[Marxism] N+1, Bruce Robbins, and Vivek Chibber | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Dec 11 07:00:50 MST 2013

I’ve lost track of how many articles pointing attention to the renewed 
interest in Marxism is out there, but I am sure that it is at least a 
half-dozen. I am also sure that Jacobin and its ambitious young editor 
figure Bhaskar Sunkara get prominent attention in all of them. I don’t 
think that the Jacobin needs any more publicity than it has already 
received, including from the newspaper of record. My interest here is to 
introduce you to a magazine that at least in one instance is coupled 
with Jacobin. I speak of N+1:

	Some of the coverage of the Marxist resurgence has focused on the 
boomlet in Marxist-leaning journals, mostly based in New York, like n+1, 
The New Inquiry, and Jacobin (full disclosure: a number of my friends 
and I have written for those journals). But missing is how secondary 
those journals really are. Small in circulation, it is their social 
penumbra that earns them influence—particularly the interaction of their 
editors, contributors, and readers both online and in the flesh. It is 
as much the vigorous debates these journals inspire as their content 
that brings a vitality to Marxist discourse.

That’s from a Chronicle of Higher Education article titled “Marx for 
Millennials” by Andrew Seal, a Ph.D. student at Yale. I guess that’s the 
sort of person who would refer to a “penumbra”, a word that I have run 
into in the past but never bothered to look up. If you had given me a 
multiple-choice test that gave “female sexual organ” as a possible 
answer, there’s a good shot that I would chosen it. I should also 
mention that I have not been acquainted with The New Inquiry but that 
should not prejudice you one way or the other. It is N+1 that I am here 
to praise. (Coincidentally I have about as much of a clue about what 
“N+1” stands for as I do about “penumbra”.)

I am not sure when I took out a sub to N+1 but it has been at least a 
year ago. I made a personal connection with the magazine after one of 
its co-editors, a 43-year-old Russian-born novelist named Keith Gessen, 
invited me to a film showing about the Russian new left that included 
remarks by Kirill Medvedev, a Russian poet and political commentator who 
has translated Charles Bukowski. For me that combination puts Medvedev 
in a class by himself and Gessen right next to him for introducing him 
to American audiences.

But the item that finally motivated me to write this fan letter is from 
the most recent issue dated Winter 2014. (The magazine is a 
triannual—three times a year, not every three years!) Written by 
Columbia University professor Bruce Robbins, “On Subaltern Studies” is 
the definitive riposte to Vivek Chibber’s new book “Postcolonial Theory 
and the Specter of Capital”. I wouldn’t read too much into this, but 
Jacobin gave a fawning interview to Chibber a while back.

full: http://louisproyect.org/2013/12/11/n1-bruce-robbins-and-vivek-chibber/

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