Penny unread

December 30, 2010 at 7:13 pm (capitalist crisis, Jim D, Marxism, students)

Laurie Penny, a self-styled ‘representative’ of the student protest movement, launched into an attack on the “old”, “trade union” left in the Graun:

I’d been thinking about a reply, until the excellent James Bloodworth did it for me (on Dave’s blog):

“The young people of Britain do not need leaders, and the new wave of activists has no interest in the ideological bureaucracy of the old left”

Laurie Penny is the latest in a long line of “revolution as play” types who don’t really want any radical change whatsoever. It’s about posturing. Read her article again and notice that she makes no proposal whatsoever for an alternative vision of society – or even the contemplation of such a vision. It’s all about “making a statement” – as if the purpose of the movement itself should be about making a lot of noise without going beyond that.

To say the new activists have “no interest in the ideological bureaucracy of the old left”, without proposing any alternative “left” they may have “faith” in, is to essentially endorse what she perceives as their faith in the neo-liberal status-quo.

Put simply: what is she proposing? That the protests remain about smashing things up in Parliament Square and then going home?

All very well; but like I said: revolution as play.

Then I realised that Engels had already answered Ms Penny one hundred and thirty eight years ago, dealing with Bakunin (whose ideas were identical to hers):

(Bakunin wanted the International to be, not an organization for political struggle but a copy of the ideal society of the future, with no leaders and no authority, for authority = state = an absolute evil. The authority of the majority over the minority also ceases. Every individual and every community is autonomous. But as to how is any society to function, unless each gives up some of his, or her, autonomy?)

Engels: “Bakunin, who up till 1868 had intrigued against the International, joined it after he had made a fiasco at the Berne Peace Conference and at once began to conspire within it against the General Council. Bakunin has a peculiar theory of his own, a medley of Proudhonism and communism, the chief point of which is in the first place that he does not regard capital, and therefore the class contradiction between capitalists and wage earners which has arisen through social development, as the main evil to be abolished–instead he regards the state as the main evil. While the great mass of the Social-Democratic workers hold our view that state power is nothing more than the organisation with which the ruling classes, landlords and capitalists have provided themselves in order to protect their social prerogatives, Bakunin maintains that it is the state which has created capital, that the capitalist has his capital only by favour of the state. As, therefore, the state is the chief evil, it is above all the state which must be done away with and then capitalism will go to hell of itself. We, on the contrary say: do away with capital, the appropriation of the whole means of production in the hands of the few, and the state will fall away of itself. The difference is an essential one. Without a previous social revolution the abolition of the state is nonsense; the abolition of capital is in itself the social revolution and involves a change in the whole method of production. Further, however, as for Bakunin the state is the main evil, nothing must be done which can maintain the existence of any state, whether it be a republic, a monarchy or whatever it may be. Hence therefore complete abstention from all politics. To perpetrate a political action, and especially to take part in an election, would be a betrayal of principle. The thing to do is to conduct propaganda, abuse the state, organise, and when all the workers are won over, i.e., the majority, depose the authorities, abolish the state and replace it by the organisation of the International. This great act, with which the millennium begins, is called social liquidation.

“All this sounds extremely radical, and is so simple that it can be learnt by heart in five minutes ; that is why this theory of Bakunin’s has also speedily found favour in Spain and Italy, among young lawyers, doctors and other doctrinaires.

“But the mass of the workers will never allow themselves to be persuaded that the public affairs of their country are not also their own affairs; they are by nature political and whoever tries to make out to them that they should leave politics alone will in the end get left in the lurch. To preach that the workers should in all circumstances abstain from politics is to drive them into the arms of the priests or the bourgeois republicans.

“Now as, according to Bakunin, the International is not to be formed for political struggle but in order that it may at once replace the old state organisation as soon as social liquidation takes place, it follows that it must come as near as possible to the Bakunist ideal of the society of the future. In this society there will above all be no authority, for authority = state = an absolute evil. (How these people propose to run a factory, work a railway or steer a ship without having in the last resort one deciding will, without a unified direction, they do not indeed tell us.) The authority of the majority over the minority also ceases. Every individual and every community is autonomous, but as to how a society, even of only two people, is possible unless each gives up some of his autonomy, Bakunin again remains silent. The International, then, must also be reorganised according to this model. Every section, and in every section every individual, is autonomous. To hell with the Basle resolutions, which bestowed upon the General Council a pernicious authority demoralising even to itself!

