Archive for March, 2013

Partial translation of “ПЕРВОМАЙСКАЯ” Семёна Кирсанова (“The First of May,” by Semyon Kirsanov)

March 31, 2013


This is a partial translation of the Russo-Soviet poet Semyon Kirsanov’s (Семён Кирсанов, 1906-1972) “ПЕРВОМАЙСКАЯ” poem, dedicated to the established memory and future prospects of the First of May.  Only the final four stanzas of the poem are here translated.

The entirety of the poem’s text can be heard triumphantly sung chorally in the final movement of Dmitriy Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 3 (“Первомайская”).

Из “ПЕРВОМАЙСКОЙ” Семёна Кирсанова:


Фабрики и колонии,
Майский взметнем парад.
Землю сожмём коленками –
Наша пришла пора.

Слушайте, пролетарии,
Наших заводов речь,
Вам поджигая старое,
Новую явь зажечь.

Солнце знамён поднимая,
Марш, загреми в ушах.
Каждое Первое мая
К социализму шаг.

Первое мая – шаг
Сжавших винтовку шахт.
В площади, революция,
Вбей миллионный шаг.


Factories and colonies
In the May Day parade whirl.
Earth, compress knees –
Our time has come.

Listen, proletarians,
To our factories’ speech:
You are burning the old,
And giving new reality life.

Rising sun flags,
March, a thunder in my ears.
Every May Day
Toward socialism step.

First of May – a stride
Having reduced the rifle pits.
In the city squares, revolution
Arrives rushing with millions of steps.

Rosa Luxemburg aphorisms on solidarity

March 13, 2013

rosa L

A couple of selections of writing by Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919), from letters to her comrades.  Both deal with global human (and species) solidarity.

“What do you want with these special Jewish pains? I feel as close to the wretched victims of the rubber plantations in Putumayo and the blacks of Africa with whose bodies the Europeans play ball…. I have no special corner in my heart for the [Jewish] ghetto: I am at home wherever in the world there there are clouds, birds, and tears.”


I suppose I must be out of sorts to feel everything so intensely.  Sometimes it seems to me that I am not really a human being at all, but rather a bird or beast in human form.”

Publication of For a Free Nature

March 13, 2013


My masters thesis from 2008, “Critical Theory, Social Ecology, and Post-Developmentalism: Towards a ‘Free Nature,'” has now been published by Lambert Academic Publishers as For a Free Nature: Critical Theory, Social Ecology, and Post-Developmentalism.

The description is as follows:

“This work explores the critique made by early theorists of the Frankfurt School and by Murray Bookchin of the human domination of external nature–a process and reality inextricably linked to domination in the social realm, both of self and others. These similar schools of thought are placed into conversation and mutual regard, with the clear conclusion that humanity’s domination of nature, like the domination of humans by other humans, must be radically dissipated if humanity and the millions of other species on Earth are to enjoy any sort of decent survival. The text then moves to examination of post-developmentalist critiques of mainstream development theory and practice and attempts to synthesize this with the Critical Theory-social ecology hybrid of the first half. Its conclusion examines some of the prospects for the realization of these theorists’ hopes, given in particular the presently ever-worsening environmental crisis.”

The listed price is exceedingly high, especially given the shortness of the text–indeed, the price comes out to more than a dollar per page!

Revolutionary birth and thanatos: Luxemburg and Chávez

March 6, 2013

A most happy birthday today for Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919), communist militant, feminist, and uncompromising critic of militarism and imperialism!  Author of various works and essays, including The Accumulation of Capital, Luxemburg represented a key figure within the most radical strains of Marxism at the time of the Second International; a trenchant student and critic of European imperialism, she theorized the hegemonic negativity of capitalist rule as stemming from the historical dissolution of indigenous communism (statist and non-statist) as prosecuted by the superior weaponry and brutality of European colonialism throughout most of the world’s regions.  Within her analysis of proletarian movements against the prevailing system, RL emphasized the importance of spontaneity from below, and she looked to the mass-general strike (as seen e.g. in Russia, 1905) as the principal means of abolishing the rule of capital.  She was heavily involved with organizing against the total brutality of World War I, and was imprisoned for this reason for 2.5 years during the course of the war.  Following her release in November 1918, she worked with Karl Liebknecht and the Spartakusbund to provoke a popular revolution in Germany at war’s end, one based on soldiers’ and workers’ councils.  For these efforts, she and Liebknecht were murdered by proto-fascists on the orders of the ruling Social Democrat government in early 1919.

In her own words:

“Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht!” (“World-history is the world’s tribunal!”)

“Socialism or barbarism!”

“Tomorrow the revolution will… announce with fanfare, to your terror: I was, I am, I shall be!”


Also this day marks the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez.  While less enthusiasm is here expressed for him as compared to the historical memory of RL, his life and rule cannot be separated from the socialist tradition.  Many legitimate grounds exist on which to criticize him, but his practical contributions to struggle against capital and empire in the twenty-first century should not be overlooked or readily dismissed.

RIP rafiq

The Arabic reads “Farewell, comrade.”