The Socialist Response

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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Mon Aug 20, 2018 2:44 pm

‘The Function of Autonomy’: Félix Guattari and New Revolutionary Prospects

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Guattari and International Social Movements: France, Italy, Brazil

Anti-Oedipus had immediate effects on French social movements. Among these was the beginning of what was then called the ‘gay liberation movement.’ In France, the Homosexual Front for Revolutionary Action (FHAR) was among the first organisations to demand social equality for lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. In addition, the group had a conscious anti-capitalist political perspective. The group’s founder, Guy Hocquenghem, took inspiration from Anti-Oedipus. The desire to overcome the bourgeois family, and to reveal it as bound to other forms of social authoritarianism, inspired a practical and theoretical rejection of heteronormativity (to apply a later term produced by queer theory). Guattari helped to organise and publish the FHAR’s first public pronouncements, as well as arranging support from Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel Foucault, and others. This led to political repression of the publication as well as legal action against Guattari himself, who was fined for his ‘affront to public decency.’ Guattari publicly defended himself and the right to expression of the FHAR, in a landmark case for French gays and lesbians. Guattari was also among the first French intellectuals to defend the rights of transgender people in France and abroad. In his defense of the FHAR, Guattari said:

This is, in fact, more about transsexuality than homosexuality: at issue is the definition of what sexuality would be in a society freed from capitalist exploitation and the alienation it engenders on all levels of social organisation. From this perspective, the struggle for the liberty of homosexuality becomes an integral part of the struggle for social liberation.


Guattari’s social commitment on this matter cleaved with his philosophy. In his writings with Deleuze, Guattari described a process of ‘becoming-woman’ that could alter the potential of one’s own body. This concept could include concrete transgender experience, as well as conceptual, imaginative innovations that may not involve an individual permanently transitioning from one gender to another. He saw such practices as politically valuable, because they free desire (in thought and action) from the constraints put on it by the capitalist order. A new vision of solidarity, beyond fixed, identity, is at stake here; rising from a struggle to change the way the body and mind has been conditioned by an alienated society. Guattari met with organisations that defended transgender people outside France; these included the Gay Group of Bahia, in Brazil. These practical gestures of solidarity and experiences of new social struggles enriched his understanding of global potential for collective reshaping of desire.

Despite their novelty of expression, the FHAR did not have a good understanding of the particular oppression of women and lesbians in capitalist society. As a result, in 1971 a separate group, the Goines Rouges (Red Dykes) split off. Their most famous figure, Monique Wittig, drew from the work of Deleuze and Guattari in order to dissolve sexual difference itself; she paraphrased their emphasis on singularity to contend that there are “as many sexes as individuals.” In this reading, Deleuze and Guattari’s position could be martialed in favour of a feminist strategy of gender abolition. However, others have subsequently received their work differently. Rosi Braidotti and Elizabeth Grosz believe that their emphasis on embodiment over representation is compatible with a contemporary approach to sexual difference that acknowledges the excess and contingency of sexed bodies. This draws in part from the reception of their ideas by feminists in Italy.

Anti-Oedipus and Guattari in particular were extraordinarily influential for the Italian left of the 1970s. Anti-Oedipus was translated into Italian in 1975, where a social crisis was taking place. With a high degree of unemployment, government austerity measures, and widespread dissatisfaction with the economic and political order, many young people sought out a revolutionary path. As François Dosse writes, a ‘series of far-left Italian currents found a new language in the theses of Deleuze and Guattari, notably in Anti-Oedipus […] and the notion of ‘desiring machines.’’ In September of 1977, Guattari appeared at a great colloquium in Bologna, comprised of people who organised and acted for politics beyond the official left. These included feminists, gay and lesbian groups, as well as workers’ organisation. As Guattari’s friend, the painter Gérard Fromanger, recalled:

This was the first time that we had seen a demonstration of twenty thousand young women shouting and making the ‘pussy’ sign with their hands. It was so beautiful! That was the first time we saw that it was possible! Women Power!


