Posted April 25, 2008
“Radical Blogging Is The Main Trend In Our World Today”
Let’s focus on two trends in radical blogs, both based on Marxism. One is the emergence of a web of prolific Maoist/Marxist-Leninist blogs in the United States. The other is the world of Marxist blogs emanating from English-speaking western Europe. I will start this entry with a look at the Maoist-inspired blogs.
I was late to understanding much about the Maoist/M-L interpretation of Marxism. I came to left politics via anarchism and Trotskyism and didn’t really look closely at the Maoist-influenced tradition until I had been in the movement for some time. Over the last couple of years I’ve started to investigate this framework and its contemporary practice. Through this search I have stumbled across one of the most vibrant corners of net.
There are a couple main spheres of M-L blogs in the U.S. One is a trend that is influenced by both organizations using the name Freedom Road Socialist Organization, especially the group that produces Fight Back newspaper. Another grouping is connected to dissident ex-members of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). A third is a distinct trend that interprets the M-L tradition as hard “anti-first world” politics with no interest in the U.S. working class. There are also at least a dozen blogs that focus exclusively on the armed insurgencies in India and Nepal.
Freedom Road Socialist Organization
The powerhouse of the Fight Back blogs is surely Leftspot. Leftspot is both a regularly updated blog with reliable content (and the odd dud entry) and a massive clearing house for M-L related material online. For example Leftspot has made available online a veritable archive of classic and rare M-L materials from the New Communist Movement era to the present. It also is a portal hundreds of M-L influence materials and movements. It is the M-L blog I check the most.
Also associated with FRSO/Fight Back is The Marxist-Leninist. The Marxist-Leninist is an eclectic mix of news and views with the kind of somewhat traditional Maoist politics you might expect, with maybe a Workers World vibe. But a little more colorful than that sounds. Speaking of political aesthetics, The Marxist-Leninist is worth a visit just for the artful masthead. It features a collage of just the fighters you would expect from Jose Maria Sison to Harry Haywood. The blog is written and edited by an activist living in the US south who writes under the name Comrade Zero. He should update more regularly because it’s usually pretty readable stuff.
FRSO/OSCL has a number of blogs that are influenced by its politics too, including All Out for the Fight and Pottawatomie Creek. I’m continually impressed by the writings of FRSO/OSCL comrades, especially their new book The Cost of Privilege. I wish they would utilize blogs more than they do. Other great bloggers in this milieu include Rise! Resist! Revolt! and the Wrath of Hephaestus.
(ex)Revolutionary Communist Party
These days the realm of ex-RCP comrades is angry, growing, and blogging. They’re angry because they remember the good old days of “Refuse and Resist” and Peru solidarity, before the RCP basically became a cult around Chairman Bob Avakian. Now we can argue about when that happened (hmm, early 70’s?), but it’s as clear as day in 2008. The document that has crystallized this milieu is former Revolution editor Mike Ely’s “Nine Letters to Our Comrades”. This deep critique of the Avakian regime and the dialogue that has followed can be found on Ely’s popular Kasama. Kasama also has excellent and archived material on Nepal, a regular topic of M-L blogs. Also a part of this trend is Good Morning Revolution and Red Flags.
With the people’s war heating up in the Indian countryside and a sweeping Maoist victory in Nepal you may want to stop by some of the many South Asia-focused M-L blogs. Maoist Resistance covers the South Asian Maoist left in incredible detail, sometimes being the only English-language source for information on these movements. Recently the blog has examined the armed movements (sometimes called the “Naxalites” for the town where India’s peoples war began in the 1960’s) in the state of Kerala. Kerala has long been a stronghold of the traditional left, which is now being challenged. Maoist Resistance also pays close attention to insurgencies in West Bengal and Nepal. Here again, this blog has an incredible selection of links connecting you to the full spectrum of M-L influenced movements. If you want to see short documentaries on the Indian Maoist groups you should be directed to World Revolution Media.
