- Calvin: The problem with rock and roll is that the generation that created it is now the establishment. Rock pretends it's still rebellious with its video posturing, but who believes it? The stars are all either 45-year-old zillionaires or they endorse soft drinks! The 'revolution' is a capitalist industry! Give me a break! Fortunately, I've found some protest music for today's youth. This stuff really offends Mom and Dad!
- Hobbes: Easy-listening Muzak?
- Calvin: I play it real quiet, too.
Just met spivak. We had lunch. I have stories.
C. Wright Mills. Mills was invited to speak in the Soviet Union as an honored guest, due to his criticisms of economies in the West. He was asked to make a toast at a banquet, and in his contrarian way, toasted Trotsky, whose works had been banned in the Soviet Union by Stalin.
i was just told about this incident last night at the bar (drunken conversations about trotsky and stalin and c wright mills’ motorcycle….)
Clara Zetkin, as quoted in Angela Davis’ “Revolution and Womankind: On Clara Zetkin’s Selected Writings” (from Davis’ book: Women, Culture and Politics)
Davis go on to discuss the questionable politics of the vote (because we’ve all read our Emma Goldman) explaining its significance for working class struggle: “What the bourgeois women perceived as ultimate goals, the proletarian women should have interpreted [according to Zetkin] as weapons in the battle to participate in the class struggle on an equal basis with men… Zetkin asserted that middle-class women perceived woman suffrage as a natural right to participate in the political processes of an equally natural and immutable bourgeois society. For working-class women, the ballot was, on the contrary, a social right, a demand that had arisen as a clear consequence of the emergence of the capitalist economic system… ‘They are particularly eager for it in order to aid in the struggle against the capitalist class.’”
I wonder if Zetkin would have felt the same way if she could have anticipated the meaning of universal suffrage today - which in the West has never achieved the political usefulness Zetkin hopes for here in this quote, but instead has been rendered one of capitalism’s finest tools of obscurantism, derailing real political change.
thanks for the kind words! it means a lot coming from a blogger i admire quite a bit. (initially i read your first words as sarcasm! as i read on i was relieved that you weren’t in fact being a jerk.)
i’m not very enthusiastic about butler myself, given my general wariness of postmodernism’s depoliticizing and narcissistic conclusions, its inevitable complicity in all the fucked up relations of domination and exploitation happening today - but butler’s started to use her position of power to speak out concretely against israeli apartheid and that is something i can appreciate. and as for rosa - she’s a real hero of mine.
i am living in a smallish town outside of toronto, canada (tho am moving to england in sept. for grad school). we don’t have much here in the way of your typical working class/marxist organizations, but i have a subscription to the workers vanguard and have developed sympathy for the sparts (tho to be honest, my understanding of marxist sectarianism is limited and i’m hesitant to say much before i have the chance to learn more. i also have a tempered wariness towards some of the dogmatism i’ve witnessed amongst classical marxists) …. other than that i am involved with my town’s local palestinian solidarity group, which is headed up by my housemate who is from ramallah, but that’s all for these days.
take care comrade,
Judith Butler, “Who Owns Kafka?” in London Review of Books, 3 March 2011
sorry, here’s another quote on this topic… now that i am re-reading the article a lot of interesting things are springing up. the issue of who owns kafka is indeed super interesting in our contemporary times, raising questions not just about israeli’s occupation of palestine (as is addressed in this quote and of great importance), but also of ownership, copyright and capitalism; of language and identity (that kafka’s ‘perfect german’ is considered a factor is pretty fascinating); and of belonging (given the themes of kafka’s own work). um: yous should read this article, because it’s interesting.
thanks for the question. i would encourage you to read butler’s piece in full (linked in the post) to get ‘the point’ of what she is saying. perhaps a good quote that gets to the heart of the question of kafka’s jewishness is (pardon the length):
If Kafka is claimed as a primarily Jewish writer, he comes to belong primarily to the Jewish people, and his writing to the cultural assets of the Jewish people. This claim, already controversial (since it effaces other modes of belonging or, rather, non-belonging), becomes all the more so when we realise that the legal case rests on the presumption that it is the state of Israel that represents the Jewish people. This may seem a merely descriptive claim, but it carries with it extraordinary, and contradictory, consequences. First, the claim overcomes the distinction between Jews who are Zionist and Jews who are not, for example Jews in the diaspora for whom the homeland is not a place of inevitable return or a final destination. Second, the claim that it is Israel that represents the Jewish people has domestic consequences as well. Indeed, Israel’s problem of how best to achieve and maintain a demographic majority over its non-Jewish population, now estimated to constitute more than 20 per cent of the population within its existing borders, is predicated on the fact that Israel is not a restrictively Jewish state and that, if it is to represent its population fairly or equally, it must represent both Jewish and non-Jewish citizens. The assertion that Israel represents the Jewish people thus denies the vast number of Jews outside Israel who are not represented by it, either legally or politically, but also the Palestinian and other non-Jewish citizens of that state. The position of the National Library relies on a conception of the nation of Israel that casts the Jewish population outside its territory as living in the Galut, in a state of exile and despondency that should be reversed, and can be reversed only through a return to Israel. The implicit understanding is that all Jews and Jewish cultural assets – whatever that might mean – outside Israel eventually and properly belong to Israel, since Israel represents not only all Jews but all significant Jewish cultural production.
so, the point with the earlier quote? that, to put it simply, the israeli state’s claim to ownership over kafka has not only the aforementioned dangerous consequences, but it also seems to oversimplify kafka’s own self-identification and personal relation to jewish identity.