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  • Life Histories from the Revolution: Three militants from the Kenya Land and Freedom Army tell their stories

    In the early 1970s, Donald Barnett — who worked with Karari Njama to produce Mau Mau From Within (published by Daraja Press) — also worked with three militants of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army to enable them to tell the story of their experience in fighting for freedom and against British colonialism. These rarely acknowledged militants were Karigo Muchai, Ngugi Kabiru and Mohamed Mathu. Their stories were published in 1973 by LSM Information Center (Richmond, British Columbia, Canada) as part of a series entitled Life Histories of the Revolution, as The Hardcore: The Story of Karigo Muchai; The Man in the Middle by Ngugi Kabiru; and The Urban Guerrilla by Mohamed Mathu.

    As part of its mission of Nurturing reflection, sheltering hope and inspiring audacity, Daraja Press is please to republish the three booklets as a book that will help a new generation of activists — Kenyan and international — reflect on a history that might inspire audacious struggles to continue the struggle for freedom that was the goal of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army.

    Donald Barnett wrote the foreword to each of the booklets as follows:

    One of our objectives in launching this series of LIFE HISTORIES FROM THE REVOLUTION is to provide a medium through which individual members of these classes-in-motion within the revolution can speak. We also believe it important that they be heard by those of us who comprise imperialism’s privileged and literate metropolitan minority. Their recounted lives throw our own into sharp relief, while at the same time they offer us fresh perspectives on the processes of repression and revolution from a unique vantage point: from below. Their life stories provide us with a window into the qualitative—as distinct from the merely statistical and quantitative—aspects of class conflict, thus enabling us to better understand and weigh the various factors at work in transforming oppressed masses into revolutionary classes. Again, their remembered life experiences can provide us with significant insights into the dialectical relationships between material and subjective conditions which shape the revolutionary situation, embrace the revolutionary transformation of individuals and classes alike, and move humanity forward toward a new international social formation.

    Not all of the individuals whose life histories are included in this series are illiterate peasants or workers. Some are educated defectors from petty bourgeois classes who have joined the revolution and identified their interests with those of the oppressed masses in a very concrete way. They constitute a very important part of the revolutionary vanguard—i.e., the middle cadres who articulate the relationship between leadership and base, who carry forward the military and civilian programs in day-to-day contact with the armed militants and popular masses. The selfless dedication, integrity, comportment and skill of the middle cadres is an essential ingredient within any successful revolutionary process.

    The life histories in this series have been recorded and prepared as historical documents from the revolutionary struggles of our time. The techniques and methods employed at each stage of the process, from initial contact to final editing, have therefore been chosen or fashioned with the purpose of guaranteeing the authenticity and integrity of the life history concerned. These stories, then, to the best of our ability to make them so, constitute a body of data and testimony as revealed by a few of those history-makers normally condemned to silence while others speak on their behalf.

    We would like to express our thanks to Ole Gjersta, Steve Goldfield and others involved in the LSM Information Centre for making these booklets available.

  • Racism, Capitalism, and COVID-19 Pandemic

    The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp relief the deep structural problems affecting nonwhite racialized workers in the core and periphery. Yet, many social scientific analyses of the global political economy, at least in the pre-COVID era, are race neutral or willfully indifferent to the persistent racial pattern of global inequalities. This piece seeks to understand how the unremitting super-exploitation of Black and other nonwhite racialized labor in the core and the periphery persisted throughout the COVID-19 crisis through the lens of Black radical scholarship on racism and capitalism. It historicizes the pandemic within the long arc of racist capitalist labor super-exploitation at the birth of capitalism and in its subsequent unfolding. It also shows the mechanisms by which COVID-19 has exacerbated the already existing, structural racial and colonial inequalities that undergird the global economy. White capital and European and North American states have deemed Black and other nonwhite racialized labor “essential” to maintaining profits and called upon these workers both within North America and Europe and in the global periphery to ensure continued production and profits in almost every realm. These workers were seen as essential but expendable; compelling them to continue laboring during the deadly pandemic increased the precarity and danger they faced and exacerbated racial and economic inequalities both within and between countries. At the same time, neoliberal racist states are further marginalizing these very workers by excluding them from much needed social protections to cope with the impacts of COVID-19 on their health, income, and overall well-being. The piece also illuminates why, despite the dire social and economic conditions threatening the lives and livelihoods of workers writ large, white workers continue to refuse to join a multiracial antiracist movement for liberation from imperial and racial capitalist exploitation. The author ends by reflecting on what it means to “return to normal” within the architecture of racial capitalism and the pursuit of a different path to justice and freedom.

