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Charles Reeve

Charles Reeve lives and writes in Paris.

On the Revolts in Bosnia-Herzegovina

The perspective of yet one more nationalist clash at the gates of Europe, in Ukraine, doesn’t seem to displease the world’s masters and those who write for them.

Letter from Paris

Some thoughts on the situation we are living through, right now, in Paris and in France. It’s a difficult moment.

Letter From Paris
Terrorism and the Socialist Police State

After years of wars and barbaric acts, Guantánamos, daily bombardments, societies destroyed, millions of displaced people and refugees, hundreds of thousands dead, thousands tortured, unhinged minds seeking comfort and vengeance in the irrational and in religious fanaticism—after all this, how and why could we escape the barbarism which the powers of the so-called civilized world have engendered and fed?


The fall of the former Soviet bloc in 1991 left Marxist-Leninist ideologues at a loss. People who had spent years working hard, often with arrogance and self-confidence, to convince us that a “new reading” of Lenin was the necessary path towards revolution found themselves floating over the ruins and finally recycled their avant-gardist savoir-faire into the formation of new systems of concepts, where Empire replaced Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism—in this case, a system which was favorably received in a few academic circles mourning the lost past. More comic, or simply a mark of ideological confusion, is the intellectual seduction accomplished by Stalin freaks such as “le grand Philosophe” Alain Badiou.

Fundamental Principles of Communist Production and Distribution: A New Look at an Old Text *

After the strikes and demonstrations of 1921 in Germany, the revolutionary movement that had begun in 1919 ebbed, gradually depriving revolutionaries of space for collective action. Isolated, they were reduced to reflection and propaganda. After 1924, it was clear to these people that the social-democratic and bolshevik approach, to nationalize the means of production, led to a state-run form of capitalism.

In Conversation

Emma Goldman's Adventures in France

In April 2019, Laure Batier presented Vivre ma Vie at the Montreal feminist bookstore L’Euguélionne. A few days later she talked with the Rail about the significance of this project.

The Conspiracy Plot

“Conspiracism” and “populism” are now seen as threats to the foundation of the representative system, taken, naturally, as the impassable horizon of contemporary politics. This is exactly why it seems important to consider the reemergence of these forms of thought within the structural framework of the capitalist political system, in relation to a deeper problem, that of the crisis of the system of political representation.

The Anti-Viral Struggle and the Social Question

For two years now, the pandemic has had a severe impact on French society, creating an atmosphere of anxiety, fear, and insecurity that paralyzes individuals and congeals worsening conflicts and social problems.

Letter From Paris

In France, the feeling that the public services are being gradually destroyed has driven a growing part of society to revolt. What is called the “social state”—what the workers think of as a guarantor and protector of their general conditions of life inside the present social system—is collapsing. From the postal service to health care, from schools to transportation, all are falling apart, one after another.

France: A Movement Ends, An Explosion of Rage

It is hard to analyze an event like the banlieue youth revolt, characterized by spontaneity and improvisation. Clearly, the spontaneity is the fruit of a pre-existing situation, and the unpredictable was obviously to be predicted. But this revolt took unexpected forms and it is difficult to see its links with earlier struggles.

Notes on a bad photo of a sick society, or, What does democracy looks like?

With Emmanuel Macron’s presidential victory, the second episode of the electoral process France has been going through is over. The third episode, the parliamentary elections, will take place on June 11 and 18.

The Class Struggle in France

The movement turns both towards the past, when animated by despair, fear about social security and the desire to withdraw into oneself, and toward the future, when motivated by a profound critique of income inequality and class.

France: A Political Strike

At the end of November, 2019, the French government announced a “reform” of the pension system. A strike movement erupted. This movement, which has become the longest and strongest strike since the mass strike of May-June 1968, started on December 5, 2019, with the shutdown of the national railway company SNCF and the Paris public transportation system, which includes the subway, trams, buses, and suburban trains.

The Plague and the Wrath

This is a mass strike without “masses,'' and worse, without any collective, subversive force. It is probably fair to say that we are living through the first rumblings of a general collapse of this society organized around destructive production for profit.

May-June 1968:
What Happened

After a year, 1967, marked by strong labor conflicts in big factories all over France, the month of May 1968 opened with intense student unrest in Paris and provincial universities: demonstrations, occupations of university buildings, and confrontations with the police.

For the State, the Best Defense is Sometimes a Deadly Offense

One of the French public radio stations recently rebroadcast a 1987 interview with James Baldwin, in which he recalled that living in France during the Algerian War led him to discover that racism wasn’t peculiar to North American society. By an irony of history, these words still—33 years later—fit a moment when the US uprising against police violence and the racist nature of society have set off protests in France against the same things. Such mobilizations have recurred in French society for years.

The American Crisis: A Trans-Atlantic View

Ultimately, the disquiet of the European ruling classes clarifies what they understand to be the essence of that “soul,” whose contours seem at first sight to be rather vague: democratic consensus. For the implosion of this consensus opens up on conflicts and clashes escaping consensual resolution and makes even the pursuit of the reproduction of a modern capitalist society seem difficult.

War, Nationalism, and the Collective

It can happen that the way things go in this big impossible world can be grasped more easily in miniature: for example, in a little country, a little society where the flaws of capitalism are clearly exposed.

PORTUGAL: Forty Years of Democracy

Forty years ago, on April 25, 1974, a military coup organized by a group of young officers, the Armed Forces Movement (M.F.A.), brought down the Salazar dictatorship, which had been embroiled since 1961 in a colonial war on three African fronts: Mozambique, Angola, and Guinea-Bissau. This led to a year and a half of exciting social movements, which made a strong impact on political forces in Europe, from the ultra-left to the right.

After Being Up All Night, We Wake up with a Political Strike1

Living in a moment is always pleasanter than writing about it— it’s always risky to draw conclusions about situations still evolving or to speculate about what they will become. For over three months, Nuit debout (“Up All Night”) has been a new kind of spontaneous social movement along the lines of Occupy and Spain’s M15 movement.

Worth the Pilgrimage: Eugenio Granell

In Praza do Toural, a square in the beautiful old city of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain, you will find Pazo de Bendaña, a baroque building that since 1995 has housed the Granell Museum.

In Conversation

May ’68 was the beginning of something: LAURE BATTIER and CATHERINE MAYEN
with Charles Reeve

The story of May ’68 is usually a story told about students, above all, about their political and intellectual leaders in Paris. But sometimes we remember that ten million workers went on strike across France.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

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