Weekend Roundup 2/10/13

by Ben Campbell on February 10, 2013

Readers of The North Star have likely noticed that much of our commentary was re-posted from elsewhere. Indeed, one of the purposes of The North Star is to avoid the duplication and triplication that goes into every small left grouping attempting to disseminate its own “party line”. Thus, we strive to incorporate the most interesting perspectives published elsewhere, regardless of how much we agree. Thankfully, there is far more out there worth reading than we are able to re-post here. That is the purpose of this column, hopefully a regular feature, with the comments thread serving as an open thread for discussion of developments on the left.

  • In Tunisia, the assassination of the leftist politician Chokri Belaïd led to mass protests, after a general strike called by the General Union of Tunisian Workers. Here’s Juan Cole on why Tunisia’s Arab Spring is in turmoil, while Dominique Lerouge of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste provides an overview of the Tunisian left.
  • In the latest development in the ongoing Socialist Workers Party (UK) crisis, the embattled Central Committee has agreed to call a special conference. While maintaining that they do not have “plans for ‘mass expulsions'” the CC maintained that “there must be a resolution – and soon.” Opposition members on the International Socialism blog quickly responded to, “urge members to reject yet another arbitrary deadline, and demand their full constitutional rights. We also urge members to send a clear signal of opposition by joining the faction.This comes after the Democratic Renewal faction was declared, calling for a special conference, and ends another week in which the SWP and the meaning “Leninism” have been subjected to harsh criticism from both within the party and without. After Nick Grant intervened in defense of the SWP in Socialist Worker (ISO), China Mieville and Richard Seymour responded with the sharp rejoinder On Accusations of Heresy, while Mark Bergfield of the CC offered his resignation letter. Owen Hatherly looked at the crisis and the meaning of “Leninism” in the Guardian. Harpymarx said of Leninism, Don’t accept pale imitations, while Soviet Goon Boy offered an extended reflection, and The Commune took a critical look at Chris Harman’s Leninism. Meanwhile Simon Hardy wrote of “New possibilities for a realignment of the left”, while discussions on this topic were held in London.See also The North Star‘s features on “Leninism”, by Pham Binh, Louis Proyect, Dario Cankovic, Corey Ansel, and Chris Cutrone. And finally, check out this videoblog on the SWP and Leninism submitted by Radio Free Utah.
  • The other story that seemed to exhaust the left’s attention this week was the heavy-handed attempt to stifle free speech at Brooklyn College. The boycott, divestments and sanctions (BDS) event with Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler did go on, and if you somehow missed the discussion, Brooklyn College professors Corey Robin, and Samir Chopra are a good place to start.
  • At the interface of ecology and the left, John Bellamy Foster offered a critical look at James Hansen, the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the world’s foremost climate scientist, while Chris Williams asked “What must be done to stop climate change?”
  • We posted an interview with Eric Martin and Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois on the lessons of the Quebec student strikes—see New Socialist for more.
  • Chris Maisano of Jacobin interviewed Sam Gindin on the “crisis in America labor”. Gindin is co-author with Leo Panitch of the recent book The Making of Global Capitalism, the conclusion of which can be read online.
  • Finally, we introduce our readers to the ‘Pop the Left’ podcast, produced by Derick Varn, Douglas Lain, and Nicholas Pell. The most recent episode ‘Sexy Anarchists vs Marxist Eggheads’ is worth a listen:


This list is not meant to be comprehensive—we welcomes tips on good material, at editors[at]thenorthstar.info, and the comments thread is open.

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