Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

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

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Probably the best International Socialist blogs in the World

It is official - Histomat is currently the 25th best left-wing British blog. Well, the 25th best left blog according to a random socialist with a penchant for Labourites and soft Stalinists who comes from Swindon anyway...

As my contribution to the apparently unsatiable desire that exists in the blogosphere for lists of left-wing bloggers, I have decided to compile a list of the top ten bloggers who are fellow members or supporters of the International Socialist Tendency. Well it is the 90th anniversary of the Russian Revolution and all that coming up next month and this seems as good a way as celebrating as any...well, maybe.

The Top Ten International Socialist Blogs...Probably

1. Lenin's Tomb (UK)
2. arabawy (Egypt)
3. ISO Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe)
4. If there is hope... (Canada)
5. John Molyneux (UK)
6. Sursock (Middle East)
7. The Measures Taken/ Sit Down Man... (UK)
8. Le Poireau Rouge (France)
9. Respect Supporter's Blog (UK)
10. Through the Scary Door (UK)

The list is rather dominated by UK based bloggers I am afraid - I am aware that there are must be many bloggers who are part of the IST or who stand for socialism from below and uncompromisingly against imperialism who deserve to be in this list - like perhaps The Sharp Side and many of the other fine blogs I link to - if I have missed anyone obvious out please don't feel offended - get in touch...

Edited to add:
The IS Blogs/Sites I forgot (sorry)

Kotaji (Korea)
The Bat Cave (UK)
Keep Left (South Africa)
Unity blog (New Zealand)
Resistance MP3 (UK)

Also edited to add:
Blogs/Websites which have made an historic past contribution to the IS tradition online (yes, a snappy title I know)

Rick Kuhn
David Renton
Dead Men Left

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Histomat Exclusive: Brown's conference speech leaked

[Once again Histomat is proud to be first with the leaked transcript of Gordon's Brown's speech to next week's Labour Party conference - entitled 'The Age of Change means the Party must Change' - which I am happy to put online even though it makes quite chilling reading for any socialist or democrat...]

The Age of Change means the Party must Change by Gordon Brown

Brothers, sisters, comrades, conference.

The Age of Change is finally upon us. The ten years in Britain without boom and bust in the economy are over. The ten years of relative industrial peace are over. We must all face up to the Age of Change. And the Age of Change means the Party must Change.

For too long the Party has struggled to keep pace with the Age of Change. The Party has fallen in number over the last decade. It is no longer a mass Party. We are no longer a mass Party.

Such a state of affairs cannot go on forever. We need to renew the Party. We need to 'renew' New Labour. [Pause for applause] Indeed, we need New New Labour. [Pause for applause] But New New Labour does not sound a good name. We need to rename the Party. The Age of Change means the Party must change - and the Party must change its name.

Brothers and sisters, I do not propose removing the name 'Labour Party'. That is there to stay. It is our foundation stone. It is our talisman. It is our soul. It is our Northern Soul. It is our rock. It is our Northern Rock. The Labour Party is, if I be permitted a joke, as solid as Northern Rock. [Pause for laughter].

But the Age of Change means the Party must be more than a rock. The Party must also learn 'to roll' with the Age of Change. The Party must learn to rock and roll. [Pause for laughter and applause].

That is something that Tony taught us. [gesture towards Tony Blair and wait for applause to finish].

I propose adding three words to the name 'Labour Party'. The first is 'British'.

Britishness as an identity is fundamental to the Labour Party. We have always as a Party been proud to be British, and proud of British values. But we have too often let the Conservatives and Right Wing take the banner of nationalism and wrap themselves in it. We must reclaim the Union Jack, our flag, and we must proudly declare ourselves to be not only the Labour Party, but the British Labour Party. [Pause for applause]

The second word is 'Socialist'. Yes, Socialist. The Labour Party has always declared itself to be a Socialist Party and we should be more explicit about that. Too many good Socialists have left our Party. We need Socialists inside the Party. We need to build the Labour Party as a Socialist Party. [Pause for applause]

The final word is 'National'. Our Socialism is not international, but national, rooted in Britishness, in the British people and their history. We are a national Party. We should be open about this, and be proud of our national identity, as well as our socialist identity. [Pause for applause].

Comrades, I propose to conference that the name of our Party shall no longer be 'The Labour Party'.

