Marxist cultural criticism, by its nature, walks the tight rope between the Scylla of purely instrumental and didactic analysis and the Charybdis of descriptivism and romanticism. Yet there are times in which Marxist cultural critics must make directly political interventions, emphasizing that indeed we are, in Ash Sarkar’s inimitable phrase, literally communists. This was what gave rise, for example, to Red Wedge statements in support of many of the struggles of the last few years.Read More
“Jews will not replace us”. This was the scream of the fascist hooligans marching with pitchforks last summer through Charlottesville. Their reference is to an all-American yet simultaneously ancient conspiracy theory- the idea that the Jews were conspiring to bring in immigrant populations, empower people of colour and of course, themselves, to “replace” an amorphous “white America”. This is the theory of “White genocide” that got the irascible George Ciccariello-Maher in shit with Drexel University. The very top of the ontological totem pole for this dangerous delusion are Jews.Read More
Imagine it is 2016. Clinton is still ahead in the polls, she has every hope of gaining the White House. One night she dreams she has won, and, just as she steps into the Oval Office she glances in a mirror to find, glaring back at her, none other than Trump.
Trump’s presence in the White House is the eruption of what I shall go on to explore as the uncanny; a rupture of form; an intrusion of something monstrous into the heart of the body politic.Read More
“Polysemy (from Greek: πολυ-, poly-, "many" and σῆμα, sêma, "sign"), the capacity for a sign, such as a word, phrase, or symbol, to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic field.” – definition adapted from Wikipedia
“If you cannot convince a fascist, acquaint his head with the pavement.” – Gritty (probably)
Now is the time of monsters, the well-worn phrase tells us. But monsters, if they are interesting, are unpredictable. They come out of nowhere and evince their nowhere-ness, their improbability creating fascination, fear, revulsion, sympathy.Read More
Red Wedge spoke with one of our close comrades and collaborators, Kate Doyle Griffiths, for what was initially to be a discussion of transgressive social practices within the context of the West Virginia uprising. What transpired, however, was a wide-ranging discussion of transgression and Left politics, social reproduction theory, Insane Clown Posse and of course, the cultural practices of the striking workers in West Virginia, the polysemic quality of Twisted Sister. The following interview was conducted in June and July 2018. It will featured in our upcoming sixth issue, which you can subscribe to by supporting us through the Red Wedge Patreon.Read More
my teeth fall out.
I am a mouth full
of crowns and empty
houses; my gums, bloody
shores where ancestral trauma still washes up
Red Wedge is proud to be contributing to the organizing of the very first Montreal Historical Materialism Conference. Held from May 17-20, it is a bilingual conference, and an excellent chance to break down barriers between English and French speaking activists and scholars. The them of the conference is ambitious: “The Great Transition,” reflecting a sorely needed optimism but also rooted in practical and sober theory.Read More
Colonial domination, because it is total and tends to over-simplify, very soon manages to disrupt in spectacular fashion the cultural life of a conquered people. This cultural obliteration is made possible by the negation of national reality, by new legal relations introduced by the occupying power, by the banishment of the natives and their customs to outlying districts by colonial society, by expropriation, and by the systematic enslaving of men and women.
Three years ago at our first congress I showed that, in the colonial situation, dynamism is replaced fairly quickly by a substantification of the attitudes of the colonizing power. The area of culture is then marked off by fences and signposts. These are in fact so many defense mechanisms of the most elementary type, comparable for more than one good reason to the simple instinct for preservation.Read More
Red Wedge lost a friend and supporter this past week when Matthew Caygill died. Matthew was a longtime fixture in the British socialist movement and most recently was involved in Left Unity. He was a keen thinker and well-known as a warm and dedicated comrade. His nearest and dearest have our sincerest condolences.
Matthew was also someone fascinated with the intersection of arts and radical politics. When those of us with RW first encountered him, it was on panel at the Historical Materialism conference in London where he spoke on the connections between the Beatles and the left of the 1960’s, a topic far too often unacknowledged past the most general discussions of John Lennon’s post-Beatles days. In fact, it was the topic of culture and the Left in the Sixties to which he was dedicating his PhD studies.Read More
Contemporary capitalism has produced stark and contradictory forms of development that by extension produce equally contradictory ways of understanding culture and the phenomenon of cultural exchange. The exchange of commodities, ideas and forms of artistic expression has always been a feature of capitalist development. Neoliberalism, however, has accelerated and accentuated these phenomena; therefore the left must reconsider the way we engage with questions of culture and cultural exchange.
The term “cultural appropriation” is one such attempt at engaging with cultural exchange, and one which has moved into common parlance among the radical left over the past decade. However, much of the theory that has emerged to explain cultural exchange, although rooted in an anti-racist instinct, is a product of post-colonial theory.Read More
Black Future Month is here.
Black Future Month is the name film curator Floyd Webb and I selected as the title for our February Afrofuturism film series each Thursday at the SMG Chatham Theater in Chicago. Situated in the Chatham neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago, Floyd and I, as creators of Afrofuturism849, aimed to introduce curious audiences to the range of sci fi works and documentaries highlighting ideas, stories and people within the sci fi, speculative fiction, and science worlds. We showcased the Cameroonian film Les Saignantes about women in a corrupt mystical and futuristic Cameroon. We showed “White Scripts, Black Supermen” on the early black comic heroes and brought out Turtel Onli, father of the Black Age in Comics, comic creator Jiba Molei Anderson and Institute of Comic Studies cofounder Stanford Carpenter to discuss the project. Amir George, co-curator of the Black Radical Imagination, a series of experimental shorts introduced his works and several physicists and astronomers were on hand to discuss our science documentaries. While displaying my book Rayla 2212, a story that follows a war strategist on a former earth colony 200 years into the future who time/astral travels, one attendee remarked that she had no idea that black sci-fi and comics existed.Read More