    See also our interview with Zophia Edwards and David Austin.

  • Religion, Politics, Science and Society: A progressive primer

    RELIGION DENOTES A SPIRITUALLY elevated moral disposition. Yet, religious strife is a rising and disturbing feature of the present era. It is a world-wide phenomenon. Hardly a region or religion is exempt as Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and atheists fight against perceived adversaries. Denominations of particular religions battle each other too. As sharp lines are drawn over key issues, room for reconciliation evaporates. National leaders enter the fray, adding fuel to the fire. Arms are taken up. Violence ensues and people suffer. What causes such confrontations? Are they purely faith based conflicts? Have they always existed? Can they be resolved and prevented? Can we reconcile religion with science, or are they to remain perpetual foes, thus promoting further social divisions? The belief that these questions are too critical to be left to experts—theologians, historians or sociologists—is what motivated me to write this book. The author does not write from the vantage point of a particular religion or as a specialist. He writes as a fairly informed humanist who fully respects the inalienable right of any person to practice the religion of his or her own choice. The goal is to explore the interrelationship between religion, politics and society by employing evidence and reason while avoiding bias towards any system of divine faith or the lack of it. He adds to the work of others, but does not present original research findings. Rather, he distills a broad range of existing historical and modern material in an interdisciplinary fashion. By combining usually dispersed material, his aim is to portray modern day religious conflicts in the context of other conflicts and tendencies in human society. This book presents an analysis of globally important religions and secular ways of thought that can provide a basis for people with different perspectives to engage with each other in a peaceful and hopefully productive manner.


    Table of contents

    1. Acronyms
    2. Preface
    3. Religion
    4. Five Religions
    5. Method
    6. Origins
    7. Hinduism
    8. Buddhism
    9. Christianity
    10. Islam
    11. Humanism
    12. Eugenics
    13. Science
    14. Mathematics
    15. Pandemic
    16. Finale
    17. Chapter Sources
    18. References
    19. Author Profile
  • Social Media and Capitalist Accumulation

    There have been numerous studies done on social media or communication in general. However, most of these studies have neglected a recent and critical element of social media- Social Media Commerce. The present book is one of the first books to focus strictly and solely upon this phenomenon of social accumulation of profits through promoting commercial activities on social media. In this regard, the book presents itself to be a pioneering study within Digital Capitalism Studies.

    The introduction will lay out the basics of how communication is being used by capitalism to further oppression and exploitation. It will primarily talk about digital capitalism and the relationship which digital capitalism shares with labour within the society. The introduction will provide a basic framework within which the subsequent chapters can be located. Some of the concepts and ideas which will be highlighted in the introduction are:

    1. Digital Capitalism
    2. Usage of Communication as a means of production
    3. Societal Alienation within digital capitalism
    4. The element of “Accumulation” within digital capitalism and its importance within capitalism.

    The introduction will also provide an overview of Marxist-Humanist theory along with a brief history of its formation. The chapter will initially highlight some of the aspects of the work of Raya Dunayevskaya, the pioneer of the Marxist-Humanist theory. Taking cue from that, the chapter will then mainly discuss Henri Lefebvre, Herbert Marcuse and Erich Fromm, especially the aspects of their work relevant to current book. The chapter will also point out theoretical advances made by contemporary Marxist-Humanists like Kevin Anderson and Peter Hudis.

    The first chapter looks at the element of social media commerce in general. It will, at first, explain the fundamental aspects of “Social Media Commerce” and its differences with other modes of digital commercial activities such as e-commerce websites and used-goods-digital storefronts. It will present a chronological description of the evolution of social media commerce, specifically ‘Facebook marketplace’. The chapter will explore the political economic perspective of this mode of commerce and its intersections with the revenue model based on targeted advertisements. The chapter will introduce some of the central concepts used in the book, namely:

    1. Social Media Commerce
    2. Real Subsumption
    3. Social Media as a techno-social system

    The second chapter will emphasise the theory of ‘property’. It will highlight the various theories regarding how property has been conceptualised.

