We are now offering a six month pass for the prices of the previous 4 month passes. If you are paying for yourself and any additional person, you are now able to have two people attend all events, classes or film showings (post-pandemic) that The MEP offers.
There are a number of significant series that are being offered between now and September 30 including the last of the Pluto Fireworks series that continues on April 18 with Ursula Huws on Reinventing the Welfare State, a Socialist Register 2021 series that began January 31 continues through May 2 with additional Socialist Register series on Class, Party, Revolution and Capitalism, Technology, Labor. There will also be a new series on Creolizing Rosa Luxemburg with the Caribbean Philosophy Association beginning in April, as well as a long term series on Marx, Engels, Marxisms introduced by Palgrave Macmillan this which continues on March 20 and April 24. We are also excited to offer a new course on Capitalism and the Sea which begins on April 12.
A new fiction series on spy novels—Matters of State, the next section of Volume 1 of Marx’s Capital, a reading of Victor Serge’s Notebooks and much more. We are also continuing to offer W.E.B. Du Bois’ Black Reconstruction for another 15 week series. This pass will gain one entrance into this year’s noir fiction series when it is announced for the summer.
George Comninel, August Nimtz and Igor Shoikhedbrod
The Marx renaissance is underway on a global scale. Wherever the critique of capitalism re-emerges, there is an intellectual and political demand for new, critical engagements with Marxism. MARX, ENGELS, AND MARXISMS (edited by Marcello Musto & Terrell Carver, with Babak Amini, Francesca Antonini, Paula Rauhala & Kohei Saito as Assistant Editors) is a peer-reviewed series. It is broad — comprised of monographs, edited volumes, critical editions, reprints of old texts, as well as translations of books already published in other languages. These volumes come from a wide range of political perspectives, subject matters, academic disciplines and geographical areas, producing an eclectic and informative collection that appeals to a diverse and international audience. Main areas of focus include: the oeuvre of Marx and Engels, Marxist authors and traditions of the 19th and 20th centuries, labor and social movements, Marxist analyses of contemporary issues, and the reception of Marxism in the world.
George Comninel’s Alienation and Emancipation in the Work of Karl Marx considers Marx’s ideas in relation to the social and political context in which he lived and wrote. It emphasizes both the continuity of his commitment to the cause of full human emancipation, and the role of his critique of political economy in conceiving history to be the history of class struggles.
In Marxism versus Liberalism, August Nimtz presents a comparative real-time political analysis, providing convincing evidence to sustain two similarly audacious claims: firstly, that Karl Marx and Frederick Engels collectively had better democratic credentials than Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill; and secondly, that Vladimir Lenin had better democratic credentials than Max Weber and Woodrow Wilson.
In Revisiting Marx’s Critique of Liberalism, Igor Shoikhedbrod offers a theoretical reconstruction of Karl Marx’s new materialist understanding of justice, legality, and rights through the vantage point of his widely invoked but generally misunderstood critique of liberalism. The book begins by reconstructing Marx’s conception of justice and rights through close textual interpretation and extrapolation. A central thesis of the book is that Marx regards justice as an essential feature of any society, including the emancipated society of the future.
GEORGE COMNINEL is Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Politics at York University, Canada. He is also the author of Rethinking the French Revolution: Marxism and the Revisionist Challenge (1987).
AUGUST NIMTZ is Professor is Professor of Political Science and African American and African Studies and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Minnesota, USA. He is also the author of Marx, Tocqueville, and Race in America: The ‘Absolute Democracy’ or ‘Defiled Republic’ (2003).
IGOR SHOIKHEDBROD received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto, Canada. He is currently adjunct professor in the Ethics, Society & Law Program at Trinity College in the University of Toronto.
All events are sliding scale: No one turned away for inability to pay. (If you cannot pay full amount, please email to email@example.com for obtaining codes to participate.)
Editor and translator of Voices of the Paris Commune and Communards
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune, the first time in history that the working class seized power. Please join us on March 18 –the date the uprising began – as Mitch Abidor, editor and translator of two books on the fighters in the 1871 uprising, Communards and Voices of the Paris Commune, recounts what happened over the 71 days that followed, in all its complexity, both its heroism and its failings, as well as its role as inspiration with lessons for the movements that followed in its footsteps.
Voices of The Paris Commune (PM Press): The Paris Commune had a vibrant press, and it is represented here by its most important newspaper, Le Cri du Peuple, edited by Jules Vallès, member of the First International. Like any legitimate government, the Paris Commune held parliamentary sessions and issued daily printed reports of the heated, contentious deliberations that belie any accusation of dictatorship. Included in this collection is the transcript of the debate in the Commune, just days before its final defeat, on the establishing of a Committee of Public Safety and on the fate of the hostages held by the Commune, hostages who would ultimately be killed. Finally, Voices of the Paris Commune contains a selection from the inquiry carried out twenty years after the event by the intellectual review La Revue Blanche, asking participants to judge the successes and failures of the Paris Commune. This section provides a fascinating range of opinions of this epochal event.
