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Alberto Toscano on the Perils of Political "Realism"


At his blog Cartographies of the Absolute, theorist and sociologist Alberto Toscano has posted the English version of a fascinating interview he did with the Greek newspaper Efimerida ton Syntakton (The Editors’ Newspaper). He touches on the fall of Syriza in Greece, the specious distinction between identity politics and class politics, and the geopolitical conditions that have enabled the right to gain electoral power in recent years. Check out an excerpt from the interview below.

We see that large parts of the population are dominated by the feelings of despair and nostalgia for a “golden” era that has gone unabated. Can the Left today offer hope and vision for the future?

I think ‘hope’ is rather spent as a watchword. What is lacking right now is not the idea that another world is possible, as much as the notion that social power can be organised in order to block, and then reverse, decades of political disenfranchisement and economic dispossession of the majority of the world’s population. I would say that what we need then is less a vision or a faith, and more a kind of ‘utopia of means’, a way of threading together those moments of mass action in which the powers that be have been put on the back foot. It also seems evident that radical climate justice movements – necessarily entangled as they are with contesting the politics of (neo-)colonialism, class exploitation, racism and patriarchy – completely upend left imaginaries of ‘hope’ predicated on ideologies of industrial progress and material abundance.

Image of Alberto Toscano via Efimerida ton Syntakton.


Mass movements there may be for “climate justice and against neo-colonialism, racism and class exploitation” etc - but aren’t they just protest movements? And what is “protest” - it is the very middle-class (philosophical) notion of leaving the monopoly-capitalist system in place and just getting them to do things “more nicely”. Or it is the libertarianism that preaches “no leaders” anarchism - as if monopoly-capitalism and the unplanned arbitrary rule of the rich wasn’t anarchy in the first place. Always bear in mind that, in London alone, 2 million people marched against the US Empire’s war on Iraq in February 2003 - and it didn’t stop a single missile being fired or a single child being killed.
The biggest thing that anyone who is really opposed to capitalist domination, war and environmental destruction (because of the infinitely destructive profit motive governing human society under capitalism) has to do is to get SERIOUS in their THINKING and reading matter about what has to be done.
What is necessary? The power must be TAKEN from the villainous rich capitalist ruling class so that the class war is won, and the planet can be looked after. To do that, the parliamentary “democracy” and military dictatorships that shield the rule of rich must be overthrown. The ONLY path to doing that is Leninist political revolution and national liberation struggle (in the oppressed countries), which means challenging all the utter garbage that dominates the mass media (and the academic texts) about the “horrors of communism” and the “failure of the Soviet Union and the socialist countries” and rediscover both the science of Leninism and the role of the dictatorship of the proletariat as a transition period (with mistakes, difficulties and, occasionally, stupidity eg Gorbachevism) that takes mankind to our socialist future, full global communism and the withering away of the need for any state at all (because no counter-revolution exists and everyone is so used to administering things that the need for coercion disappears).
Right now, the decaying US Empire is lining up Iran for mass destruction, but is so paralysed by indecision and panic that it keeps losing its nerve, out of fear about how the Iranians and the world will react. At the same time, the US trade-war-targeted Europeans are figuring out that the real target of all the Washington-Pentagon warmongering could well be…gulp!..them.
The background to ruling class warmongering degeneracy is always the global economic “over-production” crisis, just as Marx described, but now in the era of imperialist monopolies.
The biweekly Economic & Philosophic Science Review looks at all these issues, and battles both dunderheaded Stalinist “popular frontism” and Trotskyist anti-communist anti-Sovietism - both forms of revisionism pander to bourgeois parliamentarianism and far from advocating socialist revolution, advocate “leftism” and reformism.
This means the world working class is going to carry on being confused and suffering from being unable to rebuild a revolutionary mass movement all the time that “leftism” remains parading around the streets of Brazil or Birmingham, since “leftism” can’t say boo to a goose because it will always slide into anti-communism. It is never ready to fight all-out against fascism and the capitalist “democracy” that is just a cover for that fascism (see Gladio - Nato’s Dagger at the Heart of Europe by Richard Cottrell, a tiny bit conspiracy-theorist in its weaker parts but otherwise an excellent primer of just how foully evil in their counter-revolutionary activities that the rich, the royal families, the CIA, Nato, the Vatican and the Mafia really are).
For all the riots in Paris by the anarchist spearhead of the Yellow Vests - what is their perspective on the planet? After all the Paris police shootings and maimings are they going to start reading Lenin’s State and Revolution and What is to be Done? Let’s hope so.