Gabriel Kuhn's Blog

The Global Perspective II

By Gabriel Kuhn

In June 2016, I reported on the publication of the Danish book Det globale perspektiv, authored by Torkil Lauesen, a former member of the so-called Blekingegade Group, which is featured in the joint PM and Kersplebedeb release Turning Money Into Rebellion: The Unlikely Story of Denmark’s Revolutionary Bank Robbers. Det globale perspektiv presents a history of imperialism and adds important reflections on how to combat its ongoing legacy in today’s context of neoliberal capitalism.

In Scandinavia, the book has received much attention. Reviews have been published in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. In part, the interest is tied to the author’s personal history. The story of the Blekingegade Group is the stuff of urban legends: a handful of seemingly ordinary Danish youth turn into the country’s most successful robbers while not keeping a single penny for themselves, channeling all of their proceeds to Third World liberation movements instead. However, Torkil Lauesen is not one to exploit this improbable tale. As the economist Rasmus Wendt points out in his review in the Danish online portal Modkraft, it is the book’s levelheaded approach that explains the interest it raises: “Torkil Lauesen manages to tie together historical, economic, and political analyses in a book that is both educational and captivating and that, furthermore, opens up a discussion on how the Left can operate in the future.” Wendt does not shy away from calling Det globale perspektiv “one of the most important political books that has appeared in Denmark in many years – and this will be true for many years to come, too.”

One aspect that all reviewers agree upon – and that has also been stressed on this blog before – is Lauesen’s ability to present complex economic and political questions in an accessible manner without oversimplifying things. Stein Lillevolden summarizes this well in a review on the Norwegian website Radikal Portal:

“The greatest strength of Torkil Lauesen’s new book is that he succeeds in writing about theory and imperialist history in a language that doesn’t require readers to have earned a black belt in Marxist theory. I can assure everyone with traumatic experiences from trying to follow the debates between Maoists, anti-imperialists, and Kapital interpreters during the 1970s – or, for that matter, from the 1980s and ‘90s autonomist mumbo-jumbo I myself partook in – that Lauesen’s book reads really well and is practically free of any dogmatic rhetoric. Considering the author’s political background, this is a feat unto itself.”

A review with a somewhat unconventional angle was published in the Danish journal Social Kritik: veteran reporter Knud Vilby compared Lauesen’s book to a recent Danish biography of Donald Trump, namely Lars Trier Mogensen’s Den store joker (“The Big Joker”). The review’s title asks the question: “On the Way to Hell: Forward with Torkil Lauesen or backward with Donald Trump?” It should be easy for us to agree on the answer.

My earlier entry on Det globale perspektiv finished with the following words:

Det globale perspektiv has everything a modern-day antiimperialist classic needs, except for the right language. It is yet another consequence of globalization that no text will receive broad international attention unless it is available in English. Let’s hope that Det globale perspektiv soon will be.”

Luckily, the great folks at Kersplebedeb are trying to make this hope a reality. At the moment, they are running a crowdfunding campaign to translate and publish the book in English. Needless to say, I’m backing these efforts and believe that everyone who is able to contribute or spread the word is supporting an important project.

There is also a Facebook page for the crowdfunding campaign, and an English translation of Stein Lillevolden’s review can be found here.

(November 2016)

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