Archive for September, 2016

Article by Kevin Ovenden on how racist anti-immigration arguments should be opposed with arguments based on economic realities.
Excellent analysis.

Kevin Ovenden's Blog

imgres Memorial to Arkadiusz Joswik, a Polish facotry worker murdered in Harlow in England

Unite leader Len McCluskey said in his speech to the Labour Party conference: “I believe that the question of free movement of labour is a question not only in the UK but in Europe. No one talks of countries where migrant labour come from being denuded of skills.”

 
He did so in the context of explicitly supporting Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to concede to calls from the right wing and soft left of the Parliamentary Labour Party for further immigration restriction into Britain, something which is now set to be a central dividing line in British politics. 
 
McCluskey said that Corbyn’s call for collective bargaining rights, a minimum wage of £10 and hour and stronger union organisation addressed the issue of bosses super-exploiting many migrant workers.
 
At the same time, the British labour movement…

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Absolutely love this artwork “Symposium on Neoliberalism” by Tiago Hoisel.
And the accompanying dialogue in the blog is very tongue-in-cheek.

Linguistic Capital

Marxist: You want to know why the economy is in such dire straits these days? It’s because of this damn neoliberalism that all the countries of the world are uncritically accepting!

Capitalist: Whoa, now. That’s a really broad statement. Let me try to see if I fully understand what you mean. So you think that stimulus is a neoliberal policy?

M: Absolutely. All the Fed is doing is making more financial gimmicks in an attempt to help a structurally broken economy.

C: Okay, that’s a legitimate point of view, I suppose. So given that the USA has to somehow pay off its deficit, you must be in agreement with the people who say that austerity is the way to go.

M: Absolutely not! If the government tried that, me and my friends would be up in arms! Austerity is neoliberalism in its worst form!

C

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Jonathan Cook reminds us of the Shimon Peres that you are unlikely to hear about in Western obituaries: a colonialist and champion of the Jewish settlers, an “Inveterate schemer”, a war criminal an…

Source: Israel’s Shimon Peres: Peacemaker or war criminal? – Redress Information & Analysis ( http://www.redressonline.com/2016/09/israels-shimon-peres-peacemaker-or-war-criminal/ )

 

The death of Shimon Peres at the age of 93 marks the departure of the last major figure in Israel’s founding generation.

He died in a hospital on 28 September after his condition worsened following a major stroke two weeks previously.

Peres – one of the disciples of David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister – spent his long political career in the public spotlight. But his greatest successes were engineered in the shadows, noted Yaron Ezrahi, a politics professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Peres’s most important task, to which he was entrusted by Ben Gurion, was developing in secret – and over US opposition – Israel’s nuclear weapons programme through the 1950s and 1960s. To that end, he recruited the assistance of France, Britain and Norway.

Peres, like his mentor, believed an Israeli bomb was the key to guaranteeing Israel’s status – both in Washington and among the Arab states – as an unassailable Middle East power.

The testing of the first warhead in the late 1960s was probably at least as responsible for ensuring rock-solid US patronage in subsequent decades as Israel’s rapid victory against neighbouring Arab states in the Six-Day War.

Peres’s later diplomatic skills in negotiating peace agreements with Jordan and the Palestinians were exercised largely out of view, too, though he was keen to take the credit afterwards.

His pivotal role in realising the Oslo accords through a back channel in the early 1990s earned him – after frantic lobbying on his own behalf – the Nobel peace prize in 1994, alongside Israel’s prime minister of the time, Yitzhak Rabin, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

These agreements, as well as his vision of economic and technological cooperation between Israel and Arab states in a “New Middle East”, made him a beloved figure in Western capitals, where he was feted as Israel’s peacemaker-in-chief.

At home, among both Israelis and Palestinians, he was viewed far less favourably.

Colonial alliances

Born Syzmon Perski, Peres immigrated to Palestine from Poland with his family in 1934, aged 11. Raised on a kibbutz and inculcated in the values of Labour Zionism espoused by Israel’s East European elite, he was quickly identified as a rising star by Ben Gurion, a fellow Pole.

