throughout France, from Nuit Debout gatherings to general strikes against austerity. Greek workers, hit harder still by austerity, are reaching out to support the tide of refugees. The contract just won by the Verizon workers in the U.S. after a nation-wide strike represents a major victory. The Sanders campaign has helped normalize the concept of socialism, but the Left and social movements have not figured out how to articulate a viable socialist alternative and build a corresponding movement.

Over the four days of this Intensive, we will study the causes behind these developments, learn about some obstacles to organizing and the challenges facing workers at work and in their communities, and consider various left analyses about social realities and the prospects for organizing. We will assess the lessons of workers’ movements globally and historically, with emphasis on prospects in the US and the global south. Through collaborative study and discussion, we aim to provide a challenging learning environment so each participant can develop his/her own theoretical and analytic tools to advance our organizing and movement building work in order to broaden opposition to capital locally, nationally and internationally.

THURSDAY, JULY 14 / 10:00 am • Marx and Engels & Classical German Philosophy • RUSSELL DALE • 1:00 pm • Anti-Austerity in France: Live Report from Paris on Bastille Day • DENNIS BROE • 3:30 pm • May ’68 in France: Revisited • MITCH ABIDOR • 5:30 pm • What Jazz Would Karl Marx Listen to in 2016 • RAS MOSHE • 7:30 pm • Solidarity Without Borders • KAZEMBE BALAGUN • MARK BERGFELD • HARMONY GOLDBERG • MARCUS GRAETSCH • moderated by MARIKA DIAS

FRIDAY, JULY 15 / 10:00 am • Imperialism Today: Super-Exploitation & Marxist Theory • WALTER DAUM • 1:00- 4:00 pm • Class Consciousness, Class Struggle & Self-Organizing Using Image Theater • presented by The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) • facilitated by JANET GERSON • MARIE-CLAIRE PICHER • 5:30 pm • Public Banking: A Marxist Response to Finance Capital • DAN KARAN • 7:30 pm • Southern Insurgency: Mass Movements Throughout the Global South • MANNY NESS • LISA MAYA KNAUER

SATURDAY, JULY 16 / 10:00 am • Slackers, Sabotage, & Syndicalism: American Labor History & The Refusal of Work • KRISTIN LAWLER • 1:00 pm • Beyond Bernie: The Crisis of Labor & The Left in the United States • MARK DUDZIC • 3:30 pm • Prometheus in Ruins?: Uses & Abuses of the Hero Who Stole Fire • ANTHONY GALLUZZO • 5:30 pm • Logistics, Capitalist Circulation, Chokepoints • CHARMAINE CHUA • 7:30 pm • Devils & Dust: Resisting War in New York, the Pacific, & the Middle East • CLAUDE COPELAND • LAUREL MEI-SINGH • YUKO TONOHIRA

SUNDAY, JULY 17 / 11:00 am • It’s Not Over: Lessons for Socialists from the October Revolution, Prague Spring and the Sandinistas • PETE DOLACK • 1:00 pm • Labor in the Global Digital Economy • URSULA HUWS • 3:30 pm • Sexuality, Gender & Neoliberal Capitalism • KATE DOYLE-GRIFFITHS • LISA MAYA KNAUER • 5:30 pm • Approaching Science from the Left: Uses & Abuses of Knowledge in the Planetary Crisis • REBECCA BOGER • STUART NEWMAN • DAVE SCHWARTZMAN • moderated by FRED MURPHY

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The Commons: An All-Day Seminar with Siliva Federici

While evoking a pre-capitalist past, the idea of the “common(s)” is embraced today by feminists, anarchists, greens, Marxists/socialists as the formative principle of a non-capitalist society.

The workshop will examine :

  • A. What the concept of “the common” has represented historically, especially in the Marxist/socialist as well as the anarchist and feminist traditions and the social consequences of the capitalist process of enclosure
  • B. What has prompted its recent revival in militant circles, beginning with the ‘new enclosures’ driven by theglobalization process
  • C. What it signifies practically and theoretically in the politics of contemporary social movements and the main issues it raises and has raised (the question of scale, the threat of institutional co-optation, the relation between commons-building and other struggles)
  • D. Most important, we will discuss how the politics of the commons is being realized today and the different forms of commons that are being constructed with special emphasis on “reproductive commons” and their contribution to the construction of communities of resistance.

    Silvia Federici is a feminist activist, writer, and a teacher. In 1972 she was one of the co-founders of the International Feminist Collective, the organization that launched the international campaign for Wages For Housework. From 1987 to 2005 she taught international studies, women studies, and political philosophy courses at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. All through these years she has written books and essays on philosophy and feminist theory, women’s history, education and culture, and more recently the worldwide struggle against capitalist globalization and for a feminist reconstruction of the commons.

    Suggested donation: $35 to $55
    No one turned away for inability to pay

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