Dear Emily Post-Avant,

Thanks for the update about the Commune.

Their new magazine looks like other left-liberal publications (albeit with bombs and riots and Occupy Oakland nostalgia), but I’m also wondering if perhaps Joshua Clover or others will use Commune Magazine’s pages to respond to the review of Clover’s recent book by Kim Moody, which appeared originally in Solidarity’s magazine Against the Currentand was republished by Jacobin under the title “Organize. Strike. Organize.” 

Marxist historian Kim Moody notes that Clover’s book Riot. Strike. Riot. has a truncated concept of capitalism at its very heart, where both services and the public sector are excluded. Moody also points out that even his ideas of production are simplistic in our logistics grid-era of global capitalism. Much of what Moody does is build off an earlier critical review by Alberto Toscano. In that case Clover did muster a back-footed defense. But this time perhaps Clover’s Icarus got a little too close to the Kim Moody sun.

Following Toscano, Moody questions Clover’s “splicing of Robert Brenner, Giovanni Arrighi, and value-theoretical accounts of crisis to provide the logical and historical armature of the overall account.” Robert Brenner and Giovanni Arrighi have starkly opposed accounts of the origins and expansion of capitalist social relations and productive forces. They are hardly the pair in which to root a centuries-long argument about strikes and riots and the retreat of the strike.

This groupuscule has never had much spirit for self-criticism and so I doubt any of them will respond to Moody. Perhaps they’d prefer no one knew of this gentle yet devastating review of their scene’s philosophy of history.

But what do you think? Will anyone mount a defense of their scene’s fundamental text?


–a worker-writer


Dear A Worker-Writer,

What a lovely epistle to receive on this cold and snowy day near the foothills of the Selkirks. Today happens to be my husband’s 60th birthday. I am sixteen years older than he is, which is unusual, of course. Though, to be candid, I’ve been wearing the pants for many years, now. He’s downstairs, in his bathrobe, yelling at Don Lemon, finishing off the bottle of Laphroaig I gave him this morning. But forgive me, this has nothing to do with the topic of your letter.

Pretending your critics don’t exist is standard M.O. for poets with a little bit of cult-cap turf. Call it the Power Silence Tack. Poets who regularly practice it are for the most part covert bullies and insecure chickens. Ho hum.

But revolutionary socialists never hide from debate and polemic; in fact, for 154 years they have pursued polemic, relished it, and known its dialectical dynamic to be the very lifeblood of refining praxis forward. This is a fundamental principle of revolutionary vocation. If someone engages you with honest, thoughtful critique, you respond. That is your duty as a revolutionary. To not do so reveals nothing less than intellectual cowardice. And if one is a sincere and committed socialist, one cannot be an intellectual coward. That is self-evident.

So in the case of the Commune group’s refusal to respond to comrade Moody’s withering critique (comrade Clover’s refusal in particular), one can only come to a two-fold conclusion: In their sectarian and timid silence, the petty-bourgeois, collegiate intellectuals in the Commune Group are not principally communists, they are principally poets. Sixth-gen Tel Quel progeny enamored with theory, strutting the rad bravado immemorially typical of the café intelligentsia set–updated, now, with Master Card, Facebook, Kickstarter, and an apparel line.

So to your very fine, chastening letter I would add one suggestion for the Commune gang: That before the peeps attempt to deal with Moody’s over-the-knee-paddling, they carefully read the second half of Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder. It’s a bit older than Moody’s critique, but it will provide them with some further historical understanding.

You know, my son works with Unite Here! in Denver. I could have him send the Commune folks some literature, if you have their postal info. They’re looking for organizers.

Long live the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria,

–Emily Post-Avant