Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Reading Trump

At their best, Richard Seymour's texts mix political urgency with a very sophisticated use of Marxist concepts. Seymour's account of the chaotic first few days of the Trump presidency has the multiperspectival richness of a Cubist painting. He shows how Trump and his team have been cunning as well as incompetent, and how not only many ordinary Americans but sections of the country's deep state and financial elite have reasons to oppose Trumpism.

12 Comments:

Blogger Sanctuary said...

Agreed, Seymour is on fire at the moment.

11:44 am  
Anonymous Scott Hamilton said...

I guess I sometimes wonder whether a lot of the work of guys like Seymour will still be readable in twenty or thirty, let alone fifty or a hundred, years - is it too much of the moment, too concerned with trying to elucidate the problems of this year, this month, this day, to have longevity? And I wonder whether Seymour ought to put his undoubted talents into something less quotidian, something that takes the long view of history. EP Thompson's The Making of the English Class is as readable now was it was when it was published fifty years ago, but his more polemical, quotidian writings now have an essentially antiquarian interest.

11:50 am  
Anonymous Scott Hamilton said...

On the other hand, I find a lot of scholarly writing tedious precisely because it seems to ignore, with an almost perverse determination, the dilemmas and problems of the present!

11:52 am  
OpenID stevecollins said...

Richard Seymour is a Marxist writer and broadcaster, activist and his book "The Meaning of David Cameron" was interesting to read. http://ukessaywriters.blogspot.com/

7:20 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I just read a great book about Montaigne. He is very much of the now, despite having written his essays in the 16th Century. Political commentary now ignores that what seems urgent now, will seem like trivia or, will seem relatively so. Or that the now or the present is meaningless without the past. So E.P. Thompson's long book is, in some ways, more relevant, than anything written by Seymour. That said, having googles to find out who he is !...I find him a young man with all the folly of impetuosity and the fond belief in things which is the natural naivety of youth...his passion will slowly mellow as he writes great tomes of seeming import equal perhaps to some of the great philosophic works which take their place in the cultural bric a brac regardless of any use value, while the political essays of 'the moment' will seem very irrelevant, or more irrelevant.

I know he has apologised, but Simon Weston, I read a book about him. He doesn't look pretty: it is a pity that these people keep valorising war despite their experiences. It wouldn't really be the view of Montaigne who, like Jefferson, argued that the indigenous Amerindians were human, that the Conquistadors were deeply wrong in assailing the people of the Americas and so on. He was writing while the terrible religious wars continued around him, between Protestants and Catholics.

In some ways Trump is continuing religious wars and "wars" of hate and division, something Montaigne disliked deeply. He felt people needed to see and hear each other. Touch (another meaning of essay as Saul Frampton explains in his book on him). Trump is in abstract land, writing edicts like a Capitalist Pope on heat...He is out of touch. His followers are fearful or hateful (perhaps the emotions are related).

Trump is even less subtle than Bush. He is a kind of genial Hitler...he has a Hitlerian power of persuasion. His anti-immigration gestures seem to be targeting places where there is no one who wants to harm anyone in the US! It is a show, the show of a mad puppet master. He is a communist as he wants to give all power to 'the people' and he has shades of Hitler as he talks of the Folk. But no mention of one ruler, as he has become the people, who are all billionaires.

9:31 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Simon Weston is a bit naive all the same. But his was a sad fate. I muddled that sentence up up there....

Well, in any case Scott, so far, no spam, and some people who were interested int he topic!

9:34 pm  
Anonymous Scott Hamilton said...

Coincidentally, I've just seen that the three issues of The Reasoner, an extremely primitively produced magazine circulated by EP Thompson and other members of the Communist Party of Great Britain opposed to the invasion of Hungary and other acts by the Soviet leadership, have been reproduced in a lush new book, complete with academic commentary! But this may prove my point about the way pieces of urgent political polemic can become, in a generation or so, the preserve of scholars...https://networks.h-net.org/node/11717/discussions/156001/new-book-paul-flewers-and-john-mcilroy-editors-1956-john-saville

10:46 am  
Anonymous Scott Hamilton said...

As far as Seymour goes: I think the intensity of his engagement with current political struggles is matched by the complexity of his analyses, and his openness to different thinkers. His enemies mock him for reading, say, Althusser:
https://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/seymour-embraces-althusser/

I'd wear that sort of know-nothing critique as a badge of honour!

And Seymour showed some independence of thought by leaving his party over a scandal:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/mar/22/swp-cover-up-rape-complaint

10:51 am  
Anonymous Scott Hamilton said...

Trump is splitting the industrial-construction & finance sectors of the US capitalist class:
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-honeymoon-is-over-wall-street-is-finally-taking-trump-literally-2017-02-01

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9:44 pm  
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