When you watch a mass cultural event build, take place, reach a critical crescendo — and then re-stabilise, into a new and scratchy disequilibrium — you need a specific language to describe it.
Since most of the British press have never read Hegel their ability to grasp what just happened is reduced to a series of garbled exclamations.
So thank f**k for the dialectic. What’s happened was a classic example of what the antifascist poet John Cornford once called “the dialectic’s point of change” — the sudden shattering of a political glacier, under severe geomorphic forces.
It was tragic, it…
As proof copies of How To Stop Fascism hit the doorsteps of reviewers, there’s been a predictable reaction, exemplified by Ed West’s article for Unherd, entitled “Fascism isn’t coming”.
In it, myself and the antifascist academics Tim Snyder and Jason Stanley are accused of crying wolf over the far-right danger.
The fascist groups are small, says West. Trump is merely a “national populist” and has left the scene. Fascism was expansionist, violent and youthful, while modern right-wing populism is the opposite — defensive, democratic and prevalent among the elderly.
Echoing Francis Fukuyama, West attributes progressive concern over the far right…
The historian Timothy Mason once described the Nazi regime as “politics without administration”. For Hitler’s inner circle, he wrote, the traits of systemisation, regularity, and calculability in government were seen as limiting their ability to wield power.
The regime “characteristically produced both non-policies or evasions… or sudden and drastic decisions in the government machine”. By the end, the Third Reich disintegrated into an aggregation of unco-ordinated task forces and political responsibility became “increasingly blurred”. (1)
Reading Michael Wolff’s account of Trump’s role in the insurrection of 6 January 2021, published yesterday by New York Magazine, we are immediately plunged back…
“He’s not just a pig, he’s stupid,” said far-right FOX News host Tucker Carlson. The target was not some hapless liberal commentator, lured on to the channel for entertainment value. It was General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and America’s most senior officer.
The trigger for Carlson’s spite was something we’re all going to have to get our heads around, even in Europe where it’s little discussed and has so far provoked little far right vitriol: Critical Race Theory.
A report from the UK parliament’s Education Committee has slammed the concept of “white privilege” and warned schools and charities that they may breach the 2010 Equality Act if they teach children about its existence.
Coming just weeks after a government-inspired quango denied the existence of systematic racism in Britain, the direction of travel in the culture war is clear. The “white working class” — a sociological fiction now portrayed as fact — will become a group with “protected characteristics” under the law, making nonsense of forty years of anti-racist activism and legislation.
Discrimination against white people, always unlawful under…
With the booing of England players for taking the knee at the start of the Romania match, Britain’s summer of racist bullshit just got under way in earnest. It will escalate with every Euro2020 fixture, coinciding with the spectacle of no fewer than five (!) far right candidates standing in the Batley and Spen by election, which ends on 1 July.
Try as you might, you will not be able to ignore the central question: is taking the knee “Marxist”? It will polarise every pub, every living room and provide live ammunition for every grifting right-wing radio host. …
Outline of a talk at the Critical University 15 May 2021
If we go back to March 18th, and look at the famous imagery of the National Guard on their barricades, we’re only seeing one half of the story. This is the French labour movement as it saw itself: orderly, respectable and quite obviously gendered — the men have the guns, flags and uniforms, the women and children stand to the side.
The battalions were rooted in local communities but, as Martin Phillip Johnson shows, there was a lot of crossover — so that a man in one area might…
1. All politics is now about identity. It’s not just “cultural” identity, but a mixture of economic reality (precarity vs retirement, renting vs owning) plus all the new forms of exploitation: racial, sexual, consumption, data-extraction and above all relationship to finance. People want parties to express their values and aspirations and from the SNP to the Greens to the UKIP-ized Tories, the successful ones do exactly that.
2. The Labour Party is still viable as a vehicle for the exploited to create a government that acts in their favour, even if only to shape the nature of reforms. But Labourism…
This is an English version of an article published in Der Freitag on the 150th anniversary of Rosa Luxemburg’s birth
I only finally understood Rosa Luxemburg when I put my finger on a map of pre-1914 Europe and traced her movements. Zamosc, Zurich, Berlin — and then the fateful train journey to Warsaw in 1906, which took her out of the world of social-democratic respectability into one of strikes, pogroms, bombings and a five-month spell in jail.
Despite more than forty years of engagement with Luxemburg’s thoughts and writings, until I “put her on the map” I had never properly…
Journalist, writer and film-maker. Former economics editor at BBC Newsnight. Author of How To Stop Fascism, published May 2021.