    This chapter will lay out the differences between personal and private property within capitalist social structures. The chapter will take references primarily from Marx’s Capital (All 3 Volumes) along with some of Engels’ works. In addition, the chapter will also provide an overview of the anarchist idea of property, mainly focusing on Proudhon and his debate with Marx and Engels. The final section of this chapter will also outline a theory of ‘digital and information’ property, which will be engaged with in details

    The third chapter will focus on the usage of social media commerce within the Global North, primarily focusing on the study conducted by the author in Aotearoa New Zealand. The chapter will talk about how social crisis and human needs play a part in making these practices popular within the non-capitalist classes. Apart from the general results of the study which has used volunteer sampling and in-depth interviews to gather the qualitative data, two detailed accounts of social media commercial sellers will also be included. One of the two subjects of the study is an immigrant from the east, which will aid in establishing the relationship between race and social media commerce.

    The chapter will emphasise the concept of “Property” within capitalism and the relationship between personal and private property from a political economic perspective. The chapter will analyse the relationship between these digital platforms and the other tangible methods of profit accumulation within capitalist and semi-capitalist economies. Finally, the chapter will put forward how under real subsumption, contemporary capitalism has transformed itself by inventing new modes of accumulation, which hinge upon dissolving the differences between personal and private property holdings.

    The final pre-conclusive chapter attempts to provide an overview of how accumulation proceeds through social media within the Global South. This chapter will be primarily based on the study conducted by the author within the city of Hyderabad in India, with questions similar to those used in the case of the Global North. This chapter will emphasise upon the concept of “freedom” from a Hegelian-Marxist perspective and its manipulation within social media commerce by capitalism. The methodology adopted for the chapter will remain same as that of the previous chapter, i.e., volunteer sampling along with in-depth interviews, a rationale for which will be provided.

    The chapter will analyse, or rather evaluate, the various elements of socio-economic crisis and human needs, as laid out in the previous chapter, within the context of the Global South. In doing so, this chapter will present a comparative analysis of social media commerce and its associated processes within the Global North and the Global South. The chapter will emphasise the various aspects of social structures, which play a pivotal role within capitalist accumulation processes. Specifically speaking, the third chapter will be about creating an intellectual dialogue between the Global North and the Global South, in terms of the relevance and usage of social media commerce by capitalism in both the contexts.

    The conclusion will start with putting forward the importance of digital spaces within the general social space. Taking cue from this, the conclusion will talk about how abject alienation within the social spaces renders the alienation within these digital spaces invisible. The chapter will mainly focus on the perspectives developed by Raya Dunayevskaya and Henri Lefebvre, in putting forward a Marxist-Humanist account of contemporary capitalist exploitation within digital capitalism. The conclusion will bring out the importance of human subjectivity in addressing the questions of capitalist exploitation.

    The conclusion will also focus on the factors of the successes of models like AIRBNB, in the Global North, and Oyo Rooms, in India. By doing so the conclusion will present a causal relationship between social alienation and the success of these models of capitalist exploitation. At the end, the conclusion will proceed towards analysing the usage of established communicative networks by capitalism to exploit the working class both digitally and physically, and the need of addressing this mode of exploitation from a Marxist-Humanist perspective, which takes an adequate cognisance of both human subjectivity and political economy.


    Table of Contents

    Introduction: Marxist-Humanist Theory

    Chapter 1 Social Media and the Commerce Therein

    Chapter 2 The Theory of Property

    Chapter 3 Accumulation in the Global North

    Chapter 4 Accumulation in the Global South

    Conclusion: Marxist-Humanist Approach to the Issue

    Notes

    Appendices

    Bibliography

  • The White Savior Complex in International Development: Theory, Practice and Lived Experiences

    Uniting scholars and practitioners from around the world, this book will address white saviorism as one of the perennial underbelly challenges of the global development aid industry. The introduction by Kanakulya and Sondarjee will first develop the conceptual building blocks to understand white saviorism in international development. Section 1 will then address various theoretical issues such as false consciousness of white saviors, epistemological marginalization of black expertise, Islamophobia, and the links between whiteness and patriarchy. Section 2 will present personal accounts of how practitioners in the Global South have experienced white saviorism first-hand. The conclusion, written by Themrise Khan, will explore the implications of white saviorism for the future of international development practices. Overall, this book will analyze how development practices can undermine voices in the Global South and perpetuate a harsh myth of white superiority. The innovative chapters it encompasses will serve as a basis for more empirical work on white savior practices in international development.


