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On Dogmatism Again…

The problematic of dogmatism in the left is a topic I've written about from multiple angles, both on this blog and in my books. Just like the anti-intellectual/academic-elitist dialectic I keep returning to, dogmatism is one of my personal concerns because, due to the problems it can cause through its practice or erroneous apprehension, it undermines the development of a revolutionary movement. I am still convinced that this is the case, because once a movement becomes truly dogmatic it loses its ability to creatively engage with the masses; it valorizes formulaic statements and a religious devotion to revolutionary texts at the expense of mass work. Which is why I'm writing yet another post on this topic… Although I feel it is important to contextualize what I'm about to write in what I've previously established since a pithy "anti-dogmatism" that is invested in reinventing the theoretical wheel for no good reason, erasing the accomplishments of the past, an…
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Guest Post: Narratives of Exclusion by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

The following is a guest post by Benjanun Sriduangkaew, brilliant SFF author and my friend, as part of her blog tour to promote her upcoming novel Winterglass. I've had the privilege of reading an advanced electronic copy of this book (thanks to a pre-order deal arranged by Apex Books) and can say that it is absolutely brilliant. Part of its brilliance lies in the various radical themes it explores, some of which Sriduangkaew's guest post will discuss, while other aspects of its brilliance are found in its literary quality, attention to characterization, and narrative detail. Since Sriduangkaew has also co-written an upcoming book with me (Methods Devour Themselves, Zero Books: 2018), a dialogue between fiction and essay, this guest post might also function as a cross-promotional. Especially since one of her stories in Methods Devour Themselves is a prequel to Winterglass.



Narratives of Exclusion
What you leave out is as important as what you leave in by Benjanun Sriduangkaew


If …

Upcoming Book Announcement: Methods Devour Themselves

I have another book coming out with Zero Books: Methods Devour Themselves, co-written by one of my favourite SFF authors, Benjanun Sriduangkaew. As some of you might know I have been a long time SFF fan. On my lesser read "cultural" blog I have written more frequently about SFF, particularly the work of Sriduangkaew. Collaborating with her on a book that was a combination of story and essay was something of a dream come true. In fact, seeing my name along with hers on the cover of a publication was one of those SFF fan "squee" moments––but in a more professorial manner befitting of a jaded leftist and academic pushing 40.



Methods Devour Themselves is a conversation between Sriduangkaew's stories and my essays, where one begets the other and vice versa, a dialogical experience that becomes a liminal literature. The question guiding the book's structure was: what philosophical exploration will this story provoke and what story will be provoked by this philosop…

Class Struggle in the Terrain of Theory (or good lord why am I always writing posts on the limitations of the liberal doctrine of free speech?)

Drexel University's recent decision to penalize George Ciccariello-Maher because of pressure from multiple right-wing campaigns demonstrates why reactionaries understand how to fight a war of position, and thus pursue hegemony, better than most progressives. As Ciccariello-Maher himself pointed out in an article regarding these campaigns and his discipline, there have been more successful campaigns to silence leftists than the much publicized leftist activism aimed at shutting down Nazi rallies and alt-right speakers, and the former have received little if any attention from those liberals who are already hand-wringing over free speech.



In fact, one would think that it would be quite telling that white supremacists such as Philippe Rushton and Jordan Peterson have been able to retain their tenure whereas anti-racists such as Ciccariello-Maher, Tommy Curry, and Johnny Eric Williams have been slated for academic removal. The liberal self-righteous adage of "I will defend your r…

Semiotext(e) Plays the "Sun City" of Los Angeles

I have a certain fondness for Semiotext(e) since it was the press that introduced me to a lot of radical theory which was instrumental in pushing me towards Marxism. Even after I abandoned autonomism and gravitated towards Maoism I still enjoyed some of the work in its "Interventions" series, though much of this I treated as a foil for my own work (i.e. Tiqqun and the Invisible Committee vis-a-vis The Communist Necessity and Austerity Apparatus), at the very least I found it thought provoking. Hence, I was rather disappointed when I learned that one of its founding authors, Chris Kraus, was planning to break the Boyle Heights community boycott in Los Angeles and that, when she was critiqued, Semiotext(e) defended the decision.

For those who are unaware the Defend Boyle Heights coalition has been fighting against the ongoing gentrification of Boyle Heights, an historic racialized working class neighbourhood in LA. Part of this struggle has been waged against art galleries tha…

Arguments From Authority Are Not Scientific

One thing that has always bothered me about certain outspoken elements of the communist milieux is the over-reliance on arguments from authority. That is, the tendency to justify a political line based on the fact that Marx or Lenin or Mao or whoever wrote some things somewhere that "prove" this justification. Thus, in response to people questioning a particular political position those who rely on arguments from authority, rather than providing a thorough historical materialist argument for their position, cite Lenin or someone else as the de facto basis of their position. Marxist-Leninists and Marxist-Leninist-Maoists are particularly guilty of this approach, and arguments from authority are all too common across the revisionist/anti-revisionist spectrum.

The reason I'm thinking of this problem yet again is because of a recent encounter at the Toronto ILPS conference where some old ML dude in the revisionist milieu complained to me about having been told by Montreal…

The Alt-Right Was Not A Response To Some "Alt-Left"

A common adage about the "alt-right" is repeated ad nauseum on social media by liberal journalists and alt-right trolls themselves is that its emergence has a lot to do with angry online leftists, particular the "Social Justice Warriors" (SJWs), as well as call-out culture, identity politics, virtue signalling, etc. The assumption here is that most of these new white supremacists wouldn't have existed if they weren't dog-piled by self-righteous SJWs or anti-oppression university academics: these alienated young white could have been won over if they had been treated differently, and it is in fact the committed anti-capitalist broad left that is at fault for the resurgence of white supremacy not the white supremacists themselves. In some ways this reads like a new version of the horse-shoe theory and, like the horse-shoe theory, it is thoroughly unscientific.

To be fair, I get the concern of the more well-meaning individuals who make this claim. They wonder …