Reification (plus reading group suggestions)

April 2024 Forums General discussion Reification (plus reading group suggestions)

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 40 total)
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  • #91696
    twc
    Participant

    Yes, I support your suggestion for collaborative discussion of [often difficult] Marxian and Socialist texts in the forum.An open web forum is an excellent place — it attracts non-members and opponents with differing interpretations to share.Socialist Book ClubIf your idea takes off, it might bode well for the long-term success of a [book of the month] Socialist Book Club forum,  e.g.Home – Forum – General DiscussionHome – Forum – CommentsHome – Forum – Socialist Book Club…Apart from the forum's administration — to which we are indebted to you — there remains the issue of how to draw up the annual book list.Presumably we seek submissions in advance and vote on them over the web, if voting is possible on this site.Alternatively we rely on selections made by an ad hoc committee with extensive knowledge of the literature or of its reputation, though not necessarily being familiar with all of its detailed contents. [The detailed contents are what we hope to discover through the Socialist Book Club.]Yes, I agree with yout suggestion.Would anyone benefit from mine — a Socialist Book Club forum?

    #91702
    Mike Foster
    Participant

    I like the idea of a separate forum section for discussing texts. I'm not sure if it should be called 'Socialist Book Club', though, as this might suggest restricting it to 'socialist' books. Some texts worth discussing might not merit the 'socialist' tag. I don't think we need a separate committee to set the texts, though. It would be fairer for anyone to make suggestions, and the first five or so received are then voted for. After a few days the text with the most votes gets discussed.

    #91703
    twc
    Participant

    Yes, that's a better way to choose texts.If the idea catches on, can you think of a better name for it?

    #91704
    DJP
    Participant

    I'll run the idea past the education department, though this is not strictly necessary.I think it would be best to call the section of the forum simply "reading groups" that way we could read whatever we like.I'm suggesting Rubin because 1. The text is freely available online. 2. The chapters are not too long 3. It covers a very important aspect of Marxian theory and 4. because I didn't take adequate notes the first time I read it it.If I get 3 yes's I'll go ahead and set up the subforum. Or if anyone has other suggestions it's probably best to start a new topic.

    #91705
    twc
    Participant

    Take that as a Yes from me..Suggested conventionThe first post should tell us…Title — book's or article's titleAuthor — authorYear — when first publishedSource — web, bookstore, library…Cost — price, if applicable.Links — wikipedia, http://www.marxists.org.Then we can get on with reading and discussing the item.

    #91706
    Hud955
    Participant
    DJP wrote:
    I'll run the idea past the education department, though this is not strictly necessary.

     For what it's worth, this half of the education department is happy to offer any support needed.  In fact, I think I'd like to join in.  I can't promise to be a consistent member though, so perhaps you should look for an other as well if you want three.  I skimmed through it: looked interesting.

    #91707
    Hud955
    Participant

    It is always useful to have an agreed starting point for a group like this – even if you want to keep it very informal.  Nothing need be set in stone at this stage and anything decided can then be varied according to need, but having a broad plan at the outset can forestall difficulties later.  For example:What are the group's aims? (Not necessarily obvious, and not everyone may have the same idea.) How big do you want it to be?  (Beyond a certain size it will become impossible to manage.)Who is going to be invited to join?  And therefore how do you want to promote it? Do you want a membership arrangement? (Even if the membership is open to everyone, a semi-formal arrangement can sometimes help to create commitment.) Do you want to treat this first title as a test run, and maybe keep it just to a few people? – or do you want to open it out from the word go? Do you want an open or closed group? Making it open to all is possible but could raise some problems for regular contributers who want to focus on the text and not get caught up in peripheral (or personal or political) issues from casual or outside contributers.  What could you do to limit or manage this?If it is an open group,  will you allow people join in ad hoc once the reading is under way?Do you want the reading to be structured and ask for structured responses, so everyone moves ahead at the same rate, and talks about the same things (broadly) at the same time?   Or do you just want an informal space for people to contribute thoughts and carry out independent conversations? Do you want some rules for responding?  How will people use the discussion space, for example?  Will it be a free for all?  Or do you want to give it a pre-determined structure – even if a minimal one?  Do you want a 'moderator' or 'chairperson' with elected decision-making powers?  Do you want to ask for positive contributions?  Not ones that criticise other people's views?  (The content can be the same; only the way preople present it is different.)Do you want to limit the size of contributions?  (to prevent some individuals dominating others who are less forthcoming or articulate?)Do you want to work though the first text section by section, discussing each as you go?  Or do you read it all through and then pick themes to discuss? Or do you want some other arrangement?What's the decision-making process on this: group vote or concensus or through an elected decision-maker (chairperson)If you are going to work through a text section by section,  do you want to set a time allowance for people to read and digest the material, perhaps making allowance for slow or more thoughtful readers and those without a lot of time to spare?  How will this be set?And no doubt there are other issues the group can think of.