    CONTENTS

    Section 1: Sociological and Philosophical Perspectives on White Saviorism in International Development

     Chapter 1. False Consciousness and the Phenomenology of a White Savior Dickson Kanakulya, Department of Philosophy, Makerere University

    Chapter 2. Islamophobia as a White Saviorism Leila Benhadjoudja, Assistant Professor, School of Anthropological and Sociological Studies, University of Ottawa

     Chapter 3.  Generous but Exploitative: Exploring White Saviorism, Neo-colonialism and the Right to Natural Resources in Uganda Robert Karuru, Lecturer, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Makerere University

     Chapter 4. The Matriarchy Complex. White Western Women in Development Themrise Khan, Independent Development Professional

     Chapter 5. Smoking White Saviorism Out of Development Theoria and Praxis: Epistemological underpinnings and Emancipatory Insights Kizito Michael George, Lecturer, Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy, Kyambogo University

     Chapter 6. Parallel Planet Destination for Donor and Recipients Interests Vianney Ahumuza, Lecturer, Department of Foundation Studies, Uganda Christian University

     Chapter 7. Illicit Financial Flows and the Corrupting Effect of White Saviorism on International Trade Donald Omong Mark, Researcher at CED4, Systems Dynamics Group, University of Palermo

    Chapter 8. White Saviorism in Aid Campaign, or how #KONY2012 Centered Western Experience Maïka Sondarjee, Assistant Professor, School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa

     SECTION 2: “We Don’t Need to be Saved” An Anthology of Voices and Experiences from Development Practitioners in the Global South

     Chapter 9-16. Contributions from South Asia, the Middle East and Africa (TBD upon approval of the concept note by the publisher)

    CONCLUSION

    How to dismantle the White Savior Complex? Themrise Khan (ed)

  • Insurrectionary Uprisings: A Reader in Revolutionary Nonviolence and Decolonization

    PRE-ORDER FOR 20% DISCOUNT – VALID UNTIL DECEMBER 31, 2021


    A collection of both historic and new writings on the nexus of strategic unarmed resistance, radical ideologies, and the long struggles to build movements for justice and liberation. Beginning with the work of Gandhi, Arendt and Thoreau, the volume grounds the theories which undergird nonviolent resistance to capitalism, colonialism, white supremacy and heteropatriarchy.

    The volume includes two sections exploring nonviolence in the long Black freedom struggle within the US. From Ella Baker to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Fannie Lou Hamer, from Vincent Harding and Grace Lee Boggs to Colin Kaepernick, the two sections on the Black liberation movement highlight the theory of nonviolence in direct and indirect ways and foreground the relevance of these historic texts for the present moment of political uprisings on both the left and the right. Black strategies for survival and power are analyzed in terms of the ongoing US economic and epidemiological crises as well as the global climate crisis and ecological collapse. A section on revolutionary nonviolence in Africa presents a previously unpublished piece on the role of armed struggle by Franz Fanon, as well as essays by Amilcar Cabral, Barbara Deming, Graca Machel, Kenneth Kaunda, and Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge  This section clearly contextualizes the continent’s anti-colonial struggles with the practical thinking about military and unarmed tactics which those movements faced over the course of a half century.

    The section on nonviolence and feminist struggle highlights the work of Grace Paley, Audre Lorde, and Arundhati Roy, along with a little-read piece by Johnnie Tilmon, a leader of the 1960s welfare rights movement. The section on resistance against empire tilts toward Latin American scholars/activists with essays by Maria Lugones, Anibla Quijano and Berta Caceres. This section includes pieces that draw from current debates about the role of state power in building towards radical change and the push to build holistic perspectives on what liberation means for all peoples. The final section on social change in the 21st Century reflects on specific aspects of organizing which are facing campaigns and movements of today and tomorrow. Our goal is to provide challenges and insights for building effectively against all forms of oppression!

    Though primarily compiling key texts not often seen or contextualized together, the book also provides new strategic commentaries from key leaders including Ela Gandhi, Ruby Sales, ecofeminist Ynestra King, Africa World Press’ Kassahun Checole, and Palestinian Quaker Joyce Ajlouney. With a mix of past and current commentaries, from both academic and activist points of view, we uncover fault lines which have prevented mass, global movements of movements from solidifying over the last fifty years. Through this narrative, the book ends with visions of how best to use all that we know to bring about deeply rooted transformations in ways that will lift up not traumatize people as they move toward liberation.