During the 1948 war, Ben Gurion kept Peres in a backroom job, far from the fighting, where he was responsible for acquiring weapons, often illicitly, for the new Israeli army.

His diplomatic skills were relied on throughout the state’s tricky early years in the Defence Ministry. Despite his lack of an army background, he was instrumental in developing Israel’s large state-run military industries.

In the same role, he also developed alliances with key Western states, especially France and Britain, that would eventually help Israel establish the Dimona nuclear reactor and build a bomb.

In return, Peres plotted with these two fading colonial powers an attack on Egypt in 1956 that triggered the Suez crisis. Israel invaded Sinai to create the pretext for an Anglo-French “intervention” and seizure of the Suez Canal. All three soon had to withdraw under pressure from the US and the Soviet Union.

Peres was elected to the Israeli parliament in 1959, the start of a 48-year career as an MP, the longest in Israel’s history. There were few senior ministerial posts he did not hold at some point.

But popularity eluded him. He led Ben Gurion’s Labour party to its first-ever defeat in the 1977 election against Menachem Begin. It would be the first of many electoral disappointments.

Electoral failures

Peres’s lack of appeal to the Israeli public reflected the gradual decline in support for the Ashkenazi (European Jewish) elite that had founded Israel and structured the new Jewish state to preserve its privileges.

As waves of new immigrants arrived, many of them Jews from Arab countries who were treated with disdain, men such as Peres came to look like an anachronism. Peres could not even boast, as Rabin could, a glorious record in the battles that established Israel.

Famously in the late 1990s, Peres made the mistake of asking a Labour party convention whether he was a “loser”. The delegates roared back: “Yes”.

Over two decades, Peres lost five elections in which he stood for prime minister.

Although he served in the top job on two occasions, he never won a popular mandate.

He briefly took over from Rabin after the latter was felled in 1995 by an assassin’s bullet. He was also prime minister in an unusual rotation agreement with his Likud rival, Yitzhak Shamir, after neither secured a parliamentary majority in the 1984 election.

Unlike Rabin and Ariel Sharon, two figures of his generation who enjoyed greater political acclaim, Peres suffered in part because had not first made a name for himself in the Israeli army, Ezrahi observed.

He was seen as more uninspiring technocrat than earthy warrior.

“Inveterate schemer”

Even on Israel’s left, said Roni Ben Efrat, an Israeli political analyst and editor of the website Challenge, he was viewed as an opportunist.

“His real obsession was with his own celebrity and prestige,” she said. “What he lacked was political principle. There was an air about him of plotting behind everyone’s backs. He was certainly no Nelson Mandela.”

Rabin, who tussled regularly with Peres for leadership of the Labour Party, called him an “inveterate schemer”.

With Rabin’s victory in 1992, Peres was appointed number two and returned to what he did best: backroom deals, in this case a peace track in Norway that led to the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993.

When Rabin was assassinated two years later, it was assumed that Peres would romp home in the general election a short time later, riding a wave of sympathy over Rabin’s death.

With the election looming, Peres approved a 16-day campaign of attacks on Lebanon viewed by many as an effort to bolster his chances of winning. The operation further blackened Peres’s reputation in the Arab world for the Qana massacre, when Israeli shelling killed more than 100 civilians sheltering in a UN base in south Lebanon.

In the end, Peres lost to Likud’s Binyamin Netanyahu, who profited from the right’s campaign to discredit the peace process and its architects as “Oslo criminals”.

Peres would see out much of his remaining time in front-line politics providing a veneer of international respectability to right-wing Sharon governments through the second intifada as they crushed the Palestinian leadership and built a steel and concrete barrier through the West Bank.

In 2005 Peres deserted the Labour Party and joined Sharon’s new centre-right Kadima Party – an act of betrayal many allies on the left found hard to forgive.

Late in life, with his appointment as president in 2007, Peres finally found the chance to reinvent himself with the wider Israeli public.

In a largely ceremonial role, he had almost no influence on government policy. But his strenuous efforts repairing Israel’s damaged image abroad and nursing its strained strategic alliances, as Israel shifted ever further rightwards, were widely appreciated.

