Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

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

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Norman Geras

As for ‘betrayal’: although it has been overused, I believe this notion is sometimes apt, in political as in personal affairs. People can betray comrades or supporters; or their own stated principles. I think an excellent example of the latter case to be, precisely, the conduct of many ‘anti-militarist’ social-democratic leaders at the outbreak of the First World War...
Norman Geras, 1988.

I am not going to pass any kind of extended comment on Norman Geras, who I never knew personally, and who passed away yesterday, other than to say that he was once a Marxist - indeed a Trotskyist - who wrote some important work on matters including Rosa Luxemburg and human nature before betraying his comrades and own stated principles by cheerleading Western imperialism in a vocal manner on the blogosphere for the last decade or so of his life while trying to keep up the pretence he was still somehow on the 'Left'.  One of his best and most important books was entitled Literature of Revolution - his blog in contrast might best be filed under 'Literature of Imperialism' - and so is destined to be ultimately confined (to borrow a phrase from Leon Trotsky) to the 'dustbin of history'.

Edited to add: Obituary in Socialist Review by Paul Blackledge

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Gramsci: Everything that Concerns People

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What would Paul Robeson make of contemporary theatre?

A nice little article by Tayo Aluko, organiser of the excellent Paul Robeson Art as a Weapon Festival, on throughout Black History Month in London. 

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Monday, October 07, 2013

International Socialism # 140 online

Cover of issue 140

The latest issue of International Socialism journal is online, and there is a whole host of material there including Alex Callinicos on spectres of counter-revolution in the Arab world, Michael Roberts on the world economic situation, and a series of discussions relating to ''the future of the British Left'' including Julie Sherry on Len McCluskey's strategy to ''reclaim Labour'', Ed Rooksby of Left Unity responds to Paul Blackledge on ''Left Reformism'' and socialist strategy, Jane Hardy and Joseph Choonara respond to Neil Davidson on neoliberalism, and Charlie Kimber and Alex Callinicos write on the politics of the SWP crisis.  There are also a discussions of the German KPD, Giorgio Agamben, and two British politicians, the Tory Michael Gove (pictured below) and Labour's Chris Mullin  With teachers strikes last week and in the pipeline, here's hoping socialists don't have to talk about Gove too much more in future... 

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Saturday, October 05, 2013

Adventures in Marxism

 I was saddened to read of the passing of the late great Marxist humanist Marshall Berman last month - not least because the title of a selection of his writings - Adventures in Marxism - helped reinforce my decision to call this blog 'Adventures in Historical Materialism'.  By way of tribute to Berman, I will refer interested readers to my review of Berman's work from 2006 here.

Speaking of 'adventures in Marxism', while longstanding readers of this blog will have spotted that I am really contributing very little here at the moment, I may as well take this opportunity to note that registration is now open for Historical Materialism conference in London in November - though, as HM conference tends towards the academic and obscurantist, I should probably also recommend a short but sharp critique of 'academic Marxism' from 1989 by Chris Harman, who made the point that 'revolutionary Marxism starts from different premises and has different aims to the academic version', and the two should not be confused for each other.  Fans of Harman might also be interested to learn that the four essays that were later published together to form the basis of his 1984 study of Marxist economics, Explaining the crisis, are now online as part of the ongoing process of making the second series of International Socialism journal accessible, see Theories of the crisis, Marx's theory of crisis and the critics, The crisis last time and State capitalism, armaments and the general form of the current crisis.   These essays really help explain the economic crisis of the 1970s - for Harman's explanation of the crisis which began in 2007, see his Zombie Capitalism.

Finally, a quick salute to the late General Võ Nguyên Giáp, who has passed away aged 102 - and who was a military genius who helped mastermind the defeat of first French colonialism and then American imperialism in Vietnam.  To paraphrase Tom Paine, to play a part in the military defeat of two empires in one's lifetime really is 'living to some purpose'...

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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Once more on the Daily Mail and Hitler

This article from the Histomat archive 'Reasons to Hate the Daily Mail # 94: Hitler-worship' seems timely as the Daily Mail (of Hurrah for the Blackshirts fame) continues to attack the great Marxist Ralph Miliband, who as a young Jewish teenager with his family was forced to flee the rise of fascism. 

 Edited to add:

Protest: for everyone the Daily Mail hates

12pm, Sunday 6 October
Daily Mail offices, Young Street
London W8 5EH (High St Kensington tube)

Share and invite your friends on Facebook

12pm, Sunday 6 October
St Ann's Square, Manchester

Share and invite your friends on Facebook

On Sunday, all the people hated by the Daily Mail - that's pretty much all of us - are going to turn up at their headquarters, loud and proud about who we are. If you're a woman, a Muslim, LGBT, a nurse, a socialist, a trade union rep, a disabled person or just someone who doesn't like hatred being pumped into public life every day, turn up.

This is an upbeat, carnival-type protest, a statement of defiance against bigotry and hatred. So turn up in a good mood, with colourful banners, full of pride about who we all are.

Journalist and campaigner Owen Jones said: "A newspaper that once had the cheek to back Adolf Hitler and the Blackshirts has smeared Ralph Miliband, a Jewish refugee who fought the Nazis for this country, as a 'man who hated Britain'.

"But the reality is it is the Daily Mail who hates Britain. They hate our proud institutions, like the NHS and the BBC. Their campaign of hatred has targeted women, public sector workers, trade unionists, immigrants, Muslims, benefit claimants, travellers, and other vast swathes of our society.

"We're calling on all those hated by the Daily Mail to join us on Sunday, and to be loud and proud about what they are in a show of defiance against bigotry and hatred."

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