#4 Order Prevails in Washington
February 2017

The fourth issue of Salvage. See more information about its contents here.

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    Ordoliberalism and the Death of Liberal Democracy - An Interview With Werner Bonefeld

    Werner Bonefeld interviewed by George Souvlis


    George Souvlis: Can you tell us a bit about your intellectual and political formation?

    Werner Bonefeld: One of my most important formative experiences was factory work. Studying was easy in comparison. I studied at the Universities of Marburg, Berlin, and Edinburgh. At Marburg the Marxism on offer was very dogmatic. It did not encourage people to think for themselves. I left after two years to continue my studies at the Free University of Berlin. In Berlin a few things came together, as it were. My favorite Professor was Agnoli, who was one of the most distinguished Marxists of his generation. He allowed his students to think. He welcomed it. He was a great orator. Part of the degree programme was to do work-placement. I first worked as a removal man and then as a research assistant at the West-German teachers’ union, for which I got paid. Never before had I earned money by reading and writing (my research was into alternative schooling as opposed to public provision). I quickly understood the meaning of Marx’s insight that to be a productive labourer in not a piece of luck but a great misfortune. One might add, nor is it an ontological privilege, as a whole tradition of historical materialism saw it. I studied in Berlin at a time of great restlessness, from the peace movement to the squatter movement in the early 1980s.


    A Letter from Eugene Debs on Immigration

    My Dear Brewer:

    Have just read the majority report of the Committee on Immigration. It is utterly unsocialistic, reactionary and in truth outrageous, and I hope you will oppose with all your power. The plea that certain races are to be excluded because of tactical expediency would be entirely consistent in a bourgeois convention of self-seekers, but should have no place in a proletariat gathering under the auspices of an international movement that is calling on the oppressed and exploited workers of all the world to unite for their emancipation. . . .


    Salvage Perspectives #4: Order Prevails in Washington

    by The Editors

    Not since 1943 has there been a better time to be a fascist. The ‘liberal order’, the demise of which has been the subject of ruling-class hot takes for some years now, does indeed appear to be in a shabby state. Trump’s election – on which more within this issue – follows on from the vote for Brexit as a body blow to the politics of the ‘extreme centre’ in the very lands in which it was born. Victory for the far-right Freedom party in Austria’s presidential election was very narrowly averted: should Marine Le Pen win the forthcoming French presidential contest, against which no sensible punter would now bet, the resulting scrap of hard-won relief will evaporate. Then the UN security council will be led by the fascist- through hard-right of US, French and British politics, plus the distinct market-Stalinisms of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. In the second rank will be the hard-right Narendra Modi of India, and the Brazilian inheritors of a soft coup for austerity. This is not a world in which it is growing easier for workers to organise economic self-defence, or develop political organisations to achieve class demands.

    Screenshot from 2017-01-09 11:43:14


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    by John Merrick


    Walking down the wooden steps last Monday night, the dead-eyed glare of Young Labourites hit you hard. Three days into conference and the bum-fluff and teenage skin is showing through; their father’s suits, 20 years of growth and ale before they fit, are beginning to crease and stain. What kind of twilight zone for the young and awkward had I stepped into?


    Latin America: From Reform to Resistance - An Interview with Jeffery Webber (part 2)

    Jeffery Webber, interviewed by George Souvlis


    George Souvlis: 10 year ago Evo Morales was elected president of. In your article dealing with the Bolivian regime titled, "Fantasies Aside”, you argue that there’s a reconstituted neoliberalism in Bolivia under Morales. Is it a neoliberal regime, and if so, why and how does it differ from previous neoliberal regimes in the country? To what extent do indigenous people participate substantially in the policy making of the regime? Is any indigenous liberation taking place?

    Jeffery Webber: I think the tenor of debate in scholarly accounts of Latin American political economy, around neoliberalism, post-neoliberalism, and neo-developmentalism, have tended easily to degenerate into semantic turf wars that often obstruct careful assessment of continuities and ruptures in countries such as Bolivia more than reveal new insights. So I’ll try to avoid that dynamic here, and just say, to start with, that I first made the argument that the Morales regime’s political-economic strategy since 2006 could best be characterized as “reconstituted neoliberalism” in my 2011 book, From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia. The later magazine piece you mention was a response to subsequent criticisms of that book coming from a certain crude, left-populist, celebratory position of the Morales regime and defensive apologia of any and every action it ever undertook.


