Replanting the Acorn

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A review of the recently-released documentary on the O’Keefe sting against ACORN and how the democrats played along.

The film shows how Wade Rathke, an ex-Students for a Democratic Society member, formed the Association of Community Organizations Reform Now. ACORN rose to power throughout the 70s and 80s. It’s novelty: organizing welfare recipients, forming tenants’ unions, building urban homesteads throughout the crumbling inner-cities, canvassing door-to-door in poor neighborhoods, and forming electoral blocks like the Working Families Party to hold nominally progressive politicians accountable. More recent footage included by Atlas and Pollard shows ACORN activists bussing from city to city, protesting for wage increases, getting in face-to-face confrontations with congressional staff, and marching through a bank office to protest predatory lending, its employees cowering under their desks. In one clip from a training session, an ACORN organizer reveals a hidden secret of their approach: it is always worth it to engage in a losing campaign so long as it empowers the base. The current DNC seems only capable of capitulation.

Read the rest at the Baffler

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Intro to Marxist Ufology

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A brief survey of four Marxist thinkers who intervened in UFO-research and culture. Among these were J. Posadas, two ex-members of his International, and the ancient-alien theorist/Partizan Peter Kolosimo:

Wu Ming, a communist writing collective known for its historical fiction, sees Kolosimo as using pseudohistory as a tool to shake people from their belief that capitalist society is natural and transhistorical, opening minds to other possibilities for how humans can live. They regret that popular proponents of his theories today, like Graham Hancock and Erich von Däniken, are unable to recognize the political motivations behind his project: “Nothing of his radicality survives in today’s copycats… Every corner has been blunted, the heresy has become telegenic, but we know that the revolution will not be televised.”

Read the rest at The Outline

Self-criticism of the ex-Posadists

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Marxists.org published Nicolas Allen’s translation of the Boletin Marxista 8, probably the best political account of what the Posadist movement was from its ex militants:

In this document, these former Posadists offer a balance of their time in the movement, a political diagnosis using the history of Marxist-Leninist-Trotskyist thought as its instruments. Despite the technical approach, the drama of Posadas’s megalomania and the cult-like ascetic lifestyle he demanded of his militants appear as elements, along with a reckoning of their complicity in its development. The documents is also concerned with the general failure of Trotskyism to achieve it goals, exemplified by the BLA split that they call “the most tragic step to ever be taken by a tendency of proletarian origin,” which they caution should not be reduced to “a question of simple individual madness.”

Read the rest of the introduction and the text at Marxists.org

Special thanks to Sebastian Budgen, David Walters, and CeDInCi Archives in Buenos Aires for their assistance!

I also got a shout-out from Argentinian journalist of paranormal culture Alejandro Agostinelli in this transcribed interview about the Posadist movement for his Blog. Expect a lot more Posadist stuff soon!

What Future Anthology release at Books are Magic

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I’ll be discussing my essay “Let Them Drink Blood” about Peter Thiel’s vampiric-futurism at the What Future anthology release panel November 3rd at Books are Magic in Brooklyn. The anthology, available from Unnamable Books, also features essays from Kim Stanley Robinson, Laurie Penny, and Elizabeth Kolbert.

More about the panel from the Facebook event:

What Future is a yearly anthology collecting the most compelling, most deeply thought essays and articles about the future of life on our planet. Whether it is automation or climate change, gender or race, space travel or non-human rights, What Future takes what is happening today, and asks: what next?

What Future’s co-editors Torie Bosch and Roy Scranton will be joined in conversation by contributors Sarah Aziza, David Biello, and A.M. Gittlitz.

Sarah Aziza’s longform writing has appeared in Harper’s, Slate, The New Republic, The Village Voice, and The Rumpus, among others. She reports on the Middle East, human rights, and mental health for a variety of outlets, and is working on a reported memoir about the cross-section of these subjects in the refugee experience. She currently divides her time between New York City, the Midwest, and the Arab world. She’s on Twitter as @SarahAziza1, and more of her work can be found at www.sarahaziza.com.

David Biello is the author of The Unnatural World: The Race to Remake Civilization in Earth’s Newest Age. He has been covering energy and the environment for more than a decade and is the science curator for TED as well as a contributing editor for Scientific American.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, New America, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies.

A.M. Gittlitz is a freelance writer and bike courier living in Brooklyn. His work focuses on counterculture and radical politics of the left and right. He is the author of several zines including Ruin Value, about backpacking through Europe’s dying leftist infrastructure,and KAMIKAZA, a biography of the late Yugoslavian chaos punk Satan Panonski. Both are available from Booklyn. He is currently researching the UFOlogy-obsessed communist sect of Posadism and Star Trek’s socialist vision of the future. For more of A.M.’s essays visit GITTLITZ.wordpress.com.

Roy Scranton is the author of the novel War Porn (Soho Press, 2016) and the philosophical essay “Learning to Die in the Anthropocene” (City Lights, 2015). He is also one of the editors of Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War (Da Capo, 2013).

Posadas makes first contact with NYT

This is a schematic of a talk I gave at the 2017 Left Forum about the intersections between science fiction and communism, specifically the left UFOlogy resurgence of neo-Posadism. The editor wanted the story routed in the history of socialism, so I began by talking about the sf-influenced Proletkult section of the Bolshevik party. More specifics about the “space comrades” and Posadas himself will come in a longer piece soon!

In the midst of the worldwide worker and student uprisings in 1968, the Argentine Trotsykist leader known as J. Posadas wrote an essay proposing solidarity between the working class and the alien visitors. He argued that their technological advancement indicated they would be socialists and could deliver us the technology to free Earth from the grip of Yankee imperialism and the bureaucratic workers’ states.

Such views were less fringe and more influential than you might think. Beginning in 1966, the plot of “Star Trek” closely followed Posadas’s propositions. After a nuclear third world war (which Posadas also believed would lead to socialist revolution), Vulcan aliens visit Earth, welcoming them into a galactic federation and delivering replicator technology that would abolish scarcity. Humans soon unify as a species, formally abolishing money and all hierarchies of race, gender and class.

“A lot has changed in the past 300 years,” Captain Picard explains to a cryogenically unfrozen businessman from the 20th century in an episode of a later “Star Trek” franchise, “The Next Generation.” “People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things. We’ve eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. We’ve grown out of our infancy.”

Read the rest in the New York Times Red Century section

Sympathy with the Deplorable

A timeline and analysis of the @antiPCNYUProf affair, why (usually white male) leftists defect right, and what it says about the left.

Rectenwald recently called his followers, which include self-described White Nationalists, his “Twitter family,” while at NYU he felt like he was “being exiled.” Like many other defectors, he belongs to a movement that seeks to be for white men, in an ironic turn of which they are fully conscious, a safe space. For these defectors, perhaps hurt feelings and defensiveness could be said to have hijacked values and political convictions; the way this community made them feel about themselves became more important than what it stood for. Once they became embedded, stated convictions ceased to matter.

Nietzsche’s iconoclasm was central to the account. Perhaps, like Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, Rectenwald needed to create a character, speaking in vicious aphorisms, to transcend academic criticism and the echo-chamber of his milieu, taking struggle against both the identitarian rabble of campus politics and its cynical cooptation by Clintonian Democrats. For all his bluster, it’s worth remembering that Nietzsche referred to his bad faith followers in Genealogy of Morals sarcastically as “free thinkers,” who “hate the Church but love its poison.”

Read the rest of “The Learning Annex” at Real Life Magazine