Guattari was regarded as a leading figure in this movement. He became friends with another radical philosopher, Antonio Negri. By 1978, the situation in Italy had become violent; the revolutionary movement had split between a terrorist wing, the Red Brigades, and forces based in more mass-oriented politics (like Autonomia Operaia, Negri’s group). The state was able to take the violence of the terrorist groups as a pretext to repress the movement as whole. The Italian state prosecuted Negri and held him responsible for the Red Brigades, in a famous and protracted episode of persecution. Guattari himself attempted to defend Negri and others.

In addition, Guattari drew on his own fame and reputation in the Italian scene in order to dissuade young militants from adopting terrorist tactics. Guattari became concerned that solidarity was becoming eroded by particularism, and that struggles in Europe were no longer communicating with one another. In a later discussion, he cites the case of a feminist group that split from Lotta Continua, one of the Italian revolutionary organisations. While the new feminist group made a number of theoretical and practical contributions, the splitting into smaller groups and the inability of them to communicate with one another was very detrimental to the Italian struggle. He tried to overcome this sectarianism in subsequent activities.


http://salvage.zone/online-exclusive/th ... prospects/






American Dream » Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:52 pm wrote:
Transition and Abolition: Notes on Marxism and Trans Politics

Jules Joanne Gleeson July 19, 2017



The Hard Limits of Institutional Reformism

Despite her outstanding achievement as an influential thinker, Serano’s political priorities are set with hard limits which directly follow from her social analysis. Serano’s activism, while highly successful in its own terms, demonstrates of her ideological commitments to reform of capitalist society, and its existing institutions.

Serano has made a tireless effort to delegitimize the transphobic analysis of sexologists Ray Blanchard and Michael Bailey, more recently advanced by popular science writer Alice Dreger.18 Her blog features a proliferation of articles written personally, and a continual cataloguing of research done from an informed viewpoint on trans women. For years she has particularly targeted the foremost practitioner of “reparative” (conversion) therapy, Canadian psychologist Kenneth Zucker. Zucker’s “reparative” approach was a holdover from openly homophobic therapies of the past, pioneered by Joseph Nicolosi (founder of NARTH). Nicolosi’s techniques were used unsuccessfully by psychiatrists in an effort to repress homosexual desire in adult men, while Zucker encouraged parents to refuse their children affection on the grounds of “inappropriate” gendered behavior. Understandably, ending the use of “reparative” practices on transgender children has been a consistent focus for activism by trans women, sometimes supported by other LGBT activists.

Between Serano’s writings and the efforts of local activists across many years, conversion practices were outlawed in Toronto in 2015, and Zucker’s Child Youth and Family Gender Identity Clinic was closed in December of the same year. This can only be seen as a victory for Serano, as well as a clear sign of progress in reducing the harm done to gender variant children by the medical profession. Triumphs of this kind should of course be celebrated, on the rare occasions they do occur. But an ending regulatory violence enacted from generation to generation would require a revolutionary movement.

Serano’s activism political activity hinges on agitating for reform. This aim of discrediting actively destructive practices is not to be dismissed out of hand. Targeting the medical establishment has a long history in LGBT activism, from the direct action campaigns which saw homosexuality declassified as a mental illness to the (on-going) efforts by ACT UP to confront pharmaceutical company profiteering from STI medications, and slow peddling of HIV research.

The focus of Serano and other trans activists on improving the prospects of children passing through the care of medical institutions is reminiscent of intersex activism, with similar predicaments. Intersex activism remains focused primarily on the goal of ending the commonplace “corrective” surgery performed arbitrarily on infants and children born with “ambiguous” genitals. (Today termed Intersex Genital Mutilation.)19 On an international level, intersex activists have achieved remarkable breakthroughs in ensuring the EU and UN classify Intersex Genital Mutilation as torture, and a violation of “basic rights,” yet these medical practices remain widespread across the world (outlawed altogether only in Malta).20 It’s also unclear how effective any ban would be at actually preventing IGM surgeries. A worrying point of comparison is Indonesia, where legislation against Female Genital Mutilation (installed in the face of international pressure) did very little to end the widespread practice of childhood clitoral cutting. (Today the majority of these surgeries are performed by trained medical professionals, as with male circumcisions).21 Whether or not the legislation outlawing the practice is formally repealed, in Indonesia it has already become de facto void. Clearly state power and NGO complexes are unreliable allies, at best.