    Latin America: From Reform to Resistance - An Interview with Jeffery Webber (part 1)

    Jeffery Webber interviewed by George Souvlis

    The history of Latin America has always been central to left-wing history and politics; and never more so than the past 50 years. Since the rise of Allende's government in Chile and it's brutal suppression after Pinochet's US-backed coup, to its use as a testing-ground for neoliberal restructuring, and the subsequent rise of autonomous social movements and the Bolivarian "pink tide" of left governments, there is much we can learn from the continent. In the first of a two-part interview with Jeffery Webber, Senior Lecturer at Queen Marys, University of London, he analyses the contradictions in the contemporary Latin American left, and offers a detailed analysis of the politics of the continent since the 1970s.


    The Colonial, Postcolonial and the Politics of Anti-Imperialism: An Interview with Tithi Bhattacharya

    Tithi Bhattacharya interviewed by George Souvlis


    The ascent of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India has brought to light the dark underbelly of Indian society - often seen in Europe and North America as a beacon of democracy and hope for the Global South. Modi, in many ways, shows the strong continuity between the strategies of the British colonial rulers of India and the Indian post-colonial elites in their respective forms of social domination. In this interview with Tithi Bhattacharya, professor of South Asian History and the Director of Global Studies at Purdue University, she discusses Modi's upper caste, majoritarian violence; the nature of the postcolonial India state; her work on the bhadralok class; gender violence and social reproduction; and Palestinian solidarity and the BDS movement.


    Finance, Economics and Politics

    by Tony Norfield


    The financial system accentuates all the absurdities of capitalism, but it does this in a way that can make finance appear to be separate from the capitalist economy, rather than an inevitable outgrowth from it. Almost every observer of capitalism makes a distinction between the ‘real’ and the ‘financial’ economy. Even those who would claim to be anti-capitalist often advocate policies to save the capitalist economy from the vagaries of disruptive financial markets.

    A division between a ‘real’ and a ‘financial’ economy can seem to make sense, especially given the extravagant rewards of financiers who seem to perform no function other than to boost their own incomes and wealth. A closer look at how the capitalist economy works, though, throws a very different light on what is happening. We need to recognise that the global economy is dominated by a small number of countries and their corporations – and that the financial system is a means by which they maintain their privileged status in the world.


    White Overseers of the World

    by Zachary Sell


    For Cedric Robinson, capitalism has been characterised by chaos which cannot be captured by a unifying language.i If that is the case, it is not for lack of trying. In the mid-nineteenth century, abolitionist discourses sutured diverse geographies by interpreting the world within dichotomies of slavery and freedom. While this imagination enlivened abolitionist struggles against slavery in the US and beyond, it also elided the forms of colonialism and expropriation that visions of free labour rested upon. By foregrounding what Jairus Banaji has called the ‘incoherence’ of free labour, this essay considers the ways in which projects that have sought to universalise free labour have depended upon the proliferation of coercion.ii


    Europe, Democracy and the Left: An interview with Geoff Eley

    Geoff Eley interviewed by George Souvlis


    There is no doubt that in 2008 the capitalist system in Europe and in United States suffered a severe shock from which has not yet recovered. Suggestive indications of this "permanent crisis" are the draconian austerity packages that the economic elites implemented as a response to these developments triggering the dissolution of European Union, the collapse of democratic institutions, the impoverishment of the working people and emergence of far-right movements and parties throughout the European continent.

    Few are more appropriate to explain such developments in their historicity alongside the rise of Nazism and Fascism in the interwar period, and the historiographical complexities around these issues, than the British historian Geoff Eley. His work on the history of Germany and the authoritarian regimes of the interwar period; the role of class, gender and race in current debates within the field of historiography; and the inextricable trajectories of European democracy and the European left give him an insightful understanding of today's political momentum and its meaning for the left. In particular, Eley’s contributions in the field of history have transformed the way we deal with the origins and the nature of autocratic politics, the history of the non-Stalinist left and the liaisons between history and politics.


