Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

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

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Syriza and socialist strategy - Stathis Kouvelakis and Alex Callinicos

Monday, February 23, 2015

Where is Syriza going?

From Panagiotis Sotiris via Alex Callinicos:

First major negative reaction against the Eurogroup agreement from inside SYRIZA comes from Manolis Glezos, Member or European Parliament of SYRIZA, and a living legend of the Resistance against fascism (in 1941 along with Lakis Santas they took down the German flag from the Acropolis)
Here is a rough translation of his statement

Statement by Manolis Glezos

Before it is too late
The fact that the Troika has been renamed ‘the institutions’, the Memorendum has been renamed the ‘Agreement’ and the Creditors have been renamed the ‘Partners’, in the same manner as baptizing meat as fish, does not change the previous situation.
And you can’t change the vote of the Greek People at the January 25 election.
The Greek people voted what SYRIZA promised: that we abolish the regime of austerity that is the strategy of not only the oligarchies of Germany and the other creditor countries but also of the Greek oligarchy; that we abrogate the Memoranda and the Troika and all the austerity legislation; That the next day with one law we abolish the Troika and its consequences.
A month has passed and this promise has yet to become action.
It is a pity indeed
From my part I APOLOGIZE to the Greeκ people for having assisted this illusion
Before the wrong direction continues
Before it is too late, let’s react
Above all the members, the friends and supporters of SYRIZA, in urgent meetings at all levels of the organization have to decide if they accept this situation
Some people say that in an agreement you must also make some concessions. By principle between the oppressor and the oppressed there can be no compromise, as there can be no compromise between the slave and the conqueror; Freedom is the only solution
But even if accept this absurdity, the concessions that have already been made by the previous pro-memoranda government with unemployment, poverty and suicide, are beyond any limit of concession...
Manolis Glezos, Brussels 22-2-2015

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Remembering Malcolm X - Black Power, Anti-Capitalism and Revolution

Want to Start a Revolution?: Radical Women in the Black Freedom Struggle
Rosa Parks with a poster of Malcolm X

Malcolm X holding West Indian Gazette, Claudia Jones on cover 1964
Malcolm X paying tribute to Claudia Jones

'Anytime you live in a society supposedly based upon law and it doesn’t enforce its own laws because the color of a man’s skin happens to be wrong, then I say those people are justified to resort to any means necessary to bring about justice when the government can’t give them justice.’
Malcolm X at the Oxford Union

Malcolm X’s legacy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination is to recognise that the fight against racism must be a fight against the system that produces it. 
Anthony Hamilton on Malcolm's X's Road to Revolution 

See also Mike Davis on America's black shining prince, Lee Sustar on Malcolm's revolutionary politics, Brian Richardson on Manning Marable's biography of Malcolm X, Saladin Ambar on Malcolm X at the Oxford Union and Ken Olende and Avtar Singh Jouhl of the Indian Workers Association on when Malcolm X came to Smethwick just nine days before his assassination in February 1965.  For more on Malcolm X in Britain, see Marika Sherwood's study Malcolm X: Visits Abroad.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

UAF national conference 21 February

Unite against 
fascism and racism
Saturday 21 February
Congress Centre, TUC,
Great Russell Street, London
9am onwards: Registration
10.20–11.30am: Choice of the following four sessions
a) Mobilising against the far right and fascist street movements across Europe
Chair: Weyman Bennett Joint National Secretary UAF; Christine Bucholz MP
Die Linke (Germany); Martin Lynch Black Country UAF; Petros Constantinou KEERFA; Sabby Dhalu UAF
b) War, Torture and Islamophobia – Defend Civil Liberties
Chair: Judith Orr Officer, Stop the War; Speakers: Lindsey GermanConvenor Stop the War; Mohammed Kozbar VP Muslim Association of Britain; Victoria Brittain Writer and journalist; Hamja Ahsan Free Talha Ahsan Campaign; Louise Christian Human Rights Lawyer
c) Opposing Austerity, racism and scapegoating immigrants
Chair: Aaron Kiely NUS NEC; Speakers: Sam Fairbairn People’s Assembly Against Austerity; Mick Burke Economist; Eileen ShortDefend Council Housing
d) Never again – 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz
Chair: Weyman Bennett UAF; Speakers: Gerry Gable EditorSearchlightCollette Levi Hidden child refugee from Vichy France
11.30–11.45am: Break
11.45am–1pm: Plenary
After Paris attacks: Uniting Against Islamophobia, 
anti-Semitism & Fascism in Europe
Chair: Sabby Dhalu UAF