“Even if this authority is voluntarily bestowed it must cease simply because it is authority.

“Here you have in brief the main points of the swindle.”


Cuno Theodor (born 1847). German Social-Democrat. Engineer. Expelled from the country at the beginning of the seventies, took part in the organisation of a section of the International in Milan and stood for the line of the General Council. At the Hague Congress (1872) he was chairman of the commission which decided on the expulsion of Bakunin from the First International. Cuno later emigrated to America, where he collaborated in the New York People’s Paper.

Courtesy of Marxists Internet Archive.

Hal Draper is also brilliant on “The myth of anarchist ‘libertarianism’“, that Penny ought to read.

39 Comments

  1. maxdunbar said,

    No, this is wrong.

    The student/UK Uncut protests are the future because they are a crowd of normal people rather than a hierarchy of professional activists.

    Note that the SWP crowd are finally beginning to realise they are on the wrong side of history. Read Callinicos’s pathetic attempt to keep his cult relevant here: http://tinyurl.com/38d4edw

    And for sheer comedy value, our old pal Lenny has written a piece called ‘In Defence of Old Hierarchies’ in which, under a lot of bluster, he expresses his fear that history has left the SWP behind, that the SWP is irrelevant to twenty first century protest, and also his envy of Laurie Penny who is a better writer and who has got a bigger public profile off the back of her reports on the protests.

    If you don’t want to read the whole boring thing I shall provide a brief summary.

    This raises hard problems. One of Laurie’s objections is to grand ideologies. As she puts it, it doesn’t matter if you’re a socialist, a Blairite, a liberal, an anarchist, etc. What matters is whether you’re ready to be be on the frontline, in the struggle. That’s fine as long as the only issue is, how do we stop this cut, this fee rise, this ‘reform’? As long as it’s something as simple as that, then unity in action is assured. But as soon as things become more complicated, as soon as we have to think about whether we need unity with firefighters, tube workers, immigrant groups, etc., and as soon as the issue of more far-reaching social change comes up, there are going to be real, obstinate differences of principle which emerge. Then decisions have to be made. Can we still work together, and if so on what basis? Can we suppress certain differences to achieve a common goal? At what stage does the suppression of real differences become counter-productive, or even unprincipled? If these matters are to be resolved democratically, then we can’t avoid traditional means of organising.

    Translation:

    Don’t look at Laurie Penny! Look at me!

    http://tinyurl.com/2fgctfu

    • Lobby Ludd said,

      If that is a fair summary, then I think you might find that Mr D substantially agrees with Lenny on the need for ‘organisation’, whilst he will no doubt find ‘problems’ with the full article – just a guess, since I can’t be arsed to read it myself.

      That neat summary states a view rather commonplace on the left, but does seem rather short on ‘comedy value’, hard as I have looked.

      ‘Look at me!’ is what all groups on the left say, including the cuddly AWL – it’s because they think that they can show a way forward.

      I rather doubt, however, that Laurie Penny is self-declared anarchist, more of a pissed-off liberal, I’d have thought. (Mind you, isn’t that what most self-declared anarchists are?)

      Fight it out amongst yourselves.

  2. James Bloodworth said,

    “As she puts it, it doesn’t matter if you’re a socialist, a Blairite, a liberal, an anarchist, etc. What matters is whether you’re ready to be be on the frontline, in the struggle. That’s fine as long as the only issue is, how do we stop this cut, this fee rise, this ‘reform’? As long as it’s something as simple as that, then unity in action is assured. But as soon as things become more complicated, as soon as we have to think about whether we need unity with firefighters, tube workers, immigrant groups, etc., and as soon as the issue of more far-reaching social change comes up, there are going to be real, obstinate differences of principle which emerge.”

    And this is correct. It DOES matter if you are a Blairite or a Liberal when we are talking about alternatives – rather obviously because tuition fees themselves are Blairite and their increase is backed by Liberals.

    Besides, who are these mythical Blairites and Liberals that are protesting against tuition fee rises? As far as I was aware, these are the very people implementing this bullshit in the first place.

    Having a coherent alternative ideological vision matters more than ever; those we are fighting against have a very clear idea of what theirs is.