Most of these blogs so far assume a socialist politics that asserts the potential of revolutionary situations developing here in the U.S. But there is a current in the M-L blogesphere that rejects the whole notion of their being a potentially radical working class in the U.S. This trend claims “victory to the Third World, defeat for the First World” is the route to world communism. This theory takes peasant insurgency to a global level, with poor nations fighting wealthier nations for global power. The blogs fall ideologically somewhere between Lin Biao and Sam Marcy. The term they use is Maoist-Third Worldism.
Theoretically, Monkey Smashes Heaven leads the pack. The articles are in depth and focus on the super-exploitation of the so-called ‘developing world’ by the wealthy nations of North America and Europe. Chinese communist guerrilla-turned-philosopher Chen Boda, a favorite of the Cultural Revolution, is taken very seriously. Lin Biao himself is also a touchstone, which is not surprising as these blogs have an orientation to political-military thinking. This blog is comes out of the It’s Right To Rebel Cell (IRTRC), which was made up of former MIM members.
Back to Marxists aesthetics for a moment. Shubel Morgan is a gorgeous blog that centrally features contemporary digital art inspired by a Maoist-Third Worldist perspective. Ideologically it is closest to Monkey Smashes Heaven. The blogs name is taken from an alias used by revolutionary anti-slavery activist John Brown.
Red Guard Camper is cantankerous, ultra-left, sectarian, and tons of fun to read. It’s also a lively introduction to the whole tendency because he is always critiquing other Maoist-Third Worldist formations and detailing their shortcomings.
And let’s not forget…
There are a couple of other websites that are very useful for getting information about Maoist/M-L tradition and practice. M-L Translations is an incredible source for documents from across the world. It includes texts from a dizzying array of parties and groups from Turkey to Tunisia and from across decades. You can learn anything you would want to know about the current state of the Maoist-inspired Communist Party of the Philippines over at Philippine Revolution Net.
If you have been wondering if there is a Kim Il Sungist party operating in the Carolinas that also upholds Jim Jones and the Peoples’ Temple, yes, there is such a group. You can find out if I made this up by swinging by the Rural Peoples’ Party website. I guess someone has to uphold the Juche, and why not in the U.S. south? The “Jim Jones model of socialism” I can’t quite visualize, though.
There are also a plethora of blogs that touch of themes such as national liberation, race, and Asian Marxist movements such as Whenua Fenua Enua Vanua. This blog looks closely social movements in the Pacific through an anti-colonial and Marxist lens. One of my favorite is radical blogs overall is Blak Orchid, subtitled “a blog by Asian rebels”. The blog claims James and Grace Lee Boggs as key reference points, which will make sense when you read some of the entries on race and labor. This blog is clearly influenced by elements of the Communist legacy, but also by a confluence of other radical currents and experiences. Back once again to blog aesthetics: Black Orchids has a lovely masthead, bringing together Malcolm X and anti-WTO protests in Korea.
I also want to point out a Marxist blog coming instead out of the Trotskyist tradition. The Rustbelt Radical has a personable mix of Marxist commentary, labor politics, even the odd music review. It’s an internationalist blog but there is a strong connection to the politics and culture of southeastern Michigan. It’s less that six months old and it’s one of the best out there.
In my next entry I’ll look at the Marxist blogs of Ireland and England.
39 responses to “Marxist Blogs, Part One”
please check in this swedish blog:
Also look at these two:
And then not forget the India Solidarity Movement in Sweden:
Its too bad this post will be lost to the mists of time as more are added to the webzine–I wish we had a blog roll to take care of that.
Speaking of Solidarity, they’ve also just published Hell on Wheels, their history of the New Directions reform caucus in TWU Local 100. I don’t know if its available online, but they sell it as a pamphlet and have contact info on their website.
New Directions was one of the more significant socialist-led labor initiatives over the last couple of decades. I’m not endorsing their perspective or political choices, but it’s worth reading.
unfortunately in German: Dietmar Kesten: Zur Geschichte der Kommunistischen Gruppe Bochum/Essen … on the history of a regional marxist-leninist organization in the industrial area of Nordrhein-Westfalia (1971-1984) which – apart from doing a good rank & file work in local car plants – did unlike most other “maoist” groups of that period in Germany concentrate on developing revolutionary theory
I don’t get why you say the ML blog has “Workers World vibe”, but I like the post anyway.
