In political and social theory, accelerationism is the idea that capitalism, or particular processes that historically characterised capitalism, should be accelerated instead of overcome in order to generate radical social change. "Accelerationism" may also refer more broadly, and usually pejoratively, to support for the intensification of capitalism in the belief that this will hasten its self-destructive tendencies and ultimately lead to its collapse.
Some contemporary accelerationist philosophy starts with the Deleuzo–Guattarian theory of deterritorialisation, aiming to identify and radicalise the social forces that promote this emancipatory process.
Accelerationist theory has been divided into mutually contradictory left-wing and right-wing variants. "Left-accelerationism" attempts to press "the process of technological evolution" beyond the constrictive horizon of capitalism, for example by repurposing modern technology for socially beneficial and emancipatory ends; "right-accelerationism" supports the indefinite intensification of capitalism itself, possibly in order to bring about a technological singularity. Accelerationist writers have additionally distinguished other variants, such as "unconditional accelerationism".
- "Accelerationism" | 2019-09-26 | 97 Upvotes 129 Comments
The Baltic Way or Baltic Chain (also Chain of Freedom; Estonian: Balti kett; Latvian: Baltijas ceļš; Lithuanian: Baltijos kelias; Russian: Балтийский путь Baltiysky put) was a peaceful political demonstration that occurred on 23 August 1989. Approximately two million people joined their hands to form a human chain spanning 675.5 kilometres (419.7 mi) across the three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which were considered at the time to be constituent republics of the Soviet Union.
The demonstration originated in "Black Ribbon Day" protests held in the western cities in the 1980s. It marked the 50th anniversary of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The pact and its secret protocols divided Eastern Europe into spheres of influence and led to the occupation of the Baltic states in 1940. The event was organised by Baltic pro-independence movements: Rahvarinne of Estonia, the Tautas fronte of Latvia, and Sąjūdis of Lithuania. The protest was designed to draw global attention by demonstrating a popular desire for independence and showcasing solidarity among the three nations. It has been described as an effective publicity campaign, and an emotionally captivating and visually stunning scene. The event presented an opportunity for the Baltic activists to publicise the Soviet rule and position the question of Baltic independence not only as a political matter, but also as a moral issue. The Soviet authorities responded to the event with intense rhetoric, but failed to take any constructive actions that could bridge the widening gap between the Baltic republics and the rest of the Soviet Union. Within seven months of the protest, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare independence.
After the Revolutions of 1989, 23 August has become an official remembrance day both in the Baltic countries, in the European Union and in other countries, known as the Black Ribbon Day or as the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism.
- "Baltic Way" | 2019-08-29 | 66 Upvotes 4 Comments
The East German coffee crisis refers to shortages of coffee in the late 1970s in East Germany caused by a poor harvest and unstable commodity prices, severely limiting the government's ability to buy coffee on the world markets. As a consequence, the East German government increased its engagement in Africa and Asia, exporting weapons and equipment to coffee-producing nations.
- "East German coffee crisis" | 2018-10-08 | 91 Upvotes 16 Comments
The Katyn massacre (Polish: zbrodnia katyńska, "Katyń crime"; Russian: Катынская резня Katynskaya reznya, "Katyn massacre", or Russian: Катынский расстрел, "Katyn execution by shooting") was a series of mass executions of about 22,000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia carried out by the Soviet Union, specifically the NKVD ("People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs", the Soviet secret police) in April and May 1940. Though the killings also occurred in the Kalinin and Kharkiv prisons and elsewhere, the massacre is named after the Katyn Forest, where some of the mass graves were first discovered.
The massacre was initiated in NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria's proposal of 5 March 1940 to execute all captive members of the Polish officer corps, approved by the Soviet Politburo led by Joseph Stalin. Of the total killed, about 8,000 were officers imprisoned during the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland, another 6,000 were police officers, and the remaining 8,000 were Polish intelligentsia the Soviets deemed to be "intelligence agents, gendarmes, landowners, saboteurs, factory owners, lawyers, officials, and priests". The Polish Army officer class was representative of the multi-ethnic Polish state; the murdered included ethnic Poles, Polish Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Polish Jews including the Chief Rabbi of the Polish Army, Baruch Steinberg.
The government of Nazi Germany announced the discovery of mass graves in the Katyn Forest in April 1943. Stalin severed diplomatic relations with the London-based Polish government-in-exile when it asked for an investigation by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The USSR claimed the Nazis had killed the victims, and it continued to deny responsibility for the massacres until 1990, when it officially acknowledged and condemned the killings by the NKVD, as well as the subsequent cover-up by the Soviet government.