The “decentralized” nature of this medicalized violence demonstrates the pervasive nature of gender demarcation, and how undoing its harm extends well beyond defeating the state, passing the correct laws, or reforming the professions. For as long as gendered violence is performed through professional bodies and medical institutions, disputing their legitimacy (not simply drawing on it) will remain a practical priority.

Even in the case of official bodies radically transforming their approaches towards transgender and intersex children, intergenerational abuse will remain widespread. The bulk of gender-based neglect and violence during parenting will never be overseen by a medical professional. If the medical establishment halts conversion efforts, private “camps” run by amateur gender enforcers will remain available throughout the US for parents intent on curbing their children’s “deviant” behavior. Abuse arises not only from the instruction of the remaining psychiatric conversionists, but from the institution of the family itself. Gender substantiating violence is often performed by mothers fulfilling their unpaid obligations as the foremost reproducers of society across generations.22

Heterosexual families are prone to trying to recreate themselves in their own image. While Zucker doubtless encouraged some parents who otherwise would have proven more tolerant to mistreat their children through denying them affection, primarily his patients were introduced to him by parents hoping that their progeny’s supposedly deviant behavior could be made to desist. “Reparative” therapy certainly formalized and encouraged parental behavior which occurs irrespective of intervention from the medical profession. Even the most radical transformation of formally constituted institutions will serve a limited role in ending gender oppression, since much formative-developmental violence occurs through informal or “loose” organizations: families, peer groups, romantic relationships, and other social environments which make up the everyday; and inevitably also workplaces.


More at: https://www.viewpointmag.com/2017/07/19 ... -politics/
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Tue Aug 21, 2018 3:04 pm

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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Sat Sep 22, 2018 8:39 am

For A Left Populism’: An interview with Chantal Mouffe

Michael Calderbank spoke to Chantal Mouffe about why she thinks the time is right for a left populism

September 22, 2018
13 min read


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Chantal Mouffe. Photo by Impulse Theater Festival (Flickr)


Michael Calderbank: Why do you think this is a moment, as your book is titled, ‘for a left populism’?

Chantal Mouffe: We currently live in post-democratic societies. This is due first to the blurring of the lines between left and right, a situation that I call ‘post-politics’. This comes from the fact that social democratic parties basically accepted the idea there is no alternative to neoliberal globalisation. When citizens go to vote, they don’t have a choice because there is no fundamental difference between centre-right and centre-left programmes.

We have also been witnessing a phenomenon of ‘oligarchisation’ of our societies, in the sense that we see an increasing gulf between a small group of very rich people and the rest of the population. What is new is that with the politics of privatisation, and particularly since austerity, there has been a phenomenon of pauperisation and precaritisation of the middle classes, which are now profoundly affected by the effects of neoliberal policies. This explains the emergence of many resistances to the consensus of the centre.

What I call the ‘populist moment’ is marked by the multiplication of resistances to this post-democratic situation. Those resistances are manifesting themselves in many different ways, not necessarily in a progressive way. Those resistances are, in a sense, all expressing ‘democratic demands’ – demands for more democracy, for the people to have a voice. But these demands can be articulated in a xenophobic way. This is why we have seen the development of right-wing populism that claims ‘the problem has come from the immigrants’. Those demands, however, can also be articulated in a more progressive way, as a call for the extension and radicalisation of democracy. This is what I refer to as ‘left populism’.

In On the Political, published in 2015, examining the post-political phenomenon, I argued that the ‘third way’ approach did not represent progress for democracy, and that the lack of an ‘agonistic’ debate between different alternatives was a danger for democracy since it created the terrain for the development of right-wing populism.

The idea that politics is about reconciliation and consensus is definitely a wrong conception of politics. Democratic politics must be partisan. It requires establishing a frontier between left and right. There cannot be democracy without an agonistic debate about possible alternatives.

Calderbank: How do you understand the constituency for left populism, and on what basis would it be brought together?

