Getting out the game…

July 25, 2011 § 20 Comments

The mood of despair among left-liberals has proceeded in a nearly unbroken stretch since Obama’s election. I’m not going to get into why — external reasons are easily found, and anyone reading this probably has their favorites. Instead, I’m going to address liberal disgust. which prompted some reflection on political engagement in our moment.

A Swarthmore history professor speaks out in favor of gardening:

In short, my political aspirations at this point could be summed up pretty well by Jon Stewart’s plea to just chill the fuck out, America, take the temperature down. Do reasonable things. Appreciate the genuinely tough questions in life and politics for what they are, and appreciate the different answers that people come up with to those questions. I think there is, if not a “moral majority”, a decent majority, a mellowable majority, who pretty much also just want life to be good enough.

I haven’t read this person’s scholarship, but it looks valuable and interesting. That doesn’t make this sort of thing any easier to stomach. As I see it, there are three ways to read (let’s call it) “Stewartism.” One is as a mainstream politics of civility, in which case it assumes a false equivalence between left and right, as if they were partners in a refereed debate. In reality, the American right makes ridiculous, extreme demands, which the White House and senior Democrats use to shift the center rightward, while progressives sort of mill about on the outskirts, wondering how many more surrenders will earn them the right to participate as equals in this stimulating legislative process. Stewartism could also be an activism in favor of universalizing the balanced life. The author says as much in a comment:

1) an extremely active ethos, not a passive one, because it comprehensively disagrees with extremely powerful and prevalent frameworks present in consumer capitalism, social hierarchy, and the American political system. If you insist that you don’t need to be top dog, that having a basic level of comfort is sufficient, that a vision of social relations that is exclusively built around competition is unnecessary, and so on, you’re very much dissenting from dominant ideology.

As other commenters point out, this version ends up self-refuting. Be as Zen as you want; dissent is not chill, even if it advocates for Chill Utopia. Otherwise one may as well be actively sitting on your couch reading blogs while keeping your thoughts to yourself, and calling that a break with the capitalist system. When defending left-wing ideas from dominant institutions, trying less hard is a funny way of fighting back, however beneficial it might be for personal wellbeing. I’ve made comments on this blog in favor of a greater sense of reciprocity and self-awareness when leftists criticize each other, or when not facing comprehensive disagreement. But against serious, ruthless, organized opposition, there’s no space for playing nice. The third way of reading Stewartism is as the exact liberal counterpart to the Tea Party, reactionary in the classical sense:  a defense of a state of affairs that is no longer tenable and was always unjust. Basically back when being born into the middle class meant you were entitled to a professional career without ruining your life. Far from the self-evident, commonsensical maturity he imagines, mellow decency presupposes that your life already is “good enough” in material terms, your dissatisfaction all in your head. It shouldn’t take a huge feat of self-awareness to realize that the “insane levels of meritocratic pressure” in the “sociocultural world of professionals” exists because it’s necessary to get and (unless you have tenure) stay there.

Counterpoint:

2) I think this is not just a kind of bourgeois “I got mine, fuck the workers”: I think satisficing is a concept that can be a powerful way to think about self and community all the way up and down the social hierarchy, and create social connections across class and hierarchical boundaries.

Where I see this as an opt-out is at two points: first, in terms of a kind of sociocultural libertarianism (something that Russell knows is a pretty consistent vision of mine) in which I’d suggest that satisficing requires a much broader range of accepting divergent individual, familial and community preferences in cultural and social practice than many on the left seem prepared to accept and second, that many of the long-standing details and particulars that fuel left-liberal conflicts are themselves fueled by maximizing, that various political fractions don’t set goals like, “less discrimination” or “more income equality” but instead have extremely specific political objectives that become fetishistic over time and make everything less or different seem horribly insufficient. This is just an extension of seeing satisficing as an active political project: applying it TO politics means that you’ve got to learn to embrace a much broader range of outcomes as basically ok, and be much more general about drawing the line between basically ok and basically not at all acceptable.

“Satisficing” is borrowed from decision theory, specifically the work of Herbert Simon, who also came up with the idea of the “attention economy.” Both are mechanistic theories that quantify the scarcity of some vital resource — effort and attention, respectively — by associating it with time, so that it can be understood and managed rationally to better achieve an organization’s goals. They’re aids to production, of commodities, policy, or whatever. The self-helpy appropriation of “satisficing” used above means nearly the opposite: it is based on optimizing consumption as the metaphysical relation between human and world (or man as consumer of experiences), for which it assumes the ideal end is “happiness,” a kind of etherized contentment. Always looking for the best toothpaste results in less happiness, working long hours while neglecting your family results in less happiness, so these things are bad. And thus an efficiency maximization strategy is converted into a moral homily.

