The Orient: Foucault’s Achilles’ Heel

A talk and discussion with Marnia Lazreg

Non-Western Subjugated Knowledges and Michel Foucault’s Limit Experience

Foucault was a critic of Western culture and rationality. However, in his travels in the Orient (Tunisia, Iran and Japan), he claimed these cultures were incomprehensible because they belong to a different rationality. This talk will explore the intellectual sources of Foucault’s anti-humanist approach to non-western cultures as it documents his personal disorientation and struggles in Tunisia, Iran and Japan.

Marnia Lazreg is professor of sociology at the Graduate Center and Hunter College, City University of New York. Her research focuses on social theory, international development, cultural movements, colonial history, and gender in the Middle East. Her recent publications include, Foucault’s Orient: The Conundrum of Cultural Difference, From Tunisia to Japan (Berghahn, 2017); The Eloquence of Silence: Algerian Women in Question, 2nd edition (Routledge, 2018); Torture and the Twilight of Empire: From Algeria to Baghdad (Princeton, 2017 paperback).


Film and Discussion: State of Siege

Final Friday Films
Continuing the Anti-Bourgeois Film Series

“The problem is not to make political films but to make films politically.” —Godard / Gorin

France, 1973, 121 minutes
Directed by Costa-Gavras
featuring Yves Montand

State of Siege details the overt and covert practices of the Agency for International Development throughout the world, with a particular emphasis on events that took place in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1970. The actual taking of supposed American ambassador Daniel Mitrione by Tupamaro guerillas as a hostage for the release from prison of fellow Tupamaros, details in interviews themany training exercises conducted by American forces in both the US and Latin America, concerning psychological and physical torture techniques, which were accompanied by broad austerity measures and implementation of anti-trade union measures and broad militaristic attacks on other working class organizations.

In State of Siege, Mitrione is known as Philip Santore, is well-played by Yves Montand. The rightist military government of Uruguay would never have allowed Costa-Gavras to film in Uruguay. Instead, it was filmed in Chile, in and around Santiago, and in the coastal cities of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. during the brief time of Salvador Allende, just before the 1973 Chilean coup d’état, planned with Nixon and Kissinger with Pinochet, in much the same way in which American policy is detailed in the staged interviews in State of Siege. Costa-Gavras would later dramatize the Chilean coup in the film Missing.

Moving Against the System

Moving Against the System:
The 1968 Congress of Black Writers and the Making of Global Consciousness
With editor and author David Austin

In 1968, as protests shook France and war raged in Vietnam, the giants of Black radical politics descended on Montreal to discuss the unique challenges and struggles facing their Black brothers and sisters. For the first time since 1968, David Austin brings alive the speeches and debates of the most important international gathering of Black radicals of the era.

Against a backdrop of widespread racism in the West, and colonialism and imperialism in the ‘Third World’, this group of activists, writers and political figures gathered to discuss the history and struggles of people of African descent and the meaning of Black Power.

With never-before-seen texts from Stokely Carmichael, Walter Rodney and C.L.R. James, these documents will prove invaluable to anyone interested in Black radical thought, as well as capturing a crucial moment of the political activity around 1968.

David Austin is the author of the Casa de las Americas Prize-winning Fear of a Black Nation: Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal, Moving Against the System: The 1968 Congress of Black Writers and the Making of Global Consciousness, and Dread Poetry and Freedom: Linton Kwesi Johnson and the Unfinished Revolution. He is also the editor of You Don’t Play with Revolution: The Montreal Lectures of C.L.R. James.


Tickets are sliding scale / No one is turned away for inability to pay


Marx at 200: Capital, Class and More

A talk and discussion with Kevin B. Anderson

At Marx’s 200th anniversary, it is clear that the emancipation of labor from capitalist alienation and exploitation is a task that still confronts us. Marx’s concept of the worker is not limited to European white males, but includes Irish and Black super-exploited and therefore doubly revolutionary workers, as well as women of all races and nations. But his research and his concept of revolution go further, incorporating a wide range of agrarian noncapitalist societies of his time, from India to Russia and from Algeria to Indigenous peoples of the Americas, often emphasizing their gender relations. In his last, still partially unpublished writings, he turns his gaze eastward and southward. In these regions outside Western Europe, he finds important revolutionary possibilities among peasants and their ancient communistic social structures, even as these are being undermined by their formal subsumption under the rule of capital. In his last published text, he envisions an alliance between these non-working-class strata and the Western European working class.