Mouffe: Today many more sectors of society are affected by neoliberal globalisation and the new mode of regulation of capitalism than ever before. In Fordist times you were mainly affected if you were working in a factory. But with the development of financial capitalism, and what is sometimes called biopolitics’, we are all affected because many aspects of our life are now under the control of capitalism. This, of course, is negative – but it could also offer an opportunity because it means that the number of people that could be won to a project of radicalisation of democracy is bigger. It is not only the working class – there are many important sectors of the middle class that can be won.

The traditional left political frontier was established on the basis of class. There was the working class, or the proletariat, versus the bourgeoisie. Today, given the evolution of society, that is not the way in which one should establish the political frontier any more.

There are a series of democratic demands which cannot be formulated in terms of class – for example, it is necessary to take account of the demands of feminism, anti-racism, the gay movement, ecology. Those are demands that do not sit with the traditional opposition between working class and bourgeoisie. We need to build the frontier in a populist way, which is much more transversal, in terms of ‘the people’ against ‘the oligarchy’. There are many sectors that can be won for the anti-neoliberal project and it is necessary to federate them by constructing a ‘people’: a collective will. The political frontier cannot be established strictly on a class basis. This does not mean that the demands of the working class have to be abandoned but that they need to be articulated with other democratic demands. This is the main characteristic of left populism and the main difference with the construction of the frontier in class terms.

In order to construct a people we need to understand what motivates people to act. Why, for instance, do people react to certain forms of subordination? Why do they claim injustice? I think the idea of equality, the idea of social justice, and the idea of popular sovereignty are fundamental values in the democratic social imaginary. That is the way in which democratic citizens are politically constituted and socialised. So when they feel those things are withheld from them, they manifest different forms of resistance. I think what moves people to act in the field of politics is a demand for equality and democracy.

This is why we are currently witnessing many resistances against post-democracy. One Indignados slogan was ‘Tenemos un voto, pero no tenemos voz’ — we’ve got a vote but we don’t have a voice. Many people feel today that they have been deprived of a voice. This is what is a the centre of the ‘populist moment’ and it is crucial to offer a progressive answer to the demands that are at the origin of those resistances.

Instead of seeing right-wing populism as the expression of demands that are intrinsically racist and sexist, we need to see that they express in fact a call for democracy – for having a voice. This is also the case with the Brexit vote in Britain. Many people voted for Brexit not because they are xenophobes, but because they felt their concerns were not being taken into account by the establishment.

These are demands for democracy, but they can be expressed in a way that is going to restrict democracy – to recover democracy but only for a small group of people, the nationals. Or, and this is the challenge, they can be formulated in a way which is going to deepen and radicalise democracy. For me what is at stake is which kind of populism is going to be able to hegemonise, and give an answer to those demands. I am convinced that the only way to fight against right-wing populism is by developing a form of left-wing populism. That is, a populism that takes account of the variety of resistances against post-democracy and gives them a form of expression that leads to the reaffirmation and extension of democratic values.

In France, there are some people on the left who say: ‘We should not even speak with the people who voted for Marine Le Pen, because those people are basically fascist and cannot be reformed.’ I totally disagree with that position. It is well known in France that many of the people who vote for Marine Le Pen used to vote for the Communist Party. They have been abandoned by the social democrats and Le Pen was the only one saying ‘I understand your concerns’, but adding ‘if you are in this situation it’s because of the immigrants’. Fortunately things have begun to change because the militants of La France Insoumise [Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s party, often considered to be left populist] have been going to the constituencies who are voting for Marine Le Pen to discuss with them.

In the last election, it was interesting to see that in several important places, for instance in Marseille, Mélenchon came first in constituencies which had voted for Marine Le Pen before. The same thing happened in Amiens, with François Ruffin, who was elected in what used to be a stronghold of the National Front. So these people in France saying, ‘People who voted for Marine Le Pen will never vote Jean-Luc Mélenchon’, have been proven wrong. I was told that in Britain, 16 per cent of people who voted for UKIP before voted for Corbyn at the last election.

This shows that the demands of the working class are not necessarily progressive or xenophobic: it all depends on how they are articulated. They are articulated in a xenophobic way by right-wing populists, and the challenge for left populism is to offer a different form of articulation to those demands.