    Guarding Capital

    by J. A. Bujes


    In the summer of 1981, I took a job as a security guard at the Bank of America World Trade Center in San Francisco. I had signed up for the Latin workshop at U.C. Berkeley, and working the graveyard shift was the only way I could attend class each day, complete hours of homework every night, sleep, and pay rent. I had to have a job, and it had to be a job that allowed me to study while working. I had a friend who had a friend who was assistant manager on that shift, and they were always looking for bodies for graveyard.


    Technically Female: Women, Machines, and Hyperemployment

    by Helen Hester


    Femininity, Technologies, Work

    In an advert for Recognition Equipment in 1966, a young woman with a charming smile places an arm around her male colleague’s shoulder, and rests her head gently against him as he tries to read some very serious and important paperwork. The tagline declares, ‘Our optical reader can do anything your key punch operators do. (Well, almost.)’ It’s limitations? The copy informs us that the machine ‘can’t use the office for intimate tête-à-têtes’ or ‘be a social butterfly’. All it can do is its job, reading and computing data at the rate of ‘2400 typewritten characters a second’. Another, published a year later, and quite clearly a sequel to the first, uses the same tagline, this time accompanied by an image of a heavily pregnant blonde. Unlike this woman, we are told, Recognition Equipment’s office technologies ‘can’t take maternity leave. Or suffer from morning sickness. Or complain about being tired all the time.’ It should be clear to the viewer which of these things is more useful to have around the office.


    The Political Is Political: In Conversation With Yasmin Nair

    by Rosie Warren

    ‘In a world of left-wing discourse that has become enamored with a kind of shit-eating tween preciousness’, writes Fredrik Deboer, ‘Yasmin Nair’s voice is serious without being dour, and playful without being cute. Her writing is invested with quiet, unfussy power.’ She is someone who ‘absolutely will not tolerate getting hip checked by some adolescent from the Twin Cities area who looked up intersectionality on Dictionary.com last week and now has “bell hooks gif ” in her search terms.’ High praise.

    One of Nair’s blog pieces caught my attention; a short, playful, razor-sharp piece about the political vacuity of polyamory. In ‘Your Sex is Not Radical’, as in all of her writing, Nair pulls no punches: ‘the sad truth that many of us learn after years in sexual playing fields (literally and figuratively) is that how many people you fuck has nothing to do with the extent to which you fuck up capitalism.’ Having read it, and many others, scandalised and giddy, I conducted an interview with Nair via Skype and email in March 2016.


    The Struggle for Labour – An Invitation to Comrades

    by the Editors


    The Labour party, the British labour movement, and the radical Left stands – if we may abuse a cliché for the sake of accurate description – at a crossroads. The Parliamentary Labour Party’s attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn, as treacherous as it has been cack-handed, represents an old politics: the politics of triangulation, vacuity and insulation from democracy. In other words, the coup-makers and their media supporters belong to that post-Cold War order, the representative and mediating structures of which are collapsing with bloody alacrity. They are the void made flesh. They have no answers for the coming and extant ruins.

    Corbyn, or the renewed and redoubled movement to keep him as leader of a new type of party-movement, just might. Jeremy Corbyn means more than Jeremy Corbyn.


    From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation

    by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor


    The below is extracted from Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor's From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, with thanks to the publisher Haymarket Books for their permission.


    On 12 April 1865, the American Civil War officially came to an end when the Union Army accepted the unconditional surrender of the Confederacy on the steps of a courthouse in Appomattox, Virginia. The Union Army, led by 200,000 Black soldiers, had destroyed the institution of slavery; as a result of their victory, Black people were now to be no longer property but citizens of the United States. The Civil Rights Act of 1866, the first declaration of civil rights in the United States, stated that:

    citizens of every race and color, without regard to any previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, shall have the same right, in every State and Territory in the United States ... to full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property, as is enjoyed by white citizens.


    The New Swedish Fascism: An Introduction

    by Shabane Barot


    ‘I think we have the potential to become the largest party,’ Sweden Democrats’ party secretary Richard Jomshof tells a Swedish news agency in December 2015. His comments follow the results of poll that the Sweden Democrats (SD), a party that emerged from the Neo-Nazi movement of the eighties, have the support of 20 per cent of voters. This makes them the third largest party in the country – the largest among male voters. ‘I am absolutely convinced that the party has benefited from the situation that has arisen in recent months, even if we do not acknowledge the situation,’ Jomshof continues, referring to the refugee crisis.


