Re: review of John Holloway

From: John Holloway (johnholloway@PRODIGY.NET.MX)
Date: Thu May 29 2003 - 08:12:19 EDT

Sorry. I thought I was writing off-list to Rakesh. John
>From: John Holloway <johnholloway@PRODIGY.NET.MX>
>Subject: Re: review of John Holloway
>Date: Wed, May 28, 2003, 11:05 PM

>    Very many thanks for this - I would never have come across it otherwise.
>    By the way, do you have an e-mail address for Jacques Depelchin> it
>would be very interesting to get an African perspective.
>    All the best,
>    John
>>From: Rakesh Bhandari <rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU>
>>Subject: review of John Holloway
>>Date: Fri, May 16, 2003, 7:01 AM
>>Book Review
>>John Holloway Change the World Without Taking Power: The Meaning of
>>Revolution Today (London, Pluto Press  2002)
>>"Political power grows from the barrel of a gun." (Mao Tse Tung)
>>As we know from history Mao gained power in China after a long civil
>>war, including the Long March. At the beginning of 2001 the Mexican
>>Zapatistas marched from Chiapas to the capital Mexico City. They did not
>>come to power but spoke in the Mexican parliament and on the Zocalo, the
>>main square of the Mexican capital.
>>John Holloway is one of the theoretical backers of the Zapatista
>>insurgency. In his new book Change the World Without Taking Power - The
>>Meaning of Revolution Today, he draws a picture of a new form of revolution.
>>While in Mao's understanding power was located in the military forces of
>>the capitalist state which had to be defeated by revolutionary firepower
>>and guerrilla warfare, the Zapatistas, though armed, renounce provoking
>>a military confrontation with the Mexican army. Instead, they are
>>promoting the concept of ordinary-therefore-rebellious, a concept that
>>rejects a view of revolution led by an avant-garde of professional
>>revolutionaries and the view that revolution is made by taking power.
>>Their strategy is the strategy of low intensity revolution, a revolution
>>that changes society from the inside without taking the power but by
>>destroying the power.
>>Holloway supports the Zapatista style of uprising by backing this new
>>understanding of struggle theoretically. His argument is different from
>>the classical anti-imperialist and revolutionary view of struggle,
>>preferring "a refusal to accept" (p. 6), a refusal of the daily
>>experience of exploitation and injustice, whether experienced as direct
>>injustice - being sacked by a boss - or cognitively perceived - by
>>knowing about millions of children that have to live in streets, or the
>>fact that the world's income is unjust distributed. This feeling of
>>being trapped in an unjust world like "flies caught in the spider's web"
>>(p. 5) is the energy that fuels resistance. Holloway's "scream" is a
>>primarily emotional rejection of the capitalist system, because it is in
>>capitalism that injustice has to be located. The scream proves that 'we
>>are' and above 'what we are not yet' (p. 7). So the identity of people
>>who are screaming is first of all a negative identity. It is the
>>identity of negating the present capitalist state of world society. Its
>>negativity forbids thinking in terms of classic forms of identity such
>>as working class, women or race.
>>Holloway states that old forms of revolutionary theory have been
>>outdated as they have not brought the success expected and for this
>>reason places his theory beyond the state and beyond power. He asserts
>>that former leftist theory whether it was Rosa Luxemburg, Vladimir Ilich
>>Lenin or Eduard Bernstein always had as its focus for social upheaval
>>the taking of state power. Whether it was by elections (Bernstein) or by
>>revolution (Luxemburg/Lenin), the object of desire was the state. Since
>>the state is embedded in a network of power relations, the world cannot
>>be changed by taking state power. The state itself is only a node in the
>>net, but not equivalent with society.  Holloway maintains that all
>>"major revolutionary leaders of the twentieth century: Rosa Luxemburg,
>>Trotzky, Gramsci, Mao, Che" (p. 18) shared this logic. Further on he
>>asserts that history has shown that this concept has not been successful

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