Better to be a traitor to your country…

“Do you believe in patriotism? What an odd question to ask revolutionists!… The majority of our workers are foreigners… internationalism becomes the logical patriotism of a heterogeneous population…

The train on which I write rushes by factories where murder instruments are made for gold. I would be ashamed to be patriotic of such a country. In the black smoke belched from their chimneys, I see the ghostly faces of dead workers–our poor, deluded slain brothers. I re-affirm my faith, ‘It is better to be a traitor to your country than a traitor to your class!'”

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, 1916

The Death of Disco (1998) – a post modern masterpiece

The Death of Disco is a 1998 movie staring Chloë Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale and Robert Sean Leonard among others as a group of young, white professionals in New York dealing with 20 something adulthood to the backdrop of a shifting cultural mood, namely the death of disco as a popular form of music.

Much has been made about the anachronistic costumes in the movie. Filmed in the late 1990s, the cast all wear 90s clothing, despite the movie being set in the late 70s/early 80s. Comments have been made about how the costume designers “couldn’t be bothered” or maybe it was a low budget movie so they simply couldn’t afford more period accurate clothes?

But what it the costumes are accurate? What if actually the revolutionary cultural situation of the film is as a post-modern reading on the perennial existential angst of humanity? That our concerns over the death of culture or the ending of various zeitgeists have an almost gravitational impact on society, slowing time down, collapsing our social relations the closer we get to the event horizon? The late 70s the late 90s the late 2010s, whatever period we are in cultural anxiety persists. If this is true then the consequence for art is clear – have the late 70s be the late 90s (the actual end of history?). If young people worrying about the end times is the level of analysis then chronology is meaningless. Anachronism is the new black.

The murder of the De Witt brothers

Republicans who had ruled the Netherlands for years, the De Witt brothers were good friends with the philosopher Baruch Spinoza. Johan De Witt was a world class mathematician who opposed the House of Orange. All of his dreams of a rational society fell apart when his mathematics could not stop the muskets and cannon of the French and English when they invaded the Netherlands in the year 1672, the Rampjaar or Disaster Year. The brothers were assassinated by a mob, their bodies hung and torn apart. It was their death that had a profound impact on Spinoza. There is a story often repeated that Spinoza would visit the site where the two brothers were hung, gutted and their inner organs eaten by the mob in a cannibalistic frenzy every year and leave a piece of paper with words Ultimi Barbarorum, ultimate barbarianism.

 

 

How socialists debate immigration [Stuttgart 1907]

Text of the debate between socialist delegates to the Second International Socialist Congress held in Stuttgart in 1907. This is what they had to say when they debate the issue of immigration.

This is a rough translation from the German by Ed Potts from Facebook. The text of the agreed motion is online here

Continue reading How socialists debate immigration [Stuttgart 1907]