imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Subscribe Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news



CopWatch LA


A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

The recent 'Insurgent Notes' conference in New York City

by Alexander Selkirk Monday, Mar. 13, 2017 at 9:41 AM

The people behind the ostensibly ultra-left Marxist web site 'Insurgent Notes' recently hosted a conference in New York City. The following was originally written in response to an account of this conference by a Trotskyist group on the U.S. Mid-Atlantic seaboard.

I moved away from anarchism and began calling myself a left communist in the early 1980’s. I did not attend the ‘Insurgent Notes’ conference. Based on past experience I didn’t have to put fresh batteries in my crystal ball to get that this conference would be as you describe. Discussions by U.S. ultra-left Marxists of real world efforts to assert what they claim to be about outside of their ideological echo chamber must always be brief ones.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 2001 attacks, one of the main people currently behind ‘Insurgent Notes’ initiated an ongoing series of meetings of ultra-lefts in Berkeley. I took part. My understanding was that we would move fast, come up with an analysis of the Sept. 11 events, and attempt to get this analysis out in some highly visible way. Sept. 11, 2001 was the first major battle of the 21st century, it was the first time that U.S. government-style mass civilian casualty attacks were perpetrated against civilians in the U.S., and it was blowback from Carter and Reagan’s foreign policy antics in the 1970’s and 1980’s. It was a unique historical moment. A provocative perspective on this, presented in an aggressive highly public matter, could have been a foot in the door for making a sophisticated anti-capitalist perspective widely known.

The group met and talked. We met and talked. In compulsively inadequate ultra-left Marxist style we met and talked some more. Nothing happened. Grad student pedantry and incapacity were in a neck and neck race here. There was vague talk of forming a ‘Capital’ reading group by the time I stopped attending the meetings; apparently those who can, do, and those who can’t form ‘Capital’ reading groups. Even this insular and inwardly-directed proposal went nowhere and soon the group folded. This is consistent with all experiences I have ever had with people who call themselves ultra-left Marxists in the U.S. going back to the beginning of the Reagan eighties.

The person who initiated this group is sometimes described as “the leading left communist in the United States.” In my encounter with him I was struck less by his voluminous extremely abstract erudition than I was by his total lack of any hint of the practical political smarts that we develop if we repeatedly assert unusual ideas in the larger world outside of our comfort zone. He has been an ostensible left communist for almost 40 years and all he has to show for this is a collection of documents he’s written that are equally unreadable in seven languages on a web page. In the decade and a half since our 9/11 group’s belly-button fingering sessions he has continued dabbling in his hobby in the form of ‘Insurgent Notes,’ whose identity with a chimerical “revolutionary left,” clarion call for "Building a Radical Left in the Age of Trump" and paucity of accounts of sustained, credible, real world action add up to a politics of lite-rock Trotskyism.

Revolutionary extremism is what it does; if it does nothing, it is nothing. It is a real world phenomena or it doesn’t exist. It has to be credible; it has to be visible in the larger society around us and be taken seriously by friend and foe alike. A few fiery ultra-left “positions” on unions, nationalism and the Bolsheviks after Brest-Litovsk don’t elevate ‘Insurgent Notes’ in its current form out of and away from the historically harmless left fringe of academia. These putative ultra-leftists don’t even appear to be decisively opposed to electoral politics, in the country that leads the industrialized world in the rate of mass abstention from voting and where mass abstention was in effect the number one vote-getter in the 2016 Presidential election.

In the U.S., ultra-left Marxism is a hobby for self-important and easily intimidated individuals whose ability to relate to the world has been terminally deformed by their university experience and who like to talk about Marx a lot. Ultra-left Marxism is supposed to an uncompromising form of revolutionary analysis — and action — focused on class conflict in capitalist societies. Outside of the United States it often is this; the efforts of the ultra-left Marxist-influenced groups Wildcat and Kolinko in Germany and people associated with them in China, India and elsewhere are particularly admirable. In the US ultra-left Marxism only attracts college professors without a college who project their long-term paralytic inability to act onto the world at large. The consistent uselessness of ultra-left Marxists in the U.S. unintentionally highlights the superior qualities of many Marxist-Leninist and Trotskyist militants I have known, in particular the Trotskyists. Their politics are no good, but the long term personal commitment they demonstrate in fighting for their convictions is superb. Members of the ‘smash-ist-and-fascist,’ Stalinist group Progressive Labor and of various Trot organizations often get jobs in strategic sectors, as transit system operators, longshore or hospital employees, and spend years asserting their perspectives among co-workers. They often structure their lives around the fight for what they believe in — I do not know of a single ultra-left Marxist in the U.S. who does this. Far from being “alienated” this “militant attitude” is a wholly admirable and necessary thing.