    #91708
    twc
    Participant

    My thoughts…Aim — to study a text in order to understand and evaluate it in socialist terms. The text may be a book, pamphlet, video or music. It should be expected to stand the test of being taken seriously as a socialist text. It should be conveniently accessible, and not costly to purchase.Size — unlimited discussion group size, but conditions apply [see Membership] — if ever the group of participants gets too large, we'll have exceeded our wildest dreams.]Invitation — invitation to join the discussion group for the test run should be posted on the WSM Forum. Advertise more widely if/after the test run proves to be a success.Membership — discussion group to be restricted to any WSM Forum member who is willing to "sign up" to discuss the particular text. A discussion group needs an indication of its participants' willingness to discuss the text, as against those just wllling to read it. [Of course, reading the discussion of the discussion group aways remains open to everyone.]Test Run — the first text should be considered to be a trial. [DJP has suggested "Essays  on Marx's Theory of Value" by I. I. Rubin.] The discussion group for this text should be open to any WSM Forum member who is willing to "sign up" to discuss the text.Closed or Open — the discussion group [after the test run] should simply be open to any WSM Forum member who is willing to "sign up" to discuss the selected text. The group will elect an ad hoc chairperson with discretionary powers to issue warnings ("yellow"/"red" cards) for off-topic, irrelevant or offensive contributions that stray from the chosen text. [Forum Admin to implement chairperon's umpiring.]Latecomers — latecomers may "sign up" for late membership of an active discussion group for a time after the reading starts, but before a decided "cut off" date. The group democratically decides when it becomes too late for latecomers to join, and may decide that it's never too late.Structure — to be determined by democratic vote of the membership of the discussion group. Example: Week 1 — Chairperson sets the chapters to read. Week 2 — Discussion of last week's chapters. Week 3 — Chairperson sets the next lot of chapters, Week 4 — Discussion of this lot of chapters, and so on…Discussion — The format of discussion, if applicable, is to be decided democratically by the discussion group. Members are expected to discuss only the text, and not to discuss themselves or other discussion group members. Other discussion group member's contributions should be discussed only where absolutely necessary, and always in relation to the text under discussion. It is the text that we want to understand, and not group members. Chairperson to adjudicate on this. Offenders to be removed from the discussion group.Contributions — length of contributions to be at the chairperson's discretion. Relevance and concision is the goal.Procedure — Start at the start and proceed systematically to the finish. Chapters may be skipped or emphasized by group democratic consent.Decisions  — subject to offensive behaviour being monitored by Forum Admin. The general list of suggested texts is open to suggestion by all WSM Forum members. The actual text is to be chosen from the general list of suggested texts by democratic vote of the discussion group, since its members have "signed up" their willingness to discuss. [Maybe WSM Forum Admin know how to manage a static list of texts that people can add to, and vote on.]Timetable — Suggestion: Read one week; discuss the next. This gives readers a fortnight to consider the set material. It also gives people a week to read "on their own" without being influenced by other people's early views.Final ThoughtsThere is no reason why this proposed new forum can't have several discussion groups running simultaneously, discussing their own texts in their own independent threads.[Apologies to WSM Forum Admin for loading you already hard working fellows with additional hard work. Presumably, if things take off in this forum, there should be only one topic per selected text, and you'll have to prevent users from starting their own topics in this rather specially structured forum.   With all this bother, it's no wonder we all want socialism to come as soon as possible.]

    #91709
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I'm in! Got to be a better use of time than squabbling over moderation!