    A turning tide for sex workers?: The home affairs committee report

    by Toni Mac


    Last week, I was sitting in a meeting with a dozen sex worker activists, battling to get through a huge list of agenda items. We had discussed a number of matters including the upcoming closure of a sex worker outreach clinic, the volunteer vacancy that needed to be filled, and the somewhat momentous occasion of opening our first bank account, when a member reminded the group that the following day, we’d be finding out the results of Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into Prostitution.

    The response was resigned weariness, and uncertainty about what we might expect: a report that called for the criminalisation of the purchase of sex, or else a non-committal conclusion stating the committee were unconvinced either way, and that more research is needed. The inquiry had been announced back in January with some highly biased terms of reference, and we had submitted evidence with a degree of self preserving pessimism - the sort of message-in-a-bottle tactic that sex worker activists are used to deploying on a returning tide. We signed off the matter with a brittle cheerfulness and I wrote ‘HASC report due: likely to be bad’ in the meeting minutes.



    by Sam Kriss

    krasinski2-xlargeAmericans are afraid of Benghazi. The name, just by itself, sounds out an organised assault on Western values. BEN, the comforting tonal balance of a just and ordered world; Ben Johnson, Ben Franklin, Ben Kenobi. The sudden jolt of GHA, a descent into chaos, its throaty foreign consonant, its vowel trailing away into nothingness like a scream in a raging sandstorm. Finally ZI, total madness. Interstellar incoherence, the scrapyard of broken lines at the distant tail-end of the alphabet, cuneiforms leaking a viscous significance from the fractures in their exoskeletons. BENGHAZI. A horror story in three acts.

    The question is, who wrote it?


    Not a Coup But a Blaze

    by the Editors


    In death's dream kingdom …

    There, is a tree swinging

    And voices are

    In the wind's singing

    More distant and more solemn

    Than a fading star.

    – T S Eliot, ‘Hollow Men’.

    In the spectacle of plummeting share prices, currency values, property prices, and trade volumes, we can scry a future.

    The United Kingdom, a dream kingdom, a twilight kingdom, is on the brink of its downfall.


    Union Jacks Flutter Over a Widening Gyre

    By Richard Seymour

    All the wrong people are cheering. Farage, bulbous eyes swivelling and moist, lauded a victory for “the real people, for the ordinary people, for the decent people”. The citrine-tinged Trump, with customary intuition, praises the Scots (who overwhelmingly voted for Remain) for taking their country back. Marine Le Pen, hailing a “victory for freedom,” demands a similar referendum in France. Certainly, George Galloway, having joined Farage in demonising ‘mass immigration,’ is also pleased, and there are a few saps who think that Tony Benn’s democratic socialist dream is on the brink of fruition. But the serried ranks of red-faced, Toryboy rosbifs, delightedly fluttering their Union Jacks while sinking glass after glass of celebratory fizz, know that tomorrow belongs to them.


    The Abasement of Trauma

    by Jen Izaakson


    Inserting ‘trigger’ warnings above material that includes reference to violent content has become a notable tendency on the internet for at least the last two or three years. As the trend has grown, the nature of the material warranting a trigger warning – often abbreviated to TW – has broadened in scope. No longer reserved for citing or invoking characteristically traumatic events such as rape, trigger warnings began next to appear above discussions of sexism or racism. Then above texts referencing oppression, then above offensive or unpleasant content generally. They began to feature in relation to political or controversial topics such as abortion law, diet articles or mental-health policy documents. Trigger warnings have appeared above content that includes description of a fire, the death of a pet, and a love-triangle.

    Tracing the evolution of the use of the TW is not intended to make a case against one particular use or another: rather, the entire use of the term ‘trigger’ in this way is misguided in all circumstances. What it means needs to be understood.


    From Choice to Polarity: Politics of, and, and in Art

    by China Miéville


    In a rough landscape in central Africa, men are at work. They carry fire, haul industrial parts, wheeze under protective masks. They’re sweating and exhausted. When at last evening comes, they clock off and shower for a long time under cobbled-together plumbing. Then they rummage in battered wardrobes, bring out extraordinary clothes, and transform.

    Crocodile shoes; canary jackets; Savile Row shirts. Twirling canes, they set out through the dust to strike a pose. To perform. A strut-off in a late-night bar.