Ideas for Freedom 2007

May 22, 2007 at 6:30 pm (AWL, left, socialism, unions, voltairespriest)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJust a quick post to let you know about an upcoming event, details for which were kindly emailed to me by the AWL. If you haven’t been before, do consider going. The AWL are one of the most democratic groups on the Marxist left in the UK, who whether you agree with them politically or not, are far more open to shows of dissent than a lot of other organisations. The debates are usually very interesting, particularly when controversial or heated – credit to the AWL, unlike certain other groups they’re willing to discuss in a very open way, and also to air their own internal disagreements at times, in a public and democratic fashion. So it’s all a very worthwhile exercise. Also, the Saturday night piss up is usually pretty good. Not that such low motives would possibly move the readers of this blog to attend, I’m sure.

Ideas for Freedom 2007

Ideas for Freedom is a weekend of socialist debate and discussion hosted
by the  Alliance for Workers’ Liberty: from the evening of Friday 29 June
through to Sunday 1 July. Resource Centre, 356 Holloway Road, London N7.

Our major theme this year is what it actually means to be on the left, and
to be a socialist. As much of the left, from the SWP and Respect to the
Labour Party, continues to move ever further away from socialist politics
and decay politically, we want to reassert the themes of human freedom,
consistent democracy and working-class struggle as the basics of any
socialism worthy of the name.

We will also be running a number of sessions “Introducing Marxism”. Ideas
for Freedom is a space in which young activists can come and learn about
Marxist ideas in a friendly atmosphere where questioning and debate are

Sessions will include:

– “Introducing Marxism”, including: Are revolutionaries violent?; Why do
we need political parties?; ‘Working class’, ‘multitude’ or ‘people of
good will’?; What does it mean to be left-wing?

– After Gordon Brown’s coronation: how can workers win a voice in
politics? A panel on working-class political representation including John
McDonnell MP, left challenger for leader of the Labour Party

– Workers’ Liberty debates Nick Cohen, Observer journalist and author of –
What’s left? on “Does socialism have a future?”

– Anarchism and Marxism in the Spanish revolution 1936-7

– Newsnight journalist Paul Mason reads from and leads a discussion on his
new book Live Working or Die Fighting: How the Working Class Went Global

– How can we get the trade unions to fight? A debate with trade union
speakers and Sheila Cohen, author of Ramparts of Resistance

– Debate with the Aegis Trust on Darfur and the left’s attitude to
humanitarian intervention

– Robin Blackburn, author of The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, on the
real history of the abolition of slavery

– Priya Gopal, author of Literary Radicalism in India: Gender, Nation and
the Transition to Independence, and Camila Bassi of Workers’ Liberty take
part in a panel on anti-racism and multiculturalism

– Sessions on queer politics and LGBT liberation

– Understanding Marx’s Grundrisse

– Do Labour councils have to make cuts? Hackney RMT and tenants activist
Janine Booth speaks about the lessons of the 1921 Poplar Council struggle,
and an activist talks about the current anti-cuts campaigns in Lambeth

– A film showing and speakers on women and workers’ struggles in Iran

Friday 29 June: film night and social, Bread and Roses, 68 Clapham Manor
Street, London SW4, from 7.30pm-late. (Clapham Common tube or Clapham High
Street rail)

Saturday 30 June and Sunday 1 July: at the Resource Centre, 356 Holloway
Road, London N7. (Holloway Road tube)

Saturday evening social with live music

Creche provided, free accommodation in London arranged. We may also be
able to help you with transport, depending on where you are coming from.

Tickets are £25 (waged), £18 (students and low waged) and £13 (unwaged).
However, they are £3 cheaper if bought in advance. One day tickets are
also available.

More details about the event: email or phone 020
7207 3997.

Or you can register online at


  1. twp77 said,

    I would possibly consider attending but will probably be at the Permanent Revolution dayschool that weekend. I know there was some kind of silly argument where PR were accused of doing this on purpose but I know that simply isn’t the case. Anyway, best of luck to the organisers.

  2. Mike said,

    “Not that such low motives could possible induce readers of this blog to attend”…

    – burp –

  3. Dave said,

    Good to see someone still running with that old debate on ‘are revolutionaries violent?’ Which reminds me of a 1980s joke:

    Typical SWP dayschool: ‘Do we need violence to get socialism?’
    Typical Red Action dayschool: ‘Do we need socialism to get violence?’

    He he.

  4. modernityblog said,

    Looking at AWL web site, etc they seem to be fairly advanced in the use of technology, as compared with other left groups in Britain, so I wonder will the AWL be recording the sessions and eventually putting them up as MP3 downloads?