  3. JohnBaker said,

    maxdunbar says ‘for comedy value read this’ and then posts up a piece outlining the very real shortcomings of journalists like Laurie Penny… er, did I miss the joke?

    As mentioned, Penny does not actually propose any real solutions to the problems of rampant neo-liberalism. She writes very well of course, but she quite simply does not have any proposals beyond attending protests and flash mobs organised via social media. I think if she had any real, concrete ideas that challenged the system in any meaningful way then she wouldn’t have such a regular media presence. Perhaps she realises this on some level.

    As for the mythical Blairites and liberals, one of these would be the guy behind UK Uncut who backed David Miliband for Labour leader and left the Labour party pretty soon after Ed won. His politics appear to be pretty liberal/dire.

  4. sackcloth and ashes said,

    Well, at the risk of being controversial, this may be what the opposition to the ConDem movement should be doing.

    (1) Point out that the so-called ‘austerity measures’ that the government is initiating are likely to have on the UK economy the same effect that those initiated by BIFFO (the Big Ignorant Fucker From Offaly) and his government did to Ireland.

    (2) Ask LibDems (MPs, Councillors and voters) if this is what they signed up for.

    (3) Host massive, and orderly, demonstrations in the heart of London. No vandalism of monuments, no son of a Pink Floyd musician attacking the Cenotaph, no senseless violence. Just march, and show your numbers, and your cause.

    That would be a good start.

  5. Michael Ezra said,

    Jim,

    FYI, I have referenced this article in a piece I have written for Harry’s Place:

    http://bit.ly/eCYQoL

  6. Ed said,

    My response to Michael Ezra at Harry’s:

    Michael Ezra translated: I am terribly clever and I know all about Engels, and the SWP and all these other followers of these chaps called Lenin and Trotsky, but all these youths don’t need to, for instance, study history (to know who Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, or anyone else was), that’s the preserve of terribly clever sneering philistine twits like me.

  7. maxdunbar said,

    That is an excellent article Michael.

    I can only add this:

    - The fact that Jim uses the words of a man who died a hundred years ago to ‘answer’ Penny’s argument just underlines the archaic irrelevance of the SWP protest-as-theology position. Seriously, mate, what were you thinking?

    - The idea that SWP old hands like Callinicos and Seymour are somehow more practical and organised and more in touch with The Workers than Laurie Penny, and more able to run the factories and schools come the revolution, is clearly fantasy.

    The SWP position, in essence, is this: ‘Silly little girl. Ideas above her station.’

    The real issue, which Penny gets and Callinicos and those wedded to Leninist parties do not get, is that many young people simply do not like being told what to do: not by their parents, not by their school teachers and certainly not by some fool who attempts to sell them a Trotskyist newspaper.

    Yes.

  8. Ed said,

    Max

    Do you think nothing is to be learned from history?

  9. maxdunbar said,

    Yes, and the history of leftwing movements led by a hierarchy of intellectuals does not do the SWP’s position any favours

  10. Michael Ezra said,

    Max,

    Thanks for your support – and Jim – no hard feelings!

  11. Khalid said,

    Could it be that “leftwing” Penny is unenamoured by Marx’s central class theory that capitalist by dogmatic definition – not by empirical or economic reasoning – are the evil party who are stealing an “unearned profit”? Isn’t this the source of Penny’s conflict with the SWP – although she does not do a great job articulating it?

    I don’t intend to be fishing from muddy waters, and lefties are quick to unceremoniously censor any questioning of their core religious biblical beliefs – but what is the case for “unearned profits” against small or medium capitalists that are operating within the confines of a free and fair market?

  12. maxdunbar said,

    That is more or less where I’m coming from. I’m all for growth and trade and wealth creation, I just hate tax dodging billionaires that exploit their workers.

  13. Ed said,

    In what sense is Jim putting the SWP’s position? They aren’t the only people who can read Engels.

    Of course many left groups are and have been bad – though there are even worse examples than the SWP, like, oh you know, the CPs. But it does nobody on the left any service to simply applaud a young activist who basically seems to be saying the current movement has nothing to learn. It strikes me as the cheapest kind of demagogy (not from her: from the people like Max and Michael applauding her).

    The whole point to political activism, surely, is to learn from the past. The trouble with every political movement – the reason so many fail – is that they don’t.

