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“For the leftwing, we need to seriously recognise and reflect on the failure to overcome inherited legacies of hierarchy and bureaucracy. But if we say all socialism’s twentieth century experiments were ‘wrong’, or that historic socialism is not actually socialism, we are simply giving up,” Wang tells me. “There is a certain political correctness among the left that implies that talking about this history links you to its disasters. This is a cheap way of doing history.”

(Source)

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(A good example of dialectical retroactivity: i.e. how the present can “change” the past): “Three seconds before the arrival of J. B. Hobson’s letter I no more thought of pursuing the unicorn than of attempting the passage of the North Sea. Three seconds after reading the letter of the honourable Secretary of Marine, I felt that my true vocation, the sole end of my life, was to chase this disturbing monster and purge it from the world.” (Jules Verme. Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. ebook, pg. 11)

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The Swedish election is full of sound and fury. But the two major parties are, in effect, like those characters in film comedies who don’t really want to fight each other. They may scream and yell, but they ask their friends to hold them back so they can do it from a distance. ‘If these other guys weren’t stopping me, I’d show you a thing or two!'”

[Source]

[Also, from the same article]: “For its part, the SAP is not keen on forming a coalition government that includes the Left Party, which has vowed to end the involvement of private interests in the public sector — a step the Social Democrats are not willing to take. This situation has produced some bizarre political theater, in which the Moderates claim that they will only accept the formation of a minority government if it includes the Left — the historical but reformed communist party. This is somewhat like the US Republicans telling Obama they will only support his government if he lets Noam Chomsky become Secretary of State.”

CCLXXXIX

“The production of surplus value is a social product. It’s never a product of one particular activity or person. That’s something that remains very important and valid from Marx’s work. In capitalism, value production is not ever really the product of any particular location, but its determined socially. In other words, you have a broad social assembly line (I’m using the notion figuratively) that is all necessary for the production of surplus value. Surplus value is realized of course in the sale of the products of labor. If you have a factory that produces a dozen cars and those cars are never sold, its not realized.

What I’m suggesting here is that the activities by which the wage laborer is reproduced are part of that social assembly line: it’s part of a social process that determines surplus value. Although we cannot pinpoint a direct relation between what occurs in a kitchen and the value that is realized, for example through the sale of a car or any other product, nevertheless when we see the social nature of value production, a social factory that extends beyond the factory itself.” (- Silvia Federici)

CCLXXXVII

“Marx […] — “the ruthless critique of all things existing.”

Well, God knows, mainly this critique has to get directed toward capitalism. But I think it also has to be directed toward the Left movement in the 20th century. The fact that the first wave of attempts to build socialism and move toward communism got derailed by their own internal contradictions is something that needs, urgently, to be understood.” – Barbara Fields – Interview

CCLXXXVI

“The history of capitalism is a long history of how the predominant ideo­ logical political framework was able to accommodate (and to soften the subversive edge of) the movements and demands that seemed to threaten its very survival. Say, for a long time, sexual libertarians thought that monogamous sexual repression is necessary for the survival of capitalism – now we know that capitalism can not only tolerate, but even actively incite and exploit forms of ‘perverse’ sexuality, not to mention promiscuous indulgence in sexual pleasures. However, the conclusion to be drawn from it is not that capitalism has the end­ less ability to integrate and thus cut off the subversive edge of all par­ ticular demands – the question of timing, of ‘seizing the moment,’ is crucial here. A certain particular demand possesses, at a certain moment, the global detonating power, it functions as a metaphorical substitute for the global revolution. If we unconditionally insist on it, the system will explode. If, however, we wait too long, the metaphori­ cal short-circuit between this particular demand and the global over­ throw is dissolved, and the System can, with sneering hypocritical satisfaction, make the gesture of ‘You wanted this? Here you have it!’ without anything really radical happening.” (Slavoj Zizek. “From History and Class Consciousness to The Dialectic of Enlightenment…and Back,” pg. 13 (of my pdf))

CCLXXXV

What do liberals, Marxist-Leninists, Social-Democrats, and (to a certain extent) Ultra-Leftists have in common?

The fact that they assume that a “synthesis” (i.e. “neutral,” or “higher”) position is available in a conflict with two or more sides. For example, liberals often like to claim that “both sides are at fault.” The solution is then “moderation.”

Synthesis, in fact, is not a synthesis of two positions in a “higher” position, but seeing that the unity is already in one of the two poles.