An investigation conducted by the office of the Prosecutors General of the Soviet Union (1990–1991) and the Russian Federation (1991–2004) confirmed Soviet responsibility for the massacres, but refused to classify this action as a war crime or as an act of mass murder. The investigation was closed on the grounds the perpetrators were dead, and since the Russian government would not classify the dead as victims of the Great Purge, formal posthumous rehabilitation was deemed inapplicable.
In November 2010, the Russian State Duma approved a declaration blaming Stalin and other Soviet officials for ordering the massacre.
Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Novel, often published as 1984, is a dystopian novel by English novelist George Orwell. It was published in June 1949 by Secker & Warburg as Orwell's ninth and final book completed in his lifetime. The story was mostly written at Barnhill, a farmhouse on the Scottish island of Jura, at times while Orwell suffered from severe tuberculosis. Thematically, Nineteen Eighty-Four centres on the consequences of government over-reach, totalitarianism, mass surveillance, and repressive regimentation of all persons and behaviours within society.
The story takes place in an imagined future, the year 1984, when much of the world has fallen victim to perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, historical negationism, and propaganda. Great Britain, known as Airstrip One, has become a province of a superstate named Oceania that is ruled by the Party who employ the Thought Police to persecute individuality and independent thinking. Big Brother, the leader of the Party, enjoys an intense cult of personality despite the fact that he may not exist. The protagonist, Winston Smith, is a diligent and skillful rank-and-file worker and Party member who secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion. He enters a forbidden relationship with a co-worker, Julia.
Nineteen Eighty-Four has become a classic literary example of political and dystopian fiction. Many terms used in the novel have entered common usage, including Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, Room 101, telescreen, 2 + 2 = 5, prole, and memory hole. Nineteen Eighty-Four also popularised the adjective "Orwellian", connoting things such as official deception, secret surveillance, brazenly misleading terminology, and manipulation of recorded history by a totalitarian or authoritarian state. Time included it on its 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. It was placed on the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels, reaching No. 13 on the editors' list and No. 6 on the readers' list. In 2003, the novel was listed at No. 8 on The Big Read survey by the BBC. Parallels have been drawn between the novel's subject matter and real life instances of totalitarianism, mass surveillance, and violations of freedom of expression among other themes.
- "1984" | 2013-06-09 | 10 Upvotes 2 Comments
The North American Phalanx was a secular utopian socialist commune located in Colts Neck Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey. The community was the longest-lived of about 30 Fourierist Associations in the United States which emerged during a brief burst of popularity during the decade of the 1840s.
The North American Phalanx was established in September 1843 and included the active participation of writer Albert Brisbane and newspaper publisher Horace Greeley, two of the leading figures of the Fourierist movement. The Association was disbanded in January 1856, following a catastrophic fire which destroyed a number of the community's productive enterprises. At the time of its termination it was the last of about 30 Fourierist Associations established during the 1840s still in existence and thus was the longest-lived.
The main residential dwelling of the phalanx, a three-story wooden structure, stood vacant until it was itself destroyed by fire in November 1972.
- "North American Phalanx" | 2019-12-08 | 20 Upvotes 21 Comments
The Society of the Spectacle (French: La société du spectacle) is a 1967 work of philosophy and Marxist critical theory by Guy Debord, in which the author develops and presents the concept of the Spectacle. The book is considered a seminal text for the Situationist movement. Debord published a follow-up book Comments on the Society of the Spectacle in 1988.
- "The Society of the Spectacle" | 2019-12-16 | 125 Upvotes 69 Comments
Wage slavery is a term describing a situation in which a person's livelihood depends on wages or a salary, especially when the dependence is total and immediate. It has been used to criticise exploitation of labour and social stratification, with the former seen primarily as unequal bargaining power between labour and capital (particularly when workers are paid comparatively low wages, e.g. in sweatshops) and the latter as a lack of workers' self-management, fulfilling job choices and leisure in an economy. The criticism of social stratification covers a wider range of employment choices bound by the pressures of a hierarchical society to perform otherwise unfulfilling work that deprives humans of their "species character" not only under threat of starvation or poverty, but also of social stigma and status diminution. Historically, some socialist organisations and activists have espoused workers' self-management or worker cooperatives as possible alternatives to wage labour.