  5. Karlmarxstrasse said,

    I asked this last year regarding one of the “main” debates. The answer from the AWL’s Martin Thomas was:

    The debate was taped. Whether we have the skills and technology, and whether the recording is sufficiently good quality, to go up on the web, I don’t know.

  6. modernityblog said,

    Thank KMS

    Sigh, it is a trivial process and hope that the conference organisers are listening, here’s the procedure:

    1) tape a session using a good-quality microphone and preferably something like a Mini-disc,
    2) take the recorded material and either transfer directly to the PC as WAV file (then go step 10)

    3) or using a 3.5mm Stereo Plug to Plug Lead connect the recording device into the audio input on the PC (Maplin reference L30BA)
    4) using something like Audacity, an excellent freeware audio editor, press the play button on the recording device and record on Audacity programme, it will then transfer the recording to the PC.
    5) at the end of the session, save as a Wave file (it needs a lot of space).
    6) exit Audacity and verify the recording with some media player
    7) if it sounds correct, load up using audacity again and remove one of the audio channels, so the recording is now in mono (it takes up much less space)
    8) trim the beginning and end then save as an MP3
    9) use one of the variousfree server services to host the files (they might be large in total) and just provide links from the AWL web page
    10) once the WAV file on the PC,go to step 7 and tidy it up.

    that’s a fairly simple procedure for managing the recordings, there are plenty of options to adjust in Audacity that may reduce the file size but not detract from the quality of sound, it is subjective judgement that people will have to make on the day

    Audacity can be found at

    I hope that helps, and there is no reason in the 21st century that the Left can’t use modern media and technology to put over their ideas or to record things for posterity!

  7. voltaires_priest said,

    Priya Gopal’s always very interesting, and the Nick Cohen debate should be a good (verbal) punch-up.

  8. karlmarxstrasseaudioanoraks said,

    Alternatively, modernityblog, the AWL could be much more modern. I believe there are MP3 recorders with USB connections and mic-in sockets that cost around 80 quid “on the market”. Then you could save kerfuffing around with a Minidisc or cassette recorder, or most importantly, save the hassle of having to transfer the sound to a PC in real time. Just plug it in to the computer and it’s finished.

  9. modernityblog said,


    agreed, I was trying to cover most eventualities.

    I would still probably edit most MP3 recorder anyway, just to tidy them up, but I am a bit picky!

    in my experience a good-quality microphone is key to a good recording, better that than tidying it up afterwards with an audio editor.

    either way, to ensure that there are no problems I’d have some spare kit ready, just in case there is a hitch

    whatever method they pick they should trial it out beforehand, write down some documentation, step by step and ensure a few people know how things work (not just the techies), that would reduce the probability of problems on the day.

  10. Kate said,

    KMS and Modernityblog

    I’m sure that everyone involved in organising the Ideas for Freedom school is very gratefully for all your technical advice. But just to make sure, why don’t you come to the weekend and check that the systems being used are suitable? Then you’ll be able to hear your own dulcet tones contributing to the debates instead of just listening to them on the Workers Liberty website afterwords 😉

  11. modernityblog said,


    thank you for the invite, I would love to take it up, however I am somewhat confined in my movements nowadays, I look forward to listening to the debates on-line.

  12. Karlmarxstrasse said,

    I would, Kate, but I’m a bit far away and that – despite “cheap” flights, the cost of living in London compared to Berlin means the return from Stansted Airport to London proper would cost me the same as a week’s rent in my luxury castle, I mean, flat in a dosshouse. That could be an explanation as to why the German’s favourite theme when speaking to an Englishman they’ve just met has changed from “Have you met The Queen? / Were you at Diana’s funeral?” to “Some bastard from London has just bought the house we live in and is trying to double the rent just for putting up some new wallpaper”. Perhaps you could hold it over here, including the flights and room rental, and a few nights in a youth hostel, the cost would be around the same, I suspect.

    Having once “helped tape” debates at Ideas for Freedom, I know that the apparently simple matter of using a dictaphone adequately enough to enable a transcript to be typed from the tapes (e.g. having enough tapes, having enough batteries) was a bit too much for some “leading members”, so I wouldn’t have too much hope that they would make it onto the web. For how long has the SWP been *selling* poor-quality recordings of Marxism sessions? About 20 years?

  13. stroppybird said,

    “Also, the Saturday night piss up is usually pretty good. Not that such low motives would possibly move the readers of this blog to attend, I’m sure.”

    And don’t forget the star attraction of Denham at said piss up 😉

  14. voltairespriest said,

    Of course, unless he becomes a Temperance Man in the interim…

  15. stroppybird said,

    “Of course, unless he becomes a Temperance Man in the interim…”

    Nah, that was just when he was trying to sway the puritan vote in the Jim4Leader campaign. A move strongly opposed by Doll4Jim.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: