Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

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

Saturday, October 22, 2011

International Socialism # 132

The new issue of International Socialism is now out, and online. People should go peruse the contents for themselves - the journal ranges in topics discussed from the great early 19th century black Caribbean radical Robert Wedderburn to Queer Theory. Yet the heart of the volume I guess is analysis of the latest phase of the deepening economic crisis from Alex Callinicos - and defences of classical Marxist interpretations of that crisis from Guglielmo Carchedi and Joseph Choonara. There is also an examination of the resistance from ordinary people to being made to pay for the crisis - including the indignados movement in Spain dating from 15 May - which remains a key inspiration for the current global anti-capitalist 'occupy' movement with its demands "For real democracy now" and declaration that "We are not commodities in the hands of politicians and bankers".

Closer to home, while the occupy movement has finally hit Britain over the last week or so, the journal has a nice contemporary history of the recent riots which rocked England this summer, an article which ends with SWP founder Tony Cliff's thoughts on the 1981 riots - quoted from Ian Birchall's recent biography. There have been an increasing number of reviews of Birchall's work - see for example John Palmer in Red Pepper, and in this ISJ, Nigel Harris, another former leading member of the group and a former editor of International Socialism, gives his thoughts on the strengths and limitations of Cliff's revolutionary Marxism. There is much to reflect on in Harris's and Palmer's criticisms of Cliff, but one point Harris makes about Cliff's faith in the world working class being problematic for a Marxist in Britain when the class itself apparently 'had decamped to east Asia' with globalisation, seems a little weak. This is not only because Marxists in the IS tradition ranging from Chris Harman to Mike Haynes in this issue have examined in more detail than Cliff was able to the changing nature of the global working class - but also because - as the looming mass strike in Britain on November 30 - the struggles of the organised working class remain of fundamental importance if the slogans of the global occupy movement such as "For real democracy now" and "We are not commodities" are ever going to be turned into reality, and so linking up the movements on the streets with networks of rank and file trade unionists remains the critical task of socialists in the period ahead.

Labels: ,


At 2:33 pm, Blogger Resolute Reader said...

I disliked the Nigel Harris piece. Not particularly because of his disagreements - they are welcome. But because I felt it came across as self-serving. More about Nigel Harris than the book or its subject. On the other hand I am glad that Harris is willing to write for the journal and take part in the debates.


Post a Comment

<< Home