Speakers: Nasos Iliopoulos Syriza Central Committee (Greece);Marwan Muhammed OSCE; Christine Bucholz Parliamentary Member Die Linke (Germany); Owen Jones award winning journalist;Claude Moraes MEPDr. Shuja Shafi MCB General Secretary;Billy Hayes CWU General Secretary; Mark Serwotka PCS General Secretary; Weyman Bennett UAF
1–2pm: Lunch
2–3.30pm: Choice of the following four sessions
e) Black lives matter: campaigning against institutional racism
Chair: Brian Richardson UAF; Janet Alder Justice for Christopher Alder; Marcia Rigg Sean Rigg Justice and Change Campaign; Maz Saleem Justice for Mohammed Saleem
f) Keep racism out of the general election – no scapegoating immigrants
Chair: Wilf Sullivan TUC; Zita Holbourne PCS NEC & BARAC; Saira Grant Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Don Flynn Migrant Rights Network; Sabby Dhalu Stand up to Racism
g) Stand up to UKIP
Chair: Denis Fernando Rainbow Coalition Against Racism; Steve HartUnite the Union; Representative of Alliance Against Romanian and Bulgarian Discrimination; Jo Cardwell Stand up to UKIP
h) Je ne suis pas Charlie: incitement of hatred is not freedom of speech
Chair: Alan Gibson NUJ; N’Della Paye (France); Azad Ali MEND;Jude Woodward UAF
3.30-4.45pm: Plenary
Celebrate diversity: stand up to racism
Chair: Jude Woodward Assistant Secretary UAF

Diane Abbott MPEmily Thornberry MPKen Livingstone;Sharar Ali Deputy Leader Green Party; Lutfur Rahman Mayor of Tower Hamlets; Petros Constintinou KEERFA (Greece); Simon Woolley OBV; Lee Jasper BARAC


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Michael Roberts on Yanis Varoufakis

A good Marxist analysis of the thinking behind Greece's new finance minister, who believes that “it is the Left’s historical duty, at this particular juncture, to stabilise capitalism; to save European capitalism from itself and from the inane handlers of the Eurozone’s inevitable crisis”...

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Monday, February 09, 2015

What a difference being a political careerist makes!

'Today, the power, incisiveness and passion of Engels's polemic remain undiminished. Far more so than Charles Dickens's Hard Times, Benjamin Disraeli's Sybil, or Thomas Carlyle's Past and Present, Engels's The Condition of the Working Class is the defining text of the British industrial experience. And, 150 years on, it speaks to our age with painful prescience - not only in its critique of the instability of the free market and the structural inequalities of British society, but in its unrivalled depiction of the inhumanity of capitalism ... Engels was relentless in charting the "social war" waged by the middle class on the operatives of the industrial city. Workplaces - mills, mines, factories, farms - resembled crime scenes. "Women made unfit for childbearing, children deformed, men enfeebled, limbs crushed, whole generations wrecked, afflicted with disease and infirmity, purely to fill the purses of the bourgeoisie." He was inflamed by the Manchester middle classes. "I once went into Manchester with a bourgeois, and spoke to him of ... the frightful condition of the working people's quarters, and asserted that I had never seen so ill-built a city. The man listened quietly to the end, and said at the corner where we parted: 'And yet there is a great deal of money made here; good morning, sir.'" ... Like Marx we can at last return to The Condition of the Working Class [by Frederick Engels] and appreciate the work on its own terms. To do so is to discover in its economic critique of unfettered markets, condemnation of capitalism's social injustices, angry reportage, and analysis of politics, poverty, feminism and urbanism all the power, passion and incisiveness which Marx rightly heralded'
Tristram Hunt on Engels's The Condition of the English Working Class, The Guardian, 9 May 2009.

'I’m enormously enthusiastic about businessmen and women making money, about delivering shareholder return, about making profit ... We have heard from some businesspeople. We have got 5 million great businesses working really hard across Great Britain, making money, as I say, and Labour is on their side. What is the problem our economy faces? It is a productivity challenge and that means the state has to play its role alongside business. What is the challenge for our business as well? It is markets. Only the Labour party is committed to ensuring we have got a successful UK working in Europe delivering those markets for modern British business. So we are a furiously, passionately, aggressively pro-business party.'
Tristram Hunt, now Shadow Education Secretary, quoted in The Guardian, 8 February 2015 - recall also that Hunt crossed a UCU picket line back in 2014 to give a lecture on Marxism

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Sunday, February 08, 2015

How Blair can help the Labour Party win

The fact that Ed Miliband seems to think that Tony Blair might be an electoral asset tells you everything you need to know about the desperation, weakness and general uselessness of Miliband's leadership. But Tony Blair has offered to 'do whatever it takes' to ensure a Labour victory in May - given this, here are a few things any Labour leader who actually wanted to win should suggest Blair goes and does:

