How are we to understand the new wave of protests that has been fragmented throughout the world since 2010 in the wake of the financial crisis and the underlying 30 year-long smoothing of economic growth at the center of capital? The Portuguese refugee and militant author Charles Reeve contributes to the analysis of the new uprisings with his 300 pages long historical account of proletarian self-organization from the French Revolution to the present day. At a time when much of what appears to be Marxist philosophy at the university is characterized by a surprising lack of historical knowledge and either prefers to pack airy Maoist passwords about "true ideas" into Platonic formulations or sits deep in Marx's economics-critical writings without orienting themselves to the actual struggles of history, Reeve's historical analysis is extremely welcome. There is no doubt that it will be important to reread historical events where the proletariat has specifically challenged capital and tried to do something else. Of course, all the "theoretical weightlifting" is important, but at least as important is examining the struggles that have taken place in history, where people have resisted the forms of domination of capital and organized themselves against the opaque conditions that characterize capitalist organized work and all the culture it has created.
Charles Reeves' story is organized around the opposition between authoritarian socialism and anti-authoritarian socialism. Authoritarian socialism includes both the Leninist and the Social Democratic versions of socialism. They are, in fact, two variants of the same party- and state-centered socialism that we know from the Soviet Union and from Western Europeans. . .
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