Crisis is the condition of everyday life in capital. Capitalism kills in silently effective ways without necessary recourse to spectacle, through institutional mechanisms like patent controls on life-saving drugs. This is why everyday squalor in the Middle East is equally, if not more, fitting a symbol for Marxists than Muslims in the ‘state of exception’ on Guantanamo Bay.
The following are excerpts from the transcript of a moderated panel discussion and audience Q&A on problems of strategies and tactics on the Left today, organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society. Panelists: Michael Albert (Z Magazine, author of Parecon: Life After Capitalism), Chris Cutrone (Platypus), Stephen Duncombe (Gallatin School of New York University, editor of Cultural Resistance Reader), Brian Holmes (Continental Drift and Université Tangente), and Marisa Holmes (new Students for a Democratic Society).
A new chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was formed in February at the University of Chicago (UChicago) in tandem with chapters forming throughout the city and across the country. The new SDS is a national student organization dedicated to progressive political change, whose name was borrowed from the famous New Left organization that helped to shape the social unrest of the 1960s.
Alasdair Macintyre begins After Virtue with a parable: Populist demagogues declare war on the natural sciences. Every lab bombed, every chemistry department ransacked, every copy of Nature burned. Once the luddite swell subsides, a group of enlightened citizens attempt to reconstruct science from the remaining fragments. To us, natural science is a way of making sense of the physical world through experiment and observation. In this imaginary future, such a context has been lost. The new, reconstructed science is a wholly self-enclosed activity, like the creation of an imaginary language. Yet however hermetic this science may be, it is consistent; the proofs and the equations mean nothing, but they add up.
It may be that the political meaning of the recent violence in Kenya will exceed the explanatory capabilities of the news media, but the question itself has not yet adequately been posed. In place of a serious engagement with the crisis, coverage of the events has been characterized by genuine shock that this could have happened in Kenya.