Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What's that sound? Erm, it's The Sound

Slacking off on updating the Socialist Standard@MySpace blog, but at least I know the month of March is up to date. Usual deal: 32 posts. All linked to their original MySpace link and each and everyone tagged and bagged.

Choice articles include:

  • From the March 2008 Socialist Standard, 'Can the media be made democratic?'
  • From the Class Warfare blog, 'Famine or Feast? Britain alone wastes 20 million tons of food a year'
  • From the September 2001 issue of the Standard a correspondence with Kevin Carson, 'What's capitalism again?'
  • Transcript from the SPGB's 1994 Summer School, 'What Marx Should Have Said To Kropotkin'
  • From the WSPUS website, 'Bubble Troubles'
  • Originally posted on the Marx and Coca-Cola blog, JM from Seattle take on Barack Obama major speech on race, 'The Visible Man'
  • From the Socialism Or Your Money Back blog, an excerpt from a 1981 Socialist Standard where sympathy is expressed for Ronald Reagan on news of the attempted assassination, 'Ronald Raygun'
  • Much, much more availabel. Just click on the link.


    Kevin Williamson said...

    I love a good question title as much as a good one word answer:

    'Can the media be made democratic?'


    'Famine or Feast?'


    'What's capitalism again?'


    'What Marx Should Have Said To Kropotkin'



    Darren said...

    But did you read the Marx/Kropotkin piece?

    One word answer please. ;-)

    Kevin Williamson said...

    No. Was just being flippant. Sorry. :-)

    Although this has since been rectified. Should I expand on these thoughts and provoke yer political ire ... ach, what the hell. Why change the habits of a lifetime. :-)

    It's a Thursday morning and between now and watching Der Hun hopefully get spanked later tonight, got some time on my hands. :-)

    Its an interesting article in many respects. And not a million miles removed from what I'd expect from an SPGB approach to 19th century anarchism (I wasn't expecting a Leninist diatribe). Enjoyed reading it.

    Much like the author of the article - in the last paragraph - I find 19th century thinkers likes Marx, Engels, Kropotkin, Proudhon and Bakunin historically very interesting ... so long as you accept a few key provisos imposed by changes in society since that time:

    Firstly, the world's population, and therefore consumption of natural resources, has qualitatively changed since the mid 19th century. IMO this negates the possibility of a moneyless, or non-rationed, society.

    Secondly, these guys lived in a time before the science of human psychology - therefore an understanding of the human mind, human emotions and social relationships - had even begun. These guys simply didn't understand what made people tick, act in the ways they did, and therefore, out of necessity, they tended to take a reductive view, and reduced everything down to economics and class struggle.

    Thirdly, they all lived in a time before working class men and women of any country had won the democratic victory of universal suffrage. After that happens the political framework of possibilities changes.

    Any working class that has ever achieved the democratic advance of universal suffrage has fought relentlessly rather than allow this gain to be threatened by the arbitrary winds of unpredictable revolution - from either left or right.

    It's why the working class in Britain/Scotland has never once since 1928 - when universal suffrage was finally introduced - inclined in practice towards the methods of revolutionary insurrection.

    Those three provisos aside, Marx, Kropotkin, etc, all helped stimulate important radical thinking, and, like the author of the article, I appreciate what they all had to say.


    (NB I'm working on an article expanding on these ideas so apologies for the broad stroke generalist nature of the way I've tried to express them here.)

    Kevin Williamson said...

    I think that was slightly more than one word...

    Darren said...

    Hello Kevin,

    cheers for the longer reply. A shortish reply at my end:

    1) Naturally, being an SPGBer, I disagree with your viewpoint that we don't have the potential for a society based on production for need, rather than the current set up.

    If we were both advocating a world based on the conspicuous consumption of the first world - all on credit, of course - then the planet simply couldn't sustain it.

    But I think we're talking about something qualitatively different. A society based on co-operation and democratic planning which takes into account finite resources of the planet and environmental sustainability but also recognises the fact that we have the productive capacity to ensure that everyone on the planet can be fed, clothed and housed.

    I'm surprised that you attribute such thinking to mid-nineteenth century thinkers when one of the bone of contentions that Kropotkin had with Marx - and vice versa - was the whole question of the transitional society and the use of labour vouchers. (Itself a form of rationing.)

    2) Do you think they did take a reductive view, "reducing everything to economics and class struggle"? I'll admit that I haven't read as much Kropotkin as I should, but the Marx who wrote the Paris Manuscripts never me struck as the crude economic determinist that many have sought to paint him.

    And I think that some of the more interesting Marxian Socialists from the twentieth century, such as Fromm, have very much built upon that thread in Marx's thought.

    3) Well, as you're probably already aware, the SPGB has always argued against the insurrectionary view of socialist revolution (and received a few brickbats in the process from friends and foe alike.)

    And, when it's been so inclined, the SPGB has indulged in the whole debate by quotation, where they've cited the later Marx and Engels to back up of the argument for political action. In short, using the ballot box for revolutionary means.

    So, I guess, your take on Marx and/or Kropotkin somehow advocating insurrection really depends on which period of their lives you're writing about.

    My own take on the SPGB historical support for a *cough* parliamentary road to socialism stems less in 'what Marx said when' or desiring a clean (legal) handover, and is rooted more in its own historical roots.

    Their experience of Hyndman and his ilk disabused them of any illusions in the power of leaders to deliver us to revolution, whether they be parliamentarians or barricadists, and they were only a generation older than those workers slaughtered in the aftermath of the Paris Commune.

    They had no illusions about the supposed neutrality of the state, and recognised that if this wasn't addressed head on then they were liable to fall victim to the armed wing of the capitalist state. It doesn't show its fangs often, but once it does it's only happen when it gets to taste blood.

    "between now and watching Der Hun hopefully get spanked later tonight . . . "

    Do you know that's the only quarter final not being shown on the FSC today? Just watched Zenit spank Leverkusen 4-1.

    Next up Getafe/Bayern.