RIP Tony Benn

July 2024 Forums General discussion RIP Tony Benn

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  • #82747
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Always politely accepted a Socialist Standard whenever i offered it to him. 

     

    Is his interview with the Socialist Standard from the 1970s online? 

    #100738
    jondwhite
    Participant

    The word that comes to mind is avuncular which may be a consequence of only ever knowing of him long since after his challenges for leadership of the Labour Party. He was a good advocate for the type of Keynesianism that you don't hear of anymore and a contrast to other politicians whenever he appeared on BBC Question Time. There is an extended interview with him from Michael Moore's film Sickohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-2h0o3uZ-8Also unlike other politicians, Benn was not shy about talking about his politicsA critical obituary appears herehttp://redsouthpawpunch.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/tony-benn-man-of-misremembered-yesterday.html

    #100739
    ALB
    Keymaster
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    Is his interview with the Socialist Standard from the 1970s online? 

    No (not yet) but here's the front cover of that interview in the Januaet 1980 issue:The introduction to the interview reads:

    Quote:
    Tony Benn may be the next Labour Prime Minister of Great Britain. Almost alone among the Labour leaders, sunk in a gloom as they are after their party's defeat last May, he offers a plan for Labour's future, with an optimism that they will one day once again get power over British capitalism.So we were surprised when he agreed to be interviewed by the Socialist Standard about his policies and attitudes as he expresses them in his recent book Arguments for Socialism. Defenders of capitalism are notoriously difficult to persuade to match their case against ours. The interview (which Tony Benn preferred to call a debate) lasted an hour and our published account of it has needed to be abridged.In truth, Benn's plan for Labour's revival is little more than a paper thin assumption that, with a few constitutional changes, his party will be able basically to alter its nature. It will, he hopes, be able to throw off its past as a party which has run capitalism firmly in the interests of the capitalist class and begin to run society in the interests of the majority. There is no evidence to support this assumption; indeed after every electoral failure Labour tries to bolster its confidence by telling itself, and us, that it can and will change.Benn's political ideas are basically that if there are enough small reforms imposed upon capitalism the system will, in a way which has yet to be explained, suddenly stop being capitalism and become socialism. In the case of Benn, even this shaky argument might have been a little stronger if he had been able to give any idea of what socialism is or even to know whether the Labour Party stood for socialism.He claims that reforming capitalism is "doing something", as opposed to socialists who are "pure" and "impotent". This is a familiar, not to say exhausted, argument – one which continues to exist only because those. like Benn, who put it forward do so by ignoring reality and experience.The working class have had plenty of time to become familiar with Labour governments and with Labour politicians who – no matter what the effect of their anti-working class policies, no matter how obvious their failures to eliminate capitalism 's problems tirelessly assure us that a vote for Labour is a vote for a better society. This, again, flies in the face of reality.One final point. Benn, as we have said, is a leading politician But his justifications for capitalism, and his objections to the principles of revolutionary socialism which are uncompromisingly put forward by the Socialist Party of Great Britain, were exactly the same as those we confront all the time, wherever we are and whenever we state the case for the new society of common ownership.

    Naturally, there will be an assessment of Tony Benn's political life and positions in the April issue (by, as it happens, one of those who interviewed him 34 years ago).

    #100740
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    i read one obituary that calls Benn one of Labour Party's "hard left" …i wondered what they mean by someone who is "soft left"…a wet paper bag left? …Blairite left? …How i have come to hate the mainstream media hacks for their vacuous analysis. 88…a better inings that Crow had , though…

    #100741
    jondwhite
    Participant

    I was disappointed to hear Shirley Williams tried to link him to the Militant Tendency on Newsnight.

    #100742
    james19
    Participant

    C SLAPPER (Socialist Standard, March 1983) He is to Socialism what Groucho was to Marxism    My wife Caroline put the Communist Manifesto in my Christmas stocking one year. I had never read it before and I found it offered the best possible explanation of what the world was about that I had ever read. It pointed out that the real conflicts in the world were not between black and white, men and women, Muslims, Christians and Jews, Americans, Russians and Chinese; it was about the conflict of economic interest between 95 per cent of the population of the world, who create the world's wealth, and the 5 per cent who own it. I think of Marx as a prophet: the last of the Old Testament prophets. And we should think of him as a teacher. Many political leaders, such as Stalin, have tried to steal him, but he is immune to that,because ideas survive without requiring the endorsement of kings, emperors, dictators or presidents. Karl Marx discovered it all long before I did, and I am very grateful to him 

    #100743
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    jondwhite wrote:
    I was disappointed to hear Shirley Williams tried to link him to the Militant Tendency on Newsnight.