I get the sense that what looks like a political application is actually just the author’s attempt to deal with emotional fatigue caused by his Twitter and RSS feeds. That is, if your relation to politics is mostly one of consumption — as it is for most functional citizens in advanced capitalist democracies — you have no direct experience to convince yourself that politics, regardless of class position, is anything more than an endless barrage of trivialities dressed up as significant events. If you’re in the professional, ‘media-savvy’ class, you might think they all require your immediate response to avert disaster. Every meme is an opportunity for self-branding, where your status as a liberal, closet Marxist, ironic Marxist, feminist, libertarian socialist, or what have you hangs in the balance (if you’re lucky enough to have any sort of white collar profession, especially if it’s in media, then your work life probably reflects this as well). Mainstream politics looks the same way on this side of the computer screen, and that’s how it’s usually interpreted. That’s why no matter what Glenn Greenwald says, no matter what he actually does with his power, Obama will always read as liberal or ‘supposed-to-be-liberal’ because that’s his brand (and you voted for it). If you deny his right to his identity then you forfeit your own, and whatever scraps of ‘insider’ status you think you possess.

The desire to abstain from all this bullshit is perfectly understandable. But it comes from a weak understanding of praxis. No need for anything grandiose, simply a grasp of actually existing politics as fundamentally practical, for that reason open to agency. The theatrical ‘dysfunction’ over the budget is undoubtedly ‘real’ — Democrats and Republicans really don’t agree  — but their conflict, especially as mediated by Obama, is the product of a coherent class politics. It can’t be reduced to a procedural or psychological failing, Keynesians are not going to win, and if the Republican far right does manage to default the economy, that will be the result of a calculated risk on the part of their designated opposition ( discussions of the ‘policy-politics divide’ going on in some circles betray how remedial the understanding of these facts are).

Despairing rather than resigned, Stewartians follow neoliberal ‘realists’ in excusing themselves based on the lack of an outside. An outside to ‘capitalism,’ ‘corrupt institutions,’ or just ‘political reality,’ with the assumption that freedom from these constraints is the precondition for any transformative politics — for Real Change. But such radically external realms are nowhere to be found, so, no politics. The Stewartians seem to feel forced into the compromises they say they hate so much, rather than just encouraged and rewarded for conformity. They respond with irony and “satisficing.” Because after all, no one will pay Matthew Yglesias or his readers to quit their jobs (or just change their minds) and take the risk of building an independent left bloc, therefore their personal preference for the left does not present a ‘serious alternative.’ It’s either technocratic nitpicking or throwing up one’s hands and writing monographs on liberation theology. Consensus!

The obvious question, then: is there a secular, non-identitarian outside?

To be continued.

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§ 20 Responses to Getting out the game…

  • tedunderwood says:

    Good stuff. I particularly like your observation that the framing of politics as a passive consumer activity has fostered an attitude between ironic distance and despair — a sense that, after all, a healthy person can only care so much about this insanity.

    The netroots have got to break through that somehow. Perhaps through closer alliance with the labor movement, where ironic distance is not the name of the game? I look forward to your “to be continued.”

  • A couple of thoughts in response:

    I don’t think I’m the only one in a situation of self-refutation: in fact, this is a classic, long-standing left dilemma. If politics is the product of a coherent class conflict, what produces the left? If left-liberals are not it, if your princess is in another castle, from what does the left at this particular moment in political economy arise? And if the left is the product of a coherent class conflict, why worry about left-liberals or Stewartism at all? E.g., why attempt to argue that people whose class situation does not predict, impel or instruct their entry into what you would regard as real dissent, or a real praxis, ought to be expected to?

    If left-liberals spend too much time in a position of consuming political rhetoric and branding themselves in response, arguably “the real left” in moments like this is trapped in an equally passive echoing situation of trying to brand itself as the real left ready for real praxis, e.g., habitually consuming left-liberal blogging and writing about it in an act of distinction.

    If the ‘real left’ were in fact engaged in the praxis that it announces to be always already in its grasp, the left-liberal would be of little interest save as one more opposing social class who need not be addressed either as an ally whose potential agency is needed nor as as an opponent of consequence.

