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i doubt it will be very much different from how they are conducted at present. http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_friendly_article.aspx?id=16815This article has observations about drug trials in India. In “A Nation of Guinea Pigs,” Kahn describes the uncomfortable fact: that economic disparity between investigators and subjects in human research creates possibilities for abuse and coercion — possibilities that we do not really know how to manage. Kahn worries that payments to hospitals and doctors, which are meant to cover the costs of running and overseeing a trial, sometimes serve as bribes, encouraging improper human experimentation. She questions whether trials in remote areas receive proper oversight, from either the Indian government or foreign institutions. (Indeed, pharmaceutical trials that do not receive government funding are overseen by commercial institutional review boards, which are paid by the companies they are supposed to be monitoring — an obvious conflict of interest.) Kahn does not demonstrate specific wrongdoing or scandal. But she clearly explains the perverse incentives that might encourage unethical behavior.There are, however, very strong medical, scientific, and economic arguments for conducting clinical trials in the poor world. The drugs tested might be intended for the population testing them; the trials might benefit from genetic diversity; or the trials, usually the most expensive part of the drug development process, might be cheaper. Given that clinical trials will be conducted in the poor world, what would be a better system?The ethical requirements for human research were established by international agreements such as the 1964 Helsinki declaration. [ The Nuremberg Trials of medical experimentation crimes and then later in America the Belmont Report laid down guidelines.] They include various commonsense rules: for instance, physicians ought to consider the health and well-being of subjects above other considerations; any adverse effects that occur during the course of a study should be scrupulously monitored, reported, and treated; researchers must fully communicate potential risks and benefits; and subjects must not be coerced into participating. Most importantly, the subjects of a trial should bene-fit personally from the results of the research (that is, they should not be induced to participate in a trial for solely economic reasons).But obvious difficulties arise in interpreting these principles and applying them in impoverished settings. A common dilemma is, Just what constitutes excessive inducement? If researchers pay for their subjects’ transportation and lunch, or reimburse them for missing a day of work, is that a bribe? What if they offer direct payments?Informed consent is particularly elusive in places where patients are not well educated and where doctors’ authority looms large. Informed-consent agreements are lengthy, bureaucratic documents. One recent improvement is to supplement documents with -visual aids and require patients to answer a brief quiz to ensure they have really comprehended the nature and terms of the transaction. It is important that patients understand they may leave the trial whenever they wish and will -neither be punished nor lose their primary health care.Among the most vexing questions is, Who should oversee the people who oversee clinical trials? A variety of promising initiatives, sponsored by international bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO), may help these groups to grow stronger. WHO is funding projects that teach ethics and provide infrastructure. This sounds sane: American and European private and public institutions cannot provide the oversight required for ethical clinical trials in the poor world, particularly when American and European pharmaceutical companies are involved. Helsinki Agreementhttp://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/b3/index.html Belmont Reporthttp://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/belmont.html
Welcome . Perhaps you will find some of our Spanish-language articles easier reading if you have not already seen them. They can be found here http://www.worldsocialism.org/othlang.php#es
Ken Griffin , one of the billionaires backing Mitt Romney for president does identify who can “create money out of thin air ” – the government . http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-03-11/business/ct-biz-0311-confidential-griffin-web-version-20120311_1_american-crossroads-politics-republicans-and-democrats/5 “…I spend way too much of my time thinking about politics these days because government is way too involved in financial markets these days. QE2. (‘QE’ stands for quantitative easing. That’s when the Federal Reserve pumps money, created out of thin air, into the economy.)…”
