Women Write Against Fascism

Literary resistance during and after fascism being in command

A nine week series with
Simone de Beauvoir, Natalia Ginzburg and Elfriede Jelinek

Reading and discussion with the Literature Studies Group of The MEP

The Blood Of Others • Simone de Beauvoir • 1945
The major theme of The Blood of Others is the relation between the free individual and ‘the historically unfolding world of brute facts and other men and women.’ Or as one of Beauvoir’s biographers puts it, her ‘intention was to express the paradox of freedom experienced by an individual and the ways in which others, perceived by the individual as objects, were affected by his actions and decisions. Another theme of the novel, though not unrelated to the first, is the issue of resistance versus collaboration. Beauvoir makes it clear that to not actively resist fascism is to accept it.

Family Lexicon • Natalia Ginzburg • 1963
Family Lexicon is about a family and language—and about storytelling not only as a form of survival but also as an instrument of deception and domination. The book takes the shape of a novel, yet everything is true. “Every time that I have found myself inventing something in accordance with my old habits as a novelist, I have felt impelled at once to destroy [it],” Ginzburg tells us at the start. “The places, events, and people are all real.” The family described is all anti-fascist. The years depicted in this novel are the years of the 30s and 40s, taking place in Turino during the years of Mussolini’s fascism.

Wonderful Wonderful Times • Elfriede Jelinek • 1980
The novel follows a group of four Viennese teens during the 1950s as they violently engage with the previous generation’s Post-World War II legacy. The novel does not use traditional chapter demarcations and focuses largely on the internal thoughts of the characters. Through the portrayal of the Austrian family Witkowski, the reader is able to see the relation between daily fascism with the family and an undigested Austrian National Socialist history. The patriarch, a former Nazi, makes up for his loss of power and one leg by terrorizing his family and abusing his wife.

The MEP LITERATURE GROUP has been meeting to discuss literature since the first days of The Marxist Education Project following a presentation by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on her Indigenous Peoples History of the United States and her recommendation that we take up literature with Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of The Dead. The group has rcompleted readings of Victor Serge’s Unforgiving Years which was followed by Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. Our fourth summer of noir is currently underway. Other studies have included novels related to World War I, the depression of the 1930s, and novels on border politics and labor organizing.

 

Donations are sliding scale • No one turned away for inability to pay

please write to info@marxedproject to get zoom log-in number if you would like to attend but cannot afford to pay

 

The Emancipation of Labor

The Civil War and the Making of the American Working Class
A talk and discussion with author Mark Lause

Mark A. Lause will provide an overview of his widely acclaimed book Free Labor: The Civil War and the Making of the American Working Class (2016) and discuss his current project on the origins of American socialism, taking up little-known aspects of the emergence of a class-struggle perspective on the American left. He will consider why those dimensions have thus far received little attention from historians and socialists. Northern workers “took up arms because they understood the importance of the conflict in shaping the future value of ‘free labor,’” and a “rolling strike of the slaves” in the South became “the great incontrovertible and irreversible fact of the war”.

Mark A. Lause is a professor of history at the University of Cincinnati who focuses on U.S. labor movements in the nineteenth century. A lifelong radical, his Free Labor: The Civil War and the Making of the American Working Class (2016) is the most recent in a series of works on the Civil War era. Others include studies of land reform, spiritualism, secret societies, and bohemianism, and Race & Radicalism in the Union Army, on the tri-racial experience of the Federal Army of the Frontier. A forthcoming book will address The Great Cowboy Strike and western labor struggles in the 1880s. His reviews and essays on contemporary politics have appeared in Against the Current, Counterpunch, Jacobin, and The North Star, where he serves on the editorial board. A veteran of SDS and the radicalization of the 1960s, Lause has joined various socialist organizations over the last half century – most expelled him and all disappointed him. Long interested in environmental issues, he has been identified with the Green Party since the 1990s and served on the state committee of the Ohio party.

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 http://monthlyreview.org/2015/07/01/imperialism-in-the-twenty-first-century/

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.