The Early Days of a Better Nation

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Socialism or your money back or your money back

The current issue of Socialist Standard has an interesting review page, including a slagging off of Red Planets (a book I haven't read but which has a chapter about my Fall Revolution books), and a (perhaps better deserved) slagging off of Žižek's latest caper.

Right at the bottom of the page is an ad for a book I can unhesitatingly recommend, Socialism or Your Money Back, a collection of articles from the Standard's first century (1904 - 2004). 'A running commentary on one hundred years of history, as it happened,' the ad says, and it's right. Every article in the book is consistent in outlook, reflects the time in which it was written, and yet (for the most part) remains readable and interesting today. You don't have to agree with the book to enjoy it, or to have your thoughts (and more) provoked. I bought it for a tenner when it came out, and it was worth every penny. It's now available in the UK for a quid, plus postage. As its publishers would be the first to agree, the market affects everything. You can get the entire collection of articles (but not the introduction and comments) free, but the book's a bargain even so.

(Why does the SPGB have annual conferences? So that it can react quickly to events.)

Labels: , , ,


I once saw a tv show about Slovenia's great contribution to the entertainment culture, S. Zizek. It consisted of snippets of his performances,..., sorry, lectures. Each was a visual sound bite no longer than one minute. I had no idea of what each was about, unless it was his bank account. The sad point was that it was on a DVD sent to me by someone who considered this an introduction to Zizek's thought. Well, any publication that trashes such stuff must be OK.

You're right, George - Zizek's great for the odd provocation, but there's not much more than that, and a lot of very disturbing attitudes. Detailed takedown from a more-or-less Trotskyist view here.

Well Ken, let me be a bit more charitable. I understood the subject-matter of most of those bites, because they were nothing more than jokes or position statements . I even agreed with many of them. But there were no explanations or arguments on that DVD, and I later heard that such things rarely turn up in his books either. This sets a very bad didactic example for people who want to learn and think about matters that are relevant to their lives. For me he's a figure of fun, a clown.

The review of Leninists In Space made for a great read. I enjoyed it even though I shall probably never read any of the items reviewed. This holds especially for any single word by Kurzweil. The stuff on him is great and directly to the point. I smelled a rat when I saw writings about his ideas. The review turned the stench into a coherent formulation of my suspicions.

I don't really understand how SPGB activists keep going with no orientation towards struggles, actions etc. A hundred years preaching socialism and they've been outdone by almost every mildly successful far-left group in GB.

Budapestick - some of the members are active in trade unions and other activities, but the party as such doesn't try to lead them. But, yeah - it is a hard concept of politics to wrap one's head around. I suppose being the largest single ultra-left group in the world is a success of a sort. And it's not as if the vanguardist or reformist left is growing. (Mind you, the SPGB isn't either.)

However, if you want to discuss this with people who know more about it, I'm sure Darren is your man.

'And it's not as if the vanguardist or reformist left is growing'
I seem to recall a Trotskyist MEP being elected across the pond...

Post a Comment