1) Resign from the Labour Party
2) Call for any remaining Blairites in the Labour Party to do the honourable thing and also resign
3) Resign as Middle East Peace Envoy, and from all his lucrative advisor posts to big business / banks / dictatorships internationally - and give his riches to charities such as the Red Cross and Medical Aid for Palestinians
4) Apologise for the Iraq War
5) Hand himself into the International Criminal Court and ask to be tried for war crimes

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Tim Sanders on Charlie Hebdo

The point of satire is to attack the powerful, to expose their hypocrisy and absurdity, and of course to be funny. If satire is directed downwards it is not satire, it’s bullying.
British socialist cartoonist Tim Sanders on satire on the latest Socialist Review

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Debate: Syriza and Socialist Strategy

Hosted by International Socialism
Wednesday 25 February 2015, 7pm

With Stathis Kouvelakis, member of Syriza’s central committee and Alex Callinicos, editor, International Socialism

The victory of Syriza in the Greek elections has raised important debates about how to achieve fundamental social change. Can the new government overthrow austerity and, more fundamentally, is this confirmation of the method of “seizing power by elections, but combining that with social mobilisation” as Stathis Kouvelakis has written? Alex Callinicos has said that “revolutionary socialists should celebrate the new government’s victory and support the progressive measures it takes. But the entire Greek radical left will be judged by how successfully they promote working people’s self-organisation, confidence, and combativity. That is where the power to end austerity lies.”

Come and debate crucial issues of socialist strategy.

Wednesday 25 February 2015, 7pm @ Peel Centre, Percy Circus, King’s Cross, London, WC1X 9EY Venue is wheelchair accessible

 For more information call 0207 819 1177 or email isj@swp.org.uk - see also the ISJ Day School on China, World Capitalism and Workers' Resistance on 28 February 2015 in London.

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Friday, February 06, 2015

Karl Marx in London: The Walking Tour

In London, or planning a visit to London, and interested in Karl Marx's life and work? - as well as paying a visit to Bookmarks, the only bookshop in London named (in part) in honour of him, why not check out Karl Marx Walks...

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Defend victimised PCS rep Candy Udwin

No to privatisation at the National Gallery - sign the petition to reinstate victimised PCS rep Candy Udwin

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Scott McLemee and The History of the Ten Years

The early French socialist politician and historian Louis Blanc - I think he was one of the first (if not the first) socialists to get elected into a position of office in government in world history (during the 1848 revolutions) - once wrote a volume of political history called The History of the Ten Years about French politics c1830-1840. It's not bad - but unless you have an unusual interest in the details of French political history in this period, its not essential reading for socialists today. Anyway, on the subject of reviewing the past ten years, the American Marxist Scott McLemee has marked the fact that he has been writing his 'Intellectual Affairs' column for Inside Higher Education with a round up of his best columns over the past decade - again its probably not essential reading for socialists, but Scott writes so well, and with a fine nose for detecting bullshit - particularly academic bullshit - so its well worth checking out - see here

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Marxism 2015: Ideas for Revolution

From The Marxism 2015 office:

Marxism 2015 - Thursday 9 - Monday 13th July, Central London.

Marxism 2015 is a five day political festival bringing together thousands of activists, trade unionists, students, writers and academics.

There are over 160 meetings on everything from Palestine to UKIP, climate change to socialist alternatives. Speakers at last years Marxism festival included John Pilger, Gareth Peirce, Darcus Howe, Peter Hain MP, Billy Hayes, Sheila Coleman, Michael Roberts, Janet Alder, Ronnie Kasrils and Louise Raw.

At Marxism 2015 there will be plenty to discuss. It will take place only a few weeks after the General Election. Although at this stage none of us can predict the outcome, it looks set to be one of the most racist election campaigns witnessed in Britain. Whatever the result, the question will remain of how we can build a bigger and more united left in Britain and take on the racist scapegoating of UKIP. Events in the United States have shone a spotlight on the issue of police racism and violence. At the same time over 100 years on from the start of the First World War, questions of imperialism remain. From Gaza to Iraq, Syria to Ukraine, bloodshed and destruction continues and so does resistance to war.

We will explore all of these issues as well as many others at Marxism 2015 and welcome ideas for the event - Check out the Facebook page

Edited to add:
 Marxism as a political festival has been an annual event for a good few years now - I recently came across the following advertisement for Marxism '85 - thirty years ago, which I thought I may as well add on Histomat as from the line-up of speakers alone it looked like a pretty damn good event (as an aside, it might be noted the fact that Ralph Miliband was speaking at it means there is I think a reasonable possibility that this was one of the Marxism events that the young Ed Miliband came along to in order to listen to his dad debate with the SWP...not sadly that Ed Miliband appears to have learnt much about socialism from this experience...):  

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