The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report: A Green-Syndicalist Analysis

August 29, 2021

Originally published on New Politics, 28 August 2021

Earlier this month, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first part of its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of ongoing global warming. This study of the “Physical Science Basis” of climate change concludes that the situation is very alarming. As such, the AR6 may be taken as “code red for humanity.” In less than 300 years, the carbon emitted to power industrial capitalism has intensified the greenhouse effect, causing Earth’s global temperature to rise on average by 1°C, or 1.8°F (A.1.3). Overall, the AR6’s authors project the impacts of five trajectories of climate change in what remains of the twenty-first century, from courses that limit warming to a 1.5-2°C (2.7-3.6°F) average increase, to paths promising a rise of 3-5°C (5.4-9°F)—or worse. While these latter scenarios would hasten the Sixth Mass Extinction and threaten humankind’s self-destruction through precipitous global ecological collapse, even in the less destructive cases of increases of 1.5-2°C, “[m]any changes due to past and future greenhouse gas emissions are irreversible for centuries to millennia, especially changes in the ocean, ice sheets and global sea level” (B.5). Indeed, global temperatures will rise this century in all scenarios under consideration, and limiting this increase to 1.5-2°C is only possible with “deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions” now, and in the coming years. (B.1)

Since publication of its first assessment report in 1990, the IPCC has borne witness to the ever-worsening problem of anthropogenic climate disruption, together with what amounts to humanity’s suicidal failure to address the factors threatening collective destruction. The AR6 reflects the latest and starkest findings from the field of climatology. Given that each successive report takes 6-8 years to produce, as Guardian environment correspondent Fiona Harvey adds soberly, the AR6 also constitutes “the last IPCC report to be published while we still have a chance of averting the worst ravages of climate breakdown.”

In this article, we will review the IPCC’s AR6 Summary for Policymakers (SPM). The SPM is a much-condensed version of the full report on the “Physical Science Basis” of global warming, which runs to nearly 4,000 pages. We encourage readers to read either or both reports for themselves. After considering the latest findings from climatology, we will conclude by considering possible remedies to the grave problems highlighted by the AR6 SPM. As summarized in the concept of green syndicalism, we will avow egalitarian and socially transformative approaches to radically reducing emissions, in the hopes of minimizing the grave risks posed by the climate crisis. All figures are taken from the SPM.

Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis

The IPCC’s AR6 expands upon and updates the AR5, published in 2013. In turn, the 2007 AR4 served as the basis for the eco-journalist Mark Lynas’ terrifying exposé, Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Climate (2007; reviewed here). Although it is the first IPCC report “to assess the risk of tipping points thoroughly,” the AR6 follows a similar format to its predecessors, in considering the past and current states of the climate, contemplating possible climate futures, and stressing the importance of limiting future warming. As scientists, the AR6’s authors use confidence estimates to convey the certainty of their claims.

For instance, with 80-90% confidence, the IPCC finds that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in 2019 were the highest they’ve been in 2 million years, and that human activities are the “main driver” of worldwide glacial retreat since the 1990s, as of the decrease in Arctic sea ice seen in the past 40 years (A.1.5, A.2.1). Grimly, with 80% confidence, the IPCC can say that the average Arctic sea ice extent has been at its lowest over the past decade since 1850. With 50% confidence, it finds that both the existing level of late-summer Arctic sea ice and the global rate of glacial recession are unprecedented for one to two-thousand years (A.2.3). Since the onset of industrial capitalism, the oceans have borne the brunt of global warming: specifically, the AR6’s authors estimate with 80% confidence that the oceans have absorbed “91% of the heating in the climate system, with land warming, ice loss and atmospheric warming accounting for about 5%, 3% and 1%, respectively” (A.4.2). By the same token, in the early twenty-first century, “ice sheet and glacier mass loss were the dominant contributors” to sea-level rise (A.4.3). Thus far over the past century, the oceans have risen an estimated 0.2 meters, or 0.6 feet. (A.1.7)

In terms of both the fate of Earth’s cryosphere (icy regions) and sea levels, the IPCC’s authors have no doubt either that ice loss will continue in Greenland, or that sea levels will rise, as this century progresses. Moreover, they calculate a two-thirds probability that Antarctica’s ice will recede during this time, together with a lower risk that the Antarctic ice sheet will start to break up altogether, in the case of especially high emissions (B.5.2). In a similar vein, the AR6 authors warns that sea levels will continue to rise another 0.3-1 meter(s) this century, with more intensive carbon-emission trajectories translating to greater sea-level rise. (B.5.3)

Regarding heat and drought, the IPCC’s authors are “virtually certain that hot extremes (including heatwaves) have become more frequent and more intense across most land regions since the 1950s, while cold extremes (including cold waves) have become less frequent and less severe, with high confidence that human-induced climate change is the main driver of these changes” (A.3.1, A.3.5; original emphasis). This shift toward a “Hothouse Earth” pathway is bleakly illustrated in the figure below, which shows nearly all of the world’s regions heating up. Whereas warming effects are expected to be most concentrated at Earth’s poles, some temperate and semi-arid regions can be expected to “see the highest increase in the temperature of the hottest days, at about 1.5 to 2 times the rate of global warming (high confidence)” (B.2.1, B.2.3; orig. emphasis). Overall, as Guardian editor Damian Carrington observes in his review of the AR6, “[d]rought is increasing in more than 90% of the regions for which there is good data.” Paradoxically, though, a hotter Earth can also be a wetter Earth: “The frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events have increased since the 1950s over most land area for which observational data are sufficient for trend analysis (high confidence), and human-induced climate change is likely the main driver” (A.3.2; orig. emphasis). As we have seen confirmed this summer from China to Germany and the U.S., global warming intensifies the risk and frequency of “heavy precipitation events” (B.2.4).

Transitioning to a focus on different climate futures, the AR6 authors ominously conclude that there is effectively no space for any future expansion of greenhouse-gas emissions, considering that we have “blown 86% of our carbon budget already.” Therefore, as with exposure to ionizing radiation, we can conclude that there is no safe dose for the burning of carbon at this point, as “[c]hanges in several climatic impact-drivers would be more widespread at 2°C compared to 1.5°C global warming and even more widespread and/or pronounced for higher warming levels” (C.2). In other words, the degree of damage wrought by anthropogenic climate disruption depends on whether or not we can defy capital’s growth imperative and radically reorganize production, society, and polity in the coming years. As is clear from the bar graphs below, only the most radical of reduction trajectories considered in the AR6, the so-called SSP1-1.9, provides a good chance of limiting overall global warming to a 1.5°C average increase. Achieving this goal presupposes sustained global net negative carbon emissions—meaning the abolition of fossil fuels and deforestation, plus carbon sequestration (D.1.6). Even then, in the best case, temperatures could soar beyond 1.5°C later this century, before declining below the target again (B.1.3).

In reality, only the lowest and second-lowest greenhouse-gas emission trajectories modeled by the IPCC in the AR6 are likely to avoid the “threshold” of a 2°C rise, beyond which catastrophe ensues (B.1.1, B.1.2). All other courses, which are expected by the capitalist compulsions that govern the world, ensure our collective self-destruction.

Radical Climate Politics and Green Syndicalism

As we have seen in this article, the first third of the AR6 is not dedicated to solutions, but rather, to examining the scope of the problem of global warming. However, whereas the AR6 section on strategies for mitigating global warming is not expected until next year, remedial action to shift us toward very low emissions trajectories is desperately needed now. Rather than perpetuate hierarchical convention or Trumpist barbarism, we need a regenerative “Great Transition” integrating a “managed decline” of fossil-fuel production, expansion, and exploration, together with a halt to deforestation, across the globe. As the AR6 demonstrates, such a program would need to achieve negative net carbon emissions—as through reforestation, rewilding, restoration, and other forms of sequestration—to limit global warming to a 1.5-2°C rise. In short, the longer we procrastinate, the higher our risk of self-destruction (D.2.3).

At the same time, while the gloominess of the AR6 might shock its readers, we should recall that its conclusions are necessarily conservative. Climate journalist Emily Atkin points out that every word published in the IPCC’s name must be agreed to by each UN member-country—including mass-carbon burners like the U.S., Canada, Russia, China, India, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia. Due to this same power dynamic, the term “fossil fuels” does not appear once in the Summary for Policymakers. We hear about “activities,” “emissions,” and “influence,” but not exploitation or domination, whether of humanity or nature. Reading the AR6, Atkin notes soberly, “You’ll learn the world is ending, [but] you [might] not know who to blame.”

In closing, then, and keeping in mind our interest in egalitarian and socially transformative frameworks for radically reducing emissions to minimize our climate risk, let us consider some contemporary approaches to climate politics, both institutional and radical.

Known as the official architecture for discussing and debating global warming, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the body that has negotiated such non-binding international agreements as the Kyoto Protocol (1997) and the Paris Accord (2015) through annual meetings of the Conference of Parties (COPs). In November 2021, after a one-year hiatus over the COVID-19 pandemic, the twenty-sixth COP will be held. Based on its track record so far, nothing meaningful can be expected to come of it. Of course, the failure of the COP to restrain the factors driving global warming is largely on the United States, the largest historical emitter by far, which refused to join Kyoto under the Clinton and Bush administrations, torpedoed the Copenhagen talks in 2009 but then championed the Paris Agreement under Obama, and withdrew from it under Trump.

