The Early Days of a Better Nation

Friday, August 26, 2011

Found in Translation

After enjoying the 'Nothing but the Poem' event on Sorley MacLean, I couldn't miss Wednesday's major session on his work at the Book Festival, marking the centenary of his birth. Again the event was packed and all the tickets sold out; again the proportion of Gaelic speakers in the audience was low, and again the audience was mainly of an older rather than a younger generation. Aptly enough, a great deal of the discussion concerned the pitfalls of translation and the parlous situation of the Gaelic language.

Read the rest and comment over at Genotype.

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I've noticed recently more angry marxists (or at least espousers of a dumbed down marxism-lite) in comment threads on nerd sites (slashdot, 4chan, etc). I can remember 10 years ago when it seemed like the only people who got really angry about politics and the "state of the world" in comment threads were always right wing, they'd keep on going with their libertarian ideological responses long after everyone else had given up. But now there seems to be a something similar coming from the left. As you're finely tuned to expressions of marxism, have you noticed anything like this happening?
I don't particularly like what their saying, its very simplistic for a start, but it offers the hope that there might be a counterpoint to the ring wing extremism that's been running wild for the last 2 decades or so.

I'm not as finely tuned as I might be, but I've noticed a small but increasing number of young and angry bloggers and commenters who identify with 'Marxism-Leninism', usually some kind of Maoism. There's also quite a lot of interest in online introductions to Marx's Capital, such as David Harvey's lecture series.

Possibly just wishful thinking on my part then.
I can remember after the USSR collapsed being pleased that this was the death of Marxism, now the left wing would be full of people like me. Moderate, sensible and open to other viewpoints. What I didn't realise was that without hard core ideologues a political movement doesn't achieve anything. The left lost its backbone and people like me aren't any good when it comes to secret agendas, enforcing discipline, punishing turncoats and all the other activities necessary for achieving and maintaining political power. The right wing has these people, and so they always win over time.
What the world is crying out for now is a new synthesis of marxism, one that has a clean break with the overly-academic, footnote-laden beast that the original has become. One without the revolution, proletarian dictatorship, communism and all those other elements that made sense only in a world before universal suffrage, and which tie it to the failed Soviet experiment.
One that gets down to the core message - the destructive and rapacious nature of capitalism and the need for state control of business to tame it.

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