  14. johng said,

    Khalid I suspect that Penny doesn’t like capitalism much. And also suspect that she’s not terribly offended by the idea that those who profit from the existence of that system (ie capitalists) are the enemy. And find amusing the idea that this amounts to some form of discrimination. Are you per chance a hedgefund manager?

  15. Michael Ezra said,

    Ed,

    If anyone wishes to learn anything from history, then what they should learn is that attempting to violently overthrow government and install a Marxist utopia leads to terror, mass murder and is doomed to failure.

    Answering a question by citing either Marx or Engels and believing that should suffice as the end of any discussion – a religious approach to the holy scriptures – is ridiculous.

    What Marxist-Leninists of all stripes simply cannot hack is being told that they are wrong. As far as they are concerned they are right as their party is right – and one can only be right with their party and not against their party. What they have a hard time doing is accepting that there are a lot of other Marxist parties with differing opinions to their own who think they re right also. I simply enjoy sitting on the sidelines and watching the bickering.

    The Trotskyist parties are the ones that I am glad do not learn things – they will never grow, they will always remain small and irrelevant, not least due to this error that they make time and time again without learning. How many times will the SWP expel or effectively force out whole groups of activists as recently occurred with the Rees/German split? Mark my words, one day, johng will either leave the SWP or be expelled. If we wish to discuss historical determinism and learning from the past – then it is pretty much a sure bet.

  16. Ed said,

    “What Marxist-Leninists of all stripes simply cannot hack is being told that they are wrong. As far as they are concerned they are right as their party is right – and one can only be right with their party and not against their party”.

    I know, of course, what you’re referring to, Michael, and up to a point it is a fair point. But everyone thinks they’re right, at least on an operational basis, including you, or you would not be participating in this discussion. I think your assessment of Marxism (as opposed to of particular groups) is wrong. Can you hack that? Of course you can. I can ‘hack’ being told I’m wrong. Maybe I am. But I do not accept that there is anything necessarily about being a Marxist that makes you any more unable to understand the provisional nature of truth, or intolerant of others’ opinions than anyone else.

    But back to the point: the argument being applauded is there is nothing positively, whatever, to be learned by a new generation of activists from the old. That seems to me absurd.

    And I don’t suppose Jim thinks quoting Engels is the end of the matter. Nor is it necessarily to think his writings ‘holy scripture’ to feel they’re worth quoting. Engels was wrong about lots of stuff. He was right about anarchists, though.

  17. Khalid said,

    Max – we seem to agree that small/medium scale capitalism, where the owner of money, equipment, tools, technology, or know-how must compete (in a free market) with other capitalists in order to supply his assets, and therefore cut his returns to the bare bones, or be unable to sell or rent his assets (money, equipment, tools, technology, etc.).

    Thus I see “exploitation” or the “appropriation of unearned profit” to be an issue of larger capitalists that can distort the markets (through monopolies, collusion, trusts, market share, etc.).

    Does the ideological left make such a distinction? If not, then there is a big hole in their class theory that a dump truck can drive through.

    My beef is with monopolies – monopoly capital, monopoly labour, government monopoly, etc. This is the source of unearned profits, and not social-liberal-democratic free-market capitalism per se.

    Also: without small scale capitalism, there will be no political liberalism. Is the ideological left willing to give up political liberalism? I suspect so.

  18. maxdunbar said,

    Well, you have revolutionaries, who want to smash the system, and reformers, who want to rejig the system so it’s geared more towards the needs of the many. I’m on the reformist side. Like Michael, I think it’s important to remember that people who want to destroy capitalism will generally replace it with something much worse. Revolutionaries today generally have no answer to the question of what will replace capitalism, and many of them are ideological allies with totalitarian movements. Revolution in the twentieth century has just meant a transfer of absolute power.

    (Having said that, the American and French revolutions created much better societies, so revolutionary politics can work sometimes)

    Perhaps capitalism will die out, and replaced by something much better. I mean, pay and conditions in the UK are much better than they were ten years ago. I like to keep the utopian option in mind. That’s the dream!

    There’s a great quote by George Monbiot: ‘If there is no humane and democratic answer to the question of what a world without capitalism would look like, then should we not abandon the pursuit of unicorns, and concentrate on capturing and taming the beast whose den we already inhabit?’

    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2003/11/18/rattling-the-bars/

  19. Khalid said,

    Johng: “Are you per chance a hedgefund manager?”

    Heh – no, but I know one here – heh.

