ESR 1 Blog November/December 2022: Gabor Erlich

Around this time of the year, I must admit, I’m all agog sweeping the internet in a juvenile search for two quaint features.


First is music, for I am an avid listener in a perpetual state of FOMO: amidst all the ‘deliverables’, I just cannot keep up with fresh tunes on a rolling basis. Instead, I try my best to catch up during the hols relying on certain ‘best of …’ and ‘album of the year’ lists. One of which happens to be a truly astounding selection that paints an apt soundscape of 2k22 – I wish you a merry eavesdropping! And kudos to theQuietus for embedding ‘bandcamp’ links wherever it is possible, instead of further cheerleading the techno-feudalist (Varoufakis) overlords such as s.o.i.y or a.p.e.u..c.


And since I already ventured into the (very personal?) rabbit-hole of sonic preferences, let me take a detour before the second section, a diversion which, incidentally, will put us back on track. Sometime recently I listened to a conversation that circled around music and the Left, to put it very vaguely. It’s one of the episodes of NovaraMedia’s grand ‘Downstream’ series[1], where Ash Sarkar -yes, the “I am literally a communist…” Ash – speaks with Jeremy Gilbert[2] about the role of music in and for the Left. At one point, Jeremy argues that it is hard to find hope in today’s electronic music, even though most part of the scene is made up of allies and comrades (or people who dress that way?), although the subcultural music of the Left should offer at least the horizon of hope. This insight has been lurking at the back of my thoughts for a while, and I’m still unsure whether I totally agree with it, nevertheless, the episode is definitely worth a visit, so does ‘Downstream’ in general, as well as the “#ACFM” podcast. I think that the decisive moment might not be enfolding from the music itself but rather from the circles/atmosphere/scene it creates or the scenes that make the occurrence of such music possible. (For a lack of a better phrase at the moment, I will say, in a very lame fashion that nowadays electronic dance music can serve as a vehicle for the ecstatic rave, but it can just as easily harness the necessary(?) destruction that must precede any future-building).


Hope and (on?) (for?) the Left


The second type of content I tend to crave around the end of a year is the state of the world/affairs kind of opinion pieces, the ones with large scope (one might argue that those often have a too-large scope, and yes, it is somewhat true, although I would not forget that the intention in those cases is not to provide a detailed academic scrutiny of a niche field/topic, so I think it is okay). At our last meeting, my DoS, John Roberts suggested I read a piece in the New Left Review. Thanks indeed, John – Göran Therborn’s ‘The World and the Left’[3] is a very good read, and again, for me, it’s the best time for such an all-encompassing piece.


Half a sentence in particular, and surely not the most important section of the story, caught my attention, in which Therborn claims that “The European left of 2022 is now in a situation similar to that which Rosa Luxemburg confronted in 1914, of isolation and despair.” And frankly, not even for the obvious reason. I will restrict myself from engaging in a debate with the ‘Stop the War!’ narrative and its proponents, since I don’t think that I could do justice to the plethora of counterarguments and points emerging ever since the start (escalation) of Russia’s war against Ukraine in this blog post (though, I have shown some of the voices I believe are crucial to the debate in prior entries). Putin must stop this war and could do immediately – this is what we’re ought to demand.[4]


Back to the comparatist perspective: What do you think the author means by the overly generalising umbrella-phrase, “the European Left”? I honestly do not know, which, I guess, is my main discontent with the statement itself, for there seems to be nothing like a coherent inter(trans)national Left in Europe with interdependent ways of mass-mobilising that can manifest as a feasible force to counter the shallow and counterfeit orbits of the symbolically still prevalent liberal hegemony, let alone the ever-expanding (post)fascist pest that manages to win elections continent-wide. I wish there was one, such that is prepared to mobilise the masses through a critique of the newest spirit of capitalism. But the illiberal, authoritarian, and (post)fascist forces – as grim as it is to admit – have, again, been doing a much better job.


One thing is certain: the ‘Spartacus League of 2023’ will emerge in the contested rift of Eastern Europe, but it must be cautiously waiting, following the example of “our beloved heroine” (as the great Hungarian philosopher G. M. Tamás referred to Rosa), and thrive in order to establish networks of postartistic practitioners who seek to explore the realm of radical/revolutionary tactics in the hopes of discovering way(s) through which real support for “socialist revolutionary democracy” might be built on the ruins of “actually existing socialisms” and the derelict remnants of the perpetual austerity of neoliberalism alike. As an odd new year’s resolution, the Left ought to assess its position vis-à-vis “platform (or surveillance) capitalism”, the feasibility of a mass-mobilisation based on a notion of class (in a period when the very notion itself seems to be badly wounded by the far-right and liberals alike), as well revising its narrow and often entitled views on international solidarity. And since it’s already 2023 by the time you’re reading this post, I hope the work has already begun.


[2]  see also:


[4] Two most recent additions to the discussion/debate I have encountered: &

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