Ultra-left Marxism in the United States is a form of supposed revolutionary Marxism with no public existence — no public existence whatsoever in the thirty-plus-years that I have to some degree identified with ultra-left Marxism. The people — overwhelmingly middle aged and elderly males — who are attracted to ultra-left Marxism in the contemporary United States are inadequate to the task of asserting what they claim to be about in the larger world outside of their safe spaces. Many years of inaction and relentless pedantic self-indulgent junk shows this. They will hold a meeting, at which they will valiantly decide to hold another meeting, and if by that point they haven’t completely run out of energy they might mightily rise to the occasion and decide to hold another meeting. They and their passively held opinions add up to nothing.

This caustic commentary about ultra-left Marxists as I’ve experienced them in the United States does not apply in any way to the dedicated and energetic ultra-left comrades I’ve met in Europe and Argentina — people who are 100% for real about their politics and who fight to assert their perspectives in contemporary working people’s real world social struggles. This is also not a concession to any form of Second International social democratic Marxism.

Alexander Selkirk
Medellin, Colombia

Report this post as:

Local News

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

Last of California's nuclear power plants is on its way out J30 3:44PM

Patrisse Khan-Cullors explains why Black Lives Matter J26 7:02PM

Women's March L.A., 2018 J24 4:39PM

The case for US government sanctions on Israel J23 5:36PM

 Women of LA Rise Again to Denounce Trump Photoset 4 J22 9:07PM

Women of LA Rise Again to Denounce Trump Photoset 3 J22 8:24PM

Women of LA Rise Again to Denounce Trump PhotoSet 2 J22 7:36PM

Women of LA Rise Again to Denounce Trump PhotoSet 1 J22 7:14PM

Women's Political Representation & Electoral Reform J21 12:43PM

Trial Starts for Woman with Erb’s Palsy Punched in Face Repeatedly by LAPD Officers J10 1:38PM

Dear District Attorney Jackie Lacey, Prosecute Killer Cops, Signed: Your Constituents J09 10:09PM

Great solidarity action today J06 10:22PM

Chris Ballew beat up by Pasadena police J05 5:01PM

Retired LAPD Sgt. Cheryl Dorsey explains how the LAPD's Board of Rights hearings work J05 3:40PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Stratégie onirique du coup du monde M17 3:03AM

Tour Announcement: Whole Milk's California Cruising Tour 2018 M16 8:41PM

50 years have passed since the Kerner & McCone Commissions M16 6:21PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Crash on the Horizon M16 9:45AM

Caribbean Religious Leaders Call for Debt Relief in Face of Disasters M16 7:28AM

America's judiciary is in collapse M15 8:53PM

Under the Gun in Ireland M15 5:37PM

The Shortwave Report 03/16/18 Listen Globally! M15 4:54PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Travail de l'idéologie M15 12:02AM

Crisis 2.0: A Policy for the 99% M14 2:06AM

How fbi corrupts cjs M13 8:10PM

When Will the Me Too Movement Take on the New Age? M13 8:21AM

La société du plagiat compilateur M13 12:34AM

12 Step Programs Free Me From Addiction M11 1:53PM

Règlements de comptes à O.K. Corral M11 12:42AM

Video: "How Democracies Die," 1 hr 12 min M10 8:05AM

Debt, Corruption and Tax Policies Impact Poverty, Says Vatican at United Nations M09 11:13AM

Séparatisme de l'abîme M09 6:15AM

The Shortwave Report 03/09/18 Listen Globally! M08 4:15PM

Over 35 Years of Work for Individuals in California with Brain Disorders [Metal] M08 4:00PM

February 2018 Honduras Coup Again update M07 12:59PM

Authoritarian Capitalism M07 4:27AM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” with Voice Artist Rob Paulsen, Fri. March 30th in Downey, CA M06 2:45PM

Do Germans really want to align themselves with evil? M06 9:56AM

Housing is not just another commodity M06 8:08AM

Cartographie du morcellement unifié M05 11:08PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy