"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in"
(Leonard Cohen)
"Ignore all proffered rules and create your own, suitable for what you want to say"
(Michael Moorcock)
"Look for your own. Do not do what someone else could do as well as you. Do not say, do not write what someone else could say, could write as well as you. Care for nothing in yourself but what you feel exists nowhere else. And, out of yourself create, impatiently or patiently, the most irreplaceable of beings."
(Andre Gide)
"I want my place, my own place, my true place in the world, my proper sphere, my thing which Nature intended me to perform when she fashioned me thus awry, and which I have vainly sought all my life-time."
(Nathaniel Hawthorne)
“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”
(Franz Kafka)
"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated"
(John Donne)
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
(Robert J. Hanlon)
"Life is beautiful, but the world is hell"
(Harold Pinter)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Avoid the Temptation of Power

Paris 1871: Marx advised caution
EXTRACTThough he might not like us saying this, comrade McBurney’s argument is distinctly reminiscent of the rightwing Labourites - winning elections is everything: bugger principle or programme. Say or do anything to get elected. Unless we form a government or control a council, take power in some way, then what can we do? We leave ourselves powerless. Shouting from the sidelines.
But comrade McBurney’s stance is in flat contradiction to the classical, orthodox, Marxist viewpoint. Adapting a phrase already in use, what Marx termed ‘permanent revolution’ is a drawn-out process, where the proletarian party will refuse to take power, while fighting to push the revolution forward: constituting itself as a party of extreme opposition. Marx consistently said working class parties should not be prematurely tempted by power in an individual state, even when circumstances clearly make that a viable possibility. Instead, build up your strength, develop your international contacts, deepen your roots in society, etc. That has always been the programme of Marxism.
Or, to put it another way, the classical Marxist approach has historically been more about holding back the spontaneous working class movement. There are reams of letters from Marx and Engels approving and promoting this position. The Second International was opposed to coalitions with bourgeois and petty bourgeois parties as a matter of principle.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

United Front of the Bourgeoisie

Francois Hollande alongside Angela Merkel, Binyamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas, etc

EXTRACTMost mind-bogglingly of all, it need hardly be said, is the idea that Saudi Arabia is Charlie and could send an official to an event supposedly cherishing and defending the values of secularism - such a level of hypocrisy is off the Richter scale. Further compounding the outrage is the fact that on the Friday before the Paris rally, Saudi Arabia had publicly flogged Raif Badawi for setting up a blog, Free Saudi Liberals, deemed to be “insulting” to Islam. Originally sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in relation to the charges, the punishment was stiffened after his lawyer made an appeal - now condemned to 1,000 lashes, a 10-year prison sentence and ordered to pay a fine of one million riyals (£175,000). Following his arrest, his wife and children left the kingdom for Canada (for good measure, his lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair, was sentenced to 15 years in prison last July for daring to criticise human rights abuses). Compassionately, the Saudi authorities will be flogging him in weekly 50-lash instalments.
How come leaders and officials in Paris were not demonstrating in support of Raif Badawi - Je suis Raif? The fact of the matter is the United States could bring down the entire House of Saud if it chose to do so, let alone get Badawi released. Perhaps even more to the point, just take a hard look at al Qa’eda and IS: exactly who provides the finances? Wealthy individuals in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states who have connections right to the very top of these pro-western dictatorships. Then there is the broader historical and geo-political background. Organisations like al Qa’eda and IS can draw deep from a wellspring of alienation arising from colonial and imperialist oppression, whether it be French in Algeria or the US in Iraq.

Monday, January 12, 2015

What if Syriza wins?

People reach for free fruit and veg
EXTRACTThe unfolding situation in Greece further reinforces the orthodox, classical Marxist view that the working class should not seek to come to power prematurely - and by that we mean not just in one country. Rather, we mean that the working class must have a reasonable chance of coming to power on something like a continent-wide basis and thus a realistic chance of implementing the minimum programme - that is our bottom-line perspective. If not, you are doomed to either carry out the programme of another class - carry out its historical mission - or become an agent of capital. Communists should therefore constitute themselves as a party of extreme opposition to austerity, not the instrument of austerity. And, unfortunately, as things stand at the present, there is no prospect whatsoever of, say, the Italian working class coming to the rescue of Greece - let alone France, Germany, Britain, etc. Hence we repeat our call for Syriza not to ‘take the power’.