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ONE OF THE DEFINING MOMENTS of the recent general federal election for the Canadian left was the release on September 15 of the Leap Manifesto. The Manifesto, spearheaded by prominent left Canadian intellectuals such as Naomi Klein, Avi Lewis, David Suzuki, and Martin Lukacs as well as notable celebrities such as Donald Sutherland and Leonard Cohen, included a bold call for respect for Indigenous rights, transition to a “clean economy,” and a guaranteed annual income.
Moshé Machover was a founder of the Israeli Socialist Organisation in 1962, better known by the title of its journal, Matzpen (meaning “Compass” in Hebrew). The journal became known for its anti-Zionism and anti-nationalism from a Marxist perspective. Machover was interviewed on 17 September 2015 by Platypus members Thomas Willis and Richard Rubin. What follows is an edited transcript of their discussion, focussing on its potential lessons learned for the present.
ONE HUNDRED YEARS LATER, what does the crisis and split in Marxism, and the political collapse of the major parties of the 2nd International in 1914, mean for us today? The Spartacists, for example, are constantly in search of the "August 4" moment, the moment of betrayal of the proletariat's struggle for socialism by various tendencies in the history of Marxism. The Spartacists went so far as to confess their own "August 4th" when they failed to call for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake there. So, what happened, from a Marxist perspective, on August 4, 1914, when the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) members of the Reichstag voted to finance the Prussian Empire's war budget?
THE BLOODSHED IN KASHMIR beginning in June 2010 gave rise to a heated debate in India concerning the causes of and possible solutions to the conflict. A meeting on 21 October in Delhi organized by the pro-Maoist Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners was entitled “Azadi (Freedom)—the Only Way.” Interpreting “azadi” as shorthand for “the right to self-determination,” the keynote speakers—writer-activist Arundhati Roy and Syed Ali Shah Geelani of the Islamist Tehreek-e-Hurriyat—argued that the only solution to the dispute in Kashmir was freedom for Jammu and Kashmir from India.
Uli vom Hagen’s response to my article on the current state of the German Left engages in a remarkable apology for its nationalism, which results from its near complete failure to digest the dangerous policies of the German KPD of the 1920s and 30s. With his focus on the events of 1923 and his excitement for “National Bolshevism,” vom Hagen presents a highly symptomatic position informed by a gross conflation of nationalism and romantic-regressive anti-capitalism, which experienced its peak with the rise of European fascism and National Socialism in Germany.