    Unless of course the underlying argument is that it is the left-liberal who actually mobilizes real political economic power most significantly against the left, or is the dominant class after all. In the former case, the rhetoric of the left-liberal is immaterial: the question is how to formulate a praxis which prioritizes a real, practical attack on their social position. Which, to be honest, the Tea Party has pulled off far more effectively than anything on the left, unless you want to bend all the way around and say that the social base of the Tea Party is left even if its expressed ideology is not. (I think there’s actually a class analysis that could sort of sustain that argument in a perverse sort of way.) In the latter case, well, I think there’s not much evidence for arguing that the left-liberal is the genuinely dominant class fraction in the current political economy. You can argue that the intramural struggle between liberal and conservative elites is of no consequence, that there is no real political economic distinction of note between them, but then once again you’re back at, “Just why are you paying attention to this at all, then?”

    Now if instead this is a kind of argument that the left-liberal can join a “fundamentally practical” political praxis, that he/she is a real and necessary ally, two other problems present. First, that this can explain why a “real left” is obsessed with left-liberals (again, this is hardly an unprecedented situation in left politics over the last century): because it is the left-liberal’s withholding of needed support that is keeping the left’s politics from working. But what a peculiarly precise calibration: that the left is completely ready for a transformational politics but just needs that last mobilization of professors, performance artists, non-profit managers, liberal professionals, and well-meaning soccer moms. Here the left-liberal functions less as distinction and more as alibi, which would equally explain repeated rhetorical interest in left-liberals. Second, if the real objective is to mobilize left-liberals, what’s the appeal, given the analysis above of the left-liberal as entrapped in the reproduction of their class privileges? E.g., if the content of the left-liberal’s thought is not itself worth engaging except as diagnostic evidence of their socially produced consciousness, what will gain the left-liberal as ally, if they’re actually needed? A really powerful guilt trip?

    TL;DR: the upshot is either the left is already ready for its political moment, at which point why the repeated complaint about liberals? Just get to it. Or it’s not, in which case, the only question that actually matters is what’s the “to be continued”? Please tell me it’s not just “closer alliance with the labor movement”. Since you dangled “non-identarian”, it’s evidently not rounding up every identity-based social movement and getting them to do something other than that which they’ve repeatedly already done.

    ———-

    One separate thought: if despair and feelings of profound uncertainty about whether there is any kind of “to be done” at a particular moment in time is not leftist, there are a lot of actually-existing leftists in modern history who end up excommunicated from the tent. Which may or may not be your intent.

  • W.Kasper says:

    “Keynesians are not going to win”

    – This needs emphasising to anyone calling themselves ‘left’ across the ‘west’. To believe it will win is little more than sentimental nostalgia – itself part and parcel of passive consumerism.

    Excellent stuff.

  • traxus4420 says:

    thanks for the response, timothy –

    the ‘what is the alternative’ questions i’m saving for the follow-up post, but i’ll address some of your other points.

    on what produces the left, i’m sure you’ll agree that ideological blocs don’t just pop out of historical contradictions fully formed like pepsi cans. in the united states the left as a recognizable institution doesn’t really exist. there are a lot of left ideas floating around, there are many active single-issue movements and organizations, there are unions, there are conferences that bring them all together for discussion, but there’s no significant power center. i waver on how much this needs to change, but it’s a basic fact of our moment.

    now as far as social theory, there is no single group that is ‘most important’ in isolation from all the others. left-liberals are not most important, the ‘real left’ is not most important, and neither is washington. it’s evident from the shit they all talk that none of them can afford to ignore each other (are they ‘obsessed?’ i don’t know. why do you care what i think? why not ‘just get to it’ somewhere else?). so i’m not going to pick who the subjects and objects of history are. left-liberals are significant because they’re the most visible semi-legitimate ideological opponents of our current status quo. this is a diverse group and its borders are thin (as the hyphenated label suggests) – some of them are just social climbers and careerists, some are pretty far left but don’t know what to do about it, or they compromise their ideas for the sake of legitimacy. there are working class people, environmentalists, anti-racists, etc. at least nominally in this group. during the bush era, when ‘progressive’ became a thing it was out of a popular desire to beat the far right and take over the democratic party. now it’s largely a semi-official space for the disgruntled, to be exploited during voting season by Tea Party Terror. and it is that way because the democratic party, to which it is still attached, has proved itself over and over not to be an ally, even for conventionally liberal causes, and in spite of who we voted in to serve as ‘left-liberal’ progressive candidates. then you have pundits like yglesias proudly identifying themselves as “neoliberals” dedicated to undermining the left and entertainers like stewart helping you feel ok about your impotence. i don’t see a reason (beyond perverse self-interest) for anyone left of a center rapidly shifting to the right to be so dependent on this party.