Over the next seven years, Peres gradually came to be viewed as a national treasure.

Champion of the settlers

Among Palestinians, it was harder to rehabilitate his image. He is best remembered as part of a Labour Zionist elite responsible for the creation of a Jewish state in 1948 on the ruins of the Palestinian homeland.

Despite his later reputation, Peres held hawkish positions for much of his political career, noted Asad Ghanem, a politics professor at Haifa University.

Following the 1967 war, he championed the cause of the settlers, and used his role as defence minister in the 1970s to establish the first settlements in the northern West Bank. His slogan was: “Settlements everywhere”.

With the Oslo process, Peres helped engineer Israel’s recognition of Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organisation as the representative of the Palestinian people.

But in every other way, said Ghanem, the accords soon proved disastrous for the Palestinians, helping the settlements expand as the newly created Palestinian Authority looked on, confined to small enclaves of the occupied territories.

Colonial “New Middle East”

Peres’s larger vision – embodied in the work of his Peres Centre for Peace – was the creation of a “New Middle East”.

He hoped to transform the region through technological and economic cooperation between Israel and neighbouring Arab states. A Middle East modelled on the European Union, with Israel playing the role of Germany.

“It was a colonial view of the region,” said Ben Efrat, “driven by the goal of creating economic gains for Israel”.

In Ghanem’s view, Peres’s path to realising his New Middle East was paved by Israel’s peace agreement with Egypt in 1979.

“The Arab states were removed from the conflict with Israel before a just peace was secured for the Palestinians,” he said. “Peres’s hope was to continue normalising relations with the Arab world while denying Palestinians their rights.”

Oslo fitted neatly with this vision, observed Ben Efrat. The Palestinians were to be caged into ghettoes, while Israel established industrial zones close by in which they could be exploited as a low-paid, low-tech workforce.

Or as Peres once explained his idea, “a young Palestinian student who finds a job won’t go and make bombs”.

Much of Peres’s political legacy – as heir to Ben Gurion – is currently being discarded by Netanyahu and the Israeli right. They prefer the politics of confrontation – at home and abroad – over the back-slapping niceties of the diplomacy Peres excelled in.

But Peres’s industrial zones are slowly being realised in an initiative called the “Valley of Peace”. The largest is due to open shortly next to the Palestinian city of Jenin, in the northern West Bank, supported by Turkey and Germany.

For Netanyahu, these zones accord with his policy of “economic peace”: pacifying the Palestinians through economic incentives while depriving them of political rights.

Peres gave every indication he approved.


A version of this article first appeared in Aljazeera website. The version here is published by permission of Jonathan Cook.


Politicians across the UK are paying tribute to Shimon Peres, a man who actually massacred humans in cold blood!
In 2013 Peres’ £3m+ 90th birthday bash was a who’s who of arms dealers & warmongers & their lobbyists http://www.redressonline.com/2013/06/shimon-peress-birthday-freak-show/

included the following:

1. Aaron Frankel – Honorary chair of the conference.

2. Marcos Katz – Arms dealer residing in Mexico. Brokered sales to dictatorships, among other things.

3. Michael Federmann – Major shareholder in Elbit (weapons manufacturer, Haggai Matar).

4. Alfred Akirov – Shareholder in Leumi Bank, one of the most prominent men in Israeli real estate.

5. Ronald Cohen – Founder of Apax Partners. If you don’t know them, they’re behind Tnuva’s cottage cheese prices (one of the symbols of the #J14 social justice protests, H.M.)

6. Marc Rich – In the years 1983-2001, he was wanted in the US after fleeing the country following an indictment for dealing with Iran during a time of sanctions and a 48-million-dollar tax evasion scheme. At the Presidential Conference, he’ll meet Bill Clinton, who on his last day of office pardoned Rich at the request of Ehud Barak.

7. David Weisman – Owner of the Alon Group, which includes the Ribua Kakhol and AM:PM supermarket chains.

8. Raya Strauss – One of the owners of the Strauss-Elite group (one of the biggest food producers in Israel, Hagai Matar).

9. Hapoalim Bank (the largest bank in Israel).

1o. Tony Blair.

