From the Editors

In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been quiet for a while. Unexpectedly, after what we believe was a quite successful public meeting in early February, we found ourselves running aground and have not been posting very much at all. In part, our difficulties resulted from a realization that some taken-for-granted assumptions regarding the political agreements of the small New York City–based group that had been providing political guidance to our project should not have been so taken for granted at all. Specifically, we discovered that there were some quite fundamental differences in the ways in which members of the group were making sense of the extent of support among members of the working classes for Trump’s candidacy. Reduced to perhaps overly simple terms, some were inclined to emphasize the reasonableness of the grievances that led people to support Trump while others were inclined to emphasize the extent to which that support reflected deep-seated reactionary sentiments and contributed to an emboldened right-wing agenda—of both traditional and alt-right varieties.

The months since have not really clarified matters as much as we might prefer. Each new analysis of the composition of the Trump electorate shades interpretations in different directions—see, for examples, “That big wave of less-educated white voters? It never happened,” “It Was Cultural Anxiety That Drove White, Working-Class Voters to Trump,” and “It’s time to bust the myth: Most Trump voters were not working class.”

Beyond the specifics of the disagreements regarding the election results, it also became clear that political support for the Insurgent Notes project, as it had evolved within that small group was not as deep-seated as needed to allow for coherent decision-making about how we should proceed. We are in the process of forming a new editorial group that we hope will address that fundamental challenge.

For the moment, we’re going to continue publishing the journal. We are, however, going to attempt to refine what we write about, whom we are writing for and how we write. We are aware that we exist in a context of other radical/revolutionary publications (for the moment, we’d cite Jacobin, New Politics and Viewpoint) and we need to find our own place in the sun.

We have a few ideas about what that place might be:

  • it is fundamentally internationalist, not only in aspiration but in actualization (we consistently have correspondents and reports from across the globe and we pay consistent attention to international developments, including those grounded in the fundamental relations of production and reproduction);
  • it refuses any hard separation between the spheres of theory and practice (over the course of seven years, we have included extensive coverage and critical assessments of every major popular rebellion—Madison, the Arab Spring, Occupy, the movement of the squares, the anti-police protests in the wake of Michael Brown’s murder in Ferguson and even, Lord knows, the 2016 elections and, side by side with them, have attempted to apply and deepen theoretical understandings to major events such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the Chicago teachers’ strike;
  • it acknowledges the importance of in-depth analyses of historical moments (such as the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Spanish Civil War and the May 1968 revolt in France) and political tendencies (such as anarchism and Maoism) and political thinkers (such as Rosa Luxemburg and CLR James) that continue to be invoked to interpret events today;
  • it introduces readers to a wide range of authors, by way of critical reviews, writing on topics that are more or less essential for understanding what might be going on in the world and what we might do.

Nonetheless, we have not consistently made clear what we believe is distinctive about our broad political perspectives on the nature of the ongoing crises of capitalist society, the emergence of a revolutionary challenge to capitalist power or the possible form and content of a socialist society. It may well be the case that a diligent and attentive reader, who has followed us since our beginning and read the better part of the contents of our issues, would have been able to sort such matters out. But that would not at all be clear to someone encountering the journal for the first time or an occasional reader.

One idea that we will be pursuing is the regular recycling of articles from past issues to a featured display on the front page of the website—thereby providing readers with easily accessible opportunities to read across the full range of topics we have addressed and to begin to piece together a view of our whole project.

Beyond that failing, we have not consistently addressed the essential topic of expanded social reproduction or, more precisely, the ways in which such reproduction is not occurring and, still further, why such reproduction is essential for the future. For now, let’s just say a couple of things. Capital develops itself according to its own deep logic of accumulation—it produces in order to realize profit so that it might have still more capital to use to realize still more profit. What it produces, of more or less worth, is of no consequence. Up to a certain point, however, it indirectly reproduces those who produce—meaning that the workers who produce, for example, become more numerous, more capable and live longer. When those trends, on a world scale, are reversed, it leads to both expanded misery and all sorts of dangerous political possibilities. We are in the midst of exactly that kind of situation.

On the matter of style—our articles need to be better written and better edited. Simply writing more and more about something is not necessarily a pre-condition for readers wanting to read and understand what’s been written. If it can be said well and convincingly in shorter articles and therefore more likely to be read, we have got to figure out how to do it. Often enough, we get some comments about our posts. Every once in a while, we get more. But we have got to get more responses more consistently and we need to pay attention to them as indicators of the sense we are providing and the uses people are making of it. In part, we hope to address this challenge by making it easier for people to find articles in the first place and to expand their further circulation by the development of a social media plan—an area where we have distinguished ourselves by our complete ineptitude. Nowhere to go but up!

