Loren Goldner on the Chinese working class

July 14, 2019
Sunday, 5-7pm
1882 Woodbine
New York, NY

 

Revolutionary Mass Strike or a
New Bureaucratic Integration?

In 1978, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) embarked on an era of reforms aimed at restarting the economy, which had ground to a halt after the “Cultural Revolution” (1966-1976). This decade of confrontation was neither about culture nor was it a revolution, but was rather a power struggle at the top between two bureaucratic factions, fought through huge proxy mass mobilizations.

The post-1978 reforms entailed a gradual opening to the capitalist world market and the creation of a private sector alongside the large state-controlled sector, while leaving intact the political power of the CCP. By 2017, there were a recorded 150,000 “incidents,” up from roughly 40,000 in 2004, struggles primarily in the countryside, protesting land grabs by the local CCP for the construction of luxury hotels and golf courses, but also several thousand strikes by workers. The CCP is “riding the tiger”; each necessary step toward further integration into the world market risks unleashing mass worker struggles which could sweep it away, much like the Polish mass strikes of 1980-1981 which ultimately brought down the Soviet bloc by 1989.

Loren Goldner will explore this dynamic in his talk.

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Recommended readings

“China in the Contemporary World Dynamic of Accumulation and Class Struggle: A Challenge for the Radical Left” (2005)
“Notes Towards a Critique of Maoism” (2012)

Loren Goldner became involved in radical left politics in Berkeley in the second half of the 1960s. During the lull in mass activity in the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, he devoted himself to writing for what became his website Break Their Haughty Power. In 2010, helped found the online journal Insurgent Notes, where he remains a co-editor. From 2005 to 2009, he taught English in South Korea, writing about the class struggle there, and, more recently, about the class struggle in China. (A dozen articles on both the South Korean and Chinese working class are available on his website.) He has also published six books, including: Ubu Saved from Drowning: Worker Insurgency and Statist Containment in Portugal and Spain, 1974-1977 (2000); Vanguard of Retrogression: “Postmodern” Fictions as Ideology in the Era of Fictitious Capital (2011); and Revolution, Defeat, and Theoretical Underdevelopment: Russia, Turkey, Spain, and Bolivia (2018).

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A talk on the Venezuelan crisis

1882 Woodbine St.
Queens, NY 11385

February 10, 2019
Sunday, 5-7 PM

Event description

Juan Guaidó’s recent speech declaring himself interim president of Venezuela has triggered a crisis of legitimacy in that country. This crisis is a long time in the making, however: dating not just to the failed policies of Nicolás Maduro (head of state since 2013), but those of his celebrated predecessor Hugo Chávez (who held that position from 1999 until his death). Falling oil prices and administrative incompetence have depleted the country’s wealth and gutted its social programs, once the showpiece of “socialism for the twenty-first century.” Now aisles in stores are left empty, as food and other vital goods are in short supply. Between three and four million Venezuelans have fled over the last few years alone.

Guaidó is auditioning for the role of US puppet, to be sure, and enemies of the Bolivarian “Revolution” have been quick to recognize him as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. Yet his naked opportunism should not blind us to the impoverished reality of Chavismo or prevent us from criticizing its palpable failures. While imperialist meddling must of course be opposed by revolutionaries, this need not entail support for a populist strongman managing a corrupt capitalist petrostate. Despite its leftwing rhetoric and lip-service to past revolutions, the Venezuelan government under Chávez and Maduro was never more than the rule of the Boliburguesía. Under no circumstance should we pick sides between rival bourgeois factions.

In order to counter misinformation spread by the pro-Maduro and pro-Guaidó camps, then, and offer an alternative to this crude either/or logic, we will talk to two longstanding critics of Bolivarianism who at the same time have no truck with Guaidó or his followers.

Panelists

Simón Rodríguez Porras is a composer and militant in International Workers’ Unity (part of the Fourth International). He recently coauthored Porque Fracaso el Chavismo [Why Chavismo Failed] available in English and Spanish in and translated to Portuguese as well. (We may have some Spanish copies available at the event)

Rodolfo Montes de Oca is a lawyer and writer, a found of the Anarchist Black Cross in Venezuela, with a coñazo of books and pamphlets. Most recently he coauthored Contracorriente: La historia del movimiento anarquista en Venezuela [Countercurrent: A History of the Anarchist Movement in Venezuela].

Moderator

Arianna Lucia is a communist originally hailing from Caracas. She moved to the United States in 2007, and now lives in NYC.

Suggested readings

  1. Nuevo Curso, “Venezuela: Neither Government Nor Opposition” (January 23, 2019)
  2. Michael Roberts, “The Tragedy of Venezuela” (August 3, 2017)
  3. Sergio López, “President Chávez is a Tool of God” (April 21, 2009)

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The Greek crisis: A talk with Pavlos Roufos

Saturday, November 24, 2018
7 – 10 PM

The Base, 1302 Myrtle Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11221

 

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Pavlos Roufos presents his new book A Happy Future is a Thing of the Past: The Greek Crisis and other Disasters, published in association with the Brooklyn Rail. Setting the 2010 Greek economic crisis in its historical context, Roufos explores the creation of the Eurozone, its “glorious” years, and today’s political threats to its existence. By interweaving stories of individual people’s lived experiences and describing in detail the politicians, policies, personalities, and events at the heart of the collapse, he situates its development both in terms of the particularities of the Greek economy and the overall architecture of Europe’s monetary union.

With both austerity and debt burdens still present, Pavlos answers the question: If the programs were doomed to fail from the start, as many claim, what were the real objectives of such devastating austerity? This broad examination also illuminates the social movements that emerged in Greece in response to the crisis, unpacking what both the crisis managers and many of their critics presented as a given: that a happy future is a thing of the past.

A careful and penetrating analysis of the cruel torment of Greece, and its background in the emerging global political economy, as the regimented capitalism of the early postwar period, with gains for much of the population, has been subjected to the assault of neoliberal globalization, with grim effects and threatening consequences.

— Noam Chomsky

This presentation is sponsored by Prometeo collective.