Although Biden has ordered the U.S. to get back on track to meet the goals outlined in the Paris Accord, the stark reality is that very few countries have met their pledges to date. Even if they did, studies show that the outcome would mean an unacceptable 3°C rise in average global temperatures. In parallel, Biden’s brainchild, the much-touted, $1 trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, had many of its climate provisions gutted to get it past Republican senators. In short, we are still on a high-emissions trajectory that promises hell on Earth later this century, even under centrist-reformist State management, and the necrophilic irrationalism of Trump and the GOP will only get us there sooner. In this sense, Republicans will likely capitalize on Biden’s chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan—which ironically followed Trump’s lead—thus amounting to an elegy for the Green New Deal.

With time running out, and with all this negativity in mind, seeing the powers that be so radically failing us, what alternative remedies can we possibly consider?

Certainly, with a combination of political, social, and economic changes, humanity’s energetic needs could be met by a transition to wind, water, and solar (WWS) sources, as outlined by Mark Jacobson and company’s WWS-based roadmaps for 139 countries, and David Schwartz’s concept of solar communism. The problem of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy is far more political and economic than technical. Humanistic and ecological proposals for degrowth, targeting both private and State capitalism, echo Richard Smith’s deindustrialization imperative and a “neither Washington-nor Beijing” position that would critique both U.S.-American and Chinese Communist authoritarianism on principle. A decade ago, in Imperiled Life: Revolution against Climate Catastrophe, I recommended internationalism and ecological anarcho-communism as reconstructive strategies, and still do.

In The Ministry for the Future, the visionary writer Kim Stanley Robinson foresees the climate crisis unleashing global uprisings that force policymakers into overhauling the economy to deincentivize the burning of carbon altogether. Taking inspiration from La Via Campesina’s motto that “agroecology cools the planet,” Troy Vettese proposes that we induce a “second Little Ice Age” through a simultaneous transition to plant-based diets and the restoration and reforestation of the billions of hectares of land currently dedicated to pasture and agriculture. Hopefully, this would be a “bloodless” Little Ice Age, unlike the first, which took place between the 16th and 19th centuries, as European genocide and epidemiological desolation of Indigenous peoples in the Americas resulted in rapid regrowth of ecosystems, the sequestration of carbon, and a decline in atmospheric CO2.

We believe green syndicalism to be among the most reasonable of strategies for implementing the deepest cuts to carbon emissions foreseen in the AR6’s—that is, the SSP1-1.9 curve, which provides the best chance to limiting global warming to 1.5°C. In light of the historical failures of bureaucratic socialism to achieve its stated goal of classlessness, much less to provide inspiring models for eco-socialism (see the Chernobyl nuclear disaster or the Aral Sea), anarcho-syndicalism provides greater hope for workers’ self-abolition as workers, for it aims directly to overthrow class society. To add ecology to the mix, especially in the face of looming climate catastrophe, is only logical, considering Jeff Shantz’s point that the protection of nature “requires the social power, the power to stop capitalist production, distribution, and exchange, that is represented by the collective power of working people.” Rather than view workers as necessarily allied with bosses in the destruction of ecosystems, as the “jobs versus environment” double-bind would have us think, green syndicalists highlight class struggle and powerlessness at work and in society at large as factors that can contest and reproduce environmental destruction, respectively. In this sense, workers must come to recognize the uselessness of their jobs, while ecologists must come to recognize that class divisions and the bureaucratic organization of work perpetuate ecocide. The ideal organizing strategy might be to revisit Judi Bari’s synthesis of the syndicalist Industrial Workers of the World with the deep-green ecology of Earth First!—seen in the founding of the unique IWW/EF! Local 1 in northern California in 1989—learn from its shortcomings, and reapply similar models of “blue-green alliance[s],” community syndicalism, and autonomous unionization today, and in the future.[1]

By inverting the established decision-making hierarchies between capital and labor, green anarcho-syndicalism has the potential to meet the unprecedented challenge, posed by the authors of the IPCC’s AR6, of reducing carbon emissions radically and rescuing humanity from self-destruction. Ideally, workers and environmentalists would unite to “dismantle the factory system, its work discipline, hierarchies, and regimentation,” as well as ban fossil fuels, implement a transition to a WWS-based energy system, and reorganize global society by promoting participatory democracy at work, in the community, and in social life.[2] Although the success of such a program may be hard to imagine in oligarchical U.S. society (not to mention other oligarchical contexts), in light of the exceedingly low rate of unionization in the workforce and the lack of effective recourse against bosses who crush union drives, a green-syndicalist revival is nevertheless imperative.[3]


[1]    Jeff Shantz, Green Syndicalism: An Alternative Red/Green Vision (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2012), xxv, xxxii, xxli, 46, 109-112.

[2]    Ibid, 54.

[3]    Alice Martin and Annie Quick, Unions Renewed: Building Power in an Age of Finance (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2020).

Science Fiction as Protest Art (Part I): Exploring ‘Capitalist Hells’

August 8, 2021
Mars landscape from Total Recall (1990)

This is the first entry in a two-part response to Thomas Wilson Jardine’s December 2020 essay, ‘Cyberpunk: An Empty Rebellion?In part one, we introduce the late historian Richard Stites’ framework on the speculative critique of ‘capitalist hells,’ and provide a number of examples of science fiction functioning as protest art. In part two, we will focus on Stites’ concepts of ‘communist heavens’ and ‘alternative, anti-modern utopias,’ analyzing Kim Stanley Robinson’s literature and the Deus Ex game universe as case studies.

First published on The Commoner, 8 August 2021. Shared using Creative Commons license

‘The concept of progress is to be grounded in the concept of catastrophe. That things ‘just go on’ is the catastrophe. It is not that which is approaching but that which is. [August] Strindberg’s thought: Hell is not something which lies ahead of us—but this life here.’ – Walter Benjamin[1]

In a world facing uncertain, bleak, and even terminal futures, capitalist media companies compete to maximize their market share by exploiting humanity’s artistic, political, and erotic fantasies. Simply put, the culture industry cynically sells our symbolic rebellions against oppression and dehumanisation back to us. Still, our individual and collective psychosocial reveries can be interpreted, at least in part, as compensatory means of coping with capital’s nihilistic, destructive impetus. Seen in this light, such emotional coping mechanisms serve the important ends of mental health and survival.

At the same time, writing in The Commoner in December 2020, Thomas Wilson Jardine rightly underscores the risk that the increasing incorporation of critical, anti-authoritarian themes into such media as film and video games may ultimately just prey on our alienation and promote ‘interpassivity.’ The danger is that audiences will passively consume the recuperation of ‘revolutionary iconoclasm,’ or ‘the abolition of authority, authority figures,’ and ‘master symbols,’ in ways that merely reproduce what the French Situationist Guy Debord famously termed ‘the society of the spectacle.’[2]

In this essay, I want to question whether the dynamic between art and audience is so straightforward. Do the iconoclastic themes and fantasies which writers, artists, and game developers incorporate into speculative fiction only serve to reproduce class society and social hierarchy in themselves and their consumers?

Reflecting on the genres of cyberpunk and steampunk, I agree with Jardine that there is a strong risk of interpassivity, of psychic substitutionism, and of what an implanted-memory salesman from the film Total Recall (1990) terms ‘a vacation from the self,’ otherwise known as ‘LARPing’ (live-action role-playing). Games like Deus Ex (1999), BioShock (2007), or Ascent (2021), which incorporate subversive cyberpunk and steampunk themes, are rather different from the traditional action games, like the Counter-Strike (2000), Battlefield (2002), or Call of Duty (2003) series, which glorify militarism and the War on Terror. To this point, Brie Code, founder of the Tru-Luv development studio, comments that the gaming industry ‘has focused on a narrow subset of human psychology for several years,’ specifically ‘help[ing] people feel a sense of achievement or dominance.’ In this sense, titles with cyberpunk or steampunk themes may attract different ‘markets’ for game corporations: perhaps ones that are comprised of those who are younger, and/or more politically progressive or radical.

Even so, the gaming experience depends upon the alienated labor of developers, together with that of miners and electronics workers, all of which is made invisible, according to Karl Marx’s concept of commodity fetishism. To this point, Jardine critiques Cyberpunk 2077 (2020), one of the industry’s most highly-anticipated games, which cost over $300 million to produce. They write, ‘I do not see V (your character) and Johnny Silverhand going to establish a better or new system and uniting the exploited cyborg proletariat in a popular uprising against Arasaka and Militech [corporations].’ As I have not played Cyberpunk 2077, I cannot comment on this particular aspect of the plot, much less any other.

Be that as it may, in keeping with the utopian origins and function of speculative fiction, subversive social commentary is relayed, and social revolution even envisioned, in certain games. Red Faction (2001), for instance, begins with a miners’ strike on Mars, echoing the revolutionary fantasy of worker unrest and heroic anti-capitalism on the red planet in Total Recall. As this dynamic suggests, compared with the relatively new medium of video games, literature and film have had an expansive history of promoting humanist, anti-authoritarian, and ecological themes, thus advancing what Walidah Imarisha calls ‘[v]isionary fiction’: namely, speculative art that seeks to build ‘new, freer worlds,’ starting with the decolonization of the mind.[3] In this multi-part essay, we emphasize the continuities among literature, film, and games as protest art in this sense. We will see how reason and emotion are intimately tied to the struggle for individual and collective liberation. We will explore some of the links between history and the present, and see how the best sci-fi operates through the critical displacement—or defamiliarisation—of infernal capitalist modernity.