“Common sense is a chaotic aggregate of disparate conceptions, and one can find there anything that one like.”

“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born”

“All men are intellectuals, but not all men have in society the function of intellectuals”

“I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.”

“Ideas and opinions are not spontaneously “born” in each individual brain: they have had a centre of formation, or irradiation, of dissemination, of persuasion-a group of men, or a single individual even, which has developed them and presented them in the political form of current reality.”

“The crisis creates situations which are dangerous in the short run, since the various strata of the population are not all capable of orienting themselves equally swiftly, or of reorganising with the same rhythm. The traditional ruling class, which has numerous trained cadres, changes men and programmes and, with greater speed than is achieved by the subordinate classes, reabsorbs the control that was slipping from its grasp. Perhaps it may make sacrifices, and expose itself to an uncertain future by demagogic promises; but it retains power, reinforces it for the time being, and uses it to crush its adversary and disperse his leading cadres, who cannot be be very numerous or highly trained.”

― Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks.

 

“I hate the indifferent. I believe that living means taking sides. Those who really live cannot help being a citizen and a partisan. Indifference and apathy are parasitism, perversion, not life. That is why I hate the indifferent.

The indifference is the deadweight of history. The indifference operates with great power on history. The indifference operates passively, but it operates. It is fate, that which cannot be counted on. It twists programs and ruins the best-conceived plans. It is the raw material that ruins intelligence. That what happens, the evil that weighs upon all, happens because the human mass abdicates to their will; allows laws to be promulgated that only the revolt could nullify, and leaves men that only a mutiny will be able to overthrow to achieve the power. The mass ignores because it is careless and then it seems like it is the product of fate that runs over everything and everyone: the one who consents as well as the one who dissents; the one who knew as well as the one who didn’t know; the active as well as the indifferent. Some whimper piously, others curse obscenely, but nobody, or very few ask themselves: If I had tried to impose my will, would this have happened?

I also hate the indifferent because of that: because their whimpering of eternally innocent ones annoys me. I make each one liable: how they have tackled with the task that life has given and gives them every day, what have they done, and especially, what they have not done. And I feel I have the right to be inexorable and not squander my compassion, of not sharing my tears with them.

I am a partisan, I am alive, I feel the pulse of the activity of the future city that those on my side are building is alive in their conscience. And in it, the social chain does not rest on a few; nothing of what happens in it is a matter of luck, nor the product of fate, but the intelligent work of the citizens. Nobody in it is looking from the window of the sacrifice and the drain of a few. Alive, I am a partisan. That is why I hate the ones that don’t take sides, I hate the indifferent.”
― Antonio Gramsci

 

 

 

Prison Notebooks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Antonio Gramsci, depicted in 1922

The Prison Notebooks (Italian: Quaderni del carcere [kwaˈdɛrni del ˈkartʃere]) were a series of essays written by the Italian MarxistAntonio Gramsci. Gramsci was imprisoned by the Italian Fascist regime in 1926. The notebooks were written between 1929 and 1935, when Gramsci was released from prison on grounds of ill-health. He died in April 1937.

He wrote more than 30 notebooks and 3,000 pages of history and analysis during his imprisonment. Although written unsystematically, the Prison Notebooks are considered a highly original contribution to 20th century political theory. Gramsci drew insights from varying sources – not only other Marxists but also thinkers such as Niccolò Machiavelli, Vilfredo Pareto, Georges Sorel and Benedetto Croce. His notebooks cover a wide range of topics, including Italian history and nationalism, the French Revolution, Fascism, Fordism, civil society,folklore, religion and high and popular culture,

The notebooks were smuggled out of prison in the 1930s. They were not published until the 1950s and were first translated into English in the 1970s.

Some ideas in Marxist theory, critical theory and educational theory that are associated with Gramsci’s name:

  • Cultural hegemony as a means of maintaining the capitalist state.
  • The need for popular workers’ education to encourage development of intellectuals from the working class.
  • The distinction between political society (the police, the army, legal system, etc.) which dominates directly and coercively, and civil society (the family, the education system, trade unions, etc.) where leadership is constituted through ideology or by means of consent.
  • “Absolute historicism“.
  • A critique of economic determinism that opposes fatalistic interpretations of Marxism.
  • A critique of philosophical materialism.