We welcome comments and questions on all this.


This issue continues with the publication of the kind of articles that we would have published in the past. Indeed, it includes one two reviews and a letter that have already been posted on our web page.

On the international front, it includes a comprehensive examination of the political operations of the National Front in France, a hard-biting report from a correspondent in London on the aftermath of the Grenfell Towers fire and notes from a recent presentation on radical ruptures emerging in workplace struggles in South East Asia.

In a different vein, we’re pleased to be publishing Ross Wolfe’s detailed and powerful critique of Decolonizing Dialectics, by George Ciccariello-Maher,

The issue also includes an essay by Amiri Barksdale on the evolving forms of whiteness—which he first presented during a panel discussion at our February meeting. Finally, we’re including a brief write-up of a presentation by Loren Goldner on us-China relations that he made at a recent conference in Seoul, South Korea.

Finally, it is easy to comment on articles (look at the end of each article) and easy to contact the editors by writing to . It’s also quite easy to subscribe in order to receive alerts of various kinds (click “Subscribe” at the top of the page). We urge all who read this to consider doing all three.


3 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Just a suggestion, and intended, believe it or not, in a comradely fashion. If this:
    [i] Specifically, we discovered that there were some quite fundamental differences in the ways in which members of the group were making sense of the extent of support among members of the working classes for Trump’s candidacy. Reduced to perhaps overly simple terms, some were inclined to emphasize the reasonableness of the grievances that led people to support Trump while others were inclined to emphasize the extent to which that support reflected deep-seated reactionary sentiments and contributed to an emboldened right-wing agenda—of both traditional and alt-right varieties.[/i]

    led to the relative, and extended silence, of IN for 6 months, I think IN owes it to itself to that issue on in depth, on “both sides,” and reach some definite conclusion and……some [i] programmatic [/i] directions, positions, etc based on the results of that analysis and those conclusions. If IN doesn’t do that, doesn’t resolve those particular issues, then programmatic clarity for the future is going to be vulnerable to very same type of paralysis.

  2. Not for nothing, comrades, but do the editors at IN feel compelled to say something after Charlottesville?

    I mean the whole issue of Trump supporters and their dance with racism has, by your own admission, effectively paralyzed IN for 5 months.

    You’ve got a dialogue running between Amiri and Noel about “whiteness”– in the abstract, I guess; now whiteness in the concrete makes its, or another, play and….??????

    Do I expect IN’s statement to change the course of history? Of course not. No more than I consider the statements made by the IWW, or Anti-Capital, or all the antifa groups put together will change history.

    But Charlottesville itself is a change– where fascists collectively and explicitly have undertaken a campaign of terrorism like that undertaken by the KKK and the Knights of the White Camelia in support of redemptionism.

    Worth a paragraph or two, don’t you think, given the significance of historical materialism to Marxist theory and practice? Charlottesville is historical and it is material

  3. So I received the following personal reply from John Garvey, although John clearly doesn’t think it’s worth responding in public:

    “In response to your comment on the IN page, I promise we’ll say something when we know what to say.
    In the meantime, check out one of the bad guys’ point of view. It’s from Matt Parrot of the Traditionalist Workers’ Party:
    Have you read or written anything yet that’s an adequate response to that?


    To which I respond, in both private and public, as follows:

    “Hey John, I don’t have to read “the bad guy’s point of view.” I know what the issues are. That’s what historical materialism equips us to do. You should try it some time. Have I written anything that’s an adequate response to a Nazi explaining the great thrill he gets out of being a fucking Nazi? What? Are you serious? You think that’s what’s important? If so, you don’t know what you are talking about, John, which is exactly what I gleaned from your performance attempting to “moderate” the February 5 conference.

    You don’t write in response to that, the Nazi glorifying the, and in, Nazi-ism. You write to organize the destruction of that nonsense

    And IN’s silence speaks volumes.

    You think because there’s the term “Worker” in their nazi logo, that makes them anything other than completely anti-working class?

    You don’t know what to say? You knew what to say when you claimed Trump supporters had “reasonable grievances“ that led them to support Trump didn’t you, imposing I guess your own version of reasonable grievances? You knew what to say when you wrote that you thought we could, we should win over Trump supporters, didn’t you? Now you don’t know what to say. Priceless. For everything else there’s Mastercard.

    Your question is nonsensical in its very structure, in the very act of posing it.

    Really, how long have you been at this… that you still don’t know what to say, and more importantly, who you need to address it to?

    Short version: You don’t have to say anything else. You’ve already said quite enough.

    Oh, and you might want to check with your co-editor. He might not agree with you.”

    Just sayin’

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