A Brief History of Speculative Fiction and Protest Literature

Uncle Zeng, Peach Blossom Spring

Speculative, visionary fiction has an enduring history. In 421 C.E., the Chinese writer Tao Qian (365-427) composed ‘Peach Blossom Spring.’ This is a tale about a fisherman who discovers a utopian community located in a high valley at the terminus of a river lined with pink peach trees. The villagers of this exilic Daoist space, a ‘level land’ wherein ‘white-haired elders and tufted children alike were cheerful and contented,’ are either unaware of the Qin and Han imperial dynasties, or do not recognise them, for their ancestors had fled from the centralising Chinese State. Like the Cossack communities founded by peasants, who avoided serfdom by ‘exiting’ from early State formation in Russia during the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries,[4] the Daoist community at the source of the peach blossom stream ‘had first left men’s society to escape the troubled world.’ In 718, the poet Wang Wei (699-759) expanded on this vision, imagining that the inhabitants of this community ‘were peaceful, calm, [and] kind,’ and the valley ‘fertile and full of animals.’

‘We stayed until we saw what it was: a good place.
To live here would be fulfillment.’

Moved by his experience, the narrator returns home, seeking to resettle with his family in this utopia. However, upon setting out to move there, they ultimately cannot find the community, for it was but a ‘moment in time’—or maybe just a dream, after all.[5]

In a similar vein, the Indian poet Guru Raidas (c. 1450-1520) envisioned Begumpura, a ‘land without sorrow,’ five centuries ago:

‘The regal realm with the sorrowless name:
they call it Begumpura, a place with no pain,
No taxes or cares, none owns property there,
no wrongdoing, worry, terror, or torture.
Oh, my brother, I’ve come to take it as my own,
my distant home where everything is right.
That imperial kingdom is rich and secure,
where none are third or second – all are one;
They do this or that, they walk where they wish,
they stroll through fabled palaces unchallenged.
Oh, says Ravidas, a tanner now set free,
those who walk beside me are my friends.’

This Begumpura, as the Dalit anarchist Pranav Jeevan P comments, is a stateless, classless, and casteless commune. It represents the ‘imagination [mobilizing] against caste, class, state, Brahmanical hierarchies and patriarchy,’ and foreseeing a ‘society living in harmony and free from all forms of discrimination.’ Considering the humanistic, emancipatory impulses that inform this dream, together with its continued acute relevance, both in BJP-dominated India and beyond, Pranav invites us to engage and re-engage with such visions, and ‘work towards creating our [own] Begumpura.’

Fast-forward to Summer 1816. The English novelist Mary Shelley (daughter of the proto-anarchist William Godwin and the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft), while visiting Switzerland with her husband (the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley), produced Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (1818), in response to Lord Byron’s bid for a competition to see who could write the best horror story. Composed on the shores of Lake Geneva, this Gothic art-work is often considered the first example of modern science fiction. The ghastly novel, bearing the imprints of the thought both of the author’s parents, as of the Swiss-born philosophe Jean-Jacques Rousseau, depicts the ‘mad scientist’ Victor Frankenstein, who successfully creates a humanoid assembled from body parts of the deceased in his laboratory. This creature, who is physically strong and loving yet anxious and hideous, is rejected both by Frankenstein and by society at large. Viewed as a ‘monster, a blot upon the earth,’ and denied fellowship and sexual satisfaction, the Creature declares ‘ever-lasting war against the species.’[6] The nameless Creature poses the question: ‘Am I thought to be the only criminal, when all human kind sinned against me?’[7]

This allegory functions as a sympathetic portrayal of human development, feminist and Romantic commentary on ableist social relations and the Promethean-masculinist ethos of capitalism, plus an endorsement of sociological approaches to criminology that would incorporate consideration for environmental and psychosocial factors driving crime. Its message runs parallel to Percy Shelley’s own Prometheus Unbound (1820), a lyrical drama which presents its author and his characters as Romantic heroes. From Ursula K. Le Guin in The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) to the creators of the eco-documentary Chasing Ice (2012), many have rendered homage to Frankenstein‘s climactic chase in the Arctic.

In the conclusion to his latest novel, The Ministry for the Future (2020), sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson suggests that the utopian socialist Charles Fourier was a ‘secret influence’ on the visionary French novelist Jules Verne, author of Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and Around the World in Eighty Days (1872), among other works.[8] In like fashion, the late historian Richard Stites finds that, in the wake of the Russian Revolution which overthrew Tsarism and landlordism, ‘[t]en editions of Fourier’s works appeared between 1917 and 1926 and many books about his ideas. [Fellow utopian socialists] Owen, Cabet, Buchez, Blanc, St. Simon and others enjoyed new translations in the 1920s. Their influence on the science fiction of the period is apparent, though never acknowledged.’[9]

A similar story could be told in 2021, a century after the Czech artist Karel Čapek wrote Rossum’s Universal Robots (1921). This was the first work to envision synthetic ‘robots,’ or slave workers, who would replace human labourers and soldiers, and ultimately rise up and destroy humanity—as the Terminator series likewise foresees. Like today’s producers of science fiction, and especially climate fiction, who often convey either pessimistic ‘grimdark’ or optimistic ‘solarpunk’ messages, speculative writers from Russia’s early Soviet period often focused on social and political problems in their production of what amounted to protest literature.

The late Howard Zinn defined protest literature as ‘any form of communication that engages social consciousness and may move someone to action.’ It is similar to the genre known as social science fiction, which includes such titles as Plato’s Republic (c. 375 B.C.E.) and Thomas More’s Utopia (1516). There was also the radical intelligentsia who, in their artistic, subtle, and indirect ways, crucially defamiliarised Tsarism in the nineteenth century, and so inspired the Russian Revolution. Following from their example, Soviet speculative writers expressed themes critical of capitalism, militarism, ‘Taylorist exploitation, death weapons, and mad scientists.’[10] Most sci-fi in our own time, whether developed primarily with society or profit in mind, is an adaptation of precisely this ‘revolutionary critique of the old world’ from a century ago, in a reflection of the staying power of hierarchy, brutality, and irrationality.[11]

Thus, in the following two parts of this article, we will trace the continuities of utopias (and dystopias) in time, between past and present. Starting from the Freudian idea that fantasy disguises an unconscious desire for wish-fulfillment, we will see how speculative exercises in ‘[t]aking off into a better world’ are linked with the goal of overcoming ‘capitalist hells,’ reaching ‘communist heavens,’ and so integrating our deepest hopes with reality.[12]

Footnotes

[1]Walter Benjamin, ‘Central Park,’ New German Critique, no. 34 (1985), 50. Emphasis in original.
[2]Richard Stites, Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 183; Hans Gerth and C. Wright Mills, Character and Social Structure: The Psychology of Social Institutions (Routledge: London, 1954), 276.
[3]Walidah Imarisha, ‘Introduction’ to Octavia’s Brood, eds. Adrienne Marie Brown and Walidah Imarisha (AK Press/Institute for Anarchist Studies, 2015), 4.
[4]Andrej Grubačić and Dennis O’Hearn, Living at the Edges of Capitalism: Adventures in Exile and Mutual Aid (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016), 48-62.
[5]Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Moon (New York: Orbit, 2018), 344.
[6]Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (London: Penguin, 2003), 123, 138, 150.
[7]Ibid, 224.
[8]Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future (New York: Orbit, 2020), 558.
[9]Stites 168 (emphasis added).
[10]Ibid, 180.
[11]Ibid, 236.
[12]Ibid, 171-4; Rosemary Jackson, Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion (London: Routledge, 1981).

Salvaging the Future: A Review of The Ministry for the Future

June 12, 2021

Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future (New York: Orbit, 2020)

Originally published on Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, 7 June 2021. Also reprinted on Anarchist Agency, 4 July 2021

“After the basics of food and shelter that we need just as animals, first thing after that: dignity. Everyone needs and deserves this, just as part of being human. And yet this is a very undignified world. And so we struggle. You see how it is” (551).

The Ministry for the Future is Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest contribution to the emerging genre of climate fiction, known as “cli-fi.” Climate fiction is a subset of science fiction, set in the near or distant future, that centers the projected dystopian effects of global warming and the sixth mass extinction on humanity and nature, while exploring creative and utopian ways of salvaging the future of our species, together with that of millions of others.

