[Marxism] Madina Tlostanova: We are witnessing an alarming revival of old-fashioned geopolitics | LeftEast

Andrew Pollack acpollack2 at gmail.com
Wed Apr 23 10:27:57 MDT 2014

The section Louis excerpted may be the best, but the whole thing is worth
reading. At the start there's a disquisition on spatial versus temporal
analyses which I'm not qualified to judge (is it a methodological
breakthrough? philosophy? poetry? ), but then she has some new useful info
on Crimea and especially the Tatars, and then some cogent points about the
respective group-think of Russians and Americans toward each other (i.e. a
critique of tankie-style thinking but in a broader social context).
See also her links toward the end.
Love LeftEast!

On Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 10:36 AM, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:

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> JS: One thing that has been overshadowed by the current tensions in Crimea
> is the emergence and growth of a “new left” in the former state socialist
> region. What are your thoughts and ideas about the various examples of new
> left activism across the region – from Bulgaria and Romania to Bosnia and
> Croatia? Do you see this as a phenomenon in Russia?
> MT: The growth of the new left in the former socialist region is indeed an
> interesting and important phenomenon which I think can be a topic of a
> separate conversation. I am not really the right person to talk about this
> as I am more familiar with its contemporary activist art manifestations and
> gender and feminist movements. In Eastern and South Eastern Europe this
> sensibility and an interest in neo-Marxist, anarchist and various
> transversal discourses is linked among other things with the
> disillusionment with neoliberalism and the disappointment in the West. The
> so called new Europeans are systematically shown their place and fortress
> Europe prevents them from becoming the real Europeans with no prefixes
> while the pullback from any welfare state policies in the direction of the
> rampant neoliberal agendas in their own countries does not really leave the
> Eastern Europeans many options to chose from. However the kind of leftist
> discourses and practices we find in their case is often a far cry from the
> classical left because it incorporates other theories and experiences, it
> is much more nuanced, we find in these positions the postcolonial theory
> overtones, the eco-feminist, eco-anarchist and transgender discourses. In
> other words they overcome the previous problematic narrow spaces of
> Marxism, such as its blindness to race and gender.  This reformed new left
> in the post-socialist world is usually very critical to the experiences of
> real socialism (there is no nostalgia for that in their case) but at the
> same time is free from the ignorant and unreasoning fascination with the
> West that many Soviet dissidents expressed before precisely because they
> knew very little of the West.
> It is crucial to divide these tendencies from the nostalgic Soviet
> ideologues (we still have some of those in Russia) and the remaining old
> fashioned post-Soviet pro-Western conservatives for whom any association
> with Marxism or socialism is a taboo. It is really funny how the official
> legitimized academic ideologies in Russia do not coincide with the rest of
> the world in this respect. Recently I talked with one Russian “luminary”
> indologist who was puzzled to learn about the existence of some suspicious
> postcolonial studies and when forced by the European colleagues to write an
> article about it, found out from some secondary source that Edward Said was
> a Marxist. This was enough for the luminary to stigmatize Said as a bad
> scholar without even attempting to read or understand him. This is what you
> would associate with the old dissident positioning. It is outdated of
> course but these people are still often determining the academic climate in
> Russia. At the same time there is a parallel life of younger leftist
> scholars, activists and artists in this country who are grounded in the
> Western neo-Marxist tradition rather than Russian. They mostly publish in
> their own journals, internet resources, travel, study, and work abroad and
> lack the previous Soviet isolationist tendencies. A good example is Victor
> Misiano’s famous Moscow Art Magazine with its very specific circle of
> authors of a clearly leftist stance many of whom live abroad or are better
> known there as representative cases of contemporary Russian leftist art
> like e.g. the Chto Delat group. I have been teaching for twenty years in
> different Moscow Universities and I have a feeling that now the students
> are also more and more often turning in the direction of leftist discourses
> which is a relatively new phenomenon for Russia. Before it was usually the
> lumpen strata of the youth who would be pro-Marxist, whereas the students
> were pro-Western and consumer oriented. Today the critically thinking
> educated young people turn to the new left, to various alterglobalist
> discourses in quest for alternative models of the future.
> http://www.criticatac.ro/lefteast/alarming-revival-of-
> old-fashioned-geopolitics/
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