Navalny, political protest and opposition in Russia — Dr. Jeremy Morris | Postsocialism

Featured

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Source: Navalny, political protest and opposition in Russia | Postsocialism

Dr. Morris has written a companion piece: Putin and property – a ‘boss’ but not an owner

Navalny, political protest and opposition in Russia

By Dr. Jeremy Morris

28 January 2021

Sign: ‘Going out onto the ice is dangerous’. In snow-footprints: ‘couldn’t give a f*ck’.

We know from media coverage of the Bolotnaia protests nearly ten years ago that media representations of protest in Russia are often far from the reality. Researchers have shown that painting those protests as a ‘middle-class’ revolt was wide of the mark – in reality a broad age-range and social mix of Muscovites came out  ‘For Fair Elections’. Kalk writes of the creation of the myth of a dignified ‘creative class’ by the Russian media. I have written at length on the flipside of this discourse (and here for a more general audience)– an inability to even consider the class agency of those who are not educated metropolitans.   Bikbov shows that people’s reasons for coming out on the streets are very difficult to measure and are sometimes not even articulable by participants themselves. Misha Gabowitsch is also skeptical: “Expressions such as ‘middle class’, ‘generation’ or ‘pensioner’ suggest actually existing collective actors, but they only appear when their supposed members understand themselves as such and when there are institutions that maintain such constructs. […] In today’s Russia this is seldom the case.”

Nonetheless ‘indignation’ and shame that then translate into a burning desire to express publicly one’s anger and frustration are powerful motivators. Being part of a bigger movement acting for themselves in a country where public acts are usually orchestrated by cynical political considerations should also be considered. The feeling of participating in something bigger than one’s self is like a little spark of electricity, according to many who do not see themselves as ‘activists’. But then what has this to do with Navalny? I think another mistake of analysis of protests – last Saturday included – is to focus too much on the man. As I said in yesterday’s post – it’s more useful to think of him as channelling currents and forces that exist independent of his particular political profile, campaign even. As Bikbov wrote of the 2011-12 protests – we shouldn’t discount the importance of ‘individual self-construction’ (bourgeois self-building) as a motivation. And this is not about ‘dignity’ in a social solidarity sense (as it may be in other contexts), but about the individual. In those [senses] it does have a classed element, but not a class-consciousness one.

To avoid this turning into a mega post again, I will just summarise some observations based on talking to a genuinely wide range of Russians.

Continue reading

Quote

An Unfinished Epoch of Revolution: 10 YEARS AFTER THE “ARAB” REVOLUTIONS — Joseph Daher | Spectre

Featured

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Source: An Unfinished Epoch of Revolution – Spectre Journal

An Unfinished Epoch of Revolution

10 YEARS AFTER THE “ARAB” REVOLUTIONS

JOSEPH DAHER

January 26, 2021

Revolutions are the locomotives of history.

–Karl Marx, Class Struggles in France 1848–1850

 

Revolutions have been the most significant form of political and social conflict in the 20th century, perhaps in human history, with the possible exception of international wars. The outbreak of the revolutionary process in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region over the last decade is part of these major and groundbreaking events in human history. There is no doubt that the first wave of revolts in 2011 marked the opening of an unfinished epoch of revolution and counter-revolution.

 

A LONG-TERM REVOLUTIONARY PROCESS

A revolution is generally understood as a mass popular movement that aims for radical change even if it fails to achieve it. In the case of the MENA uprisings in 2011, they have not won radical material changes in the economic structures of the region, but have toppled family cliques from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Algeria, and Sudan, among others.

In other words, we witnessed forms of limited political revolution rather than social revolution, which would have brought about more fundamental changes in the neoliberal regime of accumulation within capitalism, if not the mode production itself. It is important to grasp the limits of political victories, because the problems in the region are not just political but are social products of its particular form of capitalism.