I simply stated a fact, that in their daily struggle of the class war, the Party, any party, is not necessary requirement. But, Robin, I also wrote “What is needed is to demonstrate the causes and the connections with capitalist exploitation” In another post, i said ” We have to make available the right ideas in sufficent depth and breadth, so that they can be picked up and used” In yet an earlier post, i declared (and recognised a current weakness of the Party ) “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.” That all requires engaging with and communicating directly in whatever means the working class seek to take and it isn’t abstentionalist. So i fail to see your conclusion that i do not argue that our role is to create links with immediate struggles and our goal of socialism. There are no shortage of organisations who try to co-opt direct action and reform movements and I witnessed in the 70s the IS using the Claimants Unions as a recruiting ground. We all are aware of the way unions and strikes suffer from manipulation by assorted Left groups to the detriment of those actually involved. Someone has pointed out on this thread , forget who or where, that the last thing strikers need is newspaper-sellers pushing a line and from direct personal experience i know this to be fact. ( As an aside, the last picket line i visited , i never handed out a leaflet or Standard, i gave a case of beer!) But those groups who do attach themselves to direct action/reform struggles, has it resulted in the growth you suggest would be the result? I hazard from anecdotal evidence that they too have all been suffering from declining membership. This is why the Occupy Movement was so important and i fully understand your and Stuart’s sympathies and support for it. It was different. It involved new ways of organising and new tactics and some new fresh demands. It challenged everybodys previous positions and demanded re-evaluation of them. Without the intervention of political parties workers have developed new strategies for new conditions. 19th C – New Unionism, beginning of the 20th – Syndicalism, the 30s sit-in strikes, in the post-war – wildcat unofficial strikes , 60s/70s – rank and file movements. From the tokenism of mass protest marches, we now have near permanent occupations of public spaces. The SPGB has written “The particular form of economic organisation through which the struggle is conducted is one which the circumstances of the struggle must mainly determine. The chief thing is to maintain the struggle whilst capitalism lasts.” As socialists we do not impose our position upon the working class,so thankfully if we as a group are wrong, the consequences are not transferred to others of our class by a leadership or party vanguard. However, we can put forard our preferences for what we consider “sound lines” and IMHO the Indian companion party explained our position in trade unions well enough for it to apply equally to other movements. “In countries like India workers have the legal right to form trade unions. But there, too, unlike Europe and America, most of the big trade unions have been organised from above as fund-raising, vote-catching political subsidiaries of self-seeking “leaders” than as spontaneous, grass-root, independent and autonomous organisations of the working class to defend their economic interests. Moreover in the absence of factory-wide free election of trade union functionaries, there are as many unions as there are political parties, most of them operating with their hired gangsters and peculiar flags having very little regard to class-unity. Actually these trade unions are not genuine trade unions. Still workers’ organised resistance against exploitation is a must; and for that matter, their resistance struggles must have to be freed from the infamy of remaining divided and subservient to various capitalist political parties. This they can achieve by organising themselves in fully integrated and independent trade unions of their own, by throwing away all kinds of blind faith and submissiveness regarding the wretched hierarchy of subscription-squeezer and flag-hoister “leaders”. The working class movement is a movement of equals-organised by the workers and in the interest of the workers. No “leader”, supposedly having some unknown “god”-given or “intrinsic” trick-finding qualities given is necessary to lead the working-class movement. For a “trick” cannot throw profit overboard. Simply because private property lives to levy its tribute on labour. All workers are able, rather abler than the “leaders”, to understand their own class-interests only if they are fully informed of their circumstances from local to global. And to be informed of what is happening around, and what has happened earlier, what they require is to meet in regular general assemblies, discuss and debate all that matters keeping ears and minds open and decide to take such steps as deemed useful. In case a strike is to be declared, they would need a strike committee to be formed of recallable delegates elected and mandated in the general assembly-thus retaining the ultimate control in their own hands. Where there are many rival trade union shops in a single factory or workplace operated by many capitalist political parties, a socialist worker can neither keep on supporting the one he is in, nor go on seeking membership of one after another or all at the same time, nor can he open his own “socialist” trade union instead. What he can, and should, do as an immediate perspective, is to try to form a “political group” with like-minded fellow workers and campaign for a class-wide democratic unity as stated above. Whenever an opportunity arrives the group must use the assemblies as a forum for political propaganda to expose the uselessness of “leaders” and show that the trade union movement is unable to solve the problems of crises, insecurity, poverty, unemployment, hunger and wars” [my emphasis] Manifesto of the World Socialist Party (India), March 1995.
