Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Nakba - Zionism from the Standpoint of its Victims

Today is Nakba Day, the day on which Palestinians commemorate the process - which began properly in March 1948, and continued until the second ceasefire in 1949 - by which approximately 750,000 of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine were compelled to leave their homeland, as Israel was brought to birth.  They were compelled by armed intimidation, by rumour, by attacks on their homes and economic infrastructure, and by massacre - all carried out by various Zionist militias, chief among them the Haganah and the Irgun Zvai Leumi.  There is a strong case to make that the expulsions continue to this day - having passed through punitive raids into Gaza and Jordan in the 1950s and 1960s, the conquest of the Strip and of the West Bank in 1967, war in Lebanon in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Sabra and Shatila massacres, and brief brutal wars in the Territories in 2002, 2009 and 2014.

The sheer ghastly inequality of the struggle is illustrated by the grotesque paradox of Monday's events in Jerusalem and on the border with Gaza - on the one hand, a sleek and cynical ceremony to mark the United States's transfer of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; on the other, the shooting down of waves of unarmed protestors, leaving 58 people dead and 2000 injured.  In the first instance, the smug co-ordinated hypocrisy of bloated plutocrats in Jerusalem, Israeli and American; in the second, the desperation of thousands of people who live in a semi-polity without sovereignty, mostly under the poverty line, dependent on UNWRA food aid, under Israeli siege and blockade since 2007, and without significant defences.

Some critical reading, in these dark days:

From Verso -

Nakba Day Reading List

The Nakba and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Haunting the Future - Marx at 200

On Saturday next, May 5 2018, we will arrive at the 200th anniversary of the birth of Marx, who remains, to my view, the essential thinker.  No other intellectual has been as influential over the last two centuries, no other writer has provided such rich resources for his successors and inheritors to understand their past, to think their present and to agitate for their future.

Going back to the writings of Marx's youth is always a salutary and deeply inspiring experience, and all the more so in our confused and chaotic present.  From his student days, he understood and gave dramatic and hopeful expression to the need of the intellectual to respond to her moment, to her 'situation' (as Sartre and Beauvoir would later put it).  Here he is, writing, from university, to his father:
Every metamorphosis is partly a swan song and partly the overture to a great new poem which, in a medley of blurred though brilliant colours, is still struggling to emerge as form.
Marx's grasp of the 'conjuncture' (Althusser's term), as an historical context to be understood and a political opportunity to be seized, is already fully formed.

A team of sociologists, anthropologists and English scholars, including myself, Colin Coulter, Sinead Kennedy, Fergal Finnegan, Chandana Mathur, and Laurence Cox, have prepared a conference at Maynooth University on Friday May 4 and Saturday May 5 to mark this epochal anniversary - .the most substantial conference on leftwing thought and action in Ireland for some time.   We have speakers addressing every facet of Marx's work and the Marxist tradition, from all corners of the globe.  We have as headline speakers Antonio Negri, the most important Italian Marxist since Gramsci and one of the most radical leftwing thinkers active today; and Jodi Dean, the brilliant American political theorist, philosopher of Occupy, advocate of 'the communist horizon'

I published a short article on the relevance of Marx today, on the excellent site of the Dublin Review of Books, often mentioned and admired on this blog.  My warmest thanks go to Maurice Earls, owner of Books Upstairs and co-editor of the DRB, for taking on this work.  The essay has also been reposted by the distinguished American Marxist journal, Monthly Review.

Here is my article -

At the DRB:

Why Marx? Why now? - drb.ie

At Monthly Review Online:

Here is the conference's website/blog:

Anyone and everyone will be welcome - there are preferential rates for students and the unwaged.

We have a world to win!