    CONTENTS

    Foreword by Joyce Aljouni, Secretary-General, American Friends Service Committee

    Section 1: Contemporary Roots of Radical Nonviolence: Before and Beyond Gandhi (Intro by Ela Gandhi, Former Member of Parliament, South Africa
    o Henry David Thoreau, “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”
    o Hannah Arendt, Excerpt for “On Violence”
o Gandhi, “What is Satyagraha”
o Pyarelal, “Gandhi’s Communism”
    o Matt Meyer, “Total Revolution: Resistance, Blass and the 21st Century Relevance of JP Narayan and Narayan Desai”
    o Milan Rai, “Taking Gandhi with a Pinch of Salt”
    o Arundhati Roy, “When the Saints Go Marching Out”
    o Starhawk, “Reclaiming Nonviolence from Gandhian Puritanism”

    Section 2: So-Called “Civil Rights”: True Roots of the US Black-led Freedom Movement (Intro by Ruby Sales, Founder of Spirit House and Original SNCC Activist)
    o ML King, Jr., “Beyond Vietnam”
o James Cone, “Martin and Malcom on Nonviolence and Violence”
    o Vincent Harding, “So Much History, So Much Future”
    o Ella Baker, “Bigger Than a Hamburger”
o Grace Lee Boggs, “The Beloved Community of MLK”
    o Fannie Lou Hamer, “Testimony Before the Credentials Committee, DNC 1964

    Section 3: Self-determination, Self-defense, and the Rise of Black Power (Intro by Barbara Smith, Kitchen Table Women of Color Press and Co-Author of Combahee River Collective Statement
    o Ragland, Meyer and Jeffers, “Refusing to Choose between Martin and Malcolm”
    o SNCC, “Black Power: A Position Paper”
o Simmons, “Truly Human”
o Dellinger, Williams, King, “Are Pacifists Willing to be Negroes?”
    o Paisely, “Bayard Rustin: A Unique, Clandestine and Enduring Queer Leader of the CRM”
    o Sally Bermanzohn, “Violence, Nonviolence and the CRM”
o Pulley, “We will Create our Freedom: The Importance of the Movement for Black
    Lives Platform”
    o Colin Kaepernick, “Amnesty International Speech”
    o Maroon Shoatz (with Steve Bloom), “Rage”

    Section 4: Revolutionary Nonviolence in Africa: Playing Between the Cracks (Intro by Kassahun Checole, Founder and CEO of Africa World/Red Sea Press)
    o Graca Machel, “Impact of Armed Conflict on Children”
    o Franz Fanon, “Why We Use Violence”
    o Barbara Deming, “On Revolution and Equilibrium”
    o Amilcar Cabral, “Message to the People of Portugal”
o Bill Sutherland and Matt Meyer, selections from Guns and Gandhi in Africa
    o Nozizwe Madlala Routledge, “Ubuntu and the World Today”
    o Kenneth Kaunda, “The Riddle of Violence”

    Section 5: “Combative Pacifism” Against Patriarchy: Feminist Critiques of Movement-Building (Intro by Ynestra King, Ecofeminist Author)
    o Skolkin-Smith, “Grace”
    o Women’s Pentagon Action Unity Statement
o Arundhati Roy, “Come September”
    o Audre Lorde, “Uses of Anger”
o Barbara Deming, “On Anger”
    o Johnnie Tilmon, “Welfare is a Woman’s Issue”
    o Beth Ritchie, “How Anti-Violence Activism Taught Me to be a Prison Abolitionist”
    o Nazan Ustundag, “The Wounds of Afrin, the Promise of Rojava”
o Leslie Feinberg, “Trans Liberation: A Movement Whose Time has Come”
o Andrea Smith, “Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy”

