About

Kersplebedeb is an internet-based mailorder company, and a publisher of radical books & pamphlets, and manufacturer of radical agit prop matarials. Its also a pretty sprawling site, with pages on key political fronts ranging from Palestine to Transgender Liberation, from Iraq to political prisoners’ struggles in the United States.

(As you have certainly noticed, the Kersplebedeb website is being overhauled, migrated to wordpress, and hopefully made a lot more spiffy and user-friendly. Bear with us, hopefully it will all be worth while. In the meantime, if you prefer, you can access the old home page here.)

At one point it was easy for me to explain what i thought about things – i just pointed to the stuff i sold from my Literature Rack. However, now that the literature section of my site has ballooned to over 100 titles – many of which published by other people, many of which i have only skimmed – this is no longer true.

So to answer the question as to where i am coming from, i thought it might be useful for me to jot down a few thoughts on some of the key questions that i see confronting us all. Most movement play-by-plays of what the world is like and how we got here ring false with me, but i have been lucky enough to find many authors and comrades whose works and ideas have opened my eyes to a number of things, and have helped make the world a slightly less bewildering place.

The following are some scraped together observations which may help explain how i see the world, and what’s going on with the politics on this site, along with some suggested further reading on each point. This is a work in progress, so if you have any comments on what you see here – books or articles to recommend, points you think i’m overlooking, disagreements with what i’m putting forth, etc. – please email me at info@kersplebedeb.com and let me know!

Capitalism is the rule of those who control – either directly or indirectly – the means of production. Capitalism is a series of relationships, and a way of organizing society so that the more wealthy one is, the more political power one has. Capitalism is based on inequality, alienation and theft and does not provide the majority of world’s population with the basic necessities of life. It is not an organic creature, and for that reason it cannot be “killed” by reducing the profitability of this or that activity, by bankrupting this or that corporation, by smashing the infrastructure or otherwise destroying wealth. Indeed these calamities for individual capitalists merely create new opportunities for other capitalists and insure the continuing “health” of capitalism as a system.
The capitalists’ wealth not only comes from paying workers less than their labour is worth, but also from a form of social organization whereby a hell of a lot of work – especially work done by women and children, and that which has been carried out by past generations – is deemed invisible. Murder and robbery – misnamed “primitive accumulation” in Marxist theory – is an ongoing method by which capitalism resolves crises, creates new markets, and increases the amount of wealth to go around. This started with the European witch hunt, continued with the colonization of most of the planet, and persists in a variety of forms today.
Just because capitalism can survive almost any challenge does not mean that people will – so far capitalism has “resolved” various contradictions through war, ethnic cleansing, slavery, destroying ecosystems and driving entire species into extinction.

Further reading:

The Military Strategy of Women and Children , by Butch Lee
Night-Vision, illuminating War and Class on the Neo-Colonial Terrain, by Butch Lee and Red Rover
Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale , by Maria Mies
Reading Capital Politically, by Harry Cleaver
Settlers, Mythology of the White Proletariat , by J. Sakai
Some Preliminary Thoughts Regarding Modern Class Structure, by L.B.
New World, Hard Choices: Global Empire and the New Opposition , by Bromma
Three Into One: The Triple Oppression of Racism, Sexism and Class, by Klaus Viehmann
Looking at the White Working Class Historically,by David Gilbert

 

Patriarchy and the “women’s question” are central to the world economy, to political struggle, to which way the cookie will crumble (and who will be allowed to eat the crumbs). A combination of different factors (male dominance on the left, internalized sexism, and just plain theoretical backwardsness) makes patriarchy seem invisible to many of us. But like “dark matter” that gets astrophysicists all hot and bothered, patriarchy can be shown in theory to account for most of what is out there (while it can be equally difficult to actually locate it or prove its existence in specific cases).
While acting like any recognition of women’s importance is either a matter of generosity or chivalrous good humour, institution after institution, economy after economy, state after state, would be swept away without women’s support, or at least acquiescence. One should not confuse the left’s inability to easily mobilize women’s opposition or support with women’s “unimportance” or “apolitical nature” – rather, it is clearly a sign of the left’s continuing weakness.

Further reading:

The Military Strategy of Women and Children , by Butch Lee
Jailbreak out of History
 , by Butch Lee
Night-Vision, illuminating War and Class on the Neo-Colonial Terrain, by Butch Lee and Red Rover
The Coming of Black Genocide , by Bottomfish Blues
Homegrown Hate: Gender and Organized Racism,by Abby Ferber (a lot of crap in this book, but a lot of good stuff too)
Right-Wing Women in Chile, Feminine Power and the Struggle Against Allende 1964-1973, by Margaret Power
Qaddafi’s Female Bodyguards: Shadows of a Leader , documentary film by Rania Ajami
Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale , by Maria Mies
Reclaiming Zimbabwe: the Exhaustion of the Patriarchal Model of Liberation, by Horace Campbell
Women Need a World View, by Butch Lee
Three Into One: The Triple Oppression of Racism, Sexism and Class, by Klaus Viehmann
“Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Arab Women, Liberal Feminism and the Israeli State” , Lisa Hajjar (MERIP)

 