Hegemony

For more details on this topic, see Cultural hegemony.

Hegemony was a concept previously used by Marxists such as Vladimir Ilyich Lenin to indicate the political leadership of the working-class in a democratic revolution, but developed by Gramsci into an acute analysis to explain why the ‘inevitable’ socialist revolution predicted by orthodox Marxism had not occurred by the early 20th century. Capitalism, it seemed, was even more entrenched than ever. Capitalism, Gramsci suggested, maintained control not just through violence and political and economic coercion, but also ideologically, through a hegemonic culture in which the values of the bourgeoisie became the ‘common sense‘ values of all. Thus a consensus culture developed in which people in the working-class identified their own good with the good of the bourgeoisie, and helped to maintain the status quo rather than revolting.

The working class needed to develop a culture of its own, which would overthrow the notion that bourgeois values represented ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ values for society, and would attract the oppressed and intellectual classes to the cause of the proletariat. Lenin held that culture was ‘ancillary’ to political objectives but for Gramsci it was fundamental to the attainment of power that cultural hegemony be achieved first. In Gramsci’s view, any class that wishes to dominate in modern conditions has to move beyond its own narrow ‘economic-corporate’ interests, to exert intellectual and moral leadership, and to make alliances and compromises with a variety of forces. Gramsci calls this union of social forces a ‘historic bloc’, taking a term from Georges Sorel. This bloc forms the basis of consent to a certain social order, which produces and re-produces the hegemony of the dominant class through a nexus of institutions, social relations and ideas. In this manner, Gramsci developed a theory that emphasised the importance of the superstructure in both maintaining and fracturing relations of the base.

Gramsci stated that, in the West, bourgeois cultural values were tied to religion, and therefore much of his polemic against hegemonic culture is aimed at religious norms and values. He was impressed by the power Roman Catholicism had over men’s minds and the care the Church had taken to prevent an excessive gap developing between the religion of the learned and that of the less educated. Gramsci believed that it was Marxism’s task to marry the purely intellectual critique of religion found inRenaissance humanism to the elements of the Reformation that had appealed to the masses. For Gramsci, Marxism could supersede religion only if it met people’s spiritual needs, and to do so people would have to recognise it as an expression of their own experience.

For Gramsci, hegemonic dominance ultimately relied on coercion, and in a “crisis of authority” the “masks of consent” slip away, revealing the fist of force.

Intellectuals and education

Gramsci gave much thought to the question of the role of intellectuals in society. Famously, he stated that all men are intellectuals, in that all have intellectual and rational faculties, but not all men have the social function of intellectuals. He claimed that modern intellectuals were not simply talkers, but directors and organisers who helped build society and produce hegemony by means of ideological apparatuses such as education and the media. Furthermore, he distinguished between a ‘traditional’ intelligentsia which sees itself (wrongly) as a class apart from society, and the thinking groups which every class produces from its own ranks ‘organically’. Such ‘organic’ intellectuals do not simply describe social life in accordance with scientific rules, but rather articulate, through the language of culture, the feelings and experiences which the masses could not express for themselves. The need to create a working-class culture relates to Gramsci’s call for a kind of education that could develop working-class intellectuals, who would not simply introduce Marxist ideology from outside the proletariat, but rather renovate and make critical of the status quo the already existing intellectual activity of the masses. His ideas about an education system for this purpose correspond with the notion of critical pedagogy and popular education as theorised and practised in later decades by Paulo Freire in Brazil, and have much in common with the thought of Frantz Fanon. For this reason, partisans of adult and popular education consider Gramsci an important voice to this day. (For the results of this kind of thought in education, see the latests reports of PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) on the education in Brazil).

State and civil society

Gramsci’s theory of hegemony is tied to his conception of the capitalist state, which he claims rules through force plus consent. The state is not to be understood in the narrow sense of the government; instead, Gramsci divides it between ‘political society’, which is the arena of political institutions and legal constitutional control, and ‘civil society‘, which is commonly seen as the ‘private’ or ‘non-state’ sphere, differentiated from both the state and the economy. The former is the realm of force and the latter of consent. He stresses, however, that the division is purely conceptual and that the two, in reality, often overlap.

