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Thursday, October 20th, 2011

    Time Event
    Say goodbye to Daniel

    A lifetime of political struggle is not rooted in the certainty of victory, as defeat is all too possible, but in the need to avoid the dishonour associated with never having fought back. Make Kafka proud.
    At one end politics merges with how laws and sausages are made and even war. At the other its a warm, fraternal, genuinely dialogical and pleasurable activity, full of asides, anecdotes and parentheses.
    Politics as personal expression and literature and art.
    Rather, more pragmatically, its an indispensable principle of reality and accountability that prevents drifting into the stratosphere and becoming totally disorientated.

    THE Bums Rush

    St Ronny the Trickler indicted by anarchist 'cadaver synod'. Asked about Iran-contra; would call his “non answer” “non-responsive.” How could he possibly be more “asshole’ish”? Isn’t that kinda like trying to calculate the square root of -1? With a strap-on? This is like watching trained seals
    I apologize for being late to the party. What did I miss? The parts with plenty of bat shit? Busted.
    Now we go to guns and religion. I think we should all be able to own small nuclear weapons, don’t you?
    Even small nukes mess up the Beltway neighborhood. And I’m amazed that the NRA hasn’t picked up on the constitutionally protected right to hand-held surface to air missiles for Air-farce-One.
    Great Dane. English as official language makes much danger. President Frothy is going thru the Proper Channels. Ron Paul makes me stand up and cheer. Then he goes on too long. In the GOP there are lying, pandering, money worshipping bigots. There is also a dark side. CNN has been letting Cain get a lot of air time lately, probably for free horsehead pizza. Bless this train wreck. And pray for our country.
    Would you say deer had been “prepped”?
    Republican Reality Show! I hope they do one on Halloween! Mo Turds in the Pope Ronnie punchbowl! Mo Money!
    Mo flags! Mo dead Iranian-Mexicans! I’m in favor of God, Motherhood, and corporate-made apple pie!
    Goat rodeo” is still the name for this ghastly but rivetting rolling clown car.

    What a fool believes

    '...It should be noted that none of these ( Marxist-Leninist) political tendencies have much connection with Marx, despite the fact that they all claim to be Marxist. One of the reasons that Ngo Van appreciated Maximilien Rubel was that he convincingly showed how Leninism and Trotskyism (to say nothing of Stalinism) diverge significantly from Marx’s actual views. While Marx had well-known differences with some of the anarchists of his time, his perspective was in reality much closer to anarchism than to any of the varieties of state socialism. The prevalence of statist “Marxism” during the last century has tended to drown out other currents of Marxism that are closer to Marx (and to the more coherent strands of anarchism), such as Rosa Luxemburg, Anton Pannekoek, Karl Korsch, Socialisme ou Barbarie, and the Situationist International...'

    @ndy Oct 2011 - Mike Davis talks about the “Heroes of Hell” _ slackbastard -Messianism without the messiah.

    Marxmail with its ever heavier load of renegacy, liberal anti-totalitarianism, kitsch and xenophobic moral degeneracy, its 'Pope', staggers on.

    READERS often mock Proyect’s buttoned-up, philatelistic, petty bourgeois habitus and his tendency to lapse into monologues and irrefutable and optimistic claims.

    Proyect’s confident predictions of the imminent uprising of the USSR's proletariat to sweep away the remnants of the bureaucracy and protect the conquests of the deformed workers’ state didn't exectly pan out.

    Proyect also doggedly pursued a project of developing Marxist theory by cross-fertilising it with other radical currents (such as those influenced by Mariaguiti and Alain Badiou) Long stretches of time spent in small and marginalised organisations held together with string and sticky tape, all the while scourged by one defeat after another, are not the most conducive circumstances for the cultivation of rich and effulgent personalities. The pathologies of a downturn can take a terrible toll on the spirits of activists, leading some (even whole organisations) to spiral off into sheer delirium and a fantasy world of their own.

    Roman Rosdolsky, Pierre Naville, Lucien Goldmann or Henri Lefebvre. Ernst Bloch Chateaubriand
    tradition of the Marranos. journal Lignes, number 32, May 2010, entirely devoted to Daniel, including articles by Gilbert Achcar, Alain Badiou, Etienne Balibar, Stathis Kouvelakis, Michael Löwy, Stavros Tombazos, Enzo Traverso.
    Henri Maler and Isaac Johsua, who went on to found the group Révolution!, which had affiliations with the Italian quasi-Maoist organisation Avanguardia Operaia, and with which the International Socialists maintained relations in the 1970s; the other influenced by André Glucksmann and Guy Hocquenghem.
    A minority of the FI, around Tariq Ali, Gilbert Achcar and Michel Lequenne, argued for a position calling for immediate withdrawal of Soviet troops.
    At a congress of the FI, during the debate on the Eastern events, Daniel had rebutted Gérard Filoche’s call for celebratory “Champagne!” with a call for “Alka Seltzer!”
    Maurice Nadeau - the title of one of his books on the communist legacy-The Spectre’s Smile (Bensaïd, 2000)
    Daniel accepted the invitation to address a meeting on his Joan of Arc book organised by Nouvelle Action Royaliste, a weird leftist-monarchist groupuscule that militates in favour of the general strike, self-management and the restoration of the monarchy…Daniel’s concern about this mode of thinking about the past, so popular with a certain type of moralistic centre left, led him to be very prudent about lending support even to measures that might appear “politically correct” such as the French Gayssot law which makes Holocaust revisionism a criminal offence or the prosecution of Pinochet.

    '... Daniel’s relative lack of narcissism (or at least the particularly virulent, explicit forms)-unlike so many Marxist intellectuals..'

    Enzo Traverso has pointed out, this outpouring of a fragmentary but scintillating œuvre is the precise opposite of the model of Marx, writing and rewriting until his death a book that he was never able to complete-Traverso, 2010, p180.

    The parallels between Bensaïd and Lefebvre, over and above similarities in personality and the affection the former felt for the latter, could be the subject of a whole chapter in itself. Parallels could be drawn with another figure from the Trotskyist movement who also rediscovered the creative legacy of Benjamin-Terry Eagleton-and echoes of this can be found in Alex Callinicos’s work of this period, such as Making History. The appeal of Benjamin for this generation of Marxist intellectuals confronted by an epoch of defeat appears-purists and grouches aside-to have been almost irresistible.

    Although Daniel did retrospectively revise his opinion of (especially the late) Althusser, as testified to by his contribution in Avenas, 1999, and by Bensaïd, 2001b. As Stathis Kouvelakis has put it (personal communication), “Daniel came to understand the profound convergence between the critique of teleology [the idea of history moving towards a goal] developed by Benjamin and that by Althusser.
    Thus his interest for the late Althusser, in which the ‘aleatory [chance] encounter’ is the exact equivalent, and is so relatively explicitly, of the miracle, the event and the messianic appearance or of impossible love in Duras (particularly the latter actually).
    Moreover: Daniel explicitly recognised the validity of the critique of theoretical humanism by Althusser. This was a fundamental rupture with, for example, the point of view of Mandel and with the young Lukácsian paradigm. But, in reality, things were more complex, as we read in his memoirs that Daniel was a member of an intellectual generation which was perfectly familiar with the debates of the 1960s. It was formed by this context and, even when Daniel tells us that he rejected Althusser during his student days, it was after weeks and weeks of intensive study (with among others his comrade Antoine Artous) of the texts. This is an entirely different intellectual universe from that inhabited by, for example, Michael Löwy, not to speak of an earlier generation of intellectuals close to Trotskyism (such as Naville or Nadeau).”

    A note regarding Bensaïd’s cool relationship to the English-speaking world: aside from rather unrewarding visits to the US during the period of the FI’s relationship with the American SWP (viewed by Bensaïd as rather grey and rigid in its tight organisation and emphasis on efficiency and promptitude-all the contrary of the Ligue’s own culture of dishevelled informality-Filoche, 2007), he had very little sustained engagement with Anglophone Marxism until the last decade of his life, and his cultural references were far removed. From the turn of the century on, however, he became one of the key transmitters in France of the largely untranslated work of Fredric Jameson, David Harvey, Ellen Meiksins Wood, Alex Callinicos and others. Regarding the British SWP, Bensaïd had ambivalent feelings: he respected its ability to weather the downturn and try to relate to the new movements from 1999 onwards, and felt that it was a privileged partner for the LCR (and a model to follow in the professionalism of its publications), but he was uncomfortable about what he felt was its rigid and excessively homogeneous internal culture, its perceived fear of divisive debate and dissension and its discursive style consisting in what he called “proselytising self-persuasion” to maintain morale and keep things ticking over.

    From Models to Hypothesis'. From Top-Down, Communism red-in-tooth-and-claw to bacillus structured small 'c' communist entryism and parasitism. From eating in to eating out. Sealed trains to derailed trains. Lenin to Tiqqun.

    Marx in Our Times is a magnificent three-pronged attack on the conception of Marxism as a manifestation of historical, sociological or scientific reason and, in this sense, is a “post-postmodern” text that includes within itself all that is of value in the critiques of grand narratives, but without ever conceding to irrationalism, relativism or irrealism. '..with Freud, with Foucault, with Bourdieu..'

    One of Daniel’s favourite aphorisms, when he compared building a revolutionary party to absolute love in Duras’s novels-impossible but nonetheless necessary. It has to be said that this had a rather disorienting effect on the British audience when repeated at the SWP’s Marxism event in London a few years ago.

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