Army officers swear allegiance to the new government in Palace Square, before the Winter Palace. November-December 1917.

I. (General introduction)

A state’s legitimacy is a simple matter: it…

Troops of the Eighth Route Army. Yan’an, China, 1938. Photo: Walter Bosshard

The following maxims are taken from Mao Zedong’s famous “Problems of War and Strategy”, an excerpt from his concluding speech at the Sixth Plenary Session of the Sixth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, held in 1938. Mao argued that the Party must maintain its independence and initiative in the ongoing war against Japan, above all else by possessing its own military power distinct from that of the rest of the anti-Japanese bloc. …

Ehman’s Wow! signal, 6EQUJ5, circled in red in a printout of vertically aligned single digits indicating radiowaves.
Ehman’s Wow! signal, 6EQUJ5, circled in red in a printout of vertically aligned single digits indicating radiowaves.
Ehman’s Wow! signal, 6EQUJ5.

In studying philosophy, and more broadly the history of human thought, there are times when you are gripped by a new idea, or a new way of conveying an idea, which leaves you in a state of amazed wonder. Put bluntly, these are occasions which leave you thinking, wow. We could call these wow moments, or wow ideas, much like the famous wow! signal. …

First thesis. Premise: the universe is purely physical. All apparently non-physical properties are either reducible to physical properties or are eliminable from the schema. There are no “nomological danglers”.¹

Second thesis. Scepticism about the status of moral properties resulting from first thesis. Diverse attribution of moral properties by different speakers (natural phenomena, non-natural phenomena, divine command, ergon for a telos, etc.).² Moral properties as metaphysically and epistemologically queer.³ Denial that moral properties are mind-independent; denial that moral properties obtain. Moral properties eliminated from the schema: anti-realism.

Third thesis. Scepticism about the status of moral judgements resulting from second thesis. Moral…

The Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies in Tauride Palace, 1917. For a brief period in February and March, the cabinet of the Provisional Government also sat in the Tauride, making it the nexus of all democracy in Russia.

[…] in speaking of the state “withering away,” and the even more graphic and colorful “dying down of itself,” Engels refers quite clearly and definitely to the period after “the state has taken possession of the means of production in the name of the whole of society,” that is, after the socialist revolution. We all know that the political form of the “state” at that time is the most complete democracy. But it never enters the head of any of the opportunists, who shamelessly distort Marxism, that Engels is consequently speaking here of democracy “dying down of itself,” or “withering…

  1. A completed physics would represent a total and finished description and explanation of reality; would represent the only complete description (the only actual description). There can be no “nomological danglers” (Smart, Feigl).
  2. All non-physical facts can be either reduced to purely physical facts (the non-physical element was a superstition), or they can be eliminated from the schema (the fact was a superstition in toto).
  3. Three formulations: (1) An exhaustive list of all scientific facts is an exhaustive list of all facts. (2) To possess every physical fact is to possess all facts. …

A lot of anarchists will, in responding to Engels’ On Authority, say that his points are all good and well, but that that’s not what they mean when they talk about authority — this is a rebuke (“rebuke,” rather) so common and orthodox it can be found in Bakunin. This supposed response is laughable, as, firstly, Engels directly ridicules it in the text itself (one would be inclined to think they never even bothered to properly read it at all…):

“When I submitted arguments like these to the most rabid anti-authoritarians, the only answer they were able to give me…

Posters from the CPB’s youth wing, the YCL, calling for the boycott of the European elections in May. Credit: Party9999999

Anyone who has encountered any or read any of their theory will know that Marxists regularly talk of ‘revisionism,’ and often this term is used rather freely and in such a way that someone new to Marxism might be left rather confused as to just what it is, and to why, precisely, it must be fought. This is an important matter to clarify, for the contesting of the degeneration of communist ideology is at the very forefront of the tasks of our movement. Every ideological struggle is a material struggle. However, the purpose of this article is not explanation, but…

An early Soviet propaganda poster telling peasants not to vote for religious authorities, landlords or capitalists.
An early Soviet propaganda poster telling peasants not to vote for religious authorities, landlords or capitalists.
Democratic privileges are always eagerly exploited by the oppressor classes: ‘Peasant; don’t elect these people. They were your enemies and remain your enemies.’ USSR, c. 1920s

PDF version (with footnotes).

A note on revisions

Knocked out Pz. Kpfw. VI Ausf. B of s.Pz.Abt. 505, destroyed by Soviet assault aircraft on the highway between the Peise Peninsula and the city of Fishhausen, east Prussia, circa. 1945

It’s all too common to see people on the left call someone — whether it be a major politician or simply a random person they don’t like and who’s politics they disagree with — fascistic, or even an outright fascist. Likewise, it is easy to find a plethora of examples on social media of people calling certain governments, militaries, political movements and so on, fascist (such as in this delightfully vile thread on r/anarchism).

This is dangerous, and wrong. Fascism is not a word to be thrown around lightly, a term to blindly apply, blasé-like, to things which we do…

Valarie Renaux

Philosophy. Writing on Marxism, eliminativism in philosophy of mind and metaethics, suffering(-focused ethics), and philosophical pessimism.

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