Communards (marxists.org): In this unique collection of texts we hear the genuine voices of the Paris Commune of 1871. Every Communard drew something different from the experience of the Commune, and Communards allows all of them to have their say. Documents include the records of stormy meetings of the Commune deciding on the execution of hostages, minutes of meetings of the First International throughout the siege, as well as reminiscences of participants written down 25 years after the event.
“If socialism wasn’t born of the Commune, it is from the Commune that dates that portion of international revolution that no longer wants to give battle in a city in order to be surrounded and crushed, but which instead wants, at the head of the proletarians of each and every country, to attack national and international reaction and put an end to the capitalist regime.” —Edouard Vaillant, a member of the Paris Commune.
Mitch Abidor has published over a dozen volumes of translation, as well as May Made Me, an oral history of May ’68. A contributing writer for Jewish Currents, his articles have also appeared in the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, Dissent, and many others. His I’ll Forget it When I Die: The Bisbee Deportation of 1917 will be published by AK in the spring.
all events are sliding scale. No one is denied admission because of an inability to pay. Please write firstname.lastname@example.org for admission to this or any other event or class.
Anti-Bourgeois Film Festival
9th Anniversary Double Feature
Pontecorvo Night @ The People’s Forum
Presented by The Left Academy & The Marxist Education Project
The Battle of Algiers
1965, 100 minutes
The celebrated, newsreel-like film, shot in Algiers in black and white details the national war for independence as fought in Algiers against the occupying French forces. Director Gillo Pontecorvo and writer Franco Solinas created several protagonists in their screenplay, who are based on historical war figures. The story begins and ends from the perspective of Ali la Pointe (Brahim Haggiag), a petty criminal who is politically radicalized while in prison. He is recruited by FLN commander El-hadi Jafar. This character is played by Saadi Yacef, who was a veteran FLN commander.
Presentation and discussion of significance of Pontecorvo’s two great films during his time and ours
1969, 108 minutes
A film of revolt set in the Caribbean, could be any of the colonized islands. Marlon Brando plays a British agent who advises Jose Dolores as leader of a slave revolt, to advance English colonial interests. In 1848, revolutionary Jose Dolores, disgusted by the white government’s collaboration with British interests–leads a second uprising, jeopardizing the Antilles Royal Sugar Company. After six years of the uprising, in 1854, the company brings Walker (the Brando character) back to Queimada with the consent of the British Admiralty, tasking him with suppressing the revolt and pacifying the island. Walker attempts to save Dolores’s life but the rebel leader rejects his assistance, asserting that freedom is earned, not received.
Soundtracks to both films by Ennio Morricone
From an interview with Gillo Pontecorvo by Maria Esposito for the World Socialist Web Site June, 2004
“…About three years ago the BBC defined my work as “the dictatorship of truth”. In my cinema, when faced with the choice of distancing oneself from reality or using an effect that might be used to win the popularity with the public, I always renounce these possibilities and stay close to reality.
ME: Is this why you decided to make The Battle of Algiers in documentary style?
Let me explain how much this love for reality, the reality that surrounds us, weighed on me. I only spent four days doing the screen tests for the actors in The Battle of Algiers, but a month looking for the right kind of photography that would best convey this sense of truth.
The difficulty was to find the right sort of look that would imitate grainy photography with strong contrasts, like those of the newsreels, and yet, because it had to be shown in the cinemas where people paid to see it, it had to retain a certain formal dignity, a formal beauty. It therefore took us a month to discover the technique required. The method that finally guided us was to take the original negative and make a copy of it and then re-photograph the copy.”
From a 1999 Gerald Peary interview with Pontecorvo
Cineaste: Could you talk about your brilliant casting in Burn!, using a non-actor as the West Indian guerilla leader, Jose Dolores, opposite Marlon Brando.
Pontecorvo: It was a fight! United Artists wanted me to use Sidney Poitier. I didn’t want to, though I like him as an actor, because his face wasn’t wild. Then I went looking to off-Broadway for black actors. I didn’t find the right one.
In Colombia, during a location scout, we were searching for a forest to burn. We drove very far into the wild in a jeep. Suddenly we saw this peasant man on a horse. This is the face I’d been looking for for four months. But instead of coming to me, he ran away! It was very hot, people around me were furious when I said, “Sorry, we have to find this man.” We asked the local chief to order the playing of a drum. All the people came out, including this man, Evaristo Marquez. He’d never seen a movie but he understood money. He said, “OK.”