When should we expect part two?
“And, to a large degree too I think, offline publications so often suffer from the same constraint — that of being divorced from everyday struggles.”
Statements like this that counterpose “mere” criticism to “real” activism are irritating.
What separates Marxists from mere activists is precisely that Marxists have a critique of the specific social totality that we inhabit – the mediation of human social relations through the commodity form of human labor – and accordingly see this critique as essential for any attempt at understanding this system.
Most “activism”, by contrast, tends to be merely empty demonstrative ritual, no matter how colorful and “creatively” dressed up with giant puppets and marching banners.
And when social activism isn’t mere empty gesture, it tends to be system-immanent, wage struggles or struggles for democratic rights which, while important, do not break with the framework of the commodity and the state.
The point of critique is not the avoidance of praxis, but rather the development of an *effective* praxis. Read Adorno’s _Marginalia on Theory and Praxis_. (The Frankfurt School has an undeserved bad reputation from “orthodox” Marxists, who should really be called Left-Kautskyites)
Each according to their own but I reckon you’ve taken on an impossible task as one person’s Marxist blog is another’s person “left&” one. As well the trend has been , as this site indicates, that many online sites run by “Marxists” are packaged as blogs even though they’re deployed as ‘zines.
Then each of us who read blogs as matter of course have their own preferred blog roll and each of us who blog have their own preferred blogging dialogue network which we refer to and exchange links and the like.
The key question as far as I’m concerned is the role of blogging among this Marxist left given the sort of advocacy we come from (eg: an “all Russia newspaper”). It isn’t a question of how many blogs in this ilk exist or even perhaps how busy they are, but how popular they are.
Anyone can blog.
The question is whether blogging works as a reach out tool for a particular — in this case “Marxist” — POV. The related question is whether these blogs also offer a forum for some useful discussion and debate. Blogging’s handicap is that it does pander to the “circle spirit” and can easily pitch a sectariana focus.
The other phenomenon which is ratcheting up a pace is the way blogs and Marxist ‘zines are reposting the same items. It’s tag team advocacy. A good article or comment will not die as it is recycled at new urls.
So in many ways, blogging by Marxists is sponsoring a culture — a blooming of a thousand flowers — rather than something akin to what Lenin argued with his newspaper principles. The tragedy is that in this surge and mix, what Lenin was talking about can be lost in so much — often indulgent — chit chat.
But I think it’s not so much about the blog you create but the group of blogs you foster — the ‘panel’ of bloggers each pontificating from their own Marxian POV.
It’s a partnership thing. So no one blog will rule them all.
Despite the fact that most of you can’t read swedish I will tell you a short tale of the marxist blogosphere in Sweden.
Among the 10 most read political blogs in Sweden three are marxist blogs. One of them, http://www.jinge.se/ are the most read swedish poltical blogs with a readership of around 20 000 every week. The second of the big marxist blogs is mine, http://www.zaramis.nu/blog/ which is trotskyist blog. I have about 8 000 readers every week and just as much has http:/esbati.blogspot.com . There exist several portals and networks for marxist blogs and the total number of marxist blogs in Sweden is about 500, that is active blogs. Pretty much for a country with 9 million inhabitants and a small left wing.
The Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement of Denver’s blog:
They are influenced by Maoism Third Worldism. Not the same old boring shit.
Excellent point Zag and this is why blogging hasn’t taken off so much on the far left because the web suffers from this massive handicap of being primarily a soapbox and if you value your activism the ‘blog’ is going often to be seen as something for wankers*.
And, to a large degree too I think, offline publications so often suffer from the same constraint — that of being divorced from everyday struggles. But with blogging –and for blogging to work — it’s more akin to newspaper columns rather than the rest of these publications. It’s point of view & editorial stuff.
And in most instances that too is a niche POV — even if it is supposedly formatted by Marxism. No blog is going to be the compleat Marxist.
