Viewpoint Magazine aims to understand the struggles that define our conjuncture, critically reconstruct radical history, and reinvent Marxism for our time. Viewpoint is therefore neither a socialist news source nor an academic journal. It is a militant research collective.
Through rigorous investigation, we seek to grasp the class composition of contemporary social movements, extract the rudiments of a revolutionary political project already inherent in these struggles, and then articulate this project in a way that emphasizes strategy, raises questions about potential programs, and explores historically appropriate organizational forms. Our object is therefore not news cycles but cycles of struggle. We see a significant difference between militant inquiry and reporting, just as there is a significant difference between scientific research and academic writing. Our goal is to fuse the two sides: to force theory to learn from movements themselves, and then to bring that theory to bear on those movements, working towards a dynamic circuit between scientific theoretical production and real struggles while also reflexively examining the relationship between them. This is an unstable and fluid kind of practice, which requires us to oscillate between the technical language of materialist analysis and the practical language of the concrete situation.
It is therefore necessary for us to constantly and critically investigate our own theoretical apparatus. We do not believe there is a single Marxist position on every question – even what seem to be first principles of Marxism emerge from specific situations in which other positions were possible. For this reason, our goal is not to provide commentary on current events from a fixed and invariant Marxist perspective. Instead, we must first ask what it even means to be Marxist in the twenty-first century. This means engaging in a theoretical deconstruction that problematizes many of our inherited assumptions and concepts.
Relatedly, any rigorous investigation of the concepts we deploy demands a firm engagement with revolutionary history. Historical inquiry allows us to historicize and problematize our own methods and theory, previous cycles of struggle can serve as potential laboratories from which there may still be much to learn, and it is only through studying the movements of the past – their ambitions, composition, limits, and defeats – that we can understand the bases of our own conjuncture, intellectual horizon, and present class composition. To that end, we reestablish connections to the historical memory of past movements and struggle, return to neglected strands of our radical traditions, and propose alternative genealogies of past struggles and movements.
The effort to grasp the content of today’s struggles, rethink Marxism for our own time, and critically reconceptualize the history of radical struggle requires a creative engagement with the concepts of political research; we identify three key concepts here to illustrate our approach.
Viewpoint. Although seemingly prosaic, our titular conception “viewpoint” stands at the core of our entire project. By viewpoint, we suggest that the capitalist mode of production may be approached from multiple, partisan standpoints. We choose that of the working class, broadly defined. And since the proletariat has its own initiative, knowledge of this class cannot be derived from knowledge of capital, but must be developed on its own terms. It is at this level, the perspective of the working class, that the necessary intersection of scientific analysis and revolutionary strategy that constitutes Marxism might take place. Only by investigating this class and its standpoint can we develop concepts adequate to the needs of class struggle.
Composition. The working class has always been heterogenous. Different workers labor, struggle, and dream in different ways. We examine both the ways that labor-power is divided, managed, exploited, and reproduced, and the ways workers seize hold of these conditions to articulate themselves into a coherent political subject. In this sense, class composition tracks the correlation between the manner in which a class is composed, or how it is materially constituted, at a specific moment in history, and the manner in which the class composes itself, or how it actively combines the different parts of itself to construct into a single force. Studying class composition also necessarily involves understanding its constant dynamism: how classes decompose, and possibly, recompose in each moment of capitalism’s development.
Encounter. We do not believe in telling ourselves stories. History, class struggle, and the production of knowledge proceed by way of unexpected encounters, which do not correspond to the narratives that comfort our imaginations. The course of history is not foretold at the beginning, but is rather the product of contingency. New political possibilities open only when different class fractions encounter one another in struggle – sometimes taking hold, other times disaggregating, and in some cases creating the conditions for future recombinations. Many of the best political ideas emerge when different currents find themselves forced to speak to each other. We raise this insight into a guiding methodology for sustained intellectual production. This is not eclecticism. We create spaces of encounter that allow for the convergence of perspectives conditioned by distinct sets of struggles from different times and places. Assumptions are confronted, new possibilities emerge, different combinations appear.
Firmly situating ourselves within the long history of global revolutionary movements, our project takes enormous inspiration from the prodigious and unfinished work of those who preceded us. At the same time, we see ourselves as part of a resurgent wave of transnational struggle. We owe everything to the courage, inventiveness, and vast political knowledge of recent social movements and workers’ struggles, and to the tireless intellectual and political efforts of countless comrades, many of whom we have yet to meet. Viewpoint is simply one pole in a newly emerging radical ecosystem, and our work is a modest contribution to the collective struggles ahead.
For submissions, general inquiries, and feedback, email viewpoint AT viewpointmag.com.
This site was built with Sami Keijonen’s Path theme as a foundation.