by James Gurrey “Use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?” — Hamlet For as long as I have been a part of the Left, for most activists there has been a tacit subjective injunction at various times to feel guilty about various things: the fact that some are worse off than ourselves, that we are insufficiently active, that we are not politically ‘hard’ enough, that we have and enjoy different kinds of ‘privilege’. However there is nothing progressive about guilt. Quite the opposite. Defining guilt as the projecting inwards of aggressive instincts we
James Gurrey is a union and Labour Party activist based in North London.
by Richard Seymour Women, children, and revolutionaries hate irony. —Joseph Conrad I. Gramsci is supposed to have claimed, in one of his recondite quips, that Marxism is ‘organised sarcasm’. There is something terribly appealing about the idea of sarcasm, red in tooth and claw, being marshalled into the proletarian side of battle. It is ludic and yet hugely suggestive. And Gramsci certainly withered his opponents nicely when duty demanded it. What would the claim be like if it were true?
by China Miéville The stricken punditocracy agrees that Donald Trump is missing a crucial quality, a je ne sais quoi necessary for his office. He may be president, but he is not presidential. The liberal world is in mourning for this dispositional quiddity, presidentialness. According to one recent poll, 70 per cent of Americans surveyed held that Trump has – particularly in his genuinely startling use of social media, his deliberately offensive provocations – acted ‘unpresidentially’. Plucking examples from vast reserves, the LA Times decries Trump’s ‘self-indulgent and unpresidential demeanor’; the Village Voice his ‘unpresidential’ ‘antics’; the Atlantic ‘the
by Maïa Pal To be homeless is to be nameless. He. The existence of a migrant worker. John Berger The One Day Without Us campaign was launched in the UK in October 2016 ‘in reaction to the rising tide of post-Brexit street- level racism and xenophobia’ and, according to its website, ‘the divisive and stridently anti-migrant rhetoric emanating from too many politicians that has accompanied it.’ It held its target protest day on Monday 20 February 2017. ‘At a time when the political discussion about migration too often depicts a false narrative of “us versus them”,
Maïa Pal teaches International Relations at Oxford Brookes University. She is currently working on a monograph, Jurisdictional Accumulation: an Early-Modern History of Law, Empires, and Capital, and on a co-edited volume, Standards and Sovereigns: Legal Histories of Extraterritoriality. She is also a member of the Historical Materialism editorial board.
Jeremiah Gaster is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Studies at York University.
Sebastian Budgen works as a senior editor at Verso Books, and is on the editorial board of Historical Materialism.
by George Souvlis, Sebastian Budgen, Jeremiah Gaster and Charlie Post. Could you introduce yourself, by describing the formative experiences (academic and political) that strongly influenced you? Politically, I was shaped by the social struggles of the late 1960s and early 1970s. My father’s family were working-class Jewish social-democrats, who, while voting for the US Democratic Party since the 1930s, were anti-racist and anti-imperialist. They supported both the civil rights and black power movement. My uncle, who was involved in the unofficial and illegal strikes among teachers in the late 1950s and early 1960s that won collective bargaining rights, broke
by Sarah Grey ‘Tamil will die a slow death The languages of the West will triumph in this world.’ So says the simpleton; Alas! what an accusation! —Subramania Bharati I. We live among the ghosts of languages.