We shall be from now on the National Socialist British Labour Party (NSBLP).[Pause for applause]

Our rallying cry shall be 'British Jobs for British Workers in the Age of Change'.[Pause for applause]

There are two concrete changes I propose in addition to this.

The first is concerns foreign policy and the need to defend the British Empire. We are Socialists, but British Socialists, Empire Socialists. There is nothing to apologise for in the British past. We should rejoice in British history. I propose setting up a new post of 'Neo-Colonial Secretary' to oversee the defence of our Empire and to overwatch our reclaimed colony in Iraq and our new colony in Afghanistan.

The second concerns the debt we owe to our forebearers. I propose establishing a British Day to celebrate the great Britons of the past. And now we come onto Margeret Thatcher. She saw the need for change in Britain long before we did. She recognised the need to massively redistribute wealth and power in Britain and she had the courage of her convictions to follow it through. She understood that as far back as 1978, in an interview on Granada TV, that when the British Empire was weak then there was a need to defend Britishness at home. This is what she said:

'I think people are really rather afraid that this country might be rather swamped by people with a different culture and, you know, the British character has done so much for democracy and law, and has done so much throughout the world, that if there is any fear that it might be swamped, people are going to be really rather hostile to those coming in.'

Thatcher was absolutely right. She then went on to strengthen the British Empire and epitomised our beloved imperial icon 'Britannia' in her waging of the Falklands War. We must continue to work to rebuild the British Empire abroad and defend British values of toleration and fair play at home. Our new party emblem shows how we can do this side by side with our great allies - the American Empire:

[Pause for applause]

Our fighting slogans must be:

Forward to Overwatch in Iraq and Afghanistan!

Let the glorious British Empire last 1,000 years!

British Jobs for British Workers!

Build National Socialism!

Long live the National Socialist British Labour Party!

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Ken Loach on Britain's exploitation of migrant workers

Two good interviews here and here with socialist film director Ken Loach, about his new film, 'It’s A Free World', which will be screened on Channel 4 at 9pm on 24 September...


Thursday, September 13, 2007

History Is No Pacifist

'This prospect, it must be confessed, is very far from being an idyll, but Clio, the muse of history, was never a member of a Ladies’ Peace Society. The older generation which passed through the war of 1914-18 did not discharge a single one of its tasks. It leaves to the new generation as heritage the burden of wars and revolutions. These most important and tragic events in human history have often marched side by side. They will definitely form the background of the coming decades. It remains only to hope that the new generation, which cannot arbitrarily cut loose from the conditions it has inherited, has learned at least to understand better the laws of its epoch. For acquainting itself with the Chinese Revolution of 1925-27 it will not find today a better guide than this book.

Despite the unquestionable greatness of the Anglo-Saxon genius, it is impossible not to see that the laws of revolutions are least understood precisely in the Anglo-Saxon countries. The explanation for this lies, on the one hand, in the fact that the very appearance of revolution in these countries relates to a long-distant past, and evokes in official "sociologists" a condescending smile, as would childish pranks. On the other hand, pragmatism, so characteristic of Anglo-Saxon thinking, is least of all useful for understanding revolutionary crises.

The English Revolution of the seventeenth century, like the French Revolution of the eighteenth, had the task of "rationalizing" the structure of society, i.e., cleansing it of feudal stalactites and stalagmites, and subjecting it to the laws of free competition, which in that epoch seemed to be the laws of "common sense." In doing this, the Puritan revolution draped itself in Biblical dress, thereby revealing a purely infantile incapacity to understand its own significance. The French Revolution, which had considerable influence on progressive thought in the United States, was guided by formulas of pure rationalism. Common sense, which is still afraid of itself and resorts to the mask of Biblical prophets, or secularized common sense, which looks upon society as the product of a rational "contract," remain to this day the fundamental forms of Anglo-Saxon thinking in the domains of philosophy and sociology.

Yet the real society of history has not been constructed, following Rousseau, upon a rational "contract," nor, as according to Bentham, upon the principle of the "greatest good," but has unfolded “irrationally,” on the basis of contradictions and antagonisms. For revolution to become inevitable class contradictions have to be strained to the breaking point. It is precisely this historically inescapable necessity for conflict, which depends neither on good nor ill will but on the objective interrelationship of classes, that makes revolution, together with war, the most dramatic expression of the "irrational" foundation of the historic process.