As in his other recent speculative works, from Aurora (2015) to New York 2140 (2017), Robinson here draws implicitly on the concept of “disaster communism” developed by the Out of the Woods climate collective—a form of mutual aid that relies on “a kind of bricolage.” Some concrete examples of this bricolage (“work made from available things”), as the collective explains in a 2014 article, include trucks being “repurposed to deliver food to the hungry, retrofitted with electric motors, stripped for parts, and/or used as barricades,” and ships being “scuttled to initiate coral reef formation.” Indeed, in Ministry, Robinson alludes to the repurposing of destroyed container ships as reef beds, and praises Robinson Crusoe for ingeniously “ransack[ing] the wreck of his ship” (229, 367). Thus history—and, by extension, the future—can be remade at the intersection of communal self-organization and the autonomous reconfiguration of existing technologies and infrastructures. As the Out of the Woods collective argues, “the unfolding catastrophe of global warming cannot and will not be stopped” without the “transgressive and transformative mobilization” of disaster communities agitating for a new, post-capitalist global system. As we will see, Robinson’s Ministry is animated by a parallel desire to put an end to the “strip-mining [of] the lifeworld,” and to “help us get to the next world system” (163, 317).

Compared with most of Robinson’s other twenty-five published works, Ministry is among the closest in time frame to our own. It starts in the mid-2020s, just five years after its publication date. Measured in terms of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, the world of Ministry begins at 447 parts per million (as compared to earth’s current level of 417ppm). Unlike Aurora, Red Moon, the Mars trilogy (1992–1996), Galileo’s Dream (2009), or 2312 (2012), the plot in Ministry—with the exception of some lyrical scenes depicting airship flight—is earthbound, focused on terrestrial humanity and nature, rather than interplanetary or interstellar life and travel. Despite this difference, all of Robinson’s cli-fi books share humanistic, ecological, scientific, and historical themes, lessons, and quandaries, and Ministry is no exception. Efforts to address the catastrophic twin threats of a melting polar ice and sea level rise are central to the narratives of Green Earth and Ministry alike.

Although set centuries apart, and/or in differing parts of the solar system or galaxy, Robinson’s novels commonly feature radically subversive political struggles, journeys of existential discovery and loss, interpersonal romances, explorations of the relationship between humanity and other animals (our “cousins”), historical optimism, an emphasis on human stewardship and unity, and the creative use of science to solve social and ecological problems (502). In this sense, his latest work is no exception.

A Global Scope

The Ministry for the Future begins with a shocking illustration of capitalist hell, as Frank May, a young, white US aid worker, witnesses climate devastation firsthand in India, where an estimated twenty million people perish in an unprecedented single heat wave induced by global warming. As the only survivor of the heat wave in a village in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Frank experiences significant trauma and guilt, and goes somewhat mad. In this, he echoes the quixotic crossover of neurodivergence and heroic agency seen in several other of Robinson’s male protagonists, from Saxifrage Russell in the Mars trilogy to Frank Vanderwal in Green Earth and Fred Fredericks in Red Moon.

At the national level, this catastrophe delegitimizes the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is voted out in favor of the nascent Avasthana (“Survival”) Party. In turn, the new government switches the Indian energy grid from coal to renewables, and launches thousands of flights to spray aerosols into the stratosphere, in an effort to double the effects of the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines. This unilateral geoengineering scheme effectively cools global temperatures by 1 to 2°F (0.6–1.2°C). Dialectically, this “New India,” a formidable “green power,” promotes land reform, biosphere reserves, “communist organic farm[ing],” the decentralization of power, and a questioning of patriarchy and the caste system (141–42). Thousands of miles away, these sweeping changes resonates in arid California, where the state government recognizes all water as a commons, “blockchaining” it for the purpose of collective accounting and use in the face of sustained drought. This is before an “atmospheric river” destroys Los Angeles, “the [capitalist] world’s dream factory,” and a heat wave ravages the US Southwest, taking the lives of hundreds of thousands (285, 348–49).

Just prior to the South Asian heat wave, in 2025, the Ministry for the Future is founded as a “subsidiary body” to the Paris Climate Agreement of 2016. Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, the ministry is tasked with representing the interests of future generations, as well as the defense of entities that cannot represent themselves, such as nonhuman animals and ecosystems. Much like the US National Science Foundation (NSF) featured in Green Earth, this ministry is led by cutting-edge, clear-minded scientists; it is distinguished, however, by its international and global scope, as well as its use of artificial intelligence (AI). Part of its mission involves the identification and prosecution of climate and environmental criminals across the globe. Initially, the ministry utilizes legalistic methods to pursue these offenders, but, after a late night confrontation between the deranged Frank and the ministry’s Irish director, Mary Murphy (whom he kidnaps and harangues), decides to quietly support a black ops wing headed by the Nepali Badim Bahadur. The parallel organization, which may be the same as the “Children of Kali” group, and other underground cells, execute weapons manufacturers, disrupt the World Economic Forum at Davos, destroy airliners, sink container ships, and purposely infect cattle herds to prevent their consumption, all as part of the “War for the Earth.” Soon, the Children of Kali are joined by Gaia’s Shock Troops, along with fictionalizations of the real-world Defenders of Mother Earth and Earth First!

Under Bahadur’s direction, the ministry, led by Mary Murphy, not only pursues covert campaigns, but also develops two major proposals to save the world from the menaces of ecocide and militarism: First, it aims to appeal to the central banks of the most powerful states to stimulate decarbonization by replacing the dollar with a new global currency called “carboni.” This new currency is backed, in turn, by long-term bonds and applied in conjunction with progressive carbon taxes, intended to incentivize survival. But it is only after popular occupations of Paris and Beijing, demanding a “kind of commons that was post-capitalist,” and “millions [coming out to] the streets,” transferring their savings to credit unions, and launching a debt strike after the climatic destruction of LA, that the “useless” bankers and “corrupt” lawmakers feel compelled to take steps to adopt “carbon quantitative easing” and remove the profit motive from the fossil fuel industry (214, 252, 344). Second, to slow down the retreat of polar sea ice (and similar to a plan outlined in Green Earth), the ministry backs a proposal to drill into glaciers and pump their melted remnants back onto the surface for refreezing.

After Intervention, the “Good Future”

Once carbon taxes and the carboni currency have been introduced in Ministry’s world, progressive political changes begin to follow. The despotic al-Saud family is overthrown in Arabia, and the interim government pledges to immediately finance the suspension of oil sales and a full transition to solar power through compensation in the form of carboni. Likewise, the “Lula left” makes a roaring comeback in Brazil, stopping the country’s sale of oil and promising to protect and restore the Amazon rain forest, all in response to the newfound incentives created by carboni. The African Union backs the nationalization of all foreign firms, and their transformation into worker cooperatives, as a means of presenting “a united front toward China, [the] World Bank, [and] all outside forces” (324–25, 355).

In Russia, a democratic opposition movement overwhelms Putin’s regime. Refugees in Europe—overwhelmingly Syrian—are given global citizenship and worldwide freedom of movement. Reacting to the pressures of a “brave new market” on the one hand, and of relentless eco-saboteurs on the other, the transport and energy sectors decarbonize. New container ships are designed, partly with the assistance of AI, integrating a return to sail technology and innovative electric motors that run on solar energy. In line with E. O. Wilson’s proposal for “half of earth” to be set aside for nature, a number of habitat corridors are established in North America, connecting the Yukon with Yellowstone, and Yellowstone with Yosemite, incorporating the Rocky, Olympic, and Cascade Mountain Ranges. In these corridors, hunting is banned, roads are ripped up, and underpasses and overpasses are built to facilitate the safe movement of animal populations.

Across the globe, communal, national, and regional socio-environmental organizations coalesce to rewild, restore, and regenerate ecosystems and the human social fabric. Atmospheric carbon concentration peaks at 475ppm, then begins a sustained decline (454–55). The British, Russian, and American navies collaborate to support “Project Slowdown,” the systematic pumping of glacial meltwaters, in Antarctica. The Arctic Sea is dyed yellow, to salvage some degree of albedo, or reflection of solar radiation, in light of melted sea ice. Social inequality declines sharply as universal basic income is adopted and land is increasingly converted into commons.

Rights are extended to nonhuman animals. More and more people shift to cooperative, low-carbon living and plant-based diets, just as communism, participatory economics, workers’ cooperatives, and degrowth emerge as reasonable components of a “Plan B” response to a climate-ravaged world. Frank accompanies Syrian and African refugees, volunteers with mutual aid organization Food Not Bombs, and expresses his love for both Mary and his fellow animals (372–73, 435, 447).

This alternate future is not free of tragedy, however. Tatiana, the ministry’s “warrior,” is assassinated by a drone, presumably directed by Russians seeking revenge for the ouster of Vladimir Putin—much as the anarchist Arkady Bogdanov and his comrades are firebombed by capitalists toward the end of Red Mars. This leads Mary Murphy to go into hiding, something the revolutionaries on Mars and Chan Qi, the female Chinese dissident in Red Moon, must also do. [Frank succumbs to brain cancer, likely as a result of the great stresses he suffered during the heatwave in Uttar Pradesh. Mary attends to him with tenderness, much as Natasha Rostova nurses the dying Prince Andrei in War and Peace (1869).]

Questions and Critique

“She clutched his arm hard. We will keep going, she said to him in her head—to everyone she knew or had ever known, all those people so tangled inside her, living or dead, we will keep going, she reassured them all” (563).

