I’ve continued to look through the pile of old articles I’ve had tucked into my politics folder, and I have a few more notable ones I’d like to share.
The Marxism of C.L.R. James offers an introduction to one of the many Marxist thinkers who isn’t widely read. It’s an intriguing presentation of his life and ideas.
James’s general approach to reality seems to me to be very dynamic and exciting. An essential aspect of his method is to make links between seemingly diverse realities, sometimes to take something that is commonly perceived as being marginal and to demonstrate that it is central, for example: the relation of the Haitian Revolution to the French Revolution and later to the fortunes of Napoleon Bonaparte; the relation of blacks to world history, Western civilization, and the class struggle; the relation of popular culture—sports, movies, hit songs, dancing, pulp fiction, comic books, etc.—to more “refined” culture, to social realities and to class consciousness. James focuses on these so-called “marginal” realities in a manner that profoundly alters (rather than displacing) the traditionally “central” categories.“The Marxism of C.L.R. James” by Paul Le Blanc
Kaweah was one of California’s many utopian projects and in “A future just, green and free, under a tree named Karl Marx” Daegan Miller fleshes out the richness of that experiment.
In 1885, the future revolved around a tree, a Californian giant sequoia, the biggest tree in the world. The tree already had a name: General Sherman (after William Tecumseh Sherman, the brutal American Civil War general and exterminator of American Indians). But when a band of anarchists and socialists made the sequoian forest their home, they renamed the massive thing Karl Marx.
Theirs was a system tuned to yield healthy, fulfilling lives, and it proved to be popular: the Kaweahans had a baseball team, threw parties, hosted hikes to visit Marx, and debated the most esoteric points of socialist and anarchist doctrine during picnics.“A future just, green and free, under a tree named Karl Marx” by Daegan Miller
Back in 2017 an interview with science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson centred around economic and ecological crises had some great bits. In “Angry Optimism in a Drowned World” José Luis de Vicente prompted Robinson to discuss the inextricable nature of our two global evils.
This is another way of saying that we need postcapitalism. In New York 2140 I was telling the story of a people’s revolution and a political revolution that creates post-capitalism to solve the ecological problem, because no other solution will do. The market doesn’t have a brain, a conscience, a morality or a sense of history. The market only has one rule and it’s a bad rule, a rule that would only work in a world where there was an infinity of raw materials, what the eco-Marxists are calling the “four cheaps”: cheap food, cheap power, cheap labour, cheap raw material.“Angry Optimism in a Drowned World” by José Luis de Vicente
Finally for today, here’s an intro to Karl Marx and Conflict Theory. In “Karl Marx & Conflict Theory: Crash Course Sociology #6” the bare bones of Marx’s thinking are laid out.
Today we’ll continue to explore sociology’s founding theorists with a look at Karl Marx and his idea of historical materialism. We’ll discuss modes of production, their development, and how they fit into Marx’s overall theory of historical development, along with class struggle and revolution. We’ll also discuss how Marx’s ideas gave rise to Gramsci’s idea of hegemony, and to conflict theories more generally.Karl Marx & Conflict Theory: Crash Course Sociology #6