I called Marlon on his island. He said, “If you believe he’s right, don’t worry about me.”
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 marxedproject.org 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.
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.
Lessons for Today’s Politics
A reading group convened by Lisa Maya Knauer
Saturdays from 3:30-5:30 p.m.
October 7-December 9 (no meeting November 25)
9 Session class
“It was the first time that the bourgeoisie showed to what insane cruelties of revenge it will be goaded the moment the proletariat dares to take its stand against them as a separate class, with its own interests and demands.”
This sentence was written by Karl Marx in 1871, just weeks after the French bourgeoisie crushed the Paris Commune, but it is just as applicable to today’s political situation in the U.S. and elsewhere. This reading group will delve into a selection of Marx and Engels’ political writings to gain both a better understanding of the history of working-class and socialist struggles of their times, and explore lessons for our political organizing now. This tasks takes on a special urgency in light of the events in Charlottesville and the increased visibility of racist, anti-Semitic and white supremacist ideologies.
The reading group offers a very accessible entry-point into the works of Marx and Engels, so no previous study of Marxism is necessary. But it is also a good complement to the study of Capital and other more complex theoretical works.
We will start with Marx and Engels’ writings about the Paris Commune and its aftermath, and collectively decide which other works to explore in our 10-week session.
Lisa Maya Knauer has been involved with Marxist education in New York for her entire adult life, and has taught a variety of classes at the MEP and its predecessors. Her current activist work focuses on immigrant workers’ rights and indigenous struggles for land and water. In her day job, she is a tenured radical at a public university.
Five Explicit and Implicit Notions of Revolution in Capital, Volume I, as Seen from a Multilinear, Peripheral Angle
It is often said that Capital, Volume I is concerned with the enfoldment of the capital form, with many dialectical twists and turns, but not with revolution. However, such a picture severs Marx the revolutionary from Marx the social theorist. In fact, Capital I can be connected to five different notions of revolution: (1) a working class uprising that rises as a form of revolutionary negation of the centralized productive apparatus of modern industrial capitalism, but posed at a high level of abstraction; (2) four other notions of revolution that connect a class uprising to race, ethnicity, colonialism, and the need to abolish the state.
Kevin B. Anderson teaches at University of California, Santa Barbara. He has worked in social and political theory, especially Marx, Hegel, Lenin, Luxemburg, Marxist humanism, the Frankfurt School, Foucault, and the Orientalism debate. Among his books are Lenin, Hegel, and Western Marxism (1995), Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism (with Janet Afary, 2005), and Marx at the Margins: On Nationalism, Ethnicity and Non-Western Societies (2010/2016). He has also contributed to For Humanism: Explorations in Theory and Politics (ed. D. Alderson and R. Spencer, 2017) and the Transition from Capitalism (ed. S. Rahnema, 2017), and is the coeditor of the Rosa Luxemburg Reader (with Peter Hudis, 2004), Karl Marx (with Bertell Ollman, 2012), and the Dunayevskaya-Marcuse-Fromm Correspondence (2012, with Russell Rockwell). He is a member of the International Marxist-Humanist Organization.
We begin with Malcolm
Two more sessions prior to One-Dimensional Man: February 28 and March 7
Noble Bratton will conduct a 3-week history of the Civil Rights movement with CORE, SNCC and analyzing the growing militancy in African-American life that led to the revolutionary politics of The Black Panther Party as the 60s developed.
Noble Bratton is a graduate of Cornell University and is on the editorial board of Working USA/Labor and Society. He taught a class on the US Presidency at The Brecht Forum. He has participated with the Leo Downes Harlem Y Study Group. He is also a former member of District Council 65 of the UAW, UNITE Local 169.
Readings for the next two weeks will include chapters from Manning Marable’s Race, Reform and Rebellion.
An eight week course with Sudeb Mitra
February 6 through March 27
The purpose of this course is to give an introduction to some of the main ideas of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, focusing on the materialist understanding of history, and the theory of surplus value.
We will make a careful study of the following texts:
“The part played by labor in the transition from ape to man”—Frederick Engels
“Posture Maketh The Man”— Stephen Jay Gould Socialism: Utopian and Scientific—Frederick Engels
Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy—Karl Marx
Communist Manifesto—Marx and Engels
“Karl Marx on Capital”—Frederick Engels
Value, Price and Profit—Karl Marx
The course will consist of readings and discussions. If time permits, we will also include some documents of the First International, especially the “Inaugural Address Of The International Working Men’s Association”—drafted by Marx.
Sudeb Mitra is a professor of mathematics at the Queens College of the City University of New York, and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is especially interested in Marx/Engels and the Sciences.