Sunday, August 23, 2009

Reply to "Crtical Analysis of the Left" from Jose Palafox

“Never mind what’s been selling, its what you’re buying…”
--Fugazi (1990)

Comrade Joaquin,

Revolutionary Greetings! I think the questions, analysis, and critiques
you put forward here are complex and yet very necessary for all of us to
grapple with. Thank you for starting this important conversation.

I wish I had more time to respond here. I don't. However, I do think it’s
important to make two quick points here.

The first thing that struck me in your piece is the discursive position in
the essay. The essay uses very vague and broad terminology (e.g., "the
Left today", "the movement", "the people" etc.) This assumes that you
think everyone understands and/or agrees with your conceptualization of
this terminology. Personally, I prefer to make my points from the specific
to the general, that is to say, inductive thinking (as opposed to
deductive thinking, from the general to the specific).

For example, if you are discussing and analyzing the role of "Left"
praxis--the theory that is informed by their social practice--why not tell
us exactly what you mean: Who are they? Where are they (geographically
speaking)? What are their "political line(s)"? Are they Maoist? Are they
liberal-pragmatists ? When are these social movements taking place (the
particular historical juncture)? And finally, Why? Why are they "Left" (or
what makes them “Left”) and more importantly, who decides? Do you decide,
or is it a particular historical-material ist understanding that leads you
to that conclusion, and if so, what is it?

Tell us homie.

Secondly, I think I found myself disagreeing more not with what was said,
but with what wasn't. Many of us can deconstruct the shit out of anything.
The point however, as Marx reminds us, is to go beyond interpreting the
world and to instead change it. For that, I think we need to un-think,
rethink, and re-imagine new vision(s) of the society and world we wish to
live in. To put into practice a new cosmology/epistemol ogy that goes
beyond dichotomous thinking (e.g., "Left" and "Right"). To reflect on how
we will build a world in which many worlds fit in, as our compas south of
la frontera falsa remind us all the time.

The few times I have heard you speak, I heard you address the problems you
come up against in your community and some possible solutions for us to
think/act upon. I wish we could have engaged more with the ways in which
you come to understand your praxis: How? Why? What? etc. (I think its
important to speak from the "Where", i.e., from what positionality) . One
of the reasons that I suggest this is because different socio-political
groups--from the liberal Democratic Socialist of America, the N.P.I.
Complex, to the cult-group, the Revolutionary Communist Party--will and do
continue to put forth their programs. The question is what are we--in our
colectivas, in our barrios and migrant camps, in our university student
groups--doing and are willing to do?

In one of her critiques of the Civil Rights Movement, the late Ella Baker
said: "There is a lot of mobilizing but not enough organizing". I think
she was trying to warn us of not always focusing the CRMs' political work
on the spectacle: the marches, the speeches to the press, the one-day
protests. Ella Baker saw the need for these tactics and strategies,
however, she also saw the importance of the slow, tedious, and long-term
organizing with and for black folks' struggle for Civil Rights. This meant
having a political sensibility of how to work with and learn from the
specific communities (e.g., Birmingham, AL. etc.) while also keeping in
mind the particular historical juncture they were in.

The disasters of the 20th century cry out for non-eurocentric and
decolonial thinking/being. Can we produce a radical anti-capitalist
politics, and if so what might that look like? Is it possible to
articulate a critical cosmopolitanism beyond nationalism and colonialism?
Can we produce knowledges beyond essentialist and narrow-nationalism and
eurocentric fundamentalisms? I think about this a lot lately. Hope to talk
in person about this with you sometime soon. Un abrazo.

palante, Jose Palafox

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