Nonetheless, we witnessed the mobilization of large numbers of people demanding the overthrow of despotic regimes in country after country. This is one of the main aspects of a revolution. As Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky wrote:

The most indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct interference of the masses in historical events. In ordinary times the states, be it monarchical or democratic, elevates itself above the nation, and history is made by specialists in that line of business – kings minister, bureaucrats, parliamentarians, journalists. But at those crucial moments when the old order becomes no longer endurable to the masses, they break over the barriers excluding them from the political arena, sweep aside their traditional representatives, and create by their own interference the initial groundwork for a new regime.

Some of the popular uprisings achieved a situation close to dual power. They organized an emergent alternative state to challenge the existing regime. One important example of this was in Syria during the early stages of the uprising when activists established coordination committees and local councils in liberated areas.

These formed a potential alternative to the Assad regime and Syrian capitalism. But they never fully developed. There were problems with them, especially the underrepresentation of women as well as ethnic and religious minorities. Nevertheless, these local organs of self-rule formed at least for a while a political alternative that could appeal to large sections of the population.

Despite the defeat of the first wave of uprisings in 2011, most horrifically in Syria, the revolutionary process has not come to an end. As the subsequent decade of ongoing revolt has underscored, the region is in the midst of a long term revolutionary process.

Continue reading

Quote

Gamestop–And the Game That Never Stops — Dr. Jack Rasmus | Jack Rasmus: Predicting the Global Economic Crisis

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Source: Gamestop–And the Game That Never Stops | Jack Rasmus

By jackrasmus, January 29, 2021

Dr. Jack Rasmus
Copyright 2021

This past week a video game company in trouble, Gamestop, became the center of media attention. Day traders had driven up the company’s stock price by thousands of percent in just one day. The mainstream media narrative was the ‘small guy’ investor challenged the big boys of finance who had bet Gamestop stock price would contract, not rise sharply. The little investor, so the story goes, initially won big but Gamestop’s stock price escalation was stopped in its tracks by coordinated forces of Wall St., as trading was abruptly halted later in the day in the midst of the run-up. But that narrative, that media spin, has it wrong. The real meaning of what has happened is quite different.

The Facts

Earlier in the week stock day traders gathered on the platform called Reddit in what’s called a ‘crowdsourcing’ event. They communicated among themselves and as a group began betting up the stock price of Gamestop. Similar moves were made against the movie theater chain, AMC, also in big financial trouble, with little revenue coming in but loaded up with mountains of junk debt. A couple other companies in similar condition were targeted by the crowdsourcing day traders as well. Stock prices of these companies—all losers or about to be losers—were in a matter of hours driven to record heights in some cases—as if these companies were raking in profits like a Tesla or Google. But there were no fundamental reasons for the price acceleration; in fact just the opposite. Betting so, hedge funds and other financial market speculators were short selling their stock, betting their price would fall; and by ‘short selling’ they were actually manipulating the stock to force a price decline.

Short selling has a time limit on the bet. If the stock price doesn’t fall by a certain time, then all the money ‘bet’ by the short selling hedge fund is lost. As Gamestop’s price kept rising, some of them found themselves short of ‘liquidity’ (money) to cover their short sale bets. They had to sell other assets to pay for them. Or they have had to borrow money from other speculators and lenders (and pay interest) to cover their failed bets.

This had never happened before! That’s not how the system is supposed to run, the hedgies cried! The day traders weren’t playing by the rules of the game, they shouted! But of course they were. It was the hedge funds very own rules. It was all quite capitalist legal.

It was kind of like a poker hand at a Casino. If you bet your opponent isn’t holding a winning hand, you can raise the stakes and hope he drops out. You win the pot. But if some other player puts money on the table and raises you back, i.e. in this case raising the price of the stock like the day traders did with Gamestop, then they in effect call the hedge funds bluff; the hedge funds lose! The hedgies didn’t like that, of course. They are used to short selling without interference and then taking home the entire pot. But this time they didn’t. The day traders were winning the bet—at least the first hand played for the hedge funds got the Casino manager to change the house rules at the last minute to minimize their losses by halting further trading.

So the hedge funds, the big finance capitalist price speculators—as opposed to the crowdsourcing small day trader speculators—immediately changed the rules of the game, i.e. their rules, in order to teach the upstarts a lesson.

Continue reading