Gramsci claims that hegemony lies under modern capitalism and that the bourgeoisie can maintain its economic control by allowing certain demands made by trade unions and mass political parties within civil society to be met by the political sphere.

Thus, the bourgeoisie engages in Passive Revolution by going beyond its immediate economic interests and allowing the forms of its hegemony to change. Gramsci posits that movements such as reformism and fascism, as well as the ‘scientific management‘ and assembly line methods of Frederick Taylor and Henry Ford respectively, are examples of this.

Drawing from Machiavelli, he argues that ‘The Modern Prince’ – the revolutionary party – is the force that will allow the working-class to develop organic intellectuals and an alternative hegemony within civil society. For Gramsci, the complex nature of modern civil society means that the only tactic capable of undermining bourgeois hegemony and leading to socialism is a ‘war of position’ (analogous to trench warfare); this war of position would then give way to a ‘war of movement’ (or frontal attack). Gramsci saw ‘war of movement’ as being exemplified by the storming of the Winter Palace during the Russian Revolution.

Despite his claim that the lines between the two may be blurred, Gramsci rejects the state-worship that results from identifying political society with civil society, as was done by the Jacobins and Fascists. He believes the proletariat’s historical task is to create a ‘regulated society’ and defines the ‘withering away of the state‘ as the full development of civil society’s ability to regulate itself.

Historicism

Gramsci, like the early Marx, was an emphatic proponent of historicism. In Gramsci’s view, all meaning derives from the relation between human practical activity (or “praxis“) and the “objective” historical and social processes of which it is a part. Ideas cannot be understood outside their social and historical context, apart from their function and origin. The concepts by which we organise our knowledge of the world do not derive primarily from our relation to things, but rather from the social relations between the users of those concepts. As a result, there is no such thing as an unchanging “human nature“, but only an idea of such which varies historically. Furthermore, philosophy and science do not “reflect” a reality independent of man, but rather are only “true” in that they express the real developmental trend of a given historical situation.

For the majority of Marxists, truth was truth no matter when and where it is known, and scientific knowledge (which included Marxism) accumulated historically as the advance of truth in this everyday sense. On this view, Marxism could not be said to not belong to the illusory realm of the superstructure because it is a science. In contrast, Gramsci believed Marxism was “true” in the socially pragmatic sense, in that by articulating the class consciousness of the proletariat, it expressed the “truth” of its times better than any other theory. This anti-scientistic and anti-positivist stance was indebted to the influence of Benedetto Croce. However, it should be underlined that Gramsci’s was an “absolute historicism” that broke with the Hegelian and idealist tenor of Croce’s thinking and its tendency to secure a metaphysical synthesis in historical “destiny”.

Though Gramsci repudiates the charge, his historical account of truth has been criticised as a form of relativism.

Critique of “economism”

In a famous pre-prison article entitled “The Revolution against Das Kapital“, Gramsci claimed that the October Revolution in Russia had invalidated the idea that socialist revolution had to await the full development of capitalist forces of production. This reflected his view that Marxism was not a determinist philosophy. The principle of the causal “primacy” of the forces of production, he held, was a misconception of Marxism. Both economic changes and cultural changes are expressions of a “basic historical process”, and it is difficult to say which sphere has primacy over the other. The fatalistic belief, widespread within the workers’ movement in its earliest years, that it would inevitably triumph due to “historical laws”, was, in Gramsci’s view, a product of the historical circumstances of an oppressed class restricted mainly to defensive action, and was to be abandoned as a hindrance once the working-class became able to take the initiative. Because Marxism is a “philosophy of praxis”, it cannot rely on unseen “historical laws” as the agents of social change. History is defined by human praxis and therefore includes human will. Nonetheless, will-power cannot achieve anything it likes in any given situation: when the consciousness of the working-class reaches the stage of development necessary for action, historical circumstances will be encountered which cannot be arbitrarily altered. It is not, however, predetermined by historical inevitability as to which of several possible developments will take place as a result.

