imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org 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

www.indymedia.org 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
leretif9@gmail.com

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

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 2:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 1:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 1:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 4:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 1:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A26 10:37PM

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

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

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

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

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

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

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

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

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

A new name for Journalism M26 5:02PM

Minnesota Racist Churches M26 7:26AM

Paraphysique de homo sapiens numericus M26 12:53AM

Pot-pourri des carcans culturels M25 7:36AM

Shame on Portland Indymedia M24 9:16PM

USA, A Nation On A Collision Course With Its Own Decadent Values M24 6:43PM

The Shortwave Report 5/25/18 Listen Globally! M24 5:10PM

32 page newspaper on Appalachian States continues M24 10:25AM

They Knew What They Did: Texaco in Ecuador M24 9:31AM

The real mission of fbi and cia M24 1:28AM

New York Singer is 'Lost in a Dream' After Winning ,000 Prize! M23 3:08PM

The Corrupted Nature Conservancy And Ecosia Search Engine M23 1:43PM

Paraphysique de l'intelligence M23 9:42AM

Fish Can't Scream. Their Decaying Flesh Is Neurotoxic, Radioactive, And Carcinogenic M23 7:37AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 1:01PM

Famous Vegetarians, Vegans, And Fruitarians M21 4:03PM

Work and Digitalization and A Corpse Governs Society M21 3:14AM

Unity Archive Project M21 2:42AM

In praise of indigenous people M20 1:46PM

,000 Reward to Catch My Child's Killers M20 5:35AM

Hikikomori capitaliste M20 1:57AM

Psychonaut Michael Pollan And Psychedelic Therapy M18 1:47PM

Déstabilisation, infiltration, intoxication M18 1:06AM

The Shortwave Report 05/18/18 Listen Globally! M17 4:40PM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 3:22PM

Trump is Old King Coal.. Multiplying Harm M17 11:46AM

Schutzstaffel le monde nazifié M17 1:42AM

Pentobarbital de sodium M14 8:43AM

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