An article on Dietzgen by Adam Buick published in Radical Philosophy 1975 http://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2010/01/joseph-dietzgen-workers-philosopher.html And another related article from 1918 issue of Western Clarion http://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2010/12/proletarian-logic.html
We have to take into account the difference between individual and collective action. We have an understanding that the private property system creates poverty and deprivation where many seek their own solutions such as from engaging in personal appropriation – shop-lifting and stealing. We recognise that for some, it is a necessity or even just simply the preferred alternative to wage slavery. We previously debated the riots and looting and while some members described those as anti-social (ie anti working class) acts by a lumpen-proletariat , other members would not issue a general condemnation of what took place. But we ALL agreed that it was not a policy to be recommended to promote the case for socialism. The Party seeks CLASS solutions to capitalism’s problems. While we DO recognise the merits of individual or sectional responses such as co-operatives etc, and may personally participate in them, our task is to emphasise what should be done by our class as a whole for permanent change, not temporary respite for a few. The answer to Robbo’s question WDWDITM if it is aimed at the working class is that it is not for us as a Party to offer answers since WDWDITM is already taking place in all manners of ways , legal and illegal and doesn’t require the approval or sanction or encouragement of the Party. It takes place just as the class struggle does on a daily basis whether the idea of socialism or a workers party exists or not. What is needed is to demonstrate the causes and the connections with capitalist exploitation even if this is already vaguely expressed in such commonly held attitudes of that it is all because of “the system”. Our task is to explain that system, build on what Marx believed was the foundation block of our emancipation – understanding the process of our exploitation so that we know what has to be lopped off. However, IMHO what is often overlooked by ourselves, but not by some well meaning Leftists and reformists, is presenting a credible alternative future for workers to choose. The party has been reluctant to present the blueprints (note my use of the plural) of socialism and understandably workers are not keen on buying into a pig in a poke. As the rise in the strength of the trade union movement contributed to the confidence of the working class, the Occupy Movement has also presented a positive development in organisational democracy and unifying seemingly previously disparate groups. They performed the function of the umbrella organisation for all resistance groups that the socialist movement should have been and must become. The Occupy Movement was credible. What we must do in the meantime is to endeavour to give ourselves in the WSM and free access socialism as a society the same credible immediate expectation. In my book, that does mean suggesting how present institutions can be transformed into socialist cook-shops of the future. I do want to see a menu before sitting down at the table. It was from NON-party sources that i received my vision of what socialism will look like and what the possibilities could be.
Old Grey – Socialist consciousness comes from life experience, but then that automatically implies that every worker should achieve it, that it should have happened by now. I also see another problem. It leads to a belief of the old “historical inevitability” of socialism, that inevitably people will come around to becoming socialists. That would indeed leave no role for a Socialist Party. We can join a Party and then watch revolution unfold before our eyes. However many have not accepted this inevitability and wonder what exactly is our role? Where do we “intervene” to raise consciousness and how do we intervene? What practical measures can we take as a Party? We ask why are not more people achieving this consciousness?We do not minimise the importance of the worker keeping up the struggle to maintain the wage-scale, resisting cuts, etc. After all, a working class that can’t defend itself is also a working class that is incapable of making a revolution. Communists will not bring consciousness to the working class from the outside but it will be developed in its struggles to defend itself against the inevitable intensification of the attacks against it. The economic crisis (like war, etc.) can provide a stimulus for class struggle, but this is not always the case. The liberation of our class will only come about we, the class ourselves for ourselves do the hard work of organising, which needs we class conscious workers doing the equally hard work of convincing our fellow workers. Marx said “Philosophers have only tried to understand the world. The point is to change it.” The IWW wrote “Don’t moan, Organise!” There’s nothing inevitable about this and if the working class cannot rise to the occasion overall it will be defeated. And usully it has been. For decades self-proclaimed “marxists” (usually Trotskyists but previously those like the CP and ILP in the 30s) fetishised the word “crisis”, and describe every economic downturn and political turn of events as the “crisis of capitalism”, prophesising the “inevitable” end of capitalism – the more shit happens – the closer we are to revolution. Some welcome the economic crisis of capitalism and claim there is no perspective of revolution without it. It is argued that crises opens up the possibility of revolution, it doesn’t guarantee it. But without crisis there is no possibility whatsoever. The worse conditions