His critique of economism also extended to that practised by the syndicalists of the Italian trade unions. He believed that many trade unionists had settled for a reformist, gradualist approach in that they had refused to struggle on the political front in addition to the economic front. While Gramsci envisioned the trade unions as one organ of a counter-hegemonic force in capitalist society, the trade union leaders simply saw these organizations as a means to improve conditions within the existing structure. Gramsci referred to the views of these trade unionists as “vulgar economism”, which he equated to covert reformism and even liberalism.

Critique of Materialism

By virtue of his belief that human history and collective praxis determine whether any philosophical question is meaningful or not, Gramsci’s views run contrary to the metaphysical materialism and ‘copy’ theory of perception advanced by Engels and Lenin, though he does not explicitly state this. For Gramsci, Marxism does not deal with a reality that exists in and for itself, independent of humanity. The concept of an objective universe outside of human history and human praxis was, in his view, analogous to belief in God; there could be no objectivity, but only a universal intersubjectivity to be established in a future communist society. Natural history was thus only meaningful in relation to human history. On his view philosophical materialism, like primitive common sense, resulted from a lack of critical thought, and could not, as Lenin[1] claimed, be said to oppose religious superstition. Despite this, Gramsci resigned himself to the existence of this arguably cruder form of Marxism: the proletariat’s status as a dependent class meant that Marxism, as its philosophy, could often only be expressed in the form of popular superstition and common sense. Nonetheless, it was necessary to effectively challenge the ideologies of the educated classes, and to do so Marxists must present their philosophy in a more sophisticated guise, and attempt to genuinely understand their opponents’ views.

Sources

External links

Further reading

BLAIRISM – A POLITICAL ABERRATION

Posted: September 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

petewishart

I’ll start by getting this out of the way first. I have absolutely no time for Blairism or what it represents in UK politics. I have always seen it as a curious political aberration that has probably done more than any other political ‘ism’ to destroy trust in UK politics. It’s not just the Iraq war or the attempt to build that appalling anti-civil libertarian state, with all its ID cards and 92 days detention. It isn’t even the quasi Thatcherite innovations such as Foundation Hospitals and Tuition Fees. It’s not even Tony Blair himself with all his post Chilcot defiance and lack of contrition. It is just the sheer dishonesty of the project and what it has done to all who inhabit the space on the left of UK politics.

pg-4-new-labour-rosev3

Blairism, or ‘New Labour’ as it liked to style itself emerged out of the crisis in the Labour Party…

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The SKWAWKBOX

This morning I had the privilege to be at the special conference for the announcement of the result of the leadership contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith.

As you will know by now, the result was emphatic, with Corbyn gaining a decisive 61.8% share (313,209/506,438/654,006) of the votes in spite of the efforts to weed out around 250,000 mostly Corbyn supporters by suspensions, expulsions and simply not sending them a ballot.

But there was a significant little passage of events that you will have missed. I was seated directly behind deputy leader Tom Watson and party General Secretary Iain McNicol, within easy touching distance (if I had wished:

wp_20160924_001Iain McNicol looking positively underwhelmed at Labour’s overwhelming democratic choice

As he prepared to read the results, NEC Chair Paddy Lillis said he would read out the overall result but would also show the results by voting constituency (full members, supporters…

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CORBYN is CORRECT> CLASS WAR does exist in the UK

UKI Left

Thankfully most pensioners today can claim to own their own home or are secure in private rented accommodation or in some cases are in properties such as sheltered housing.

One pensioner we spoke to though had a story to tell. We will refer to her here as Ms I.

Ms.I is thankfully living in rented accommodation and has been in the same property for almost 20 years. By her own admission she is fortunate to have a brilliant landlord.

Recently however Ms.I who lives in the West Country has begun to look for rented accommodation in the South East for personal reasons and it’s proving a near impossibility. There have been numerous stumbling blocks, many of which will have been experienced by others, pensioner or not.

Cost

Like most people looking for rented accommodation Ms.I is unable to afford most of the properties in the area she is looking at…

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