The Ministry for the Future is an engaging, entertaining, and enlightening read. It presents a hopeful vision of the future, whereby mass civil disobedience and direct action against corporations and governments serve as the necessary levers to institute a scientific, ecological, and humanistic global transition beyond capitalism. The plot features conflicts between the market and the state, and it is obvious where Robinson’s allegiances lie. As Mary declares, in this struggle, “we want the state to win” (357). Paradoxically, as an internationalist and an ecologist, Robinson endorses the “rule of law” as an important means of bringing capital to heel (61). At least for the time being, he believes that money, markets, and banks will themselves need to be involved in the worldwide transition toward social and environmental justice—that is, their own overcoming: “Without that it’s castles in air time, and all will collapse into chaos” (410).

Undoubtedly, this vision is different than that of anarchism, which foresees bypassing the hopelessly compromised state and overthrowing capitalism directly through the self-organization of the international working classes. Robinson admits his narrative does not advocate “complete revolution,” as left-wing radicals would (380). Rather than advocating the overthrow of the state, he calls for changing the laws. Indeed, in his construction of an alternate future, Robinson defines the Paris Agreement as the “greatest turning point in human history,” and the “birth of a good Anthropocene” (475). Mary Murphy’s ministry seeks to appeal to the same “bank/state combination” that has caused, and continues to perpetrate, the very climate crisis that threatens humanity and the rest of complex life on earth (212).

To advocate such a statist strategy as a means of salvaging the future, even as an “insider” counterpart to the direct actions carried out by revolutionary “outsiders,” several assumptions must hold—many of them questionable. For instance, Robinson assumes that all countries will adopt the Paris Agreement in good faith; that the ministry would be allowed to come into existence in the first place; that the BJP in India would not only be voted out of power but also accept its electoral defeat peacefully; that Trumpism and the US Republican Party would be out of the picture; that the masses would mobilize radically for socio-environmental justice across the globe and not be brutally repressed, as they were in Mexico City’s Tlatelolco Plaza, Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, Occupied Palestine, Syria, or Myanmar/Burma, to name just a few examples; and that the bankers would consider, much less implement, a new global currency based on one’s contributions to carbon sequestration.

Of course, it is partly, if not largely, due to the imaginative assumptions and visions elaborated by speculative writers that audiences are so attracted to the genres of science fiction and fantasy. We must not chide Robinson for exercising his utopian imagination, as it has produced so much beautiful and critical art, including Ministry. At the same time, it is fair to question the intersection of philosophical statism and psychic optimism in his cli-fi. Such a constellation, for instance, unfortunately leads Robinson to compliment the organization of the US Navy, and to praise Dengist China as socialist (155, 381–83). An anarchist approach, in contrast, would prioritize the mobilizations, strikes, and other direct actions present in the text, while adopting a more critical and immediately abolitionist stance toward the state and market.

Conclusion

The Ministry for the Future continues Robinson’s critically visionary, optimistic, and reconstructive speculative fiction. In narrative form, he explains why we must change the system, and presents us with a panoply of means—revolutionary and reformist alike. He emphasizes the need for a “Plan B” to be developed ahead of time, to sustain the revolution, once it breaks out—much as the martyred Syrian anarchist Omar Aziz believed, and as the Frankfurt School critical theorist Herbert Marcuse’s own tombstone declares: Weitermachen! (“Keep it up!”)

Compared with the disastrous eco-futures depicted in such cli-fi novels as Aurora or New York 2140, The Ministry for the Future depicts a dynamically utopian story of estrangement, self-discovery, and creative struggle to ensure a better future. In this sense, it is reminiscent of Pacific Edge (1990), the most hopeful of Robinson’s Three Californias trilogy. At its best, Ministry conveys what could be.

Book Review: Richard Gilman-Opalsky, “The Communism of Love: An Inquiry into the Poverty of Exchange Value”

May 29, 2021

My critical review of Richard Gilman-Opalsky’s The Communism of Love has been published in Philosophy in Review, Vol 41 No 2 (May 2021).

The review, which is available open-access, can be found here. It is reproduced below.

Richard Gilman-Opalsky. The Communism of Love: An Inquiry into the Poverty of Exchange Value. AK Press 2020. 336 pp. $22.00 USD (Paperback ISBN 9781849353915).

In The Communism of Love, Richard Gilman-Opalsky expands on the findings of the critical psycho-analyst Erich Fromm to explain how interpersonal love challenges capitalism, namely by rejecting the place of ownership and hierarchy in social life. ‘Love is communism within capitalism,’ assert Ulrich Beck and Elisabeth Beck-Bernsheim (87). As such, the experience of love is a unifying, disruptive, and enlivening one connected with affection, hope, and revolt. For Gilman-Opalsky (G-O), it corresponds to a Gemeinwesen, or communal sensibility, and a Gemeingeist, or collective spirit. We humans yearn for humanizing loving connections, and the erotic movement from self to Other functions as ‘connective tissue’ which ensures social reproduction and wards off dehumanization, instrumentalization, and death (197).

Despite having a promising premise, G-O relies on rhetorical manipulation, marring [the text] with conceit. For example, without evidence or argument, he conveys his disagreement with Jacques Camatte’s dystopian insistence on the subjection of all life to capitalist domination, ‘even in the face of more recent ecological catastrophe[s]’ (47). Such a perspective would block out the ongoing melting and burning of the Arctic and Siberia. Likewise, there is a glaring absence in this book of an internalization of Fromm’s principled critique of Stalinism. Instead of discussing the anarcha-feminist Emma Goldman, G-O centers the Bolshevik Alexandra Kollontai and the Maoist Alain Badiou. Notably, G-O belittles Fromm, who criticized Marx’s centralism and dogmatism in the International Workingmen’s Association (IWMA), as an ‘anemic social democra[t]’ (The Sane Society, Routledge 1956, 251), while he portrays Marx—who expelled the anarchists Mikhail Bakunin and James Guillaume from the IWMA in 1872 on baseless charges, and arguably wrecked the organization in so doing—as wholesome (8).

Unconsciously undermining the very raison d’etre for his book, G-O asserts that ‘Fromm’s concept of socialism has been long outstripped in the years after the Cold War and is no longer useful to communist philosophy’ (11). In light of the dire need for the application of Fromm’s anti-bureaucratic politics and anarchistic psychosocial concepts, the social character above all, in the face of Trumpism and global conservative-authoritarian reaction, such a dismissive attitude remains untenable. G-O reproduces the living past, channeling Theodor W. Adorno’s unease about the ideological threat that Fromm’s ‘sentimental… blend of social democracy and anarchism’ might pose to the Marxist-Leninist affirmation of the authority principle.

Considering Adorno’s point, which is not rhetorically far-removed from the stark Lenino-Stalinist dismissal and purge of ‘utopian socialists’ who were, in fact, true revolutionaries, taken together with Fromm’s view of the continuities between Marx and Lenin, it is odd to choose this economist as a source on love. Through his rejection of idealism and psychology, Marx ended up envisioning a totalitarian overcoming of moral and emotional reasoning in the historical process (117-8). Accordingly, the Russian science-fiction writer Evgeny Zamyatin, author of We (Avon 1920), which inspired George Orwell’s 1984, implicitly criticized not only Lenin—being a premonition of Stalin—but also Marx in his dystopian portrayal of a mechanized-centralized future (Stites, R., Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution, Oxford University Press 1989, 187-8). In parallel, Fromm rejected Marx’s ‘inattention to emotions, morality, and human nature,’ such that his theory improves upon that of his predecessor (Maccoby, M. and N. McLaughlin, ‘Sociopsychoanalysis and Radical Humanism: A Fromm-Bourdieu Synthesis,’ in Erich Fromm’s Critical Theory: Hope, Humanism, and the Future, ed. Durkin, Joan Braune, Bloomsbury, 2020, 115).

G-O neither mentions that Marx rejected the anarchist call for gender equality and the abolition of the family, nor considers Marx and Engels’ own homophobia, and precisely how their anti-gay animus influenced the decision to summarily expel Bakunin from the IWMA in 1872. Whereas G-O is right to condemn the misogyny exhibited by many queer men toward women throughout history, he does queerness a disservice by implying that male homosexuality tends as through compulsion to be sexist and lesbophobic (66-71). It is also questionable whether sex-love necessarily promotes isolation and privatization, as G-O implies. His own consideration of the love-bonds in war between Socrates and Alcibiades and Spartacus and his newly unearthed female partner contradict such a view.

Despite leaning heavily on Kollontai’s avowal of love as comradeship, G-O admits that this Bolshevik’s approach was ‘too bound up with statist initiatives’ (11). Though Kollontai was a leader of the Workers’ Opposition, such a concession to anarchist readers is unconvincing, in light of the book’s pallid critiques of Leninism, Stalinism, and the Soviet Union. The Russian Civil War ended with the Red Army victorious over the White reactionaries and the ‘Green’ partisans and Makhnovist anarchist peasants; the Kronstadt Commune was suppressed in March 1921, the very day before the Reds publicly celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Paris Commune in Petrograd. Despite being a far more principled critic than either Kollontai or G-O of Marxism-Leninism, as well as a champion of feminism and free love, Emma Goldman does not appear once in the text. While G-O’s brief integration of bell hooks’ sex-positive ‘anarchism of love’ into the study is welcome, it is significant that Goldman, eyewitness to the Kronstadt massacre, is entirely missing. Other than for one mention on the book’s last page, Stalin, the homophobic patriarchal despot and ally of Hitler, is similarly conspicuous in his absence.

