Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

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

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

International Socialism 114

The new issue of International Socialism is online now, for those of you yet to have got a subscription. Features include:

Gramsci's Legacy
Antonio Gramsci, who died 70 years ago, is one of the most cited political thinkers of the 20th century. He is also one of the most misused. Thirty years ago socialists in favour of class conciliation treated him as their own. Today "post-Marxist" academics do the same. But Gramsci was a revolutionary with much to teach revolutionaries today. Megan Trudell, Chris Bambery, Chris Harman and Adrian Budd examine his legacy.

LGBT Politics
Official attitudes to sexual orientation have changed dramatically in recent decades. But lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people still face attacks and witch-hunting by right wing politicians. Colin Wilson looks at the roots of their oppression and the politics of the LGBT movement today.

Watching Big Brother
A row over racism meant that the reality TV show Big Brother impacted upon the consciousness of the left for the second year running. Colin Sparks asks what reality TV tells us about society.

Socialists and Scottish Independence, Northern Ireland's new troubles, the return of 'Popular Power' in Latin America, Sami Ramadani interviewed on sectarianism and resistance in Iraq, climate change, Bush's surge strategy and book reviews.

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At 12:02 am, Blogger Doug Nesbitt said...

A great issue. I've worked my way through Trudell and Bambery's articles on Gramsci which were excellent and immensely helpful. The Big Brother piece was fantastic.

Davidson's piece was excellent - it helped me put together some the puzzle that I was left with after reading his book, Discovering the Scottish Revolution, and the critical response from Frontline and other places. There is an unfortunate spelling error though. He writes that the Parti Quebecois took power on the provisional level. It should read provincial. I sent an email to ISJ about it, so hopefully they can at least change the online version if it's too late for the print edition.

The comparison with Quebec is interesting because three years ago our Quebec members of the IS were looking to the success of the SSP and how it could inform our work in the Quebec left regroupment l'Union des forces progressistes (which became the new party Quebec solidaire). But the SSP's stand on independence was puzzling if not asburd considering the role of Scottish merchants in oppressing the francophone majority in Quebec during the 19th century.

The 1837-8 rebellions in Lower Canada (ie: Quebec) were against the "Chateau Clique", a colonial capitalist elite that one liberal-minded Scottish merchant (Isaac Buchanan) called the "Scotch provincial snobocracy." The Chateau Clique was dismantled after the rebellions and the report by Lord Durham which was instituted through the 1840s. This ushered in a bourgeois democracy but, through a gerrymandering similar to Northern Ireland, the francophone majority of the two Canadas (Lower and Upper, or Quebec and Ontario as they are known today) was denied this.

Despite the end of the Chateau Clique and the institution of "responsible" government, the Anglo-Scottish elite maintained economic and a significant degree of political control of Quebec. The oppression of Quebec, beginning in the Conquest of 1759 during the Seven Years War, has seen a very Scottish capitalism play a leading role in carving out and controlling colonies for the British Empire.

This international dimension, I have noticed, is something missing from the arguments of the Scottish socialist supporters of independence. I'm curious, does Davidson or anyone else examine the Scottish role in British Empire at any length?

At 9:23 am, Blogger Snowball said...

Cheers comrade. I haven't read it but doesn't Davidson go through this in his book 'Origins of Scottish Nationhood' ? - see http://www.word-power.co.uk/platform/PlatformStyle-23

In terms of academic research into this area of imperial history, the other people to read are probably John Mackenzie - http://www.abdn.ac.uk/riiss/staff/mackenzie.shtml and Andrew Mackillop from Aberdeen University - their interests seem to be very much on Scotland's role in the British empire and I doubt they have much time for the myths around Scottish nationalism. See http://www.abdn.ac.uk/history/staff/mackillop.shtml

At 8:41 pm, Blogger Doug Nesbitt said...

Thanks! My university library doesn't have that book, only Discovering the Scottish Revolution. I'll work my way through it and check out the academics you cite.

I'm still pondering how to write a review of Discovering the Scottish Revolution. Hopefully I'll produce something this month.

At 3:37 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, was wondering what people thought of the two articels on N Ireland???
Going through them myself now

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