Raising the Black and Red: The North Star relaunches

by The North Star Editorial Collective on September 8, 2013


With the new masthead, we have launched our ship and aimed North. This is not to say the course is righted; the exact course is still unknown. What you will notice is that logo has changed, the mission statement been amended, and there is a much larger batch of deck-hands.

In the immediate future, you may notice that we will be running more original writing as well as recruiting columnists, interviewers and interviewees, and writers to do more in-depth analysis. We have more diversified staff in terms of nationality and political positions presented, and we aim to increase that diversity in terms of gender and background. We will be syndicating more diverse material as we now have agreements with Black Sheep Radio, From Alpha to Omega, Diet Soap/Pop the Left, and Novara Media to repost podcasts and offer analysis from a larger variety of perspectives. We also intend to expand our coverage of economics, theory, and culture as well as maintain our focus on leftwing strategy.

We are also curating reposts  from a larger framework of web-sites, although we will be doing less reposting of non-podcast material.  The North Star needs to be delivering its own goods to the good collectives in the vast internet ocean.  As for our extant political aspirations, those are still in development because these are quickly changing times. We are sure there will be much criticism, but now you can begin to see where the North Star is headed clearly as we do ourselves.

Best of luck, comrogues, and we hope you are along for the voyage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=661872368 Nik El Plated on Facebook

    Good luck

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003367864381 Bjørn Westergard on Facebook

    So… black *and* red. This is a (welcome) departure…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005922130105 Paul Atreides on Facebook

    I look forward to see what you bring to the table in the future. Salute comrades.

  • http://williamsstudiogallery.com Darwin26

    Thank you for the Links page ~ enjoying Kapital101 and hope to get to all of them. The Unrepentent Marxist is a staple. I’ve enjoyed Northstar for a long while and expect it to continue.
    i look forward to the Socialist/Left being a major force in US Politics

  • http://windfromnowhere.blogspot.co.uk/ Danny O’Dare

    Why the *black*? Becoming anarchistic would be a step backwards.

    • Brian S.

      The Black AND Red are the colours of anarcho-syndicalism – an honourable tradition on the left.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003367864381 Bjørn Westergard on Facebook

    I love how phobic the internet left is about getting late 19th/early 20th century ideologies mixed up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003367864381 Bjørn Westergard on Facebook

    Anarchistic and Marxist articles side by side! What next?! Shall the lamb lay down beside the lion?! *clutches pearls*

  • http://marxists.org David Walters

    Actually it’s Red AND Black… and it’s not on Masthead yet. It’s still the “North Star” compass. Red and Black via anarcho-syndicalism is honorable sure, but exactly how relevant? It’s a very small make up of the US political left now, with cultural and other anarchists making up the majority of those that ascribe to the black flag at all. It in fact but from a union and a political tradition, completely irrelevant.

    Secondly, it’s more relevant as being the flag of several Latin American traditions most notably the FSLN.

  • http://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/ Andrew Coates

    Best of luck – I find this site extremely interesting and useful.

    Some people on the European Left, including Marxists, have always taken an open-minded attitude to strands of anarchist thinking and activism.

    Daniel Guérin, (1904, Paris – 1988) perhaps represents this at its best.

    His eventful career is well worth looking up, including his role in helping found the French Gay Liberation movement.

  • Chris Lowe

    What does “curating reposts” mean? Is it different from reposting selectively? If not, please use plain English, Thanks.

    Good luck with your efforts. I’m pretty pessimistic at this point.

  • Wayne Price

    I don’t understand your using the black and red flag, historically the banner of anarcho-syndicalism, now mostly that of all tendencies of revolutionary, class-struggle, anarchism (the FSLN used the colors due to the historic role which anarchists played in the Latin American labor movement). Because I am an anarchist, I do not object to the flag as such, but I object to your using it. I am very much in favor of a dialogue between anarchists and democratic Marxists, but not a denial of differences. The North Star has predominately been in favor of building some sort of left party, of eventually engaging in electoral action, and of having some relation to the Leninist tradition, even if a critical one. For these reasons, it is misleading of you to use the anarchist symbol.

    • Pavel Dubrovsky

      The North Star is a multi-tendency site, which includes people who identify variously as leftcoms, anarchists and social democrats among its editors. It has never been a ‘leninist’ site (nor do we have ambitions to be ‘platformists’). We aim at a renewal of socialism, drawing both from anarchist and marxist practice and theory as well as other experiences on the left.

      • Wayne Price

        Pavel, If you say so. That North Star draws from anarchist and marxist practice and theory has not been apparent to me. I doubt it would be apparent to anyone looking at the topics covered on your home page. Perhaps I am missing something here. To repeat, I am all for dialogue among various anarchists and several varieties of Marxists, but not for denying differences.

  • Jeff K.

    If the site’s aim is indeed to push for a mass left-wing party, I find the mention of the Red and Black flag rather ironic. I have yet to meet an anarchist that wants a party of any kind!

    • Pavel Dubrovsky

      If you look at at the contents of the site over the past couple weeks since the change in the editorial collective you will notice a number of changes and shifts in emphasis on a number of topics, ranging from imperialism/interventionism to ‘identity politics’ to the role of the so-called ultraleft to the notion of a party.

      NS was, and remains, a multi-tendency site and we will continue to open up more space to debate amongst comrogues and readers. That said, if there were the possibly to build something like a SYRIZA (but one that learnt from and avoided the obvious pitfalls of the Greek one) then it is likely that NS would support that. The extraparliamentary left always has many more options open to it when there is a strong left movement with parliamentary power.