    in other words, imagine you’d like to build a stronger left. part of that necessarily involves discrediting influential arguments against building a stronger left.

    some of what you say makes it sound like you think that for me to have any right to criticize ‘left-liberals,’ i need to have a vast political machine behind me responsible for all organizational work, providing an official platform for my always-already-pointless opinions. but i don’t, so whether my opinions are pointless or not depends on me and you.

  • traxus4420 says:

    by the way, this lecture on gramsci is a pretty good starting point for ‘what is to be done’:

    http://www.thenewsignificance.com/2011/05/22/peter-thomas-gramsci-us/

  • Gramsci I”ll put aside for now, but I think Gramscian concepts of politics are precisely one of the reasons why the left historically in both the EU and the US got itself into the situation that it is in. Anybody who sees themselves on the left, at any rate, needs a good argument for why there is no “active power center” now.

    It’s not so much that I’m saying, “Well, you and what army” in a dismissive way, but I am suggesting that when people position themselves leftwards of liberals and lump everything that they see as insufficiently left into the same “liberal lump”, it implies one of two things: that liberals are the reason why the left hasn’t succeeded, or that the left doesn’t need liberals. You say it’s not the latter.

    You hint instead at the first thought: liberals are “influential”. But if you disbelieve profoundly that they could be influential in meaningful left ways, that they are structurally and socially mispositioned for any such possibility, why keep waiting for this particular Godot? If on the other hand, there is a contingent possibility that the people positioned as liberals might become part of a “stronger left”, well, what would this look like and how could liberals be convinced to do that? How can you even begin to persuade them if your main account of liberals is that they have a depraved, inexplicable (or socially self-interested) dependence upon the Democratic Party?

    Can we describe this “strong left” that might exist as a set of plausible policies that would conform to the basic legalisms and structures of American governance (local, state or federal)? Then that’s a pretty Yglesisian conversation only with some more dialectical mustard on top, maybe. If it wouldn’t look like that, if it would be some kind of end run around electoral politics, well, what’s that like?

    This is where the Tea Party is really important for people on the left to look at and not just froth at the mouth about. It’s a political movement that actually derives from an actually-existing social base. Sure, it’s being manipulated by dominant interests but it has a pretty real social rooting. And it’s powerful in both electoral and non-electoral terms not just in terms of getting serviced by hegemonic interests but in pushing political outcomes that are consistent with a particular view of the world, outcomes which may in fact not even be in the interest of many elites. What allows that? In part that it is NOT a coalition of many diverse kinds of social formations.

    What’s out there like that for a strong left? Nothing. So if your idea of a strong left is going to hold, it’s going to have to involve putting profoundly unlike social groups and situations together in service to some pretty big idea of the general good.

    And there we wend back to where I’m sitting. This is why I’m talking about chilling out, about trying to find something as loose as “good enough” that might serve as a social glue, and so on. If a strong left depends upon intense, comprehensive dedication to a long doctrinal list of necessary commitments and a quality of rhetoric to match, it’s not going to happen. Ask yourself this: people are getting the shit kicked out of them out there, the extreme rich are rampaging through every social-democratic consensus institution that followed the Wagner Act on their way back to the political norms of the Gilded Age: you’d think we wouldn’t have to be arguing about strategies, that fury would already be the rule of the day.

    Well, maybe it is in one social quadrant, the Tea Party’s social base. Barring that, it doesn’t seem to be with any other group, institution or constituency that you could imagine to be part of a strong left, besides a handful of bloggers who spent their time complaining about how the other guys aren’t realistic or dedicated enough. That means something, and it isn’t just that I want to spend more time with my garden and my XBox. What I take it to mean is that even people who are absolutely getting wiped out by the structural plundering of working-class and middle-class life in the US treasure their memories of a consensus society, however false in many ways those memories are (false on gender, false on race, false really on class even). That many people who ought to be part of any left don’t want a “strong left” if strength is measured by unwavering intensity of thought and action, or by purity of commitment. This doesn’t mean people aren’t furious and desperate, but maybe they want a politics that doesn’t insist that fury is all there can be.