"Irrational" does not, however, mean arbitrary. On the contrary, in the molecular preparation of revolution, in its explosion, in its ascent and decline, there is lodged a profound inner lawfulness which can be apprehended and, in the main, foreseen. Revolutions, as has been said more than once, have a logic of their own. But this is not the logic of Aristotle, and even less the pragmatic demi-logic of "common sense." It is the higher function of thought: the logic of development and its contradictions, i.e., the dialectic.

The obstinacy of Anglo-Saxon pragmatism and its hostility to dialectical thinking thus have their material causes. Just as a poet cannot attain to the dialectic through books without his own personal experiences, so a well-to-do society, unused to convulsions and habituated to uninterrupted "progress," is incapable of understanding the dialectic of its own development. However, it is only too obvious that this privilege of the Anglo-Saxon world has receded into the past. History is preparing to give Great Britain as well as the United States serious lessons in the dialectic.'

- Leon Trotsky, 1938.

From 'The Chinese Revolution', his introduction to The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution by Harold Isaacs, one of the most remarkable accounts of a revolution ever written, and now online in its entirety for the first time.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Democracy Day My Arse

Today is apparently 'Democracy Day'. Well, it is according to the Fabian Society who have organised a conference in London: 'Have your say and join leading politicians, thinkers and grassroots campaigners as we debate ideas that will renew our democracy.' Democracy in Britain indeed sorely needs renewing since the war crime in Iraq, waged against the express wishes of the British people, began. Yet isn't it therefore slightly odd that the key-note speakers the Fabian Society should have chosen to lecture on 'renewing democracy' and 'holding politicians to account' include the pro-Iraq war commentator David Aaronovitch (a columnist for Rupert Murdoch's The Times) and the pro-Iraq war MP Hazel Blears?

Still, Democracy might just survive the Fabian's farsical 'Democracy Day'. After all, the last time Hazel Blears was seen anywhere was when she put herself up for election to Labour Party deputy leader. The fact she came in sixth place (out of six candidates) suggests there is still hope.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

On the aristocratic elitism of Richard Dawkins

Just noticed a fine Marxist critique of the Professor from the apostate windbag...

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Brown contracts deadly Vietnam Syndrome

A Doctor Writes:

First he had to worry about Foot and Mouth, but now Gordon Brown seems to have caught the highly contagious 'Vietnam Syndrome', almost certainly off known sufferer George W Bush, who he met last month. This is a very worrying development indeed for British politics, as the disease seems to have infected the likes of apparently previously healthy politicians like David Miliband as well. It is not known if the whole of the Cabinet is now infected or not - though some members like Jack Straw are well known long term sufferers, having contracted the disease off Tony Blair.

If left unchecked, Vietnam Syndrome becomes highly dangerous - with severe consequences for the mental health of the patient. In an advanced state of the disease, the patient can become quite, quite unhinged. The classic case here is known among Doctors as the 'Christopher Hitchens', though there are other examples such as the 'Denis Macshane' and the 'Nick Cohen'. When the patient reaches such a state, then unfortunately there is little anyone can do. The afflicted person badly needs to be put out of their misery, and in some situations a quick workers' tribunal followed by a firing squad is probably the kindest thing that can happen. Unfortunately, instead of recieving this admittedly rather extreme form of treatment, in the case of Hitchens, Macshane and Cohen the patients are still cruelly mocked by all and sundry, repeatedly given column inches in national papers in which to fill as best they can.

If the disease is detected in time, a swift treatment known as AITW (Advocating Immediate Troop Withdrawal) can have some impact in stopping the disease from speading, though there is always a danger of relapse. Ideally, vaccination against the disease would be administered widely - the vaccination required is known as EFP (Ethical Foreign Policy). In 1997, Robin Cook tried to administer EFP to the British Labour Party - but the side effects of injecting EFP into the Labour Party at such a late stage in the Party's development were quite devastating - and possibly contributed to Blair going down with full blown Vietnam Syndrome almost immediately. Robin Cook himself tragically also succumbed to Vietnam Syndrome.

Other well-known sufferers in Britain include Johann Hari. It has long been feared by some that in Hari's case, shooting by firing squad may be the kindest thing, though others remain hopeful he might still recover as he has shown signs of apparent recovery in the past. With Hari, the thing is touch and go to be honest whether Vietnam Syndrome will reach Hitchensesque levels or not. What clearly is most unfair in Hari's case is that he remains a newspaper columnist - he should be relieved of this duty as soon as possible if there is to be any chance of stopping the disease developing.

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