Few media accounts have bothered to understand or record the multiple organizational processes and dynamics that underwrite it as a powerful social movement. The diverse, entwined histories behind the caravan-form – assemblies and related tactics and strategies for cultivating solidarity – seem beyond the frame of most discussions.
Fifty years ago, Dan Georgakas wrote dispatches on developments in Black Power and New Left movements for European comrades eager to follow the evolving political scene in the United States. Until now published only in Italian in Quaderni Piacentini and in French in Les Temps Modernes, we are excited to offer one of these transmissions in English for the first time.
In this article we focus on what stands between the logic of capital and the way the struggles ended. We analyze, that is, the very process of conflict, in order to understand its composition and its dynamics of subjectivation, to understand the genealogy of the present and the various possibilities which acted in it, and to think about wealth, limits, and unresolved problems.
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.
At the height of the Reagan era, 1,000 mainly Mexicana workers waged a successful 18-month strike against Watsonville Canning and Frozen Food, the town’s oldest and largest plant. In the face of the most difficult odds imaginable, they foiled a company effort to decertify their union, forced the plant owner to sell his business to avoid bankruptcy, and then won a contract from the new owner after a five-day wildcat.
The most basic and costly error of the New Communist Movement was a failure to historically situate their political analysis and adapt their strategies to unforeseen developments.
Just after publishing his first book, Discrete Series (1934), the American modernist George Oppen abandoned poetry and joined the Communist Party
Pianist, composer, poet, philosopher Cecil Taylor turned sound outside in, gathering influences far and wide, reassembling them into the ever-changing grammars that defined his career and inspired others.
Elbaum wrote Revolution in the Air in 2001 to reclaim the lessons of the new communist movement for contemporary militants who, like their early sixties’ predecessors, became activists when the radical left was fragmented and weak. How relevant is this history and the lessons he draws for us now, in this new period of left upsurge?
This text is a theoretical intervention, which has been prompted by questions and discussions surrounding my book. It is an interweaving of meditations on the narration of history, ideology, and the question of liberation – themes that used to belong to one fabric, but which have been torn apart in most contemporary discourses on identity.