The State and Strategies for Socialism

Zones of Liberation: 2nd Session

On developing and defending areas of opposition and building a broad and lasting anti-capitalist socialist movement

A panel with Paul Christopher Gray, Rafael Khachaturian and Stephen Maher

Moderated by Caroline Sykora

At this late and moribund stage of capitalist development nothing is sacred to profit-making as the capitalists deforest the Amazon and exploit the deepest marine life of the Marianas Trench. Meanwhile, the working classes the world over are engaged of necessity in an array of movements in opposition to these life-destroying practices. Nonetheless, workers deliver through their labors—which they must sell in order to survive, losing control over the use of their labor power in this act of selling—the means by which capital is digitally speeding us towards a metabolic endgame. Each decade going forward will lead to the demise of ever more species from the microbial to fully sentient beings like ourselves, all the result of the insatiable proliferation of the capitalists pursuit for ever-greater profit and continuous expanding accumulation of their money capital even if to do so requires the end of life on this planet as we know it.

In response to this, The Marxist Education Project is continuing the Zones of Liberation series this November 9th. The Socialist Project of Canada has been publishing a series on Socialist Strategy and the State over the past year. All of the published pieces are essential for those active in the anti-capitalist movement to be reading and discussing. Stephen Maher and Rafael Khachaturian’s essay Socialist Strategy and the Democratic Capitalist State examines the the state in its liberal-democratic form, arguing that we should move beyond both vanguardist and social democratic models toward a view of the state as a contradictory site of class and social struggles.  Paul Christoher Gray’s article on Socialist Project is taken from his recently published From the Streets to the State: Changing the World by Taking Power, where he takes on the limitations of dual power and extra-parliamentarism and the flaws inherent in the electoralist approaches and where there can be some reconciliation of the best aspects of these tendencies.

Paul Christopher Gray is a professor in Brock University’s Department of Labor Studies in St. Catharines, Ontario. The link to Paul’s work is here: https://socialistproject.ca/2019/06/transforming-capitalist-power-from-streets-to-state/

Rafael Khachaturian is a Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and faculty at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research.

Stephen Maher is a social critic, PhD candidate at York University in Toronto and Socialist Register Assistant Editor.

The link to Rafael and Stephen’s work is here: https://socialistproject.ca/2019/05/socialist-strategy-and-capitalist-democratic-state/

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Tout Va Bien: Screening with Discussion

Final Friday Films: an anti-bourgeois film series

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

TOUT VA BIEN
France, 1972, 125 Min
DIRECTED BY Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin
CAST Yves Montand, Jane Fonda, Vittorio Caprioli, Elizabeth Chauvin, Castel Casti, Éric Chartier, Anne Wiazemsky, et al

Godard and Gorin’s film, unpopular and hardly viewed when released, emerges nearly 50 years later as a film with increasing relevance to the days as lived during this late capitalist period. One can see many of the participants in this film wearing gilets jaunes if the film were being shot today.

From the Criterion re-release:

“As cinema, Tout Va Bien is radically simplified and blatantly diagrammatic. After the opening sequence, the Fonda character arrives at a sausage factory to do a story on modern management techniques. Montand tags along, and, as the workers have just staged a wildcat strike, the visiting celebs soon find themselves “sequestered” with the factory’s clownish boss. The approach is self-consciously Brechtian: The characters frequently address the camera. These characters are characters and the set on which they appear is an obvious set.

This two-story, open construction—evoking the cutaway girls’ school in Jerry Lewis’s The Ladies Man (1961)—is, if not Vertov’s “factory of facts,” then at least a factory for making meaning. The comic-book frame allows the filmmakers to analyze the strike as a sort of Rube Goldberg contraption and put a didactic emphasis on working conditions. Tout Va Bien insists on class struggle throughout but is mainly about radicalizing its stars. Their role in the factory is to look and learn. Indeed, Godard and Gorin upped the class-resentment ante by having the striking workers played not by real workers but by unemployed actors.”              —J. Hoberman, for Criterion, Tout Va Bien Revisited

During the coming period, films will be presented by The Revolutions Study Group of The Marxist Education Project as a continuation of the Anti-Bourgeois Film Series that was started at the Brecht Forum. These films with discussion will take place on the last Friday of each month at 6:00 pm.

Tickets are Sliding Scale

 

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African Literature: Colonialism, Liberation, Disillusionment

We will meet for nine more weeks
Thursdays, February 9 through April 6, 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Organized by Ibrahim Diallo of the Indigenous People’s History and Literature Group

Once you allow yourself to identify with the people in a story, then you might begin to see yourself in that story even if on the surface it’s far removed from your situation. … this is one great thing that literature can do – it can make us identify with situations and people far away. If it does that, it’s a miracle. –Chinua Achebe

With the reading of novels by Ousmane Sembene (Senegal), Tayeb Salih (Sudan), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria) and Ngugu wa Thiong’o (Kenya), we examine four different areas of Africa as the peoples there emerge from European colonization. We witness the struggles of workers on strike before their full independence, anti-colonial resistance spanning from Mount Kenya to academic circles in London. As nations become independent we discover new and recycled forms of oppression, exploitation and war. In the midst of disillusionment, we see resolve and signs of what remains possible.

Les Bouts de Bois de Dieu (God’s Bits of Wood) considered to be Ousmane Sembene’s masterpiece, rivaled only by Xala. The novel fictionalizes the real-life story of a railroad strike on the Dakar-Niger line that lasted from 1947 to 1948. Though the charismatic and brilliant union spokesman, Ibrahima Bakayoko, is the most central figure, the novel has no true hero except the community itself, which bands together in the face of hardship and oppression to assert their rights.

Season of Migration to the North (Arabic: موسم الهجرة إلى الشمال ‎‎ Mawsim al-Hiǧra ilā ash-Shamāl) is a classic post-colonial Sudanese novel by the novelist Tayeb Salih. Salih was fluent in both English and Arabic, but significantly chose to write this novel in Arabic. The novel is a counter-narrative to Heart of Darkness. It was described by Edward Said as one of the 10 great novels in Arabic literature.

Petals of Blood by Ngugu wa Thiong’o The novel largely deals with the skepticism of change after Kenya’s liberation from the British Empire, questioning to what extent free Kenya merely emulates, and subsequently perpetuates, the oppression found during its time as a colony. Other themes include the challenging of capitalism, politics, and the effects of westernization.

Half of a Yellow Sun, a novel by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, tells the story of the Biafran War through the perspective of the characters Olanna, Ugwu, and Richard. The book jumps between events that took place during the early 1960s and the late 1960s, when the war took place, and extends until the end of the war.

Ibrahim Diallo was born in Guinea but has lived in Brooklyn, New York since his childhood. He has lived, worked, studied and/or travelled in nearly a dozen African countries. Ibrahim is one of the initiators of The Indigenous People’s History and Literature Group at The MEP.

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