“Mr. Armchair revolutionary, I believe?”
At the encouragement of other prominent bloggers, well just one actually, I thought I might dabble in a little off-the-cuff blogging when the mood strikes me. I will mainly be writing notes on what I’m currently reading, but try to present it as a readable and not entirely self-indulgent affair. I should state right off the bat that my leanings are off the normal political spectrum, at least as it pertains to the bourgeois press, and heavily Marxian. I have no interest in wonkery and being “taken seriously” – why would I seek approval from a system I abhor? At least that’s how I rationalize my marginalization and the empty feeling when I wake up in the morning, and notice that there’s no revolution today either.
I’m currently studying history, with a focus on economic history, though I’ve also done some journalism and studied literature, social theory etc. Please refrain from jokes about what my career is supposed to consist of. Again, I don’t have any interest in reproducing capitalism. Again, this is probably a rationalization.
My mother tongue is Swedish, but as is incumbent upon any person today, I think my English is quite good.
I received my training as a leftist at my father’s knee, and I’ve never veered off track, except for some weird teenage rebellion as an Oakshottian conservative; that didn’t last long though. I spent a brief sojourn in a Trotskyist cult, and learned some organizing and mainly handing out pamphlets deriding the state of the world. A quote from Claude Levi-Strauss has always seemed apropos of communism and self-questioning leftism:
“If men have always been concerned with only one task—how to create a society fit to live in—the forces which inspired our distant ancestors are also present in us. Nothing is settled; everything can still be altered. What was done but turned out wrong, can be done again. The Golden Age, which blind superstition had placed behind us, is in us.”
History is not a tally of reaction versus revolution, one of the two is not dominant, even if it might appear so, but they exist side-by-side.
A wonderful moment is recounted by Alexander Cockburn about when the French left Algiers after the revolution in 1962. Suddenly the TV-studios were empty, because they were run by the French settlers. And when people stormed the building and noticed they were on TV, and that people all over Algiers could see them on their monitors, they started dancing joyously, one of the only spontaneous moments of television, probably. As so often happens, this celebration of the triumph of the wretched of the earth was stopped when the police arrived.
With a little pull on the thread the whole thing can unravel and present new opportunities. I think, whatever occupy wall street started—in all its meekness for a Leninist like myself—it has just begun. Discontent is simmering. I shall now stop my pontificating and invite you to read along if you have the time and leisure. I’m currently winding my way through Braudel’s Civilization and Capitalism 15th-18th Century, vol. 2, I’m also reading Albert O. Hirschman’s The Passions and the Interests as well as Hobbes’ Leviathan and Oakeshotte’s comment on it called Hobbes on civil association. As is my wont, I’m also reading Alexander Cockburn’s newest book, A Colossal Wreck. Let’s remember Alex by asking ourselves if our hatred is really pure.
Watch this space.