On Liberal Blackmail: Refusing the False Choice between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron

The title of a recent opinion piece which appeared in The Guardian – the mouthpiece of the anti-Assange,-pro-Hillary liberal left – says it all: “Le Pen is a far-right Holocaust revisionist. Macron isn’t. Hard choice?” Predictably, the text proper begins with: “Is being an investment banker analogous with being a Holocaust revisionist? Is neoliberalism on a par with neofascism?” It then mockingly dismisses even the conditional Leftist support for the second-round Macron vote, the stance[ …]

Donald Trump’s topsy-turvy world

The most depressing aspect of the post-electoral period in the US is not the measures announced by the President-elect but the way the bulk of the Democratic Party is reacting to its historic defeat. Notably, its supporters oscillate between two extremes: the horror at the Big Bad Wolf called Trump and the obverse of this panic and fascination — the renormalization of the situation, the idea that nothing extraordinary happened, that it is just another[ …]

Sinicisation

When Alain Badiou claims that democracy is our fetish, this statement is to be taken in the precise Freudian sense, not just to mean that we elevate democracy into an untouchable Absolute. ‘Democracy’ is the last thing we see before confronting the ‘lack’ constitutive of the social field, the fact that ‘there is no class relationship,’ the trauma of social antagonism. When confronted with the reality of domination and exploitation, of brutal social struggle, we[ …]

Best of 2011: Only Communism can save liberal democracy

1989 marked not only the defeat of the Communist State-Socialism, but also the defeat of the Western Social Democracy. Nowhere is the misery of today’s Left more palpable than in its “principled” defence of the Social-Democratic Welfare State: the idea is that, in the absence of a feasible radical Leftist project, all that the Left can do is to bombard the state with demands for the expansion of the Welfare State, knowing well that the[ …]

Anti-immigration politics: barbarism with a human face

Recent incidents – such as the expulsion of Roma, or Gypsies, from France, or the resurgence of nationalism and anti-immigration sentiment in Germany, or the massacre in Norway – have to be seen against the background of a long-term rearrangement of the political space in western and eastern Europe. Until recently, most European countries were dominated by two main parties that addressed the majority of the electorate: a right-of-centre party (Christian Democrat, liberal-conservative, people’s) and[ …]

Best of 2010: Barbarism with a Human Face

A month ago, a book entitled Germany Does Away With Itself by Thilo Sarrazin – a bank executive who was considered politically close to the Social Democrats – caused an uproar in Germany. Its thesis is that German nationhood is threatened because too many immigrants are allowed to maintain their cultural identity. Although the book was overwhelmingly condemned, its tremendous impact suggests that it touched a nerve. Incidents like these have to be seen against[ …]

Liberal multiculturalism masks an old barbarism with a human face

The recent expulsion of Roma, or Gypsies, from France drew protests from all around Europe – from the liberal media but also from top politicians, and not only from those on the left. But the expulsions went ahead, and they are just the tip of a much larger iceberg of European politics. A month ago, a book by Thilo Sarrazin, a bank executive who was considered politically close to the Social Democrats, caused an uproar[ …]

When the Party Commits Suicide

[Extract. Appeared in New Left Review I/238, November-December 1999] Finally, in the deluge of the conservative-liberal ‘Black Books’ on Stalinist ‘totalitarianism’, a work which not only meets the highest standards of historical research, but also enables us to grasp the unique social dynamics that culminated in the great purges of the 1930s: J. Arch Getty’s and Oleg V. Naumov’s The Road to Terror. Based on the archives of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, which[ …]

How to Begin from the Beginning

[New Left Review 57, May-June 2009 – pdf] In his wonderful short text ‘Notes of a Publicist’—written in February 1922 when the Bolsheviks, after winning the Civil War against all odds, had to retreat into the New Economic Policy of allowing a much wider scope to the market economy and private property—Lenin uses the analogy of a climber who must backtrack from his first attempt to reach a new mountain peak to describe what retreat means[ …]

Revolution must strike twice

[Review of Lenin by Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, translated by George Holoch. Holmes & Meier] The Left is undergoing a shattering experience: the progressive movement is being compelled to reinvent its whole project. What tends to be forgotten, however, is that a similar experience gave birth to Leninism. Consider Lenin’s shock when, in the autumn of 1914, every European social democratic party except the Serbs’ followed the ‘patriotic line’. How difficult it must have been, at[ …]