Kevin B. Anderson is a Professor of Sociology, Political Science, and Feminist Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara. He has worked in social and political theory, especially Marx, Hegel, Marxist humanism, the Frankfurt School, Foucault, and the Orientalism debate. Among his most recent books are Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism (with Janet Afary, 2005) and Marx at the Margins: On Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Non-Western Societies (2010/2016), both published by University of Chicago Press. He is active in Los Angeles in the International Marxist-Humanist Organization and in the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice.

Nicaragua in Crisis

A Forum with Father Octavio Altamirano • Jorge Blass •
Dan La Botz • Lisa Maya Knauer • Nicaraguan Students

co-sponsored with Haymarket Books, NACLA, New Politics and Democratic Socialists of America, NYC Chapter
Since late April the Nicaraguan Sandinista government of President Daniel Ortega has been challenged first by a popular uprising in which dozens were killed by the government and then by mass demonstrations demanding peace and justice. Now the Catholic Church is attempting to mediate between the Ortega government and the movement, but so far without success. What is the source of Nicaragua’s crisis today? And what are the roots of the problem in the experience of the last forty years? How does it affect Nicaraguan immigrants to the United States? What stand should progressive Americans take on the Nicaraguan crisis?


The Chinese Revolution: 1930-1949

An 11-Week session with The Revolutions Study Group

Of 20th-century revolutions, the upheaval in China that culminated in the declaration in 1949 of the People’s Republic was arguably just as significant as the Russian Revolution of 1917. We begin with the Chinese Revolution in 1930, after the nationalist party led by Chiang Kai Shek turned on the mass movement, slaughtered militant workers and peasants, and declared war on Communists. The Communist Party regrouped in remote rural areas and reoriented its activity from urban industrial working class to organizing a peasant rebellion from these rural bases. This led to a prolonged civil war, interrupted by a Japanese invasion, which in turn became part of World War Two. After the war, the struggle between the armies of Chiang Kai Shek and the Communists resumed, ending with Chiang’s fleeing to Taiwan and the final victory of the Communist army in 1949. The primary reading will be Mark Selden: China in Revolution: The Yenan Way Revisited. Check for updates to the reading list.

THE REVOLUTIONS STUDY GROUP (originally at the Brecht Forum) has been meeting since 2009. Individual participants have come and gone, however the group has held together, studying in depth a wide range of history including the French Revolution, the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917, the Mau-Mau Revolt in Kenya, the Haitian Revolution, the European Revolutions of 1848, the May movement in France of 1968 and the Hot Autumn of Italy the following year, the Spanish Civil War, the Mexican Revolution, the Socialist (2nd) International, and Russian Social Democracy prior to World War I.

Day 2, Session 1: Imperialism Today: Super-Exploitation and Marxist Theory

Presentation and discussion with Walter Daum

Imperialism was first analyzed by Marxist theorists a century ago. Today it still dominates the world but has greatly changed: production, not just trade, is globalized; profits rely on the super-exploitation of hundreds of millions of proletarians in the Global South. This session will discuss the transformation of the imperialist-ruled world and what it means for Marxist theory.

Initial reading: John Smith, “Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century,” Monthly Review July-August 2015; online at

Walter Daum taught mathematics at City College in New York for 37 years. He has been a revolutionary activist and Marxist theorist, affiliated with the League for the Revolutionary Party. He wrote a book, The Life and Death of Stalinism and is working on another, on the subject of imperialism. He is proud to have been denounced by the New York Post and the CUNY Board of Trustees in 2001 for explaining at a teach-in that the 9/11 terrorist attack was “ultimately the responsibility of U.S. imperialism.