become – the more politicised and inclined to take direct action the populace become. They argue that crises make people angry and more susceptible to revolutionary ideas. This is an over optimistic (utopian?) wish fulfilment mixed with crude determinism. The track records of crises are such that they have not produced a lasting positive effect on any attempts to eclipse the current method of organising society. It may be recessions just lead to despair, fatalism, acceptance of misery and cynicism to things getting better. Upturns in the economy make revolution more likely because it is the human condition never to be satisfied and when you’ve got the job, house, wages, car and all the mod cons then you want more – security, control over your own life which can only be got by workers ownership and control of our own work, residents ownership of their own homes and individuals control over our lives, all of which can only be got by anarchist communism (or whatever you wanna call it) by way of social revolution.What will happen is the working class will be beat down more than it already has been in the last 30 years or so. The working class is mostly under the sway of bourgeois ideology, is not organised even into class fighting organizations, and therefore will not be able to even hint at threatening the bourgeoisie’s power. After all, the Great Depression produced no revolutionary upsurge and the appalling conditions of workers in the 3rd world haven’t automatically led to revolution either. But most of the communist left seems to be hold the vague hope that the working class will engage in some kind of spontaneous communist revolution. Yet what we can actually expect to see reactionary ideology make a resurgence, even amongst the working class, in the midst of a crisis. If the working class is not already prepared, it will just get beaten up more badly than it has been for the last 30 years. In some circumstances it can demoralise the class or, even if the class struggles it can be dragged onto bourgeois terrain like the strikers in France in the 30s who supported leftist governments and marched under the national flag. Despite the considerable militancy, the class struggle was contained. The very fact that the bourgeoisie were able to go to war demonstrated their success in that endeavor. Economic crisis and increasing misery for the working class doesn’t necessarily and inevitably lead to revolution. Relying upon the effects of the crisis seems to be the lazy way to try and approach social change, scrap all the groundwork and hope the crisis does it for you. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That is our basic function – to develop alternatives, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable. The best we can hope for is to use this as an opportunity to re-group, in order to get the working class in a stronger position to start from when the boom returns.But the end of the day however, as pro-revolutionaries, it is not in our interest to try and save capitalism but rather to destroy it. Unlike some in the Occupy Movement who denounce finance capitalism as the main enemy is to side with industrial capital in the struggle between the two over how much each is to get of the wealth produced by the worker class.As revolutionaries being such a small minority, we can’t do much more than keep on arguing that the only way-out is to replace capitalism by a system based on common ownership (instead of class ownership) and production solely for use (instead of production for profit) and to keep on urging workers to self-organise themselves democratically to bring this social revolution about. We have to make available the right ideas, in sufficent depth and breadth, so that they can be picked up and used. But until that time comes it is just like pissing against the wind. Not a very morale raising prospect.I don’t want it seem that i am anti-Occupy Movement. I do find many things positive about it. Struggles should be aimed towards achieving real gains for the sake of those gains and about delivering an increased confidence, autonomy, initiative, participation, solidarity, egalitarian tendencies and self-activity. Workers benefit from their struggles in terms of learning how to organise, discovering their collective power, etc. The generalisation of struggle by elements of th Occupy Movement will make that harder for governments and capitalists to off-load gains made by one sector of workers onto other sectors of workers and can potentially push back the austerity measures accross a wider front at least on a temporary basis. The current Occupy struggles develop on an independent, self-organised and extend accross national boundaries may well give rise to an escalation of the class struggle, but only in the context that it starts to challenge capitalism as a whole from a position of some class strength. Only the self-organisation of the whole proletariat and that necessarily requires the trade unions contains the potential to defend its own interests both in the short-term economic and the longer term political.Marx said in the Holy Family:”Not in vain does it go through the stern but steeling school of labour. It is not a question of what this or that proletarian, or even the whole proletariat, at the moment regards as its aim. It is a question of what the proletariat is, and what, in accordance with this being, it will historically be compelled to do. Its aim and historical action is visibly and irrevocably foreshadowed in its own life situation as well as in the whole organization of bourgeois society today.” – Consciousness is something that workers has to acquire, even if it does not want to.And apologies Stuart for the length. Constructing replies helps me to clarify my own perspectives. Selfish, i know!
