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George Souvlis

George Souvlis is a doctoral candidate in history at the European University Institute in Florence and a freelance writer for various progressive magazines including SalvageJacobin, ROAR and Lefteast.

    Althusser, Spinoza and Revolution in Philosophy: An Interview with Warren Montag

    Warren Montag interviewed by George Souvlis.

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    George Souvlis: Would you like to present yourself by focusing on the formative experiences (academic and political) that strongly influenced you?

    Warren Montag: My political and intellectual formation was governed, fittingly I suppose, by a logic of the encounter: that is, I was extraordinarily lucky. If I had not been in the right place at the right time and in proximity to the right people, I would not have thought or written as I have. In the mid to late seventies in Los Angeles (to which I returned after receiving my B.A. from UC Berkeley), I met both Geoff Goshgarian and Mike Davis and we soon formed a kind of collective with a few others (in particular I remember Samira Haj, now a historian at CUNY, I believe). We also organized a study group in which we read the three volumes of Capital, as well as Mandel’s Late Capitalism and other works.

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    The Middle East and Marxist History: An Interview with John Chalcraft

    John Chalcraft interviewed by George Souvlis.

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    George Souvlis: By way of introduction, could you explain what personal experiences strongly influenced you, politically and academically?

    John Chalcraft: I grew up the son of a social worker and a vicar in a provincial milieu. I remember defending a motion supporting the miners’ strike with a friend at a school debate in the 1980s and being genuinely surprised by the anger our stance aroused in our conservative context. Cycling alone in North Africa in my late teens had a major impact on my perceptions of a part of the Third World that I still viewed at that time in unexamined Orientalist terms. Discovering the writings of Noam Chomsky and John Pilger in my early twenties was a very provocative intellectual and political experience. Their arguments were at odds with the dominant understandings I had inherited. I was also frustrated in regard to the lack of non-Western history on offer in my undergraduate days. This frustration and provocation set up much of the questioning and intellectual drive that took me into critical scholarship and a PhD in the history of the Middle East.

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    Feminism and Social Reproduction: An Interview With Silvia Federici

    Silvia Federici interviewed by George Souvlis and Ankica Čakardić

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    George Souvlis and Ankica Čakardić: What were the formative experiences for you politically and personally?

    Silvia Federici: The first most formative experience in my life was WWII. I grew up in the immediate postwar period when the memory of a war that had lasted for years, added to the years of fascism in Italy, were still very fresh. At an early age I was aware that I was born into a world deeply divided and murderous, that the state far from protecting us could be an enemy, that life is extremely precarious and, as Joan Baez’ song later said, “there but for fortune go you and I.” Growing up in postwar and presumably post-fascist Italy it was difficult not be politicized. Even as a little girl I could not help not to be antifascist hearing all the stories my parents told us, and my father’s tirades against the fascist regime. I also grew up in a communist town, where on May Day workers sported red carnations on the jackets and we wake up at the sound of Bella Ciao, and where the struggle between communists and fascists continued with the fascists periodically trying to blow up the monument to the partisan and the communist retaliating against the headquarter of the MSI – Movimento Sociale Italiano – which everybody knew was a continuation of the now banned fascist party. By the time I was 18 I saw myself as a radical, that at the time the prototype struggle was still that of factory workers or the anti-fascist struggle.

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

    Werner Bonefeld interviewed by George Souvlis

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    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.

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

    Jeffery Webber, interviewed by George Souvlis

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    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.

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    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.

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

    Tithi Bhattacharya interviewed by George Souvlis

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    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.

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

    Geoff Eley interviewed by George Souvlis

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    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.

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