Perhaps, rather than The Communism of Love, this volume might have been entitled ‘The Love of Marxism.’ G-O betrays his biases when he recognizes bell hooks as an anarchist-communist, but then immediately describes her as ‘never [having been] committed to any kind of communism’ (216). Here, we must differentiate between Marxism and communism, for communism is a form of life that originates in our individual and collective development and evolution as a species. It was not invented in modernity, and certainly not by Marx. Indeed, Marxism can be viewed as a problematic theory for the communist goals it proposes. Despite this, in The Communism of Love, Marx often appears as a Deus ex Machina. G-O wants to reinterpret Marxism as anti-state communism, but his account is suspect, for he too easily elides the catastrophes of Stalinism and the Soviet Union, and the obvious links between Marxism and Marxism-Leninism as bureaucratic ideologies. G-O promotes distrust when he implies that Kollontai’s 1923 letter to the Soviet Komsomol (Communist Youth League) was written during the ‘revolutionary period in Russia’ (131). In reality, a reconstituted Tsarist Empire whose survival was secured through the Bolsheviks’ destruction of the Makhnovshchina and the Kronstadt and Tambov Communes, and the forcible reincorporation of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Siberia, and Turkestan, cannot be revolutionary.

In his book, G-O examines familial love, friendship, compassion, and Eros from an anti- Freudian and sex-negative vantage point that is consistent with Marxism’s Victorianism. Accordingly, G-O reproduces the puritanical sexual taboo of early Soviet utopian science-fiction writers. Having teased readers by introducing Rosa Luxemburg’s love-bond with Leo Jogiches, G- O writes: ‘If you would like to pursue that story, you will have to do it elsewhere’ (128). Along these same lines, G-O inconceivably argues that love is fundamentally communist, just as he ‘caution[s] against any romanticization of the power of Eros,’ all the while glossing over Freud’s hypothesis that all love is either libidinally based, or a sublimated libidinality, except in passing (10, 91, 155, 286-7). In this sense, if Fromm improved on Marx and Freud, G-O’s text represents a regression to second-International Marxism and a ‘desexualized psychoanalysis,’ rather than a creative application of the Freudo-Marxism of Critical Theory.

In his zeal to combat ‘romantic individualism,’ ‘romantic utopias,’ and the reduction of partnership to shopping and investment, G-O overcompensates by dismissing free love as ‘bourgeois.’ Making such arguments, he reproduces Fromm’s error in de-emphasizing erotic satisfaction as an important component of human happiness (175, 225, 286). Both thinkers thus miss ‘the indivisibility of love [Eros], friendship and comradeship’ (Stites, Revolutionary Dreams, 214). Likewise, G-O does not consider the essentially maternal aspects of love, a point which is emphasized by Freud, Fromm, John Bowlby, and Jessica Benjamin. Rather, he idealizes the patriarchal Marx family as instituting maternal values by somehow not having been governed by exchange relations (110). The author praises Karl’s wife Jenny as an ‘unrecognized coauthor of Marx’s work,’ and mentions Helene Dumuth, the Marxes’ live-in servant, whom Karl may have exploited sexually (112-5). G-O does not pause to question whether this feudal vestige within the Marx household—much less the unit’s maintenance through the profits extracted from the workers employed by Engels’ father—might not challenge his designation of the family as a ‘little commune’ (112).

In summary, G-O’s study on love combines fruitful and thought-provoking scholarship with revisionist, fantastical history. Presumably, this dialectical mosaic seeks to rehabilitate Marxism by simultaneously appropriating its anarchist rival, reinterpreting its own meaning as anti-statist, denying and repressing strong historical and theoretical evidence to the contrary, and transposing it as the sole meaning of communism and love. Undoubtedly, those who live and seek love, especially in the alien globe transformed by COVID-19, also seek a different and better world (271). Yet above all, in the struggle to find meaning and connection in this life by changing the world, we lovers and friends must recognize the revolutionary virtue of truth when confronting history, the present, and the future.

Stop Israeli Attacks on Gaza! For Joint Struggle against Racism and Militarism!

May 17, 2021
The al-Jalaa building in Gaza, which housed media offices and residential apartments, is destroyed by the Israeli military on Saturday, May 15, 2021. Courtesy Ashraf Abu Amrah/Reuters

Also published on Ideas and Action, 17 May 2021

The WSA Solidarity Committee strongly denounces the Israeli military’s merciless assault on the Gaza Strip, beginning on Monday, May 10, which has killed at least 137 Palestinians, including 36 children. This new shooting war—the fourth since 2008, and the third overseen by the far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—began in the context of a Palestinian uprising against the imminent colonial displacement of several refugee families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

On Monday, Israeli police, who were engaged in brutalizing Muslim worshippers observing Ramadan at the al-Aqsa mosque, defied Hamas’ ultimatum to withdraw their forces, leading to mass-rocket fire into Israel. 8 Israelis (Jewish and Palestinian), including a child, plus an Indian care worker have died in these barrages. The advanced “Iron Dome” system—funded and developed in no small part by the US government and aerospace corporations—has intercepted most incoming fire. In the Occupied West Bank this past week, the Israeli State has killed at least a dozen Palestinian protesters.

Emboldened by his enabler, the U.S. government, Netanyahu has been especially cruel during these latest escalations. Yesterday, May 15, Nakba Day—which marks the Israeli declaration of independence in 1948, and the start of a vast ethnic-cleansing campaign that formed the basis of the Jewish State—an Israeli strike on a refugee camp in Gaza took the lives of ten members of the al-Hadidi family: eight children, and two women. Faced with the deliberate targeting of their homes, thousands have fled with their families to shelter in U.N. schools, but many have nowhere to go. Unlike other victims of war throughout the world, Palestinians in Gaza cannot flee the warzone. They lack the shelter and warning systems that simultaneously protect Israelis. Many Palestinian residents of Gaza, interviewed by Al Jazeera, have expressed the direness of the situation. “’It has been absolutely ruthless,’ [Abedrabbo al-Attar said].”

In a brazen bombing Saturday afternoon, Israel demolished the very building housing the offices of Al Jazeera, the Associated Press, and Middle East Eye in Gaza. Though the affected journalists appear to have escaped in time, this attack is part and parcel of the Israeli State’s “information war,” designed to cover up its past, ongoing, and future atrocities in the besieged enclave. Al Jazeera is now broadcasting from al-Shifa hospital, supposedly the “safest place” in the territory.

Not only is violence flaring in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, but inter-communal violence has also broken out in Israel proper, otherwise known as the “1948 territories,” between Jews and Palestinians. In Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Lod (Lydda), marauding Jewish Israelis, enabled and protected by the police, have terrorized Palestinian homes and workplaces during these Muslim holy days of Eid al-Fitr. Such mobs have carried out lynchings and stabbings and fire-bombed Palestinian residences. Meanwhile, five synagogues in Lod/Lydda have been burned. In response, the authorities have declared a state of emergency in the city.

As the Libertarian Workers Group observed in 1982, Israel “is merely a unit in the international pecking order of competing nations, with the superpowers on top.” Its disregard for humanity, as evinced in Gaza, Sheikh Jarrah, and the West Bank, is consistent with the history of settler-colonialism and the establishment of State bureaucracies across the globe. Now, in the wake of the Trump regime and the parallel rise of the “Alt-Right,” and considering the far right’s contempt for “cultural Marxism,” anti-Semitism is on the rise internationally. But the Jewish State does not solve for this problem. Rather, through its egregious violations of international humanitarian law, it provides ammunition to anti-Semitic opportunists throughout the world. We must reject both the Israeli State’s crimes, as well as the supremacists who would utilize such atrocities for nefarious purposes.

To construct freedom for all in Israel/Palestine, the first step is an immediate and enduring ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. This would involve the Israeli military indefinitely ceasing all military operations in and against the Gaza Strip, and Hamas and affiliated groups likewise ending rocket fire into Israel. Moreover, Israel must suspend its campaign to expel Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah and the rest of East Jerusalem to make room for Jewish settlers, and Jewish Israeli lynch mobs must forthright withdraw from the streets.

We support a vision of Jewish and Palestinian workers, peasants, and oppressed people questioning and ultimately breaking with supremacist, nationalist, and militaristic imaginaries and ideologies, and coming together in joint struggle to overcome power, privilege, and hatred by building mutual aid, inter-communal solidarity, and collective self-management.

Externally, we welcome U.S. workers supporting Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel, and publicly protesting against the ongoing violence in Occupied Palestine.

– WSA Solidarity Committee

Recommended readings:

Solidarity with the People of Tigray!

May 7, 2021

These are photos from our spontaneous action today outside the Consulate General of Ethiopia in Los Angeles, to protest war crimes and crimes against humanity being perpetrated by the Ethiopian and Eritrean militaries in the state of Tigray. We took this action in coordination with the Horn Anarchists’ call for a week of action against Starbucks and the Ethiopian State. Thanks to comrades from News and Letters and others.

Below, please find the text of our flyer and some links.

Six months ago, Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy—the recipient of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize—sent federal troops into the state of Tigray for counter-insurgency operations. Since then, occupying Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers have brutalized the Tigrayan people.