    I think a strong left certainly doesn’t start where Yglesias starts, with inside baseball of all kinds. I don’t think it starts where the Democratic Party is: that much is utterly clear, that when a sizeable majority voted for “change”, they meant CHANGE. I don’t think it starts with identarian politics: you’re quite right about that.

    I think where it starts is by figuring out what most people think is decent, fair, ordinary as a way to live and be in the world, across class, race, and gender lines. I think the so-called “mommy blogs” are probably a lot closer to discovering what one leg of a “strong left” is than any political blog of any ideology. And I think talking about the medium chill is not a bad way to begin to investigate how to build a majoritarian vision of decency and fairness that could be the backbone of a strong left in the coming decade.

    • traxus4420 says:

      that liberals and progressives (left-liberals) are influential beyond their core ranks (which is obvious – they’re what ‘left’ means in popular discourse) first means that their ideas need to be confronted. if you’re trying to act politically that’s just a basic fact – influential means you can’t ignore them.

      can you think of any way they aren’t dependent on the democratic party? i can’t. isn’t this pretty much the case at the moment?

      i don’t really see the benefit to all this meta-debate you want me to engage in. i’m convinced reliance on the democrats for any reason is hopeless, counterproductive even to conventional liberal policy goals, and i’ve tried to argue why.

      my analysis is marxist. i don’t think the left-liberal intelligentsia is a strong base for any serious movement, and i say this having been content to identify with them for much of my politically aware life. whether individuals in that class choose to go left or right or just sit there is ultimately up to them. they’re too small for one thing. beyond that, as far as ‘objective’ ideological tendencies go, i lean to nicos poulantzas’s analysis of the petty bourgeois as a basically contradictory class, oscillating between capitalism and socialism (the wish for socialism in our case), and which the bourgeois are usually able to coerce/bribe/cajole into consolidating their hegemony and undermining resistance to it. ‘petty bourgeois’ encompasses large chunks of both the progressive and tea party movements, especially the core leadership – the demographics aren’t as different as you’d assume from the hype mills.

      the biggest demographic shift that seems to have been happening is young poor white people going republican:
      http://pewresearch.org/pubs/2067/2012-electorate-partisan-affiliations-gop-gains-white-voters

      anyway, more on that later…

      because my analysis is marxist, i don’t think a counter-movement starts on the most superficial ideological level, by finding some consensus set of emotional triggers and making them as seductive as possible. socialism already invokes most of those nice things (against drudgery, plenty for everyone, etc.) but has a strong theoretical foundation for why we can’t have them, and at least suggests the kind of political struggle necessary to win them. i don’t see any reason to throw the cake out and just keep the frosting. especially since obama and whole foods invoke the same nice things but noticeably lack a politics.

      but even on the ideological level your choices strike me as arbitrary – if the desired result is a more committed movement, how does it make sense to appeal to people’s dislike of strong commitments? how does an angry and committed tea party suggest a widespread nostalgia for consensus society (i mean beyond the tea party – i.e. one that’s not just racist)?

  • In the talk, Thomas brings up the deleterious effects of “narratives of de-politicisation and narratives of novelty”, how these “contribute to inertia” (of socialist struggle). The “liberal left” that you are discussing has, in its culture industry dominance (entertainment, academia), the role of producing these narratives that contribute to inertia. So even just reducing that activity or interfering with it would be a plus. Perhaps?

  • See, I think it’s the opposite: it was tone-deafness to the content of popular culture that tagged some Gramscian-style institutional leftists as elites-in-drag, and directed them into the role of identarian scolds and dour Frankfurt-style intellectuals. Not getting that mass culture has a lot of real pleasures (and that its production is genuinely intricate and messy), and slagging it off as an instrumental opiate, is pretty much a guaranteed route to “not really connecting with anybody besides dour left intellectuals”. Which doesn’t seem much of a quick road to “a strong left”.

    The deeper problem is that Gramscian analyses as applied by the Euro-American left from Stuart Hall onward tend towards a reductive understanding of the production of consciousness and subjectivity and thence to an account of consciousness in which is somehow cleanly tractable to instrumental political control or manipulation, bad when dominant or hegemonic interests do it, good when you’re Stuart Hall and you think you know how to beat Thatcherism at its own game with some kind of magic recipe.

