Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Welcome to 'Adventures in Historical Materialism', or 'Histomat' for short

Firstly, a necessary preface. This blog does not aim to monopolise, centralise, control or exert any form of hegemony over the work being done by Marxist historians on the web. Indeed, to the best of my knowledge, there are currently still not that many socialist historians with their own websites or blogs that one could try and dominate even if one wanted to. Arguably, there are far too few socialist historians who are even aware of the full potential of the web - and I place myself regrettably in that camp. I resist trying to utilise new forms of technology - and then struggle to use them once I have decided that they should be used. Setting up this blog was a battle of sheer will over intellect, but now it is born! I am more than happy for advice on how to 'blog', and I will place my email address in this first post in case I do not manage to set up a 'links' page for a while. You can contact me at histomat@hotmail.co.uk .

I chose the word 'Histomat' for this blog as I felt that it was time that this word was retrieved from the dustbin of history, where it was lying, covered in the dust of Stalinist misuse and abuse. Perhaps one day, 'Diamat' will be used again as short hand for 'Dialectical Materialism', as Marxism used to be known. Historical Materialism is one of the most misunderstood theories of historical change that exists, yet it is my belief that without an understanding of how society has changed in the past, there is no hope for changing society in the present. I am no expert, and hopefully I will learn as much from those who read and comment on this blog as they do from me.

Anyway, 'Histomat' is born now - I hope that it will strengthen the work of all those involved in recording and remembering the truth, in the face of official apologists for imperial and corporate power. But if it was simply a serious, intellectual exercise then it might resemble the dusty second hand books by Stalinists littering up the few remaining independent second hand bookshops left in the country. That would be worse than a blunder, it would be a crime. Histomat aims to be a place for adventures and tangental paths off the well worn beaten tracks of historical materialism, a space for me at least to escape from the political for a period. That said, I am now off to watch the cricket.

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At 11:53 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apart from a fairly fatuous one about electronic music on Charlotte Street (one for your links perhaps?), this is the first comment I have left on a blog, so bear with me.

The quote at the top of your blog is a good one. Every child and student in the country learns about "great men" who are constantly recycled whenever we need to assert our national identity, and yet no child ever learns what the likes of their own ancestors did or thought, or how they were treated by these selfsame "great men," 50, 100, 150 years ago.

This selective study of history reflects itself in our knowledge of the present. Everybody knows who the "great men" are, but few are really aware of the struggles that normal, everyday people - their peers in other words - face, even if there are 5.9 or so billion of them.

This is one challenge that socialist historians and chroniclers of the contemporary face: giving faces, names, lives to the quotidian. The people who starve everyday in Africa; or who, like their fathers and grandfathers, die in unnecessary wars; or who face deportation to a regime which will torture them; or who work for a pittance in Tesco's. These people must have the cloak of statistics (after all, who understands what 100,000 dead Iraqis really means?) taken from them.

People are alienated from their pasts and the presents. Good luck in remedying this situation.

(PS: I didn't realise you still watched cricket...)

At 3:11 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

Thanks for your comment and goodwill towards this blog.

With respect to the cricket, it was indeed the first time in a long time that I went to watch cricket - it was a 20/20 match between Yorkshire and Lancashire which Lancashire won.

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