    But let us say I was a hedge fund manager and had to compete with a gaggle of them. As long as I provide a service in a competitive manner where I can only charge for my costs, wages, risks, skills and know-how, and the market may reject my charges if too pricey, then what is the moral case against hedgefund managers? If they are providing a service that is valued by the market, then they are in the same productive category of a cleaning-lady (the most valued of all professions). If they are speculating with their money such as a land or commodities speculator does – well that is a zero sum game, and for every winning capitalist there will be a losing capitalist. There is no moral case here – but a lot of envy case.

  20. Michael Ezra said,

    Ed,

    There is a big difference between thinking you are right, and you are correct that of course I think I am right, and stating as a fact what should be an opinion. I do not tend to state my opinions and present them as facts. Marxists, on the other hand, seem to do this frequently. I am not trying to specifically pick on you for this point, but you have done exactly that with the following: “Engels was wrong about lots of stuff. He was right about anarchists, though.” Part of the reason, I believe, for this is that Marxists,or at least some of them, like to view Marxism as a science. In the same way that one can mathematically know that (x +1)(x-1) = x squared -1, with no doubt and with 100% certainty, some Marxists like to think that the answer to a political question is scientific and can be shown to be accurate even if it is based on a future unknown. This is also where I feel the aspect of Marxism similar to religion comes in. The opinions that the party publish in their newspaper becomes the gospel for the party members. In fact party members are expected to read, learn and argue in favour of their party line. They become the Marxist equivalent of Christian evangelists. It could be said, as was claimed about members of the Militant tendency, that they were “Marxist muppets jerking hands to Ted Grant’s line.” Go to any union conference and you will see that all the members of the SWP will all vote the same way: they are automatons who do not need to think. All they need to do is jerk their hands upwards when commanded to do so,

  21. Khalid said,

    Ed: But I do not accept that there is anything necessarily about being a Marxist that makes you any more unable to understand the provisional nature of truth, ..

    Of course there is. A Marxist is methodologically a relgious person. Religious people operate at the level of faith and belief and are impervious to empiricism. Religious people have difficulty accepting facts. A Marxist goes by the scriptures as revealed by Marx and Engles. Empirical reasoning is secondary to a Marxist because the Marxist believes it is all one conspiracy of the evil guys with the dollars who have manipulated all truth, facts and science, etc. and only the Marxist has seen through that and that the Marxist God (“workers”) is infallible.

    That is as religious as one can get. Marxist class theory says any owner of capital, even if you own a screwdriver, no matter how small and competitive, is exploiting the “other” category – namely labour. In this theory a capitalist never exploits another capitalist and a capitalist even when he goes broke is still exploiting the ummah – namely labour. This theory breaks apart, if the capitalist is competing with innumerable other small capitalists and has to cut his profit to basically reflect his time, service, risk, and cost of money.

    There is the scientific methodology – where the empirical free market objectively determines the value. And then there is the rationalized ideological methodology where the Marxist declares (obvisouly from a political and subjective interest) what is value and what is not (just like a church would categorize good and evil) and the Marxist is impervious to any empirical reasoning that may conflict with his sanctities, his holy gospel, or Marx’s revelations.

    Big difference.

    There are so many methodological and philosophical parallels between Marxists and Islamists – and no wonder they make such wonderful bed buddies!

  22. Khalid said,

    Max, that is an interesting and rational quote from someone who is the precursor to the term “moonbat”.

    It is pretty obvious how the beast is to be tamed. First off, all monopolistic conditions are to be legislated against. Economies of scale do in fact favor accumulation of capital. This is an unfortunate economic reality. However, there can be a size limit legislated (or punitive progressive taxation) that would mitigate against that. A wealth tax and an accurate method of accounting for wealth is needed.

    These are not esoteric or idealistic reforms. These reforms are well understood and have been well debated. So the question is what are the impediments to realizing this stronger social-democratic system which at the same time does not mitigate against entrepreneurial wealth-creating activities, especially if economy of scale is an important component of that activity.

    On another note – it’s amusing that one can trash Marx’s class theory on this socialist website without getting even a single critique in return. Is everyone partying or have the socialists given up on class theory?

  23. Ed said,

    Michael, I take it for granted that anything I say is my opinion. Of course it’s my opinion that Engels was right about anarchists… Nobody could operate on a daily basis if we had to constantly say ‘but this is only my opinion’ about anything.