    Section 6: Resistance Against Empire (Intro by Wende Marshall)
    o Wende Marshall, “Tasting Earth” (excerpts)
o Anibal Quijano, “Coloniality and Power”
    o Martin, Johanson and Meyer, “Nonviolence Against Imperialism”
    o Maria Lugones, “Towards a Decolonial Feminism”
o Berta Caceres, “Goldman Prize Acceptance Speech”
o Hillary Klein, “A Spark of Hope: The Ongoing Lessons of the Zapatista
    Revolution 25 Years On”
    o Aimee Carillo Rowe, “Queer Indigenous Manifesto”
    o Haunani-Kay Trask, “Notes of a Native Daughter”

    Section 7: Revolutionary Nonviolence in the 21rst Century (Intro by Wende Marshall and Matt Meyer)
    o “People’s Strike and the Uprising Open Letter” (and PS Demands)
o “Jackson Rising Redux”: A Dialogue with Kali, Saki, Joshua, Rose, Wende and Matt
    o John Holloway, “A Cascade of Angers…Along the Road to Hope”
o Hilda Lloréns, “From Extractive Agriculture to Industrial Waste Periphery: Life in a Black-Puerto Rican Ecology”
    o Jai Sen, et al, “On Removing the Black: International Perspectives on the Movements of Movements”
    o Nick Estes, “The Empire of All Maladies: Colonial Contagions and Indigenous Resistance”
    o Wende Marshall, “To be Black, To Simply Live: The Burden of Revolutionary Nonviolence”

    Conclusion: “Why Outrage is Not Enough,” Wende Marshall and Matt Meyer

     

    CAD $ 35.00CAD $ 45.00
  • People Resisting Xenophobic Violence: Understanding popular political responses to the South African identitarian crisis

    The book is concerned with popular responses to the crisis of xenophobic violence in South Africa. It argues, that xenophobia itself is not primarily a reaction to poverty, inequality, or any other set of social conditions. Rather, xenophobia must be considered to be a collective political discourse which has arisen in post-apartheid South Africa from an exclusionary conception of state nationalism. Where this work may be distinguished from the majority of research on xenophobia in South Africa is in the fact that its particular focus is on instances where ‘ordinary’ South Africans have challenged and resisted xenophobic violence in their communities through collective political mobilisation. I suggest that these sites of resistance deserve careful consideration in their own right. I argue that they may demonstrate a subjective break with the oppressive politics of state nationalism through the affirmation of alternative political conceptions. Drawing on the political theory of Sylvain Lazarus, and his principal thesis that people are capable of thinking politics in ways which can subjectively think beyond the social and the extant (underscored by his political and methodological axiom, people think), the book will argue that these sites of resistance show that people – and especially those who are considered to be marginalised from the domain of legitimate politics – can and do think politically, and it is in the thought of people that new and potentially emancipatory visions of politics may emerge.

    The first chapter of the book sets out empirically the rise of xenophobia in post-apartheid South Africa, with a focus on the ways in which state politics and practices have produced a hegemonic xenophobic discourse in the country. Chapter Two situates this discussion within a review of the academic literature, arguing that sociological explanations are by themselves unable to account for the phenomenon.

    Chapter Three discusses three sites in which xenophobia has been effectively contested through collective political mobilisation: by Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Merafong Demarcation Forum (MDF) in Guateng in 2008, and in the Unemployed people’s Movement (UPM) in Grahamstown (now Makhanda) in 2015 (where I conducted fieldwork over a year). It is argued that the presence of collective political organisation before the outbreak of xenophobic violence provided the conditions for an effective challenge to xenophobic politics to occur.

    Chapter Four is largely theoretical, drawing primarily on the work of Sylvain Lazarus, as well as Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière. The chapter argues that it is essential to insist on politics as subjective, as it is only in the thought of people that emancipatory modes of politics which exceed socially located interests may emerge and be constituted through collective mobilisation into political praxis.

    Chapter Five sets out the methodological approach to my own research with members of the Unemployed People’s Movement in Grahamstown. The aim of the approach is to aid in the investigation of what Sylvain Lazarus has called ‘subjective singularities’, or specific forms of thinking which characterize a political sequence. Put simply, the approach endeavours to try to understand people’s thinking on its own terms, through the categories and idioms which are specific to that subjective singularity, and which cannot be sociologically reduced to external explanatory referents such as class, race, power, or identity. The aim is to be able to identify and elucidate the specific prescriptive thought which may emerge as people think and articulate their own struggles.