      Although we come from a variety of backgrounds on the left, our thinking did not stop in 1917 or 1936 or 1968, and we reserve the right to think any question through independently and for ourselves in light of current circumstances. We’d also point out that ‘diversity of tactics’ means precisely what it says on the tin. Those who are interested in our project are encouraged to stay and participate. Those who disagree will no doubt be able to find others more to their liking.

  • http://windfromnowhere.blogspot.co.uk/ Danny O’Dare


    “I am very much in favor of a dialogue between anarchists and democratic Marxists, but not a denial of differences. The North Star has predominately been in favor of building some sort of left party, of eventually engaging in electoral action, and of having some relation to the Leninist tradition, even if a critical one. For these reasons, it is misleading of you to use the anarchist symbol.”

    I agree with Wayne – it is to muddy the waters. Has there been some sort of coup on the North Star ‘editorial board’? If so, surely we should be told.

    • Pavel Dubrovsky



    • Pavel Dubrovsky

      So the ‘marxist’ and the ‘anarchist’ both don’t want to work with each other and think no one else should either. Way to go, guys. How’s that revolution thing working for you?

  • http://windfromnowhere.blogspot.co.uk/ Danny O’Dare

    No, nothing of the sort – just want clarity and openness. Adopting the black & red flag/logo/masthead is a clear political statement, therefore it has be explained in some way. The orientation of this blog has been explicitly Marxist/communist (‘Leninist’, Trotskyist or otherwise) yet now it *seems* to be flirting with, or even adopting, anarchism – it only seems reasonable therefore that some of us are raising our eyebrows, whether from a Marxist or anarchist perspective.

    • Pavel Dubrovsky

      Again, incorrect. Binh was clear that the NS was always about bringing together marxists and anarchists. Perhaps you weren’t paying attention?

  • http://windfromnowhere.blogspot.co.uk/ Danny O’Dare


    “So the ‘marxist’ and the ‘anarchist’ both don’t want to work with each other and think no one else should either. Way to go, guys. How’s that revolution thing working for you?”

    No, obviously, Marxists and anarchists can work together on this or that campaign. demonstration, etc. But there is no point in pretending that they are not two *separate* traditions/outlooks.

    • Pavel Dubrovsky

      Not necessarily. Anarcho – marxists would beg to differ. And again, we reserve the right to think things through for ourselves and not be bound by the theoretical and practical failures of past sectarianism.

      Nobody is obligating you to participate. If you don’t like what we are doing, find something more to your habits.

  • Jason Schulman

    What on Earth is an “anarcho-Marxist”?

    • Derick Varn

      Generally, a platformist. I have seen it used that way.

  • http://windfromnowhere.blogspot.co.uk/ Danny O’Dare

    ‘Anarcho-Marxism’ is a contradiction in terms, it’s a bit like saying you’re an ‘atheist-Christian’. You are either a Marxist OR an anarchist.

    • Derick Varn

      There are Christian-atheists too, its not like contradictions do not pop up all the time.

    • Richard Estes

      “‘Anarcho-Marxism’ is a contradiction in terms, it’s a bit like saying you’re an ‘atheist-Christian’. You are either a Marxist OR an anarchist.”

      For most people, this is not true, as they do not identify with the left definitions of Marxism and anarchism, which, in any event, have become socially diverse in both instances.

      For example, there are anarchists who perceive the world through a Marxist, class based approach even if they disagree with the Marxist political response to it.

      Wayne Price published a book about this recently, “The Value of Radical Theory”. There are also autonomous Marxists who aren’t that far away from anarchists in terms of their view of the state and how power should be exercised.

      There is a tendency to equate Marxism with Leninism and anarchism with the CNT and the FAI. But, of course, a lot has happened in the intervening 90 years. There are Marxists who still try to characterize anarchists as non-socialists (and, of course, some are, but certainly not anywhere near all), while there are anarchists who try to conflate Marxism with Leninism and Stalinism because of Kronstadt.

      Neither is true. I will agree, however, that the term “Anarcho-Marxist” is confusing. My guess is that it is close to something like autonomous Marxist. In any event, I hope that the site maintains an emphasis upon socialist practice in regard to real, everyday struggles and avoids this sort of William Safiresque linquistic analysis.

    • Brian S.

      Actually, Marx, Engels and Lenin could be described as Marxo-Anarchists.

    • Pavel Dubrovsky

      that’s one of the silliest things i’ve heard. anarchism and marxism deal with fundamentally orthogonal problems. they are easily complementary, more so than marxism and, say, leninism.

  • John Gulick

    To the degree I’ve familiarized myself with this site’s relaunch, what I find somewhat off-putting about it is not so much the anarcho-Marxist mash-up — Richard Estes above describes and analyzes the possible valences nicely — but what seems to me to be a move away from US-oriented praxis (and, correspondingly, a plain-language exploration of the socio-political possibilities of an “anarcho-Marxism in the American grain,” with figures like Staughton Lynd worthy of study) and a move toward the graduate theory seminar.

    • John Gulick

      Perhaps I should rap myself lightly on the knuckles. What amounts to the “our creed” section of the relaunched site affirms that the orientation will more or less remain the same — strategic and theoretical reflections on actual events and movements, delivered in the vernacular, ecumenical not sectarian, US-centric, etc. I hope so! I will refrain from rushing to judgment. However, although I am sympathetic to (even identify with, to some extent) “anarcho-Marxism,” I fear that the editors might be painting themselves into an ideological corner…

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