Saturday, November 14, 2009

A novel approach to politics

Back to the Socialist Standard.

There are long term plans to digitise every issue of the Socialist Standard going back to September 1904, in order that they can be made available online for anyone and everyone to read but, in the meantime, the work of posting articles of interest from old Socialist Standards falls on the shoulders of a few members who do the work off their own bat.

So, therefore, kudos to my old Central London Branch mucker Rob S for recently posting on the Socialism Or Your Money Back blog three old articles from the Socialist Standard on novelists and thinkers who have been of interest to socialists going back several decades:

  • From the March 1971 issue of the Standard, Robert Barltrop's review of the (then) recently published paperback version of the four volumed collected essays, journalism and letters of George Orwell: Coming up for Orwell
  • From the May 1987 issue of the Standard, Carl Pinel's Leo Tolstoy: author and anarchist
  • And from the November 1973 Standard, Paul Bennett's Camus: Portrait of a 'Rebel'
  • It'll come as no surprise to seasoned SPGB watchers that of three authors under discussion, Tolstoy comes out best from the three review essays. (Though with obvious qualification.)

    To be honest, despite being a long term fan of Barltrop as a writer, I'm rather disappointed by the tone of his article on Orwell. A bit too sniffy and vinegary for my liking. Maybe, as someone who had just returned to the SPGB after ten years of other political activity, he was playing to a particular gallery a bit.

    I much prefer both Brian Rubin's article on Orwell from the December 1983 Socialist Standard and (I believe) Les Dale's article on the Political Ideas of Orwell from the October 1986 issue of the Standard.

    Of course Orwell knew about the SPGB. As an avowed anti-Stalinist writer and journalist in London in the 30s and 40s how could he have not crossed paths with the SPGB? There is the mention in passing to the SPGB in the aforementioned Collected Essays but it's also the case that I remember from a few years back a comrade mentioning that when he looked at Orwell's collected papers for research purposes in London they contained a number of SPGB pamphlets, with scribblings in the margins.

    I wish now that I'd asked him what Party pamphlets were in Orwell's collected papers and what were those damn scribbles.

    1 comment:

    ajohnstone said...

    Scribblings? If mine it , would be filling up the Os and the Ds and especially of Ps Bs of SPGB etc etc but then i was never a writer