Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Defend the right to protest

In an unprecedented step, Scotland Yard has applied to the home secretary to ban all marches in five London boroughs for 30 days starting from 2 September.

This means that the English Defence League march in Tower Hamlets, east London, set for 3 September will be banned. But the blanket ban will also cover the counter-demonstration organised by Unite against Fascism and United East End.

The English Defence League still plan to come to Tower Hamlets to hold a static protest. Everyone who opposes racism and fascism should protest about the ban, which denies us our right to stand up to the EDL, and should mobilise to come to Tower Hamlets on Saturday 3 September.

From here.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tony Cliff on the 1981 riots

The riots and looting have been fantastic, but they have not gone far enough. Because they have not been organised, the kids have attacked shops when they should have been attacking factories. We must teach them to take the bakery, not just the bread...
Quoted in Ian Birchall, Tony Cliff: A Marxist for His Time (Bookmarks, 2011) -also reviewed here and here - for more Marxist analysis of the 1981 riots in Britain see here

Labels: ,

On Libya and Liberal Interventionism

Anti-imperialism is in the fabric of the Arab political movements. We cannot separate the fight for democratic freedoms from the struggle to defeat imperialism. What the imperialists want, and there are forces among the Libyan rebels who agree, is to sustain the system with a different face.

But it’s important to see that the fall of Gaddafi might also radicalise other revolutionary struggles. It will have an impact in the Gulf states.
In Libya it’s too early to judge if all the people will welcome Nato with open arms. At the start of revolutions people unite in wide coalitions, but once the dictators fall contradictions will come to the surface.

But the decisive factor is the ­process in Egypt. It is the most powerful movement in the region and what happens there shapes all the struggles across the region. We are still just at the beginning of the revolutionary process, and these are just the first small steps

Bassem Chit, Lebanese socialist in Beirut

...The model of intervention practised in Libya harks back to NATO's 'good war' in Serbia and implies a departure from the mistakes of Afghanistan and Iraq. This will undoubtedly give a boost to further interventions elsewhere. The ‘no boots on the ground’ philosophy avoids fatalities among Western soldiers but it clearly highlights NATO's main contribution: its huge destructive power which is shamefully described as ‘surgical’. This revived interventionist model is even more barbaric than its predecessor, promoting the myth that real political change can be achieved through remote-controlled military aggression. The likes of Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy are seizing the opportunity to bolster their weak standing at home through this ‘success’, reviving in the process the notion that the West has the moral responsibility to intervene where it sees fit.

The interventionist chatter has intensified since yesterday, with arguments such as ‘this wouldn’t have been possible without NATO intervention’. While I will personally be pleased to see Gaddafi end his despicable reign, the simple answer is we will never know now. We will also never know which shape the Libyan uprising would have taken and whether it would have allowed a different leadership untainted with its association to the old regime to emerge. In short, the right to self-determination has been taken away from the Libyan people, and that is not a small matter. Anyone still convinced of the humanitarian merit of the intervention should closely examine how the events unfolded on the ground in Libya to realise the extent to which this argument has been substantiated through exaggeration and the spreading of convenient myths.

The momentum that the argument for intervention built back in March, largely due to the influence of Britain and France, was enough to overcome US reluctance even in the absence of clear Western interests. By convincing themselves that they are morally obliged to intervene, Western leaders end up acting in an irrational manner and get swept up by their own rhetoric. It is now crucial to confront the insidious logic of liberal interventionism and defend the right to self-determination. While the jubilation we might feel when Gaddafi finally departs might convince us it was ‘worth it’, the reality is it’s misguided to replace one local tyrant with the custodianship of superpowers. Let the lesson of Iraq not be forgotten.

Karl Sharro, another Lebanese socialist - see also Lenin's Tomb for updates.

Labels: ,

Friday, August 19, 2011

Prince Harry on the riots

After the riots - and amidst the brutal state clampdown - has come a tidal wave of commentary on them - some informed and much simply the rehashing of reactionary old mantras. It is interesting then to hear amidst all this the voice of one young person in Britain who, despite his own experience of living in a family all trying to survive on state benefits while suffering unemployment, did not, for some reason, feel the need personally to take to the streets and riot. Yes, Prince Harry of Buckingham Palace Row, London, has now commented at last on the riots, and apparently he found them
'shocking and outrageous'

Prince Harry himself of course might have never felt the need to riot as such, but he has recently partaken in a quite brutal, violent and criminal act of looting - as part of a wider smash-and-grab raid known as 'Western Imperialism in Afghanistan', so perhaps his attempt at trying to help seize the moral high ground over the riots for the government, police and the ultra-rich 'over-class' in society lacks a certain je ne sais quo.


Peter Petroff and the origins of British Bolshevism

The now forgotten but once legendary veteran Russian Marxist
Peter Petroff
(1884-1947) now has a significant collection of his writings in English up on the Marxists Internet Archive. Ted Crawford has written a short biography of him for the site. Petroff played an important role in the origins of not only Russian Bolshevism but also British Bolshevism. In 1907, he had arrived in Britain as a refugee from Tsarist Russia and worked with John Maclean and other socialists up in Glasgow, learning English and relating to them in turn something of the history of the Russian revolutionary movement. Imprisoned during the Great War, Petroff maintained links with Trotsky and returned to Russia after the revolution in 1918, joining the Soviet government. By the 1930s, after being sent to Germany as a special envoy and witnessing the disastrous role Stalinism played at the time of the rise of Hitler, he broke with the Communist International. He then escaped from Nazi Germany back to Britain, where he wrote a classic work The Secret of Hitler’s Victory with his German wife, Irma (1891-1968), published in 1934 by Woolf’s Hogarth Press - which provided a Marxist analysis of the resistable rise of Hitler.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, August 12, 2011

Open letter to Cameron on the riots, jobs and education

Please sign this - cheers

See also this public meeting:
After the riots… Defend our young people, Give them a future
Winston Silcott
Paul Gilroy
(author There Ain’t No Black In the Union Jack and After Empire)
Merlin Emmanuel
(Justice for Smiley Culture)
Zita Holbourne
(Co-Chair Black Activists Rising Against Cuts)
Weyman Bennett
Stafford Scott
Gary McFarlane

Public Meeting
All welcome!
Monday 15 August, 7pm
@ North London Community House,
22 Moorefield Rd, N17 6PY
Bus 149, 279, 318, 349, 476
Underground Tottenham Hale, Overground Bruce Grove

Monday, August 08, 2011

Public Meeting: From Riot to Revolution

A riot is the language of the unheard - Martin Luther King

After the Tottenham riots...
Public Meeting: Justice for Mark Duggan, no to police violence and racism...
Speakers include: Gary Mcfarlane, local community activist
- Eyewitnesses to Saturday’s uprising

This Wednesday, 10 August, 7pm, North London Community House, 22 Moorefield Rd, N17 6PY
Bus 149, 279, 318, 349, 476
Underground Tottenham Hale,
Overground Bruce Grove

Hosted by the Socialist Workers Party

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Protest at the crackdown in Egypt

The Egyptian army and police have sent thugs using clubs and an armoured car to smash up the camp of martyrs’ families and their supporters in Tahrir Square -   please send urgent messages of solidarity and protest - victory to the Egyptian and Syrian revolutions!