    Why?  Was there any difference between them?  Both purport(ed) to stand for socialism whilst advocating reforms of capitalism.

    #100744
    ALB
    Keymaster

    The difference between a democratic reformist (Social Democrat) and a group of vanguardis reformists (Leninists), I suppose.While I'm writing, what's with this RIP stuff? It's Catholic theology as the Protestants preach that when you die you stay dead till Judgement Day when your body is resurrected, i.e there is no soul to rest in peace. As Benn was a Protestant Christian this might even be what he expected to happen to him. Both theologies are bollocks of course. When you die you're dead and that's it. All that survives is other people's memories of you.

    #100745
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    ALB wrote:
    The difference between a democratic reformist (Social Democrat) and a group of vanguardis reformists (Leninists), I suppose.

    No essential difference then.  Both strands contribute further to the confusion as to what socialism is and how it can be brought about.  We have no truck with either.  Both are menaces and obstacles to our case.

    Quote:
    While I'm writing, what's with this RIP stuff? It's Catholic theology as the Protestants preach that when you die you stay dead till Judgement Day when your body is resurrected, i.e there is no soul to rest in peace. As Benn was a Protestant Christian this might even be what he expected to happen to him. Both theologies are bollocks of course. When you die you're dead and that's it. All that survives is other people's memories of you.

    Exactly.  A more appropriate theological pronouncement in the case of Benn and other Leninist and Labour bleeders would be 'Roast In Purgatory', although that 'place', according to Catholic doctrine, is merely a transistional stage. 

    #100746
    jondwhite
    Participant

    The SPGB would have more freedom to organise under a state governed by the Labour party (with the exception of World War 2 and similar), but I have my doubts about such civil liberties under even a peacetime state governed by SPEW. That's not to say anyone of Labour or SPEW is supportable as the SPGB ought to organise regardless of what the state says, does or tries to prohibit.As for RIP I think it has passed from any religious connotations into common parlance.As for Tony Benn, the common feeling seems to be he was a conviction politician. His critics Shirley Williams dismissed his politics as out-of-date, maybe she means politicians with convictions are out-of-date, and Dennis Healy said he was an 'artificial lefty' trying to make up for his background.There was a short discussion on BBC the Big Questions on Sunday morning entitled Has Trade Unionism had its day. Its a question very rarely asked on TV at all. I thought it very superficially touched on some of the issues but the question definitely poses deeper questions which could be discussed.

    #100747
    steve colborn
    Participant

    I am much of a similar opinion, with regards to attitudes on Trade Unionism. Trade Unionism is a term that nowadays, attracts exactly the same illogical abuse, as the terms Socialism/Communism have done for years. Trawling through the comment sections of local newspaper letters pages, I have felt sickened by the abuse and ignorance shown by "workers" on this issue. They appear not to realise, that Trade Union organisation exists, within Capitalism, as a defence against the actions of Capitalists. They seem to have fallen for the tactic of divide and conquer, that is becoming more and more prevalent, as our "betters" use this as a shield to divert attention away from the real problem, the Capitalist system itself!

    #100748
    jondwhite
    Participant

    Weekly Worker comment on Tony Benn that "his view of political change was in a certain sense broader and more inspiring, thanks to its democratic aspect, than the stodgy syndicalism of the Trotskyist groups to his left. He tried to think, which is a dying habit in our faddish, philistine era."

    #100749
    Dave
    Participant

    The problem with most people on the reformist left is that they are unable to see that the politics of Benn have failed and are still failing. Just look at the way that wages have been slashed over the last few years, the welfare state is being dismantled brick by brick a report on the news this evening argued that GP's are becoming in danger of becoming extinct, poverty is rising in fact the list is endless and getting worse. Harsh but true. 

    #100750
    jondwhite
    Participant

    A topic on libcom suggests "The only government minister to order armed police against striking workers was that left-wing man of the people, Tony Benn." around 1976/1977. Although it's not clear this is accurate.https://libcom.org/forums/history/baboon-wrote-the-only

    #100751
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I believe troops were used during  the Fireman's strike of 1976 while Benn was in Government.   http://dialectical-delinquents.com/?page_id=5263

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