I’ve deployed team blogging a bit — but I’ve found that there has to be a sense of ownership and responsibility that usually is only attainable via personalised blogs regardless of their political engagement and commitment.
So the MEDIUM is very much the MESSAGE. While blogs can be reformatted many ways — and I podcast/audioblog too — and be transposed into something else , such as a specific campaign web site (very effectively I’ve found) or a place to post publicity for events or a site to achieve reference material and current articles of relevance– I think their limitations need to be noted. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t explore them fully and push the envelope given their attributes: easy to run, two way discourse, usually free, easy access, that we can showcase multimedia, etc. I don’t think they’re harnessed nearly enough nor are the feeds they generate.
My developing POV is not so much caught up in the prospect of blogging but the potential utility of wikis and thats’ because I think wikis can be very useful organising tools which offer a level of ongoing collaboration that transcend anything else we may have currently in our democratic toolbox.(See examples:The Activist Toolkit and AltMediaNetwork).
If Wikipedia can do what it does….consider our options.
At some stage the far left has to get out of the habit of saying and into doing –and blogs for all their advantages pander to the telling because they seemingly make it so easy to deliver a POV as a standalone argument.
So while “Radical Blogging Is The Main Trend In Our World Today” may be true or not, I’m thinking that when we begin to actively harness the web for more than just editorialising we are moving into our own preferred Marxian fit.Thats’ why, when I create blogs now for this or that function I always team them up with a wiki just as I see what is possible in way of showcasing multi media options via flash. It’s still the same platform but its part of a broader mix.
*aka Australian for ‘indulgent masturbators’.
“So in many ways, blogging by Marxists is sponsoring a culture — a blooming of a thousand flowers — rather than something akin to what Lenin argued with his newspaper principles. The tragedy is that in this surge and mix, what Lenin was talking about can be lost in so much — often indulgent — chit chat.”
This is the problem as I see it. Too many of these blogs are just echo chambers of self-indulgence. With a few delightful exceptions from surprising directions, these blogs hardly produce any original articles. It seems like new political trends could emerge from these blogs given enough time. The problem is that for all the chest beating, for all the pretense, when it comes down to it, they are unable to break out of the blogosphere. What I mean by this is that they want to be something more than just blogs, but the bloggers don’t produce much original material, they don’t push the envelope, etc. For the most part they have the blogger MO: fish the internet, post some material produced elsewhere, add a couple lines of commentary, then readers try to out zing each other in the comments spaces. In addition, with a couple exceptions, despite all the claims to the contrary, few of these blog networks seem to be anything but online only. Such does not a political trend make.
Hey Brad Great stuff!! I am looking forward to future installments of the different trends in the revolutionary blogosphere. And keep the quirky stuff in their! As an orthodox left oppositionist my self I like the less orthodox stuff best! or at least people with a slight sense of humor. Don’t get me wrong i like the serious stuff. ISR, Monthly Review, and the activist stuff, Green Left Weekly, etc. but blog feel more comfortable when they are a little more free flow train of thought stuff. By the way if anyone has a good article on the recent history of the remergence of the naxals I would greatly appreciate it!
there is also the good phd-thesis by Michael Steffen about the History of the Kommunistischer Bund 1971-1991 (pdf) and an m.a. thesis by Günther Gellrich about the History of the GIM, the german USFI-Section 1969-1986 (pdf) … unfortunately both in German … the official history of the maoist MLPD in three volumes is full of slander and conspiracy theories against other maoists and former comrades but after two or three pints really funny … also funny is this interview with MLPD chairman Stefan Engel
And to bring it full circle, The newspaper AK, formerly the paper of the Kommunistischer Bund in Hamburg, the thinking man’s Maoists in the 1970s, and which stood for “Arbeiterkampf”, is now called “Analyse & Kritik” and is an independent paper with a heavy slant towards Post-Operaismo and the Post-Autonomist milieu in general. The quarterly magazine supplement, Fantomas, is really quite good, theory for activist types, usually doing themed issues with special glossaries for the uninitiated (like the one on state theory a few years ago, introducing thinkers like Poulantzas, Althusser, Deleuze, and Foucault to a new generation).
Ingo Stützle, whose blog I posted above, is a supporter of this paper.
plenty of stuff about/from the 1970ies ML-movement in Germany can be found on Materialien zur Analyse von Opposition (MAO) e.g. two studies on the history of the KPD/ML-Zentralbüro and on the regional strongholds of the different ML-groups in Germany, unfortunately all in German
“Anything connected with MIM is batshit crazy, and has nothing to do with any Maoist movement I’ve experienced anywhere in the country over roughly 20 years of political activity on both coasts and throughout the Midwest. There is a high degree of absurdity, apparent mental illness and lack of principled exchange that even with a cursory review shows these blogs to be of a different kind entirely.”
redFlags, after it was just said that calling the post-IRTR blogs ex-MIM is questionable, the principled thing to do would have been to address that, not repeat the claim in a slippery way (“anything connected”). Or are you as a Kasama and Nine Letters contributor saying that anyone who upholds a MIM-like line is associated with MIM and its assumed problems, an ad hominem attack on anyone with a certain line? Maybe Brad just read some speculation somewhere and made a mistake, but you are perpetuating it.
Didn’t Kasama have a thread on J. Sakai, or was that discussion not meant to be serious? (So much for breaking with the RCP’s false “wrangling.”) If lines similar to Sakai’s and MIM’s (sometimes all wrongly lumped with MIM) have nothing to do with any Maoist movement, why bring them up on Kasama? Just call them counterrevolutionary and drop the subject. It’s like whenever a MIM-like line comes up, anything goes, including accusations of mental illness apparently.
After Kasama writers have talked so much about the value of Internet discussion, I also find ridiculous the suggestion that those blogs are Internet-only. Whether those blogs are connected to real organizations (or only support “real organizations” even if they are just themselves anonymous, like some of the blogs Kasama links to) is not even material. Either Internet discussion is or is not itself useful, or all the discussion on Kasama about Internet technology is just talk. Is it your view that Maoists on the Internet have to claim to be connected to real organizations? The implication of “Anyone can set up a blog, just like anyone so inclined can adopt a Marxoid vocabulary – not matter what their actual politics.” and the remarks following is that the ideas on blogs don’t matter as much as whether they are connected to “real” organizations or tendencies. If you think ideas on the Internet are just “vocabulary,” this would explain certain attitudes towards struggle and discussion.
It also would have been principled to mention the differences between those various blogs and MIM. If the point is to make Kasama look good in comparison to Rural People’s Party and others who claim or used to claim to support MIM or a MIM-like line, then I would understand where you are coming from.
Friendly suggestion to the Solidarity moderators: If you want to avoid discussions like this, please don’t allow organizational claims that are not pertinent to the topic. This was supposed to be about radical blogging and the content of blogs, not about the alleged histories of blogs. One can be interesting and provocative and encourage comparisons without making claims that are difficult to evaluate and inherently divisive. People simply should not be having to reference anecdotes and personal experience as redFlags does to evaluate blogs.
The Kasama comrades have launched a blog specifically about the South Asian revolutions Check out: http://southasiarev.wordpress.com/
SUN! SURF! SOCIALISM!
For some reason I posted the URLs, but they did not show up. Let me try again: lysis.blogsport.de and abdelkader.blogsport.de
Lysis and AK both spend a lot of polemicizing against what passes for “Anti-German” thought today. Lysis even tries to make contentious the use of the term by groups like Bahamas, since they really don’t have anything to say about Germany anymore and have merely turned into crude anti-Turkish and anti-Arab racists.
Oh, and two other blogs that are quite good are Sabine Nuss’s blog nuss.in-berlin.de/ and Ingo Stützle’s blog http://www.xn--sttzle-4ya.net/
I hope these blogs help me understand something of the Antifa and the related smaller Antideutsch movements, because their style is different from a lot of the Anglophone Marxist left (being, as Angelus Novus said, post-Autonomist). I really dislike the Antideutsch position on Israel (Angelus Novus and I have had a debate on this before, in 2006, on LBO-talk), but I don’t really understand the wider milieu they came out of (I left German-speaking countries as a child and thus became radicalized elsewhere). So this might help.
