by Richard Seymour The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. – George Orwell In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing. – Oscar Wilde Okay, I write overblown, purple, self-indulgent prose. So fucking what? – Angela Carter ‘All Scripture,’ claims the Book of Timothy, ‘is God-breathed’. This is not the first myth of divine inspiration of writing. The Sumerian god, Enki, was supposed to have gifted writing to humanity alongside metalwork and woodwork – a telling juxtaposition, that suggests that writing is one of the crafts. The word ‘hieroglyph’ literally translates as
by Jordy Rosenberg & Kay Gabriel. Jordy Rosenberg: Can you speak a bit about your formation as a poet and a Marxist? You’ve founded (at least) two different poetry collectives – Negative Press, “a gay Marxist poetry collective,” and Vetch, a magazine of “trans poetry and poetics.” How does your own work relate to the work of collectives-forming and the practice and labor of being part of a collective?
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 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 David Camfield. Too often people on the radical left find ourselves thinking with concepts we’ve inherited from the past that have become misleading because the realities to which the concepts refer have changed fundamentally. This happens a lot when we talk about the workers’ movement. As New York City transit union activist Steve Downs put it, We speak about the labour movement and I think we tend to do it out of habit or maybe generosity or maybe even embarrassment, but there is no labour movement in this city or in this country, frankly… there is no unifying vision, there
by Sarah Grey There’s a special kind of dread that breeds in the path of a hurricane. They call it the ‘cone of uncertainty’ – that brightly coloured funnel on the weather map that traces the possible paths of a storm. It’s a statistical mishmash created from dozens of predictions of varying quality, and when you see the dark red centre touch your part of the map, you can almost feel the barometric pressure dropping. You might have days to prepare, days before you know whether it’ll really hit you and how badly. You might not have days to
by Matthew Cole. According to the speculations of techno-futurologists, left and right, the machines are here to liberate us. Most of the discourse is dominated by the neoliberal right such as Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee and Andrew Haldane, chief economist of the Bank of England. Their arguments, avoiding questions of exploitation, are naturally popular with the establishment. McAfee’s best-selling book The Second Machine Age has been lauded by leaders at the World Economic Forum.
Since the 1991 publication of The Wages of Whiteness, David Roediger’s work has fundamentally changed the shape of scholarship on race and racism in the US. In his latest book, Class, Race and Marxism, Roediger tackles the relationship between race and class in contemporary society, and questions many of the common assumptions of the Marxist left. Below are a series of critical commentaries on the book by Satnam Virdee, Alana Lentin and Charles Post. Solidarity, Race and Class by Alana Lentin Comments on Roediger’s Class, Race and Marxism by Charles Post Race, Class and Roediger’s Open Marxism by Satnam Virdee
by Alana Lentin At the launch of David Roediger’s collection, Race, Class and Marxism it was invigorating to see so many people crowd into the un-air-conditioned space on a hot Friday evening to hear four brilliant thinkers talk about race. And so it was dispiriting that during Q&A a number of audience members suggested that an over-emphasis on ‘identitarianism’ is diluting the power of the left at a critical juncture in US politics. The picture they painted of a left fragmented by an over-wrought concern with positionality to the detriment of an emphasis on ‘materiality’ was gently and graciously
by Charles Post. Over the past three decades, David Roediger’s work has fundamentally reshaped the study of race and racism, both in the US and internationally. Starting with his path breaking collection of essays, The Wages of Whiteness, Roediger (and his collaborator Elizabeth Esch) have illustrated how both capitalist and wage workers have participated in the creation of race and utilized the myth of intrinsic and unchangeable differences amongst humans to defend and advance their social positions in capitalist societies. Roediger has described both how fluid the social fiction of race is, plotting shifting “racial boundaries” across time; and