The website of Jacobin features an interview with Algerian scholar and activist Hamza Hamouchene covering: the current state of the revolutionary movement, which continues to struggle against the military state six months since it began; the role of organised workers; and the need for revolutionary organisation. Hamouchene details how protestors are demanding a transition period to civilian rule rather than either a “dialogue” with the regime or immediate elections—which would mean a return to the status quo. Interestingly in the case of Algeria, the military regime gains some of its legitimacy by being seen as the descendent of the leadership of the anti-colonial struggle against the French. But Hamouchene points out some of the limitations and contradictions of this anti-imperialist project. Go to www.jacobinmag.com/2019/08/algeria-revolution-abdelkader-bensalah-uprising
Also on the subject of the new wave of revolutionary movements in Africa and the demand for civilian rule, the Review of African Political Economy includes an excellent piece by Magdi el Gizouli on “Sudan’s Season of Revolution”. El Gizouli charts the rise of Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, leader of the Rapid Support Forces which carried out what the Sudanese call a katla, the massacre of around 130 peaceful protestors in Khartoum’s tent city. Go to http://roape.net/2019/07/05/sudans-season-of-revolution/
Monthly Review’s September issue is a tribute to one of the founders of social reproduction theory 50 years ago, the chemist Margaret Benston. It includes commentaries from Lise Vogel, Martha E Gimenez, Silvia Federici and others. Some of Benston’s assumptions may sound dated to today’s audience. She was writing at a time when women spent much more of their lives doing housework (one writer in 1969 even argued that such work was damaging to men’s health) and when their participation in wage labour was “ordinarily regarded as transient”. However, her work was crucial in linking women’s oppression to their economic role and has sparked much debate since.
Articles in the London Review of Books this quarter include a piece on the ongoing Hong Kong uprising, which has mobilised more than a million people in a population of 7.4 million, by former Tiananmen square activist Chaohua Wang (15 August). Wang details how China’s rapid rise to economic and geopolitical dominance has influenced politics in Hong Kong, delaying what was meant to be “gradual and orderly progress” towards universal suffrage on the island. She gives a sense of the unity and organisational ability shown by the Hong Kong protestors, explaining how, faced with tear gas, they immediately set up supply lines to pass water and protection gear to the front of the demonstration.
A portrait of Enoch Powell by the Thatcherite Ferdinand Mount in a more recent issue (26 September) extraordinarily argues that his main legacy was not his racism but his anxiety over the future of the nation-state: “The borders of a nation are not for Powell tiresome impediments to human intercourse, they are the precious delineators of sovereignty. A hard border is a good border. How he would have loathed the smudgings of the Good Friday Agreement, signed two months after his death, just as he abominated ‘the capitulation at Hillsborough’ in 1985.” For an alternative take on Powell and the consequences today of his racist views, Shirin Hirsch’s work, in this journal and in her book In the Shadow of Enoch Powell, is highly recommended.
The latest issue of New Left Review (I/118) leads with a long article by Daniel Finn sub-titled “Corbyn, Labour and the Brexit Crisis”. Though the article is sympathetic to Corbyn, the Brexit melodrama ends up swallowing the narrative. This is to some extent symptomatic of how in reality Brexit has come dominate, and may yet destroy, the hopes of a Corbyn government. The concluding outline of the three options facing such a government—retreat, modest reforms, or robust “revolutionary reformism”—seems rushed and involves little in the way of political economy or strategy.
Yanis Varoufakis’s book Adults in the Room, about how the Syriza government in Greece capitulated to the European Union, has been made into a movie by the veteran left-wing director Costa-Gavras for release in November. To judge by the trailer, www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3aAyJKOSO0, it is a buddy movie telling how prime minister Alexis Tsipras fell out with his valiant finance minister—Varoufakis himself. Éric Toussaint, president of the Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt, has conducted a forensic critique of Varoufakis’s narrative: interested readers can find a way into it here https://tinyurl.com/y6bkjkur
AC & CR