    Chapter Six sets out my discussions with 18 UPM activists. Based on the methodological approach indicated above, the purpose of this empirical chapter was not to provide any form of ethnography or sociology of the movement, but to try and elucidate, through the activists’ own categories, the subjective singularity which underpinned the movement’s anti-xenophobic politics during a particular sequence. The aim is not to extrapolate from the activists’ statements concepts, cases or types which might have broader application for the study of xenophobia generally, but only to try to understand and elucidate the forms of thinking which characterised this particular sequence in its subjective singularity. These forms of thinking, I argue, are notable and important in their own right.

    [Note: Additional material from the interviews with the UPM members, which I was not able to include in the MA thesis, will be incorporated into the book manuscript to extend and develop the investigation into the political thinking of UPM members and to delineate the character of the political sequence].

  • What is to be Thought? The Dialectics of Emancipation and Africa: political theory and political practice

    Beginning from the understanding that it is imperative today to develop new concepts for the thinking of an emancipatory politics on the African continent  (Fanon), this book proposes to focus on dialectical thought as the core subjective feature of all emancipatory political experiments on the African continent in particular.  It traces a dialectical thinking to its origins in Ancient Egypt that arguably influenced Plato, and notes its opposition to the idea of representation in state politics during various historical sequences right up to the present.  Starting from the fundamental conception that all people are capable of universal thought, and that an idea of universal humanity is central to popular thought during experiences of collective emancipatory struggle, the argument traces and analyses a number of emancipatory historical political sequences and their attendant contemporary narratives.  Currently it is proposed to include

    1)    the Ancient World: Ancient Egypt (The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant – 4000 BCE) and Plato (as read by Alain Badiou);

    2)    Pre-colonial Africa and resistance to slavery: the Donsolu Kalikan (in the Manden/Mali, 1222),  the Antonian Movement (in Kongo, 1684-1706) and its continuation in the Lemba Movement, and the Haitian Revolution (undertaken by slaves from Africa),

    3)    The National Liberation Struggles of the 1960s  as thought by Fanon and Cabral, and

    4)    The mass popular struggles in South Africa during the 1980s.

    The core of the political dialectic in each case differs and creates, during a limited sequence, what can be called a subjective political singularity that always combines dialectically a particular thought of resistance emanating from its specific social location with one of universal humanity during what is a process exceptional to hegemonic social relations.

    It is further argued that whereas the political dialectic is not a given feature of African cultures as such, the latency of universalistic conceptions of humanity is identifiable within many African cultures. This means that rather than having to be invented ex nihilo, conceptions of the human universal in Africa have the potential to be (re-)activated in practice.  Ato Sekyi-Otu and Ernest Wamba-dia-Wamba are discussed as major contemporary African dialectical thinkers.

    Coming to the present period, the book elaborates a theory of neo-colonial state politics through unpacking the core idea of representation and the absence of popular sovereignty.  It is argued that the neo-colonial character of the state must be understood beyond binaries but rather, following Gramsci, as structured by objective dialectical relations characterising fundamentally distinct modes of rule.  This objective dialectic is assessed, in addition to Gramsci, through a discussion of a number of well-known contemporary thinkers of the dialectic (Lenin, Mao, Dunayevskaya, CLR James, Carchedi, Anderson, etc).

    These modes of rule enable the neo-colonial state to reproduce itself and social relations in conjunction with popular responses to such rule. Differing modes of state rule are identified and the formation of distinct domains of politics corresponding to them and founded on different forms of representation are elucidated.  These domains amount to three types:

    1)    civil society (where the state rules through a relation of citizenship and the right to rights),

    2)    uncivil society (where the right to rights is inexistent and thus state violence is dominant), and

    3)    traditional society (where the state rules through custom and tradition itself the object of struggle).

    Using various cases from Africa, contradictions and struggles within each of these domains are analysed and the potential to draw on latent cultural conceptions of universality (when in existence) is discussed.
    In this manner both the dialectic of emancipation and the character of state power are thought conjointly and dialectical thinking is opposed to the idea of representation in politics as well as in social science.  The concepts and categories used are explained in a simple manner understandable by all.

    Finally and as a kind of concluding argument, it is proposed to rethink the idea of representation through a critical engagement with the political practices of what could be called the “heroic figures of liberation”.  This will be undertaken via an assessment of the politics of Toussaint Louverture and Nelson Mandela in particular regarding the “colonial question” as identified by Aimé Césaire.