  • On November 28-29, 2020, Eritrean and Ethiopian forces murdered hundreds of Tigrayans in the holy city of Axum, in an atrocity known as the “Axum massacre.”
  • Tens of thousands more have been killed.
  • There are hundreds of thousands of refugees.
  • Rape and starvation are being used as weapons of war.
  • The UN is concerned for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

We call on PM Abiy to immediately withdraw federal troops from Tigray, and for Eritrea also to withdraw.

Considering the importance of coffee exports to the Ethiopian economy, we demand that Starbucks cease the purchase of Ethiopian coffee while the military occupation of Tigray continues.

#TigrayCantWait!

End #WeaponizedHunger!

End #WeaponizedRape!

Aid workers #NotATarget!

Links:

U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban, and Thoughts on Internationalism

May 1, 2021
A U.S. gunner looks out the rear cargo doors over the mountains of Afghanistan (Reuters)

Ending a nearly two-decade long presence, U.S. and NATO troops began their “final withdrawal” today from Afghanistan. Is this momentous shift to be celebrated, lamented—both, or neither?

In October 2001, four weeks after the attacks of September 11th, George W. Bush’s administration ordered the invasion of Afghanistan, following the ruling Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA, or Taliban) refusal to extradite the Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, the presumed material author of 9/11. A decade ago today, when special forces killed bin Laden in a nighttime raid on Abbotabad, Pakistan, there were 100,000 U.S. soldiers occupying Afghanistan, together with 40,000 from other countries. Since 2001, an estimated 71,000 Afghan and Pakistani civilians have been killed in the transnational war zone, whether by occupiers, allied national governments (Afghan/Pakistani), or the Taliban insurgency. Such statistics, of course, do not include casualties from the genocidal Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979-1989); the subsequent Civil Wars (1989-1996); or Taliban rule (1996-2001), which was backed in turn by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). During occupation by the Red Army, an estimated two million Afghans died, and at least six million Afghans became refugees in Iran and Pakistan.

The murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (1958-2018), center with an RPG, reported on the mujahideen in the 1980’s

Though undoubtedly difficult throughout the past two decades, the war’s toll on civilians became especially acute during the Trump administration, which encouraged “relaxed” rules of engagement and an empowerment of local commanders overseeing indiscriminate aerial bombardment. In keeping with Trump’s expressed desire to “win Afghanistan in two days or three days or four days if we wanted,” civilian casualties at the hands of foreign air forces rose 330% between 2016 and 2019. Now, Biden consummates his predecessor’s planned withdrawal of the U.S. military, albeit on a less dramatic timetable: rather than be gone by today, as Trump had envisioned, the remaining 10,000 U.S.-NATO troops will have exited by September 11, 2021.

Interviewed last month on Democracy Now, the Afghan-American professor Zaher Wahab welcomed Biden’s decision to withdraw all remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan, declaring that the U.S. and its allies should “never have attacked and occupied Afghanistan [in the first place]. It was wrong. It was illegal. And I think it was immoral.” At the same time, Wahab distinguishes between the three dimensions of the conflict: domestic, regional, and global. Whereas the regional and global outlook for U.S. imperialism is potentially enhanced by this withdrawal (due to fewer expenditures and casualties, and the possibility of troop redeployment to more critical theaters, such as East Asia), Wahab believes that “leaving now would be highly irresponsible” for the domestic Afghan context: while the war “may end for the United States,” “war amongst the Afghans will definitely continue.” Indeed, the Taliban view this withdrawal as a victory. Considering the entrenched power of warlordism, corruption, and ethnic strife in the devastated country, together with the menace of the so-called Islamic Emirate reconquering all of Afghanistan within mere months, Wahab calls for immediate intervention by a “U.N. security force or peacekeeping force,” and the establishment of a trust fund for development.

The journalists Filippo Rossi and Emanuele Satolli, writing in Newlines Magazine, aptly observe that, “In their quest to end the war, Western powers, the Taliban, and Afghan government have so far excluded the population from discussions” about their future. In this light, for the cause of “lasting peace,” the voices of ordinary Afghans must be heard.

Many Afghan women themselves fear a return of the Taliban, in terms of threats to their right to education, bodily integrity, freedom of movement, and participation in government and society. Metra Mehran, from Feminine Perspectives Afghanistan, concurs with Wahab that, in the absence of concessions from the Taliban, an abrupt withdrawal “would not be responsible.” Raihana Azad, an Afghan member of Parliament, observes that women are the victims of men’s wars—and “of their peace, too.” Members of the mostly Shi’ite Hazara ethno-religious minority are especially anxious about a resurgent Taliban, having been brutalized under their rule and targeted numerous times since in grisly attacks. In the late nineteenth century, in his bid to bring the Hazarajat to heel, the Pashtun Emir Abdur Rahman Khan killed an estimated 60% of the Hazara population, possibly amounting a million people. Taliban rule, which similarly persecuted the ethnic minority as apostates, may have cost the lives of 20,000 Hazara. Indeed, twenty years ago, the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) cited the precedents of atrocities in Cambodia and Bosnia to call on the U.N. to deploy “large peace-keeping forces in Afghanistan” toward the end of defying fundamentalists and disarming all armed groups.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo poses with Taliban Political Deputy Mullah Beradar in Doha, Qatar

Commenting on the peace agreement negotiated between the Taliban and the Trump administration in Doha, Qatar, in February 2020, Zaman Sultany, from Amnesty International South Asia, insisted that

“Any peace process involving the parties to the conflict in Afghanistan must not ignore the voice of victims. It must not disregard their calls for justice, truth, and reparation for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations and abuses – committed by all sides in the conflict. It must also guarantee the rights of women and girls and the rights of religious minorities in Afghanistan.

(Emphasis added)

Given that the treaty agreed to between Mike Pompeo and the Taliban excluded consideration of the woman question and the rights of ethno-religious minorities, and that emboldened ultra-misogynist elements have recently been wantonly murdering female journalists and a doctor in targeted killings in Jalalabad, we concur with the urgency of Sultany’s message, and agree with his demands, as with Wahab’s calls for U.N. peacekeepers and an alternative model of development. We would ask the militants of RAWA whether they still see an important place for international peacekeepers disarming the Taliban and the warlords in 2021.

Therefore, in a spirit of self-critique, we reject the reflexive and confused defense of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan we made last week out of fear of the Taliban, in the context of acute illness due to work-related stress. Whether Afghans want foreign troops to help defend against a Taliban takeover is a matter for them to decide. But critically, thinking of Bosnia, Syria, and even World War II, international intervention is not an option which must be dismissed out of hand as “imperialist,” especially when the alternative is fascism and genocide. We must not prioritize the regional and global implications of power politics, overlooking domestic dimensions. To this point, despite the U.S. boycott of the International Criminal Court, we strongly support the project of prosecuting U.S. soldiers and commanders for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan and Iraq, just as we support international accountability for crimes perpetrated by Israeli, Syrian, Russian, Indian, Afghan, Burmese, and Chinese State officials (among others), together with the Taliban. We furthermore support the Hazaras Sitarah Mohammadi and Sajjad Askary’s call for Australia—and, by extension, the U.S., U.K., Russia, and other former occupiers—to resettle Afghan refugees, and welcome Afghan asylum seekers.

Afghan Sufi teacher Fahima Mirzaie uses song and dance to promote education. (Stefanie Glinski)

Audio-visual recordings of “Kronstadt as Revolutionary Utopia” now available

May 1, 2021

Please find links to the recordings of “Kronstadt as Revolutionary Utopia: 1921-2021 and Beyond” here (on the blog) or here (YouTube playlist).

These recordings include four panels, a video address by the historian Jaroslav Leontiev (and an interview with him), a discussion with the filmmakers of Maggots and Men, and the closing session with co-sponsors.

A link to The Commoner’s review of the conference can be found here.

Thank you.

Communal Tears and Needed Repairs: On the COVID Syndemic in Los Angeles

February 21, 2021

First published on Ideas and Action, 20 February 2021

The collision between the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and class society has proven devastating over the past year—especially here in Los Angeles, California. So far, across the globe, COVID-19 has infected over 100 million people and caused more than 2 million deaths. The U.S., which accounts for over 400,000 fatalities, is the world’s worst-affected country. More people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. than did U.S. Americans during World War II, and life expectancy has dropped by a year. The coronavirus is second only to heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of mortality in the U.S. Grimly, a Kaiser study from September 2020 finds that “Black, Hispanic, and Asian patients [have] had significantly higher rates of infection, hospitalization, and death [from COVID-19] compared to their White counterparts.”

Share of population with reported positive COVID-19 cases: purple suggests the highest concentrations, yellow the lowest. (Courtesy New York Times)

Though the experience with COVID-19 is usually referred to in the media as a “pandemic,” as opposed to a local or regional epidemic, so as to emphasize its global reach, it might be more honest and fruitful to consider this a “syndemic.” Such a shift in framing might parallel the  “medical model” being displaced by the biopsychosocial model favored in nursing. As The Lancet editor Richard Horton writes, “Syndemics are characterised by biological and social interactions between conditions and states, interactions that increase a person’s susceptibility to harm or worsen their health outcomes.” Professor Emily Mendenhall agrees, asserting that “syndemics allow us to recognise how political and social factors drive, perpetuate, or worsen the emergence and clustering of diseases.” Let us explore how this biopsychosocial or “syndemic” framework might be applied to the United States and Los Angeles in particular.

The COVID syndemic has vastly upset the normal functioning of the capitalist economy, both logistically speaking, as in the minds of many, who have begun to consider a syndicalist renewal through labor organizing. In light of the stark vulnerabilities faced by all workers, especially non-unionized ones, workers at Google and Amazon alike have taken the momentous step of organizing union drives. SEIU and National Nurses United (NNU) have been expanding their reach and negotiating life-saving protections for their members. Without a doubt, collective efforts to reevaluate and reorganize power at the workplace are urgent.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) recently estimated that the working class has lost at least $3.7 trillion in wages since the onset of COVID, and that more than 114 million workers have lost their jobs during this time. According to the ILO’s findings, women and young laborers have experienced the greatest setbacks in these terms. In Japan, where hospitals face collapse, COVID-19 has led to an increased suicide rate, including among women and children. As a primary-care provider with experience on a COVID isolation ward, I can confirm the negative psychosocial effects of the closures and losses on the development and mental health of patients, children and adult alike, and workers in the industry, myself included. The syndemic has disrupted human sociality and sexuality alike, exacerbating loneliness, frustration, and mental-health crises on the one hand, and resulting in resistant strains of sexually transmitted infections amidst reduced access to healthcare services on the other. Furthermore, bosses are taking advantage of syndemic conditions to union bust and ensure the persistence of proprietor despotism, otherwise known as “private government.”

Geographically speaking, Southern California and Los Angeles County are now considered the global epicenter for the COVID-19 syndemic. 3 million California residents have tested positive, and at least 33,000 have perished from viral infection. It will overtake New York for the state with the most COVID deaths this month of February 2021. Data from the census suggest that Californians, almost half of whom rent, owe $3.7 billion to their landlords. Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity in Southern California—which accounts for half of the state’s population—remains at 0%, and around 1 million Angelenos have tested positive so far. It is therefore difficult to fathom that Governor Gavin Newsom should reverse the state-wide stay-at-home order, as he suddenly did at the end of January. While many healthcare workers and public-health experts find this move disturbing, business owners have welcomed it.

In a demonstration of the hellish nature of capitalism, L.A.’s Air Quality Management District recently suspended pollution regulations governing the rate of cremation. Many of those who have died locally from COVID have been elders, “essential workers,” and/or people with other co-morbidities, especially diabetes, heart disease, cancer, respiratory conditions, and/or obesity. 

Reflecting the intersections of poverty, racism, historical and ongoing trauma, labor precarity, and caste-like oppression due to the combinations of capitalism, white supremacy, and borders, Black and Latino communities in L.A. have suffered disproportionately in the syndemic. Black people face a risk of mortality from COVID-19 that is three times higher than it is for whites. Black and Latin communities are receiving disproportionately fewer vaccinations against COVID, compared to wealthier, white communities. Latino workers, concentrated in the agricultural, transport, construction, healthcare, and domestic labor industries, often must reside in crowded living conditions to survive on L.A.’s expensive housing market, and so are highly exposed to the airborne virus. Accordingly, Latinos in the city—not just workers, but also their partners and family members—are now dying at a rate ten times higher than they were in November 2020.

COVID-19 mortality rate in Los Angeles County in early January 2021, by race/ethnicity; the yellow line corresponds to the Latino community, the green to the Black community.
COVID-19 mortality rate in Los Angeles County in early January 2021, by area poverty; the orange and yellow lines correspond to the poorest regions.

Politically, of course, the dethroned, wannabe fascist Trump regime bears much of the responsibility for this ocean of death. In early 2020, Jared Kushner scuttled a proposal for a massive federal testing program, when it became clear that such a program would have benefited the “blue states,” people of color, and immigrant communities whom the virus would affect the most. In his book Rage, journalist Bob Woodward reveals how Trump privately understood the real danger of COVID-19 as early as February 2020, all the while actively “playing it down” in public and scapegoating China, in an attempt to deny responsibility, reassure investors, and promote himself in the re-election battle, in keeping with the dogma of the “capitalist-realist” WASP ethos. Especially disgracefully, Trump promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, despite many studies concluding the drug has no benefit for hospitalized COVID patients, and may even have fatal effects on the heart. He also advocated the injection of bleach, which can result in liver failure and death. 

After having lost to Joe Biden in November 2020, Trump became consumed with electoral conspiracies, and gave up what little responsibility he had accepted for addressing the pandemic. He fumbled on the distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, once they first became available, needlessly causing more avoidable deaths. Up to 20 million of these vaccines, shipped by the Trump administration to the states, have mysteriously gone missing.

Being a truly sadistic, necrophilic figure who—like the Baron Harkonnen from the Dune universe—reveals the utter folly of capitalism and the State, the former president effectively called on his audiences to kill themselves and others, whether through denial of the reality of the virus, encouraging non-compliance with face-masks, avowing the injection of bleach or use of “hydroxy,” or inciting the storming of the Capitol and the elimination of his political rivals. Conspiracists even tried disrupting COVID vaccine distribution at Dodger Stadium at the end of January. These Trumpist and QAnon storm-troopers—overwhelmingly resentful white men, many of them business owners, backed by GOP billionaires—mean to uphold the racialized division of labor in the U.S. in spite of the great challenges raised against it lately by Black Lives Matter and the younger generations. In this way, the mob repeats the fascist backlashes against Reconstruction (1863-1877) and the twentieth-century Civil Rights Movement. In this sense, inflamed by white supremacy, the COVID syndemic is “the continuation of a trauma that has [long, if not] always been.”

Yet, even in the depths of a capitalist, racist hell, we can imagine intersectional communist heavens. L.A.’s cityscape has changed since the onset of the coronavirus, becoming even more dystopian than before. Many vital aspects of life have been abandoned, recalling the bleakness of films like Children of Men and Blade Runner 2049. The world is almost totally fragmented, and evidently upside down; it must be repaired. Though COVID-19 has not destroyed L.A. so totally as the Great Fire of Moscow did in 1812, as earthquakes wrecked San Francisco and Mexico City in 1906 and 1985, or as Hurricane Katrina despoiled New Orleans in 2005, it is still proving very disastrous. This is especially true for “essential workers” and their families, people of color, LGBTQIA individuals and communities, the unhoused, people with chronic diseases and/or disabilities, elders, and minors, among other vulnerable populations.

If we could only engage for a moment in “social daydreaming,” we Angelenos could empower ourselves in the face of the devastating COVID-19 syndemic by recreating the Paris Commune, a radical experiment in communal self-management which began, amidst a war with Germany, 150 years ago in March. Combining political and social revolution, the Commune sought to realize the egalitarian promise of the French Revolution of 1789, even as it was besieged and bombarded by the combined forces of the German army and the reformist French government. In the face of COVID-19, we could collectively and cooperatively renegotiate and restructure wages, rent, health, social protections, and urban planning, seeking to protect life, promote open common space, improve health, and maximize freedom.  More effectively than either Trump’s disastrous incompetence or the reformist measures favored today by Biden and Newsom, a revolutionary “L.A. Commune”—being at once local and international—could serve as a newfound, popular model for addressing the various social crises induced and exacerbated by COVID. Overcoming isolation and resonating regionally and across the globe, an “L.A. Commune” might avoid the tragic fate both of the present reality, as of the Paris Commune and the other radical experiments it would inspire, including the Kronstadt uprising (1921), which were crushed by the French State and the pseudo-revolutionary Bolsheviks, respectively. 

Short of such a dramatic recreation of some of the best aspects of modern history on a higher level, unionization and steps toward the collective self-management of housing, food, transit, and healthcare will be important measures for the treatment and prevention of the COVID-19 virus and its numerous associated traumas.

Invitation to “Kronstadt as Revolutionary Utopia, 1921-2021,” March 20-21, 2021

February 16, 2021

On behalf of the organizing collective, I wish to invite you to an upcoming conference about history, politics, and current events: “Kronstadt as Revolutionary Utopia, 1921-2021,” which will be held online on March 20-21, 2021.

This is an internationally organized conference that aims to commemorate the momentous March 1921 uprising of the Kronstadt sailors, which was described by the scholar Orlando Figes as an “island version of the Paris Commune” within the Russian Revolution that began in February 1917. By bringing together historians, artists, freethinkers, anarchists, and syndicalists to share their perspectives about the past, present, and “living past” in relation to the Kronstadt Commune, we hope to celebrate People’s History by recalling the sailors’ courage in espousing a fresh “Third Revolution” against ossified Bolshevik rule.

We seek to explore how the tragic legacy of the Kronstadt Commune’s suppression lives on in the support provided of late by some self-styled leftists to the rehabilitation of authoritarian discourses and bloody counter-revolutions—in Syria, above all. We further aim to examine how the Kronstadters’ model of autonomous, anti-authoritarian joint struggle among workers, peasants, soldiers, and sailors continues to be globally relevant in our own day.

The conference, which consists of 4 panels, 2 film screenings, 2 public readings, and a closing social event, will be streamed over Twitch, where we will take questions and comments for discussion with panelists and speakers. The full schedule is available here.

If you are interested in attending the conference, please register here.

The Twitch stream can be accessed here, and our Discord can be found here.

Thank you.