Continues: https://www.redpepper.org.uk/for-a-left ... al-mouffe/
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Tue Sep 25, 2018 6:59 am

Socialists Think

Asad Haider September 24, 2018

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Demonstration of striking workers at Talbot-Poissy, June 1982.

In the debates of the contemporary left, interventions often start with a variation on a particular theme: “Socialists think that…”

Sometimes it is, “Marxists believe that…” Sometimes, “Socialists understand that…” Whatever the wording, the point is the same.

Different propositions follow. They may be general theoretical claims, having to do with the relation between “race and class” or “reform and revolution.” Or they may have an immediate, pressing character, providing a position on a current policy question or strategic debate.

Unfortunately, the days are long gone that we could say, “Socialists think that the sea should be made of lemonade.” But let’s remember fondly that at one time, some did.

Of course, this is the problem with writing “Socialists think that…” Across history, socialists have thought a great many things, sometimes things that were so incompatible they divided organizations or plunged entire nations into factional disputes. Studying these debates can be useful, because it can force us to reconstruct the reasoning behind a particular position which we may otherwise have taken for granted.

But there is a deeper problem with this formulation, which is that when someone says, “Socialists think that,” they are telling you not to think. They are saying, “we’ll do the thinking for you.”


Continues: https://www.viewpointmag.com/2018/09/24 ... sts-think/
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Sat Sep 29, 2018 7:39 am

Can Socialists and Capitalists Find Middle Ground?


View here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZDQAsv ... e=youtu.be
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Sun Oct 13, 2019 8:05 am

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*Right libertarian logic.* The original libertarians were anti-capitalist. Because the real theft under capitalism begins at the point of employment.
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Mon Oct 21, 2019 11:49 pm

Politics Theory Other#63 Acid Communism, Labour, and the counterculture w/ Jeremy Gilbert

Listen: https://soundcloud.com/poltheoryother/63-acid-communism-labour-and-the-counterculture-w-jeremy-gilbert
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Re: The Socialist Response

Postby American Dream » Thu Oct 24, 2019 9:09 am

Reply to the Grayzone Slander
by Jack Gerson, amended and approved by The Utopian Tendency
Aug 7, 2019


ImageOn July 6, The Grayzone (https://thegrayzone.com), a self-described "investigative journalism" web site, published a disgusting article by Grayzone founder Max Blumenthal and Grayzone reporter Ben Norton. The piece targets the sponsors of the “Socialism 2019” conference held in Chicago in early July -- DSA, Jacobin, and former members of the recently dissolved ISO – and also slams the magazine New Politics and the group Solidarity. It is in the tradition of Stalinist hit jobs; slander truly worthy of the Comintern of the 1930s.

This hit job is Grayzone’s response to speakers at the Socialism 2019 conference who criticized regimes that Grayzone calls “independent foreign governments that are targeted by the US government for regime change, such as Nicaragua, Cuba, Syria, Iran, China, and Russia.” Grayzone’s website is filled with pieces whitewashing the actions of these regimes, with not a single piece critical of their anti-democratic, brutal actions other than to deny that such things happened. Anyone who raises criticisms is the enemy, an “anti-anti-imperialist”, to be taken down with slander and innuendo.

U.S. imperialism is not the only evil in the world today. But Grayzone acts as though it is, and consequently excuses or, frequently, denies the existence of Assad’s genocide, Putin’s attempt to crush all dissent, China’s mass victimization of the Uighurs and its neocolonial policies in Africa and elsewhere, etc.

The Grayzone article singles out Samuel Farber and Dan LaBotz for a panel they led, “Problems of the U.S. Left: The Cases of Cuba and Nicaragua”:

“Farber accuses Castro of developing a model of ‘state capitalism,’ wielding a term Trotskyite ideologues routinely fling at any revolutionary government that is insufficiently pure. He calls for ‘a revolutionary democratic alternative … through socialist resistance from below.’ The concept of regime change ‘from below’ is also central to the rhetoric of exile groups like the People’s MEK, a US – and – Saudi – backed cult of personality that calls for toppling Iran’s government through ‘indigenous regime change.’’