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.
“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.
I came across this article which again confirms much of the WSM view. “a democracy cannot function without a public that is properly informed. Informing the public used to be the role of serious newspapers and television networks. Of course, not everything in the mainstream media is always true: Mistakes are made. News organisations have political biases, sometimes reflecting the views and interests of their owners.But high-quality journalism has always relied on its reputation for probity. Editors, as well as reporters, at least tried to get the facts right. That is why people read Le Monde, The New York Times, or, indeed, The Washington Post. Filtering nonsense was one of their duties – and their main selling point.That has changed. Populist demagogues in politics and the mass media are doing everything they can to discredit the quality press as propaganda organs for left-wing elites who sneer at the views of ordinary Americans. Santorum pretends to speak for these people – that is, for a minority of Americans who are mostly white, provincial, highly religious, deeply conservative on cultural and social issues, and convinced that Obama and all Europeans are dangerous godless socialists.The point is not whether Santorum is right or wrong factually. What he says “feels” right to his followers, because it conforms to their prejudices. And the internet, having swamped the quality press, feeds and reinforces those prejudices, making it more difficult to distinguish the truth from lies.The public is increasingly segmented into groups of likeminded people who see their views echoed back to them in blogs, comments and tweets. There is no need to be exposed to different opinions, which are, in any case, considered to be propaganda…The first people to argue that all truth is relative and that all information is a form of propaganda that reflects society’s power relations, were far removed from the world inhabited by Santorum and his supporters. Several decades ago, a number of European and American intellectuals, often with a background in Marxism, developed a “post-modern” critique of the written word. We might think, they argued, that what we read in The New York Times or Le Monde is objectively true, but everything that appears there is, in fact, a disguised form of propaganda for bourgeois class interests.There is no such thing, the post-modern critic believes, as independence of thought. Objective truth is an illusion. Everyone is promoting class interests of one kind or another. The real lie, in this view, is the claim of objectivity. What is necessary to change the world is not the truth, but another form of propaganda, promoting different interests. Everything is political; that is the only truth that counts…” The Socialist Standard wrote “Postmodernist junk The “right environment” in question is the one presented by postmodernism, that loose body of thought which contends that interpretation is everything and the truth an ephemera, and that science and reason are merely particular interpretations of events, being “narratives” with no more claim to validity than any other. It is postmodernism and the parallel distrust of science and progress that has arisen in recent years that has opened the way for conspiracy theories to multiply – whether they have a basis in reality or not. At the same time – and without coincidence – various New Age and occultist ideas and practices have gained ground. Postmodernism, irrationality and conspiracy theories now unite to form a bizarre trinity that informs much popular interpretation of historical events and processes.” Our problem is how do we combat this self-censorship of opposing views. In fact the Socialist Standard also reflected the view of the articles author on the ‘respectable’ press “If you want to know the truth, you cannot rely on newspapers. We have that on good authority – in fact, on the authority of the more honest newspapers. (The more honest papers are those that are read mainly by capitalists who need reliable information about the world in order to make investment decisions, as opposed to those that are read mainly by workers.)””
i find the example of Iceland placing their ex-prime minister on trial for negligence rather interesting and amusing. Blaming individuals’ failures for the crises instead of recognising systemic faults as its causes. But we can all sympathise with scape-goating particular capitalists particularly their lickspittle political representatives even if in the very unlikely situation he will be found guilty and igets a token sentence. In many ways Occupy Norwich, which seems to be mimicking UK Uncuts, by identifying one capitalist (Green) as a criminal and engaging in a citizen’s arrest, reflects the same popular emotional political appeal. But does it offer an accurate description of the workings of capitalism and does it advance the case for socialism ? The question is – should such acts be given uncritical support ? If not, then the question is how does the WSM frame its criticism. I believe and i think DJP is saying and what Old Grey desires – our disagreements should be comradely and we should not stand aside or stand aloof to the Occupy movement , being on the outside looking inside. Whatever our opposition is, it not based upon the Party’s hostility clause but comes from a recognition of the protests limitations, just as we with the trade union movement ie we do not discourage class struggle day-to-day resistance. The means and methods that those on particular benefits defend themselves is for their own self-organisation to decide, not for the party to intervene in. But we do caution that those in itself do not suffice, nor do we become cheer-leaders for every strike or protest as a sign that heralds the revolution. We can generalise our politics by explaining the necessity of trade unionists taking political action but be scathing when it manifests in such expressions as TUSC.
One of the points is that many conspiracy theories hinder the understanding of the workings of capitalism and diverts from our struggle for socialism. It is not all about who killed JFK or whatever . If it was my response may be similar to yours – who killed Kennedy – who cares But as can be seen on another thread on this forum concerning ideas on banking there exists a very commonly held view that banks can create money/credit from thin air. Such beliefs directly influences the manner of the class struggle. Another important consequence was the HIV causes AIDS denial by the government of South Africa which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of victims who were never treated with antireviral drugs. Nor should it be forgotten that the anti-Jewish conspiracy had a bearing on the Holocaust Conspiracy theories are not harmless. We should seek out why people fall for them so we can counter them more effectively
“The Party is half the size it was when I first joined and is still steadily declining by all accounts. Oblivion is theoretically quite on the cards and still we have members displaying advanced signs of the Titanic syndrome – lashing out at any signs of fresh thinking. Lets all gather around the piano, comrades, and sing the red flag rather than “god save the queen” as we slowly sink below the waves but, for gods sake, dont even think about organising the liferafts!!!. Don’t think outside the black box. Just carry on as usual. Just do what we have always done and got more oe less nowhere as a result.” Isn’t this the same for all political groups. Even mainstream bourgeois parties are losing members. And if we are brutally honest , the Occupy Movement although offering a degree of inspiration was a side show in regards to numbers. Zeitgeist also raised the imagination but led to no real impact on the vies of the working class. We thought the unions were about to escalate their resistance, and they still may do , but the political solutions they are offering have remained in a Keynesian cul-de-sac. In comparison to those beforementioned 2005 saw the churches mobilise hundreds of thousands in their ultimately futile end poverty campaign. What does that say of the potential of thinking outside the box? Should we all don dog-collars and cassocks to reach out to those in dire need of some socialist catechisms to achieve a reversal of numbers? No magic answer here right now. Just banging away with the same old arguments in the same old way. Because what is the alternative except to maintain principles. But i think a case can be made for re-prioritising and re-shaping our case for socialism in changing conditions. Yet we need to first reach a concensus upon what the foremost problems faced by workers are and which part of the socialist response would reach the most receptive audience. But even that poses its own problems. With all their focus groups and political analysists and social commentators, even the conventional capitalist parties continually raise themes and then drop them, they constantly switch and re-position their propaganda….with as much success as ourselves! If people have concrete suggestions and practical proposals and then lets hear them. Otherwise, it’s all no different from the post …a wishy-washy outpouring of emotion.
Chomsky makes two assumptions. (1) Kerry then Obama were really the “lesser evil” and (2) that there is something to be gained by choosing an admitted “evil”. Both are questionable. We have the record of Obama as president of his “lesser evil”What ruling class politicians will actually do once elected is impossible to predict and for Chomsky to claim providence even with a history of statistics on the matter is simply not very credible. Chomsky is claiming what bourgeois politicians say have some relationship to what they do. But politicians may say anything they wish but once elected, they may do whatever they please. There is no requirement that they tell the truth. Democrats with Obama at the helm, at one point had a super majority in Congress and accomplished little. Arguing fo a Democrat vote on the grounds that things may be marginal better strikes me as valid as newspaper pundits devising mathematical schemes to improve your chances of winning the lottery, you still remain a highly probable loser! This is the illusion of choice. The Democratss are there to pacify us. They are not there to bring around any change to the way government is done what-so-ever. They are there to flick a few crumbs to keep us from uprising and that’s it. And those throwaway crumbs are the basis of Chomsky’s case.We are living in a period of reaction, and the “real choices” are all reactionary. So we should be unrealistic and utopian and we should advocate what we really want, regardