Written in 1938 while he was still a Trotskyist, CLR James writes about the plan to create a Jewish colony in Kenya. This was not a brand new idea in relation to the rise of Nazism, but had been supported by Theodor Herzl and Joseph Chamberlain (known as the Uganda Scheme).
Casa Invisible is here to stay!
Against the eviction of the Invisible, against Mall-aga, against the compliant city
After two-and-a-half hours marching through the city, the protest took a turn onto Calle Larios, the central avenue of pomp in Málaga’s center, at 10 pm. A wave goodbye to the vehicle carrying the band that had been leading the protest for so long, and the march moves on into the pedestrian zone. Suddenly and with no announcement, the first seven rows of heroínas invisibles begin to run, not quite such “invisible heroines,” they overtake the six-man line of police and run the whole way to the Plaza Constitución, where the final rally is supposed to take place. Incompliant flight, breaking through the consumption and movement patterns of the expensive shopping mile, stares of disbelief from passersby and even most of the protest participants are astounded by what is possible on this day.
How is this possible in a city that has become more and more beholden to tourism? That caves in to the assignment and handing-over of the city center to speculation, gentrification and touristification? Culture instrumentalized as attraction in the competition amongst cities and as brand in the service of tourism – from the claim to Picasso’s birthplace to the countless museum institutions erected of mediocre quality? How is this possible, above all, in a city that is now also shedding its liberal cloak and attempting to evict the sole remaining sociocultural oasis in the thoroughly-touristified desert of its center?
Theses on Benjamin
1. The workers’ movement was not defeated by capital. The workers’ movement was defeated by democracy. These are the terms of the problem that the century puts before us. The fact, die Sache selbst, we must now think.
2. The workers’ movement balanced its accounts with capitalism. The grand historical confrontation of the 19th and 20th centuries. Alternating phases. Reciprocal instances of victory and defeat. But the workers’ labour power, an internal part of capital, could not exile itself. This is the obscure depth of the failure of revolution. Reasonable and crazy attempts to change the world, all fallen. The long march of reformism had no more success than the assault from the sky. But the workers changed capital. They forced it to change itself. Their defeat was never on the social plane. It was on political ground.
3. The 20th century is not the century of social democracy. It is the century of democracy. Moving through the era of the wars, democracy imposed its hegemony. It is democracy that won the class struggle. The authoritarian and totalitarian political solutions functioned in the end as the demonic instruments of a democratic providentialism. Democracy, like the monarchy of the past, is now absolute. More than the practices of totalitarian democracy there emerged a totalised idea of democracy. Paradoxically, this occurred contemporaneously with the dissolution of the concept of the ‘people,’ which was foreseen by the genius of Kelsen. After the defeat of Nazism and the failure of socialism, democracy rose up twice as the choice of value. Neither in the east nor in the west did the workers’ movement elaborate or experiment with its own idea of democracy. It did not cultivate or move through it as a field of conflict. The workers’ movement of the 20th century could be nothing but democratic. But the century of democracy killed it. This trauma lies, and acts obscurely, in the collective unconscious of the European left – in its militancy, leadership and culture.
On June 2 Soumaila Sacko, a migrant agricultural worker from Mali, was brutally murdered in San Calogero in Italy. He was shot in the head while gathering aluminium to rebuild the shantytown on the outskirts of San Ferdinando, where over four thousand seasonal workers live during harvest season, in overpopulated shack and tents, amidst garbage, plastic and rubber.
What the AT&T strike wave means – and the next steps in developing a direct action workers movement in North AmericaBut what will it take to win against this Death Star of a corporation? We need a direct action workers movement, directly controlled by its members, willing to spread the struggle beyond the shackles of labor law, and beyond the confines of the contract.