    Khaled, on the other hand, makes numerous entirely dogmatic assertions about what Marxists are supposed to believe. He’s wrong on many counts – and here, actually, he is actually wrong, because he is referring inaccurately to my own thought processes. And there’s nothing, oh nothing at all, ideological in his assertions about, for instance, the free market.

  24. Michael Ezra said,

    Ed,

    I have more time for anarchists than Marxists The former do not spend their time telling me how to live my life. Having said that, I always look forward to the SWP’s annual Marxism shindig.

  25. Khalid said,

    Ed – please enlighten me. What is ideological about free markets? The fact that it is a fundamental social construct does not make it ideological. In fact it is truly empirical. Value is accepted and agreed upon by willing parties (in a free market). There is nothing rationalized about it. If I rationalize my price and go to the market and insist on that price, well I am not going to get it if the demand is not there or if the supply is numerous.

    There is nothing more empirical than a free and open market. Value is there for everyone to see and a transaction is witness to that value.

    On the other hand, Marxists are totally ideological and ascribe zero value to capital and infinite value to labour. Nothing in reality bears that out. But the Marxist is willing to blow things up or execute a million dissidents because he is so dogmatically asserted that truth and history lies with the Marxist theology.

    Marxists are supposed to believe in Class Theory as the foundation of their religion. That theory has been debunked. There is nothing dogmatic about what I said. I brought empirical evidence why the Class Theory is wrong. That debunking is not dogma – it is empirical science, and can be verified through experiments and empirical observation. There is a great deal of literature on this subject. The short of it is that capital (equipment, tools, money, technology, know-how, manegerial skills, etc.) behave identical to other commodities such as labour.

    The only reason a capitalist can receive unearned profit is through exertion of political power. But in a liberal-social-democracy, a small capitalist has no access to political power. Now compare this to the “dictatorship of the proletariat” and weep !

  26. Ed said,

    ” But the Marxist is willing to blow things up or execute a million dissidents because he is so dogmatically asserted that truth and history lies with the Marxist theology.”

    Well, I would not be. All right? And of course adherents of the free market have *never* done terrible things for the sake of their ideology. Ask the people of Chile.

  27. Michael Ezra said,

    Ed

    The difference is that Leninists of all stripes have a different morality to those of us who aren’t. Consider the following from Leon Trotsky:

    As for us, we were never concerned with the Kantian-priestly and vegetarian-Quaker prattle about the “sacredness of human life.”

    Caring about human life and not killing people becomes “bourgeois morals” for Leninists. Killing people becomes a necessary requirement for the good of the revolution. For as Trotsky went on to say immediately after the above sentence:

    We were revolutionaries in opposition, and have remained revolutionaries in power. To make the individual sacred we must destroy the social order which crucifies him. And this problem can only be solved by blood and iron.

    In simple language: we must kill people.

  28. Nayme Hear said,

    I hope somebody kills that cunt Michael Ezra.

  29. maxdunbar said,

    Well, Marx and Engels were great thinkers and writers, but there is clearly a danger in basing your entire worldview on the work of one or two individuals

  30. Ed said,

    Michael

    I don’t think the height of the Civil War is when we catch Lenin and Trotsky at their best; but I’ll grant you they said some stupid things, which – as statements – I would not defend and certainly not stand by. But what about -

    “Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.”

    “Freedom is always the freedom of dissenters.”

    “Freedom only for the members of the government, only for the members of the Party – though they are quite numerous – is no freedom at all. ”

    These are all from Rosa Luxemburg. The point, which you and Khaled and many others seem unable to register, is that most of the things you identify as the consequences of Marxism have been fought by other Marxists.

    As Luxemburg’s murderous social democratic (in the more modern sense) opponents in Germany demonstrate, the ‘moderate’ tradition hardly has hands free of blood.

  31. Michael Ezra said,

    Ed,

    To be honest, those who I regularly have a dig at are the Trotskyists and the Stalinists. It is certainly true that there are anti-Leninist Marxists but even in the tiny world of Marxists parties in the UK, the SPGB are pretty irrelevant aren’t they?

    Trotskyists stand by the tradition of the Bolsheviks. They justify the red terror and the behaviour of the Cheka. They defend their own history.

    If someone were to tell me that he was a Marxist, but against Lenin and the Bolsheviks, then that would be another matter entirely. I just enjoy Swappie baiting!

  32. Khalid said,

    Ed And of course adherents of the free market have *never* done terrible things for the sake of their ideology. Ask the people of Chile.

    Chile was a classic fascist dictatorship and they were no free marketeers. The dictatorship was run by a corrupt unaccountable oligarchy of generals, politicians, state capitalists, and large monopolistic family-based capitalists. They were as anti-market as Chavez is today.

    Pinochet’s Chile had nothing to do with markets or competitive capitalism – in the same manner that today’s liberal market-oriented Chile has nothing to do with socialism. At least get your categories straight.

    But let’s not change the subject. Can you offer a critique of my debunking of Marx’s brain-dead Class Theory? Thanks.

  33. Ed said,

    Hello? Chicago School?

  34. Khalid said,

    Ed – nice try to divert the subject. I am not going to waste my time doing a google on that to prove you wrong. In fact one can very convincingly argue that today Chile’s democratic capitalist success story is heavily indebted to the Chicago School. One thing for sure is that the Chicago School did not advocate killing dissidents, nor is it responsible for killing 3,000 Chileans, nor did it kill 30 million dissidents like Marx advocated with his deterministic dictatorship.

    Let’s stick to economics. What is your defence of Marx’s brain-dead Class Theory?

  35. Ed said,

    Marx advocated killing 30 million dissidents? Lol.

  36. James Bloodworth said,

    “In fact one can very convincingly argue that today Chile’s democratic capitalist success story is heavily indebted to the Chicago School.”

    Chile’s democratic success story? Of the past forty years almost half of them Chile languished under military dictatorship. And you are saying that Chile’s return to democracy after military dictatorship is actually down to those who colluded *with* the fascist dictatorship in the first place?

    How about we simply skip the fascist dictatorship and the murder of thousands and stick with the democratically elected government of Chile circa 1970? As always though, you on the “decent left” talk the talk on democracy only when the results suit your corporate agenda.

    Russia’s development is “heavily indebted” to Joseph Stalin. Doesn’t mean a lot if your relative was murdered or tortured though, does it?

  37. jim denham said,

    Sacha Ismail sent a message to the members of What kind of “new politics”? Laurie Penny debates Workers’ Liberty.

    Sacha IsmailJanuary 10, 2011 at 1:35pm
    Subject: Room for AWL/Laurie Penny debate confirmed – 3a, ULU
    Hi everyone,

    The room for the 27 January debate between Laurie Penny and Ed Maltby of Workers’ Liberty is 3a in University of London Union, Malet Street.

    Details below!

    Hope to see you there.

    ***

    What kind of “new politics”? Laurie Penny debates Workers’ Liberty

    7.30pm, Saturday 27 January
    Room 3a, University of London Union, Malet Street
    (Euston, Russell Square or Goodge Street tube)

    The student protests have fundamentally shaken up politics in Britain. More and more people no longer believe that the Tories’ cuts and attacks on the welfare state are unstoppable.

    In this new period, what kind of politics does the left need? It’s clear that it cannot be “business as usual” – we need to step up a gear.

    Does that mean that Marxist ideas, focused on the working class and workplace/industrial struggle, are no longe…r relevant? What about the trade unions? Do we need political parties, or are they are a harmful distraction? Are differences on the left no longer relevant? Is the notion of socialist publications, promoting a definite program, an absurd anachronism, or more important than ever? What kind of organisations do we need to beat the Tories and overthrow their system?

    * Laurie Penny is a journalist, and a feminist and anti-cuts activist in London.She has written for publications including Red Pepper, the New Statesman and the Guardian. Her article “Out with the old politics” sparked the current debate on structures and politics in the movement

    http://www.facebook.com/l/7fcd7DF0iPOEtjtxWRLBmHpB0Gw;www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/24/student-protests-young-politics-voices

    * Ed Maltby is a member of the national committee of the socialist organisation Alliance for Workers’ Liberty

    http://www.facebook.com/l/7fcd7QEWxIKP2cYLApo1ep0qFtw;www.workersliberty.org/story/2011/01/03/why-revolution-will-not-be-tweeted

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    Find people from your Yahoo! address book on Facebook!

  38. Mikey said,

    I had better turn up. Trotsktists and revolutionaries. I have to keep a check on them. Find out what they are up to etc.

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