Similarities between wage labour and slavery were noted as early as Cicero in Ancient Rome, such as in De Officiis. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, thinkers such as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Karl Marx elaborated the comparison between wage labour and slavery, while Luddites emphasised the dehumanisation brought about by machines. The introduction of wage labour in 18th-century Britain was met with resistance, giving rise to the principles of syndicalism. Before the American Civil War, Southern defenders of African American slavery invoked the concept of wage slavery to favourably compare the condition of their slaves to workers in the North. The United States abolished slavery after the Civil War, but labour union activists found the metaphor useful – according to historian Lawrence Glickman, in the Gilded Age "[r]eferences abounded in the labour press, and it is hard to find a speech by a labour leader without the phrase".
- "Wage Slavery - Applicable to [Nearly] Everybody?" | 2010-06-03 | 27 Upvotes 48 Comments
World-systems theory (also known as world-systems analysis or the world-systems perspective) is a multidisciplinary, macro-scale approach to world history and social change which emphasizes the world-system (and not nation states) as the primary (but not exclusive) unit of social analysis.
"World-system" refers to the inter-regional and transnational division of labor, which divides the world into core countries, semi-periphery countries, and the periphery countries. Core countries focus on higher skill, capital-intensive production, and the rest of the world focuses on low-skill, labor-intensive production and extraction of raw materials. This constantly reinforces the dominance of the core countries. Nonetheless, the system has dynamic characteristics, in part as a result of revolutions in transport technology, and individual states can gain or lose their core (semi-periphery, periphery) status over time. This structure is unified by the division of labour. It is a world-economy rooted in a capitalist economy. For a time, certain countries become the world hegemon; during the last few centuries, as the world-system has extended geographically and intensified economically, this status has passed from the Netherlands, to the United Kingdom and (most recently) to the United States.
World-systems theory has been examined by many political theorists and sociologists to explain the reasons for the rise and fall of nations, income inequality, social unrest, and imperialism.
- "World-systems theory" | 2014-07-12 | 51 Upvotes 8 Comments
The Tiananmen Square protests or Tiananmen Square Incident, commonly known in mainland China as the June Fourth Incident (Chinese: 六四事件; pinyin: liùsì shìjiàn, literally six-four incident), were student-led demonstrations held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing during 1989. The popular national movement inspired by the Beijing protests is sometimes called the '89 Democracy Movement (Chinese: 八九民運; pinyin: bājiǔ mínyùn). The protests started on April 15 and were forcibly suppressed on June 4 when the government declared martial law and sent the military to occupy central parts of Beijing. In what became known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre (Chinese: 天安門大屠殺; pinyin: tiān'ānmén dà túshā), troops with assault rifles and tanks fired at the demonstrators and those trying to block the military's advance into Tiananmen Square. Estimates of the death toll vary from several hundred to several thousand, with thousands more wounded.
Set off by the death of pro-reform Communist general secretary Hu Yaobang in April 1989, amid the backdrop of rapid economic development and social changes in post-Mao China, the protests reflected anxieties about the country's future in the popular consciousness and among the political elite. The reforms of the 1980s had led to a nascent market economy which benefited some people but seriously disaffected others, and the one-party political system also faced a challenge of legitimacy. Common grievances at the time included inflation, corruption, limited preparedness of graduates for the new economy, and restrictions on political participation. The students called for greater accountability, constitutional due process, democracy, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech, although they were highly disorganized and their goals varied. At the height of the protests, about 1 million people assembled in the Square.
As the protests developed, the authorities responded with both conciliatory and hardline tactics, exposing deep divisions within the party leadership. By May, a student-led hunger strike galvanized support for the demonstrators around the country, and the protests spread to some 400 cities. Ultimately, China's paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and other Communist Party elders believed the protests to be a political threat and resolved to use force. The State Council declared martial law on May 20 and mobilized as many as 300,000 troops to Beijing. The troops advanced into central parts of Beijing on the city's major thoroughfares in the early morning hours of June 4, killing both demonstrators and bystanders in the process.
The international community, human rights organizations, and political analysts condemned the Chinese government for the massacre. Western countries imposed arms embargoes on China. The Chinese government made widespread arrests of protesters and their supporters, suppressed other protests around China, expelled foreign journalists, strictly controlled coverage of the events in the domestic press, strengthened the police and internal security forces, and demoted or purged officials it deemed sympathetic to the protests. More broadly, the suppression halted the policies of liberalization in the 1980s. Considered a watershed event, the protests set the limits on political expression in China up to the present day. Its memory is widely associated with questioning the legitimacy of Communist Party rule and remains one of the most sensitive and most widely censored topics in China.
- "1989 Tiananmen Square Protests" | 2020-04-20 | 202 Upvotes 45 Comments