Here, Grayzone equates a call for a revolutionary democratic alternative through socialist resistance from below with “regime change”, implying that it’s shorthand for collaboration with western imperialism. Indeed, in article after article on the Grayzone website (For example: “The Syrian Delusion”; “Regime Change in Nicaragua”; “Russiagate has imploded after Robert Mueller’s investigation found no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion”; “The UN did not report China has massive internment camps for Uighur Muslims”) a couple of messages come through clearly:

• There are no atrocities, no repression – reports to the contrary are lies planted by U.S. imperialism. Assad never used poison gas or bombed civilians; China does not victimize the Uighurs; Putin is given a bad rap; Ortega is popular with the Nicaraguan masses aside from a few violent priests; etc.

• And anyway, if there are atrocities, they’re necessary. Grayzone scoffs at the idea of the masses seizing power and establishing a revolutionary democratic socialist society ruled from below. Only counter-revolutionary “Trotskyite ideologues” and irresponsible anarchists would criticize these regimes and call for that – it’s shorthand for regime change. Besides, even if things are bad in the statist regimes, they’re worse in Honduras, so grin and bear it: (Grayzone headline: “’We’re worse than Venezuela:’ Hondurans in US-backed regime speak out.”)

So, the Grayzone’s approach is clear, if familiar: Masses, know your place. Do not question your “progressive” leaders. Do as they say. Do not agitate for democratic rights, let alone for directly controlling what and how much to produce, who gets what, etc. That only aids U.S. imperialism.

Where have we seen this before? Well, Hungary 1956, when the Stalinists insisted that the Hungarian Revolution was a counter-revolutionary coup and supported its suppression by Russian tanks. Prague 1968; Poland in the late 1970s and early 1980s; … In instance after instance, mass movements against repressive state capitalist regimes were denounced as reactionary imperialist-dominated counter-revolutionaries. In the struggle against fascism in Germany, and in the Spanish Civil War, anti-Stalinist fighters were denounced as being simultaneously fascists and ultraleftists (much as Grayzone targets any opponents of “independent foreign governments” as agents of imperialism and ultraleftists).

For decades, anti-Stalinists in the U.S. were denounced verbally and frequently attacked physically by the Stalinists of the CPUSA – slandered viciously meetings broken up, etc. For the past few decades – with the marginalization of the CPUSA and the marginalization of Maoism – such attacks have receded. But they’re on the rise again now, and the Grayzone is only one instance. Rewriting and airbrushing history is well under way. For example:

• At a recent left forum in Oakland, the three speakers, all well-known Bay Area leftists, insisted that the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 wasn’t a massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators at all, but rather, self-defense by the army provoked by violent demonstrators, and with few civilian casualties.

• The Stalinist “scholar” Grover Furr has discovered that Leon Trotsky was a Japanese agent.

• Some leftists even see Putin as the heir to Stalin, and Putin’s Russia as reviving the USSR – and like it.

The “investigative” journalism the Grayzone prides itself on consists largely of demonstrating that oppositionists to their favored regimes receive money directly or indirectly from US government groups, especially the National Endowment for Democracy. The fact is that US imperialism will always try to infiltrate and otherwise influence and subvert oppositionists in these countries. That’s something to be aware of and to watch out for. But the best way to take it on is to support genuine oppositionists – to encourage and aid movements fighting against oppression for democratic rights, and to encourage them to deepen their fight to struggle for a revolutionary democratic alternative, for socialism from below. The worst thing is to slam the door in their face, to tell them that the only alternative to western imperialism is the oppressive regime that brutalizes them, and to slander all opponents of the regime. But discouraging and weakening all movements from below in the regimes of Syria, Nicaragua et al is in reality Grayzone’s objective.

We of The Utopian Tendency stand for anti-statist, anti-authoritarian, libertarian socialism. We don’t agree with much of the politics and overall approach of the groups slandered by the Grayzone, such as their support for the Bernie Sanders campaign. But regardless of our differences with these groups, there’s an overriding issue here, and that is the need to stand against, repudiate, and expose Stalinist slander campaigns. No one should give credence to the Grayzone’s slanders. Everyone should understand how destructive they are to the causes of liberty, democracy, and socialism.



https://www.utopianmag.com/updates/repl ... ne-slander
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