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March 12, 2012 at 9:54 pm #86495AnonymousInactiveTheOldGreyWhistle wrote:DJP. Yes, I remember, I was around at the time. Darcy, Harry Young et al. I didnt think it would last.
It hasn’t; half-a-dozen members hardly constitute a party…………March 13, 2012 at 10:43 am #86496
@DJP: As far as I know (and it’s hard to keep up, so I might be wrong, it might be easier, like Gnome, just to not bother trying to keep up at all and just pretend knowledge), all Occupy groups practice open membership and consensus (or modified consensus), and so therefore experience all the strengths and positives in this, and also the weaknesses and negatives. Perhaps the fact that Occupy is a “collection of disparate and independent groups” is also in some sense a strength. See, for example, Paul Mason’s new book.@TheOldGreyWhistle: It’s nice to hear some sense on here. Totally agree with you comrade.@alanjohnstone: “The question is – should such acts be given uncritical support ?”That is NOT the question. No one is asking that question for the simple reason that everyone already knows the answer.”But does it offer an accurate description of the workings of capitalism and does it advance the case for socialism ?”Why are you demanding that Occupy achieve in a few months what the SPGB has not managed to achieve in over 100 years? The SPGB’s descriptions of the workings of capitalism are not accurate, merely roughly true, and it has not advanced the case for socialism one inch (or at least, not one inch beyond that achieved by 1,000 other groups). SPGB members are far too quick to point out the “illusions” held by others. Why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye?March 13, 2012 at 10:54 am #86497AnonymousInactiveDJP wrote:it is capitalism that makes socialists not the feeble actions of a small minority group, therefore I think our motto should be instead “find socialists!”.
Exactly Comrade!March 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm #86498alanjjohnstoneKeymaster
“No one is asking that question for the simple reason that everyone already knows the answer.” What is that answer if everyone already know ? Forgive my ignorance. Many forms of resistance are declared revolutionary such as workers councils but if the content is disregarded we would declare that the Ulster Loyalists when they used a general strike through workers councils revolutionary.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulster_Workers%27_Council The ultra-democratic form of the Occupy Movement has to be linked to its goal and if that purpose is simply to re-shape capitalism into another form then we must be critical. DJP quite correctly poured scorn on members of Occupy viewing tax evasion as the problem (and i added the example of Iceland where the crisis is interpreted as a personal failing of capitalists). Do you now advocate a tax policy as a means of stopping the cuts or is it the actions of the protesters that is to be supported, even if it is blindly motivated? A return to Bernstein – The goal is nothing; the movement is everything. I have seen your writings well enough to know that your understanding of capitalist economics is far superior to mine. The crisis will run its course until the opportunity of capital accumulation returns and re-investment re-commences. Buffet, a proponent of higher taxes, lays it out clear when he says “People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off.” The class struggle will require a lot more determination and action to reclaim our lost conditions than the tokenism of scape-goating tax-dodgers. I think its fair to say that the fight back has to take place in the work-place and within the unions, and not in the shopping mall or an Inland Revenue office. For myself, that remains the main battlefield, and sadly our presence there is probably even more scarce than in the Occupy Movement.March 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm #86499AnonymousInactive
“The question is – should such acts be given uncritical support ?”That is NOT the question. No one is asking that question for the simple reason that everyone already knows the answer. [/quote]The answer is obviousAll socialist know the answer. Do you give the SPGB your uncritical support? Of course not. It is simply an aunt sallyMarch 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm #86500
Hi Alan, I refer you to Old Grey’s answer above. And yes, you’re right, I think “the goal is nothing, the movement everything” is a reasonable summary of the current state of play. That’s important. We can talk about goals while we’re moving. If we’re not moving, talk about goals is pointless, in fact boring. On tax dodgers, I refer you to the reply I gave some messages ago. Interesting video:http://studiooccupy.org/#!/media/10319CheersMarch 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm #86501
PS I repeat my question: why are you demanding that the Occupy movement achieve in a few months what the SPGB (and the left and socialist movement more generally) has failed to achieve in over 100 years?March 13, 2012 at 2:57 pm #86502alanjjohnstoneKeymaster
As for uncritical support for the Occupy Movement , please share your criticism of it and don’t be reticient about revealing them. Otherwise, the silence about any flaws or faults is effectively uncritical support. In the past i have been very vocal in criticising certain aspects of the SPGB. If i never challenged those then it would be uncritical support of the Party. Your claim that it has taken the party a hundred years to understand capitalism is wrong. It understood sufficient to demand society changes when it was founded in 1904. But i guess you could make the claim that from the time of the Peasants Revolt , the Diggers , the Chartists , the labouring class has had the required knowledge of the ruling class and the social system they live under to reach an appropriate solution to their exploitation, although by no means the popular concensus solution, as most people were diverted into taking wrong roads. That has been the trouble, the same mistakes , the same errors , made over and over again. The longevity and its unbroken existence of the SPGB has resulted in it being less prone although not immune to this problem of collective short-memory. I think the thing about an organisation such as the SPGB is that it did indeed build up its case over the years through the direct experience of its members and has had repeated confirmation of the validity of its arguments in the practical politics and world events of the working class. Scientifically, a theory is only valid if it can predict and without being too determinist, the SPGB has successfully reached correct conclusions from its principles upon the development of the working class struggles. There is two parts to consciousness….identifying yourself as a class but also recognising the implications of your class position – its consequences. “class in itself” plus”class for itself” You all know the formula. Marx believed as the workers gained more experience of the class struggle and the workings of capitalism, it would become more consciously socialist. It would not require the intervention by people(leaders) or parties(vanguards) outside the working class to bring it about. But workers can never win the class struggle while it is confined simply to militancy. It has to be transformed into a socialist consciousness. It means talking about it, sharing ideas about it – in short educating ourselves and our fellow workers about it. We depend for the success of our message on people who are prepared to THINK. We cannot do what in Lenin’s day the Bolsheviks would have done, that is to seize power by a minority, and then lead the sheep into the promised land Yet that socialist consciousness cannot be achieved solely by ideological persuasion and propaganda. It has to link up with the practical struggle. That is the dilemma. The SPGB role is a limited one. When conditions are ripe the working class will acquire their power of self-determination. I do not believe anybody knows how this revolutionary consciousness is going to arise. Socialism is established by the working class understanding and wanting socialism and its establishment will result from an intensification of the class struggle. What is it that is going to provoke the working class into escalating the class struggle and acquiring socialist consciousness i have the honesty of confessing i have no idea. But does that stop me from cautioning against proven wrong tactics and answers. If socialism arises mechanistically solely out of the struggle – the movement – then indeed we should all be Leninists and Trotskyists. But it doesn’t . It is also an idea that is created by discussion and argument , by engaging people in the concept of what socialism is and that political case is based upon the understanding we possess of capitalism’s operation and contradictions. We have to explain capitalism to explain socialism. The exact same task as the Occupy Movement has to propagandise and popularise when it decides upon its own actions, such as exposing tax evasion. The difference is that we disagree with those Occupy analyses and we shouldn’t be reluctant in challenging them. If they refuse to debate an issue and treat any criticism as undermining – that is their failing, a flaw in the movement that has to be rectified. “A period of revolution begins not because life has become physically impossible but because growing numbers of workers have their eyes suddenly opened to the fact that problems hitherto accepted as part of man’s unavoidable heritage has become capable of solution…No crisis of capitalism , however desperate it may be , can ever by itself give us socialism ” – Will Capitalism Collapse ? Bertell Ollman had this to say”Progress from the workers’ conditions to class consciousness involves not one but many steps, each of which constitutes a real problem of achievement for some section of the working class. First, workers must recognize that they have interests. Second, they must be able to see their interests as individuals in their interests as members of a class. Third, they must be able to distinguish what Marx considers their main interests as workers from other less important economic interests. Fourth, they must believe that their class interests come prior to their interests as members of a particular nation, religion, race, etc. Fifth, they must truly hate their capitalist exploiters. Sixth, they must have an idea, however vague, that their situation could be qualitatively improved. Seventh, they must believe that they themselves, through some means or other, can help bring about this improvement. Eighth, they must believe that Marx’s strategy, or that advocated by Marxist leaders, offers the best means for achieving their aims. And, ninth, having arrived at all the foregoing, they must not be afraid to act when the time comes…What we find then is that most workers have climbed a few of these steps (enough to complain), that some have scaled most of them (enough to vote for working-class candidates), but that relatively few have managed to ascend to the top.” The Party may not be the possessors of the Holy Grail, but we do hold valuable insights from the past. Thus we canmore readily facilitate the understanding of other workers. That is all we can realistically do. How effective we have been , no-one will make claims of success but what we can do differently for a greater influence in the future is up for debate. There should not be an either/or approach but a varied mix.March 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm #86503
Alan, you need to learn to be briefer, no one’s going to read all that. As for criticisms of Occupy that strike me as fair, informed, sympathetic – all the things it needs to be to be worth a shite, here’s one that struck a chord with me:http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/laurie-penny/2012/01/occupy-movement-londonAll the bestMarch 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm #86504AnonymousInactive
To say socialist consiousness arises out class struggle is execatly what the materialist conception of history tells us. To say that the job of the SPGB is to teach workers about socialism is to make us look elitist and idealist. How did we become socialist if not from the material conditions of capitalism. Are we saying to workers , ‘we oppose you and criticise you and want nothing to do with you until you are a fully deveoped socialist’?. If I remember rightly that’s the argument of the ‘other SPGB’ We should be encouraged that workers are rejecting leadership and capitalist parties. But I agree comrade we need a mixed and varied approach and the party has done well over the years to remain true to the aims of socialism. Where would we go if the SPGB didn’t exist? Perhaps people in the Occupy movement are in the same position. They dont want the old so-called socialism of Russia, Labour etc and perhaps they dont know we exist. I see my role as directing them to the only Socialist PartyMarch 13, 2012 at 7:49 pm #86505DJPParticipantTheOldGreyWhistle wrote:To say socialist consiousness arises out class struggle is execatly what the materialist conception of history tells us. To say that the job of the SPGB is to teach workers about socialism is to make us look elitist and idealist. How did we become socialist if not from the material conditions of capitalism.
Well, it’s not quite as simple as this. Consciousness arises out of material conditions. The material condition of class society is the class struggle. So ALL forms of consciousness in a capitalist society arise from it’s antagonistic conditions, so we have contradictory forms of consciousness; fascism, reformist, socialist, religious….In other words socialist consciousness does arise out of the class struggle, but so does fascism (including it’s ‘communist’ variants)By education we should mean spreading our positions as widely and as clearly and accessibly as possible. But it is only because of the material conditions that we have these ideas in the first place. And it is only because of these conditions that other people will relate to them. Ideas do not magically appear out of the sky (or the socialist standard or Das Kapital).Here’s a little formulation for you:1. Treat concepts as coming from a historically specific mode of life2. Treat individuals as coming from a historically specific mode of life3. Treat a mode of life as a totality of internal relations.4. Changes in a mode of life are the result of the interplay of those internal relations.March 13, 2012 at 8:28 pm #86506AnonymousInactive
Camrade DJP,Yes, I accept all that. ‘Men make their own history’ We can’t just hope that socialist ideas wil become the dominat ideas. Socialist ideas have to compete with others. But we have the contradictions of capitalism on our side. After all capitalism only came about with the help of propaganda/education, struggle and the right material conditions. As far as your ‘formulation’ is concerned….Well I’m still thinking about that!March 13, 2012 at 10:41 pm #86507BrianParticipantDJP wrote:[Here’s a little formulation for you:1. Treat concepts as coming from a historically specific mode of life2. Treat individuals as coming from a historically specific mode of life3. Treat a mode of life as a totality of internal relations.4. Changes in a mode of life are the result of the interplay of those internal relations.
Hmmm seems a bit mechanistic despite its logical interplay. Damn and here’s me thinking the dynamics of class struggle was all about the variety of dialectic expressionism. Oh well back to the drawing board.March 13, 2012 at 10:52 pm #86508DJPParticipantBrian wrote:Hmmm seems a bit mechanistic despite its logical interplay.
Explain. There doesn’t seem to be anything deterministic in there to me.By the way I paraphrased this from a book by Bologh, no need to read the other 250 pages now!March 13, 2012 at 11:45 pm #86509BrianParticipantDJP wrote:Brian wrote:Hmmm seems a bit mechanistic despite its logical interplay.
Explain. There doesn’t seem to be anything deterministic in there to me.By the way I paraphrased this from a book by Bologh, no need to read the other 250 pages now!
All formulations are mechanistic by default.
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