‘Tell me what books you read, and I’ll tell you who you are.’ That is the translation of a Dutch expression; I have no idea whether the same expression exist in the English language, but you get the idea. Reworked for the internet era, you get: tell me what websites you check regularly, what weblogs you like etcetera – and I’ll tell you who you are. So, let me tell you what websites I like and check regularly. Then you can draw your own conclusions. Being a blogger, I’ll start with weblogs I like. Maybe I’ll write another piece around other kinds of favourite websites.
Everyday, basically, I take a look on Lenin’s Tomb, a beautiful blog from Britain made by ‘Lenin’ and a few others. ‘Lenin’ is the name that Richard Seymour uses on this blog; he is part of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) (UK), and not one of its worst parts either. He writes sharp articles on a broad range of subjects, but what he writes often has to do with the so-called War on Terror, its dynamics, ideological expression and justifications such as Islamophobia, its victims, and the resistance to the wars and the warmakers. A beautiful example is his recent article on Somalia and how Western imperialism helped destroy the country under the fig leaf of ‘humanitarian intervention’.
A different kind of Marxist is Lous Proyect, from the USA whose weblog is called ‘Unrepentant Marxist’. Proyect has been member of the Socialist Workers Party (USA, not to be confused wit the SWP in Britain). That used to be a Trotskyist organisation, but it degenerated into an sectarian group that mainly worshipped the Cuban revolution, the regime that came from that revolution, and similar regimes and movements. The group also developed rather nasty habits towards its membership and an authoritarian leadership style. So Proyect left. He is now active as an independent Marxist,and this weblog bears the both marks of his independence, as well as the scars of his past.
He writes on very different subjects. Often it’s about Marxist economic theory, and how to use it to explain recent events. Sometimes he comments on developments in or around Marxist groups, splits and conflicts in and around them. He often stresses how dangerous it can ben when small groups try to base themselves simplistically on Bolshevik experience during and after the Russian Revolution. No, he says, what these groups do is copying a caricature of Bolshevism, for which Zinoviev, leader of the Communist International in the early Twenties, bears a lot of responsibility. ‘Zinovievist’, he calls this phenomenon, and he does not like it at all. I think he overstates his case. However, having myself been active in a small Marxist group for almost twent years and having left under not very pleasant circumstances, I also think he has a point, and I recognise parts of my experience in his experience. That makes me feel quite at home as a reader of his blog.
Much weaker is Proyect in analysing recent revolutions. He evaluates the Venezuelan developments led by president Chavez – ‘the Bolivarian Revolution’- much more positively than I do. Criticisms that stress the need for a thourough revolution built from below, independently from the Chavez government and state, get dismissed as sectarian. Lous Proyect may have broken withthe organisational habits of the SWP (USA). But his rather positive attitude towards the Cuban and now the Venezuelan road to ‘socialism’ shows that that his departure did nog mean a total political break. People who criticize the Cuban regime as state capitalist, and not at all socialist, get short shrift from Proyect, and I disagree with him here. He seems to have a political love/hate relationship with ‘Lenin’, from Lenin’s Tomb. ‘Here, I am with ‘Lenin’ and not with Proyect. However, it is very useful to have these kind of arguements, and his style of writing is sharp, clear, very readable.
And then, there is Louis Proyect as a film critic. A large part of his weblog is filled with comments on recent movies. Now, I don’st follow the cinema that much, it’s just ot my thing. But Proyect’s articels on films are well worth checking, because he gives historical and political context from which one learns a lot. An example is his recent piece on a film about the Mongolian conqueror-emperor Gengiz Khan. He doesn’t just describe what the film is like; he gives a shoirt and beautiful introduction toe Medieval Mongol history and society, in whcih he effectivily debunks the ieda of Mongol society as just a matter of cruel conquest, and nothing more.
This post can grow much longer, for there are more beuatiful blogs that deserve attention. Some will get this attention – in a follow-up piece.