    This kind of Gramscian praxis is kind of a left version of Lakoff’s frames: it casts the political actor outside of the scene of politics, as someone who already knows what politics should be and has to act upon the consciousness of others who don’t know. Not surprising that it’s a highly congenial premise for intellectuals, activists and so on. But I think this is what catalyzed the “long march through the institutions”, the notion that the job of the left was to use schools, civic institutions and so on as platforms for transformative mobilizations of the consciousness of the not-yet-conscious. And this I think is precisely what really scared the crap out of and mobilized popular reaction in many communities straight into the arms of reactionary political organizations.

    • traxus4420 says:

      i agree about the cultural studies gramsci, but you can be upbeat and complex and open to singularity while producing the mirror image of adorno – readings that identify an individual hollywood vehicle as ‘radical’ or ‘subversive’ or whatnot while having no idea how hollywood works as a system.

      peter thomas thankfully avoids all that crap.

    • Alex says:

      Much of Gramsci’s thoughts on the intellectual had to do with the fact that he was the head of an existent and moderately-influential (until it was banned) Communist Party in Italy. That humanities professors in the United States would see this as a program describing their role is disingenuous. The first thing humanities professors in the U.S. have to come to terms with is their relative absence of influence.

    • Alex says:

      And this I think is precisely what really scared the crap out of and mobilized popular reaction in many communities straight into the arms of reactionary political organizations.

      Really? Are you sure it’s not Ronald Reagan or Rupert Murdoch or Chuck Norris that drove people into reactionary political positions? Or perhaps growing wealth (as measured in number of commodities rather than relative share of commodities)? Or political strength (the center of the Empire is rarely the seat of rebellion)? You seem to be adopting the “scary deconstruction” argument, which is really just a bunch of bullshit about how philosophy shouldn’t be difficult (as though philosophy was ever a pursuit of the masses, as though artists like Da Vinci had any more appeal to “the people” in their day than Francis Bacon does today).

      What’s more, anti-intellectualism has pretty deep roots in the U.S. You see descriptions of it in de Tocqueville. Gramsci is a straw man.

  • Alex says:

    I just sent you something that seems incredibly relevant to our current historical moment, what I’ve been working on out here in Dschland. I don’t know how your German is these days, but I suggest you grab the original if you can read it.

    Weiss’s take on the political situation is, as in the first volume that you’ve already read, continually about the nexus between praxis and art/philosophy/thought. The second volume brings us some very important points regarding the attempt to form a Popular Front, and what hindered those developments. Of course, we have to keep in mind his discussion with his father from volume one, where the problem of the Front is at the center of their debate (“How can you advocate a truce with the Social Democrats when it’s them who destroyed the attempts to form a Communist state in Bremen?”).

    • traxus4420 says:

      thanks a lot for sending that to me – for all who don’t know, alex and a partner are doing yeoman’s work translating volume 2 (and 3?) of Peter Weiss’s Aesthetics of Resistance into english.

      i’ll be thinking about the bit you sent me, but shamefully my unread single-volume german copy will probably remain unread for a while.

      • Alex says:

        For now, it’s just volume 2. If we were to translate volume 3, we would need to sign another contract, get another grant, and block out another chunk of time.

        Thanks for mentioning the work. Hopefully we’re going to get this thing finished some time in the near future, but it’s by no means a fast project. We’re on a deadline, but that may find itself pushed back.

  • Chuckie K says:

    Alex, a couple of weeks ago, I listened to that passage from vol 1 on the audio book version. Not to sound too much like a stickler, but that discussion addresses the United Front, not the Popular Front.

    Without looking for the passage in vol. 2, I would not read this passage on the United Front as making a point about what hindered that attempt. I read it it as exemplifying the intractable contradictions of a great in principle, impossible in fact strategy.

    I’m so glad that you are translating vol. 2. The last few years, I have had some opportunities to tout this novel as one among the very best, and was no end distressed when I found that only the first volume had been translated. Hope we will hear more of this project.

    • Alex says:

      Sorry, United Front is correct – I was a bit tired when I wrote that. In Volume 2, it’s about the politics of the United Front versus the politics of the Popular Front (Münzenberg). We could always use some extra eyes, Chuckie, so perhaps you’d be interested in reading some drafts as we move along (I can’t freely disseminate it, because I don’t own the rights, but letting a couple people see early drafts shouldn’t be a problem).

  • Chuckie K says:

    Alex,
    I’d be glad to. chuckie.kautsky@gmail.com

  • […] Getting out the game… » […]

  • […] bourgeois” is a confusing term that comes up a lot, both because it’s a good insult and because it’s important to any class-based […]

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