Colonialism and the Anti-Colonial Revolutions fought the key battles of the twentieth century in terms of human slavery and liberation. Colonialism was the defining way in which capitalism came to most of the world, and anti-colonialism was the necessary negation of this. The anti-colonial struggle was the most important struggle of the twentieth century in terms of numbers mobilized, the stakes being fought for, and the reverberations into the future. Rather than being a sideshow and one in a laundry list of developments, the anti-colonial revolution was the event, and the fact that it happened throughout the “periphery” merely indicates that this is where human history was being made.
At the same time, just as colonialism as a process was not limited to Africa, Asia and South/Central America, anti-colonial struggles too took place on the streets of New York City and Paris, from Pine Ridge to Belfast.
The Anti-Colonial Revolutions defeated colonialism, but were in turn defeated by neo-colonialism. In many situations, neo-colonialism played a role in defeating colonialism too. The war continues. Neo-colonialism is not some compromise between the colonialists and the anti-colonial insurgents, nor is it colonialism with black or brown faces in high places: it is a new class alliance that replaces colonial relations. Neo-colonialism is not necessarily any nicer, kinder, gentler or fairer than colonialism was.

Further Reading:

Settlers, Mythology of the White Proletariat , by J. Sakai
When Race Burns Class , by J. Sakai and Kuwasi Balagoon
500 Years of Indigenous Resistance
The Wretched of the Earth , by Frantz Fanon
Night-Vision, illuminating War and Class on the Neo-Colonial Terrain, by Butch Lee and Red Rover
Kuwasi Balagoon, A Soldier’s Story: writings by a revolutionary New Afrikan anarchist, by Kuwasi Balagoon
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa , by Walter Rodney
Reclaiming Zimbabwe: the Exhaustion of the Patriarchal Model of Liberation, by Horace Campbell
Class, Colonialism and the Zapatistas, by Bromma
New World, Hard Choices: Global Empire and the New Opposition , by Bromma
Three Into One: The Triple Oppression of Racism, Sexism and Class, by Klaus Viehmann
Looking at the White Working Class Historically,by David Gilbert

 

Fascists and the far-right throughout the metropolis (aka “First World”) were tied to the colonial project. While some might object that they were defined by anti-communist opposition to the Russian Revolution, this anti-communism increasingly became “lived” as support for settler regimes which were seen as bulwarks against allegedly communist indigenous peoples. Further morphed through Nazi racist ideology, fascists increasingly identified anti-communism with the “White Race”.
Fascism proposed one set of solutions (extermination, slavery and segregation) to the contradictions of colonialism that were increasingly at odds with the needs of the metropolitan ruling class. Especially following World War II, when inter-European strife forced colonial powers to mobilize significant numbers of native subjects and stimulate industrial growth in many former “backwaters”, the solutions of the far right were unfeasible for most capitalists. The defeat of colonialism represented a crisis for the far right. While the old far-right represented one set of solutions to the contradictions of colonialism, the new far right represents divergent solutions to the contradictions of neo-colonialism.
Whereas the colonial/anti-colonial contradiction set the stage for the most significant developments on the far-right in the twentieth century, similar authoritarian, irrational, right-wing movements spring forth when other traditional bases of power and privilege are challenged. Clearly there was a tie between the changes in women’s position in Afghan society and the rise of the Taliban, and as capitalist imperialism tries to use gender to win support (or at least dampen opposition) throughout the world, fascistic ultrapatriarchal nationalisms spring up to oppose it.

Further reading:

Confronting Fascism: discussion documents for a militant movement
My Enemy’s Enemy: essays on globalization, fascism and the struggle against capitalism
The Coming of Black Genocide , by Bottomfish Blues
Reclaiming Zimbabwe: the Exhaustion of the Patriarchal Model of Liberation, by Horace Campbell
The Struggle for Algeria, by Joseph Kraft (just the chapter on the Settlers – the rest is well-written pablum)
Zohre & Manouchehr, a documentary film about sexuality in contemporary Iran by Mitra Farahani
New World, Hard Choices: Global Empire and the New Opposition, by Bromma
Three Into One: The Triple Oppression of Racism, Sexism and Class, by Klaus Viehmann
The Terrorism that Terrorism has Wrought, by David Gilbert

 

Morality and Politics comprise two dimensions of the struggle for liberation. Political struggles may have better defined borders, and what is being fought over is often of greater direct consequence. Whether or not a war is waged, a regime is overturned or a government policy implemented effects large numbers of lives and can change the course of history. Moral struggles often have no obvious effect on history or large numbers of lives. At first glance moral struggles may seem insignificant; individual, atomized, personal feelings or actions are difficult to translate into collective social movements.
Yet while different regimes and social conditions can make freedom and dignity that much easier or more difficult to attain, both are impossible without a moral dimension. The greatest political victory still depends on individuals “doing the right thing” to truly harvest the results. Moral struggle, unlike political struggle, has no borders. It exists throughout space and time. It is often the terrain where the “powerless” retain their power, dignity and ability to experience freedom, and as such represents a psychological rear base area in every struggle.
Because morality and political struggle are two dimensions of the same thing, championing one to the exclusion of the other has the practical effect of negating both, for neither dimension can exist without the other. Like that 70s women’s movement slogan says:“The Personal is Political” !

Further reading:

Jailbreak out of History, the rebiography of Harriet Tubman , by Butch Lee
Kindred, by Octavia Butler
Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler
Parable of the Talents, by Octavia Butler
Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy
Hotel Terminus: the Life and Times of Klaus Barbie, a documentary film by Marcel Ophuls

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