    #91710
    Mike Foster
    Participant

    Count me in, with another vote for the Rubin text. I think the length of this text is about right, to start off with anyway. I think we should be wary of discussing whole books, especially something as weighty as Capital, where chapters or sections should be discussed in more digestible chunks.I tend to prefer as few limits or moderation as possible. So, I think some of the suggestions made above might restrict the discussion a little. In particular, I don't think we need to restrict membership or have too much active moderation of responses. We should probably post a few ground rules as a permanent thread on that section of the forum, though, such as reminders about relevance of comments, avoiding personal abuse etc. Hopefully common sense will guide most people.In terms of timescales, I think two weeks would be about the right length of time for a particular text to be discussed, with comments allowed right from when the thread opens. Perhaps threads about texts could be started on the 1st and the 15th of each month? A week or so before the start of a new text, the moderator would open a new thread to ask for suggestions and votes for the next one to be discussed. We'd then have that week to make suggestions or vote for a text someone else has suggested. A thread for an old text could be left open after its fortnight in the spotlight, in case anyone wants to add to it afterwards. After a while, we should have an interesting bank of threads about different texts. It would be nice to occasionally discuss films or TV programmes as well as written texts (as long as they would be able to elicit enough meaty discussion, which might be a rarity).

    #91686
    DJP
    Participant
    Mike Foster wrote:
    Count me in, with another vote for the Rubin text. I think the length of this text is about right, to start off with anyway. I think we should be wary of discussing whole books, especially something as weighty as Capital, where chapters or sections should be discussed in more digestible chunks.

    Sorry for the confusion. I was suggesting we read the whole Rubin book, where the other thinking this? Or just the chapter? I think with this kind of thing you really have to read the full book to get the proper meaning.

    Mike Foster wrote:
    I tend to prefer as few limits or moderation as possible. So, I think some of the suggestions made above might restrict the discussion a little. In particular, I don't think we need to restrict membership or have too much active moderation of responses. We should probably post a few ground rules as a permanent thread on that section of the forum, though, such as reminders about relevance of comments, avoiding personal abuse etc. Hopefully common sense will guide most people.

    I would have thought that just the normal forum rules would be all that is needed.I'll post more thoughts later on…

    #91711
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Jonathan Chambers wrote:
    I'm in! Got to be a better use of time than squabbling over moderation!

     Off topic? Why don't you take your comment to the relevant thread?

    #91712
    DJP
    Participant
    twc wrote:
    There is no reason why this proposed new forum can't have several discussion groups running simultaneously, discussing their own texts in their own independent threads.[Apologies to WSM Forum Admin for loading you already hard working fellows with additional hard work. Presumably, if things take off in this forum, there should be only one topic per selected text, and you'll have to prevent users from starting their own topics in this rather specially structured forum.   With all this bother, it's no wonder we all want socialism to come as soon as possible.]

    What I was thinking was having a subforum for reading groups, then within that have subforums for each book. That way there should be scope for discussion on multiple books and topics without it getting too much of a confusing mess. 

    #91713
    twc
    Participant
    DJP wrote:
    What I was thinking was having a subforum for reading groups, then within that have subforums for each book. That way there should be scope for discussion on multiple books and topics without it getting too much of a confusing mess. 

    That's a perfect structure for book discussion.

    Mike Foster wrote:
    I think we should be wary of discussing whole books, especially something as weighty as Capital, where chapters or sections should be discussed in more digestible chunks.

    Agreed, Capital should be discussed in chunks.However, is this what you have in mind for books like Rubin?choose bookchoose reading period [month, fortnight, week]start reading book"library silence"end reading bookopen topic up for discussion

    DJP wrote:
    I would have thought that just the normal forum rules would be all that is needed.

    Ignore my list if normal WSM Forum rules are adequate. I would simply amend normal WSM Forum rules to impose a period of "library silence" before discussion can take place, as courtesy to let members read undisturbed.A period of "library silence" is merely the reading group analogue of courtesy silence in a public meeting that lets the speaker hold the audience's attention until the meeting is formally thrown open for general discussion.What do people think about imposing a period of "library silence", so that all may read — on their own and with their own thoughts — in peace?[Of course, once the period expires, it's open slather.]

    #91714
    Mike Foster
    Participant

    Sorry,  DJP, I probably misunderstood about Rubin. Looking at the text, we should probably discuss more than just chapter 3. I'm not sure if we need a week of reading time before posting comments, but I'm happy to go with the consensus.

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