(Bog, I love parentheses!)
ooops … I forgot them … they are definitely inspiring
I am schocked, *schocked* I say, that Entdinglichung does not mention Lysis <http://lysis.blogsport.de>, Abdel Kader <http://abdelkader.blogsport.de>, the two best blogs of the German left blogosphere, though admittedly only Lysis writes some posts in English.
Both admittedly reflect more the politics of the Post-Autonomist milieu than the ML and Trotskyite fare, but they are still top.
Thanks for the shout-outs. It’s only over the last couple of years that revolutionary blogs have started to come into their own. I pretty much moth-balled the old Burningman/RedFlags blog for the more collaborative Kasama site, which is still expanding and in development.
Anyone can set up a blog, just like anyone so inclined can adopt a Marxoid vocabulary – not matter what their actual politics. The “flattening” out of real-world groups and political trends into blogrolls can cause some unnecessary confusion.
In terms of the revolutionary communist (mostly Maoish) blogs mentioned above, a few things are worth noting.
1) Some of these blogs are connected to real organizations, or tendencies out of groups such as the post-RCP regroupment folks (of whom I am supportive). The two co-named FRSO groupings exist on the ground and as part of social struggles, and have members and supporters who are interested in moving forward and not just scoring points on the blogosphere they can’t on the street…
2) Anything connected with MIM is batshit crazy, and has nothing to do with any Maoist movement I’ve experienced anywhere in the country over roughly 20 years of political activity on both coasts and throughout the Midwest. There is a high degree of absurdity, apparent mental illness and lack of principled exchange that even with a cursory review shows these blogs to be of a different kind entirely.
3) It’s apparent that there is real wind in the sails of the “Maoists” right now. There is deep frustration among those who have been in the RCP orbit (for far too long) – and with their recent full-throated embrace of the cult of personality around Avakian, they have basically jettisoned any possibility of being a vehicle for socialist transformation in the US. No doubt those around Solidarity haven’t had any of this on their radar, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been weight to this trend for sometime. This explains quite a bit why so much energy exists in the Maoist set – the river is overflowing its banks right now, and something new is afoot.
Anyway, these short surveys are great for getting people out of their comfortable environs, and good luck with your online efforts.
I’m glad my article has gone over so well.
As for the criticism that it includes some sillier blogs, I’m guilty of that. With so many politically serious websites, why not throw in the Rural Peoples Party?
It’s also too bad I left some great blogs off the list, such as Fire on the Mountain (which I have read and enjoyed). As for it leaning M-L, that was the point.
Don’t worry, I’m still a Left Opposition loyalist!
As some of you may have noticed the blog Kasama even added an entry about the article and linked to it.
I’ll be cooking up Part Two soon enough so stay tuned to the Solidarity Webzine for more Marxist reviews!
I’m one of the people involved in this effort towards a Solidarity blog, and I’ve had mixed experiences so far. We do have readers, but yes, comments and discussion are difficult. Especially when there are already so many places to discuss politics on the web – recent posts by Solidarity members at DailyKos, MRZine, and so forth have been far more discussed than anything here. I often wonder: Who’s reading this stuff?! Apparently, from this post, it includes friends from other socialist organizations! What about other activists? Is it people that just sit around on the internet all day?
Figuring out the gender dynamics of the web is also interesting. “Moderating” comments on the internet (or on conference calls!) is totally different from real-life interaction. I try not to post something unless a previous post of mine has fallen off the front page…
In any case, I will pledge to post a comment on your blog :).
Feedback for your next entry: You have an interesting list with a focus not exactly found anywhere else, but this isn’t representative of Marxist blogs even in terms of main trends. It may be representative of new “Maoist-influenced” blogs as you call them. Rural People’s Party…well, there are many Trotskyist blogs with more posts than them, which isn’t mainly a blog and only has few posts. You include old websites that aren’t blogs, again with a Maoist or Marxist-Leninist bias. If you want to think Marxism-Leninism is the only Marxism, OK, but why include one Trotskyist blog as an afterthought then. I also think there’s been some confusion. Some Kasama posters claim to be ex-RCP, but this is the first time I have heard IRTR was ex-MIM, whereas I remember them or Monkey Smashes Heaven claiming they weren’t MIM. What could have been a good review of new Maoist-influenced blogs was spoiled by bias and use of questionable information. I know this is just Part 1, so I hope Part 2 wil be more representative.
Thanks for this post! Although I have to say, ts pretty funny that its our most ‘popular’ one so far. I can’t wait for the second half.
Its too bad this post will be lost to the mists of time as more are added to the webzine–I wish we had a blog roll to take care of that.
I find the Maoist-Thirdworldist blogs the most interesting. I am rather surprised with the amount of interesting content coming from the post-MIM, ex-IRTR direction. They are producing quality, original articles, not just re-posts with commentary. I wish more blogs would follow their example.
Do we really need gatekeepers to keep the holy name of Marxism unsullied? Sheesh. It’s a review of Marxist blogs, and it was a pretty good read. If you want to write a mind-numbing review of sites with “a large readership and/or a unique theoretical contribution” … go for it, anonymous. Personally, I hope your next installment is less self-righteous.
I think we’re trying to get away from polemics, so maybe someone should axe this reply, before the most active topic ever in the Solidarity Corzine gets out of hand.
Jim Jones? Seriously??? I clicked the Rural Peoples Party/ Commune to hear Jim Jones deliver a drug induced paranoid rant in defense of Stalin. Comrade, this is NOT Marxism! It may be great entertainment, have amusing polemics, and the group may even have elements of activist practice (I doubt it, but I’m not in a position to say definitively).I think it is a big mistake to include them in a review called “Marxist blogs.”
Let me be clear. This is not a slam against Maoism per say or against the best groups coming out of that trajectory. I very much admire FRSO (Fight Back!) for their principled stance regarding the Democratic Party and their class politics in their union work. Also, despite political differences with Freedom Road (FRSO/ OSCL) around the Democrats and labor officialdom, I commend them highly for their attempt to jettison the more unhealthy parts of Maoism (in the same way I admire Solidarity for ditching the most negative aspects associated with Trotskyism) and their attempts to move toward a non-sectarian, revolutionary and broadly Marxist practice. Overall, I generally agree with Nathaniel’s comments.
I am deeply troubled why you would include isolated sectarian grouplets that may admire or be influenced by ML, “soft-Maoist” or “post-Maoist” groups that have some relevance together with groups that clearly do have relevance in the working class nor the social movements. Next time, why not call this kind of limited survey “Maoist blog spotting? or something similarly descriptive.
If you want to do a survey of Marxist and left publications on the internet, why not do just that? You can highlight the many sites out there that have a large readership and/or a unique theoretical contribution…and leave the sectarian grouplets to a footnote?
I hope your next installment is more grounded.
Although phrased aggressively (and incorrectly, since it’s not a requirement of a revolutionary to have a blog), it seems to be a descendant of the idea of “hundred flowers” and perhaps also the public criticism that was so heavily engaged in in the Cultural Revolution. This allows for open “line struggle.”
It is true that if you want to get your message to as many people globally as possible, as opposed to locally (here it’s more complicated, since I think to be effective it can only be a supplement), starting a blog is the cheapest and easiest way to do that. This has obvious and not so obvious costs associated with it (e.g. if someone lives in a wealthier country, even if that person has access to a public library’s computer, does he or she have the time in their life to make regular blog posts? Are they comfortable using a computer? Are they comfortable expressing themselves in writing [a snide comment about a lot of blogs is not appropriate here :-)] )? It’s that famous “global digital divide”, which to give an ambiguous and unhelpful answer, is both overestimated and underestimated in different areas.
To address the technical (even though that part was only mentioned in passing), blogging can be done pretty anonymously (with proxies, particularly more advanced systems of proxies like Tor), but web anonymity is a one-way street. Once you reveal any details about yourself, you cannot go back.
Finally, I also don’t agree with “Maoism-Third Worldism”/MIMism. I think it’s a very first-world middle-class perspective, allowing its academic founders to ignore all those trashy bought-off working class people they encountered or heard about. I’m open to “Third Worldist” perspectives, especially since I think it’s even more relevant in this era, but not that particular variant.
More detail at Fire on the Mountain
Take a look at http://democracyandclasstruggle.blogspot.com/
for coverage of Nepal and CPN maoist
So, several of the ex-MIM, former IRTR crew seem to have a policy that would lead to letting 100 Marxist blogs bloom. From http://shubelmorgan.wordpress.com/about/: “Shubel Morgan does not under any circumstances communicate by email. Interested parties who have even the slightest genuine proletarian fighting spirit should have enough motivation to create their own website and engage in public communication via that website. Persyns without that modicum of dedication to revolution and the necessities of security can simply fuck off.”
Now aside from the technical question of whether the web is more secure and they are actually taking extensive precautions with it, does someone understand this line who could explain it? The idea that running a website is something that should be expected of revolutionaries, and that it is an especially proletarian thing to do, really strikes me as quirky to say the least. (But maybe since 99.5% of the people in the advanced capitalist countries don’t count as proletarian to this crew that makes it all make sense?)
the leftist or progressive blogosphaere in German language isn’t as interesting as the one in English … I can recommend e.g. Trueten, annalist, bikepunk 089, Cosmoproletarian Solidarity, Che’s Warlog, Elser, schatten kontrastieren, Ost:Blog und The Gay Dissenter; a good blog from Germany in English is Karl-Marx-Straße
“Entdinglichung”, I added your blog a few days ago. I might post this on your blog, but what in your opinion are the best German-language left blogs? I find them really hard to locate.
You forgot Fire on the Mountain, a Freedom Road Socialist Organization (uh, Refoundation, not the fightback one) affiliated blog. It’s really good, though I wish it had more content and was more popular (so that it was loaded with comments). That’s where Kasama comes through.
Admittedly, I generally agree a lot more with the Trotskyist/post-Trotskyist/soft-Trotskyist perspective, but my second favorite perspective is the post-Maoist/soft-Maoist, since I think we’re at a stage where a lot of the old categories don’t necessarily make sense continuing as separate streams, though I still think it makes sense to be a Marxist. Not that Kasama is post-Maoist/soft-Maoist, since I know the people behind that would find that title insulting. Overall, I’m omnivorous, though I think by the time you get to “Maoist-Third-Worldists” and the “Rural Peoples’ Party” it’s just getting silly.
Look forward to your discussion of Lenin’s Tomb in the next post, since I assume it will be the centerpiece of your discussion of Marxist blogs from “English-speaking Western Europe.” Richard Seymour is probably one of the few Marxist bloggers who can claim a significant chunk of the blogosphere actively hating him.
My feelings were kinda hurt that FotM wasn’t mentioned in Brad’s otherwise admirable survey. Maybe because we don’t have the famed History of Shaving logo (Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao) on the home page, maybe because of our eclectic approach (motto: a blog of struggle, self-determination, socialism–and some other stuff) we don’t get cited as Maoist or even red as often as we deserve. And we are the most active of a small constellation of FRSO/OSCL associated blogs.
Rather more bothersome to me is the paucity of comments you note. Kasama‘s enviable track record so far shows that there are folks in the blogosphere who are eager to grapple with and thrash out questions of ideology and theory, and if there is a single or hegemonic place withing a tradition, like Kasama or Red Flags before it, it can serve as a center.
Fire on the Mountain is probably too scattered and covers too much stuff addressed elsewhere to draw a dedicated postership. Readership we are building, but a lot of it is among activists who tend to be web-shy for reasons of time, age, other commitments. I hear from them personally about pieces posted there far more often than they put up comments.
interesting and also (at least partly) from an “ML background” are Socialist Democracy and The Spark from New Zealand … interestingly, there are no blogs in the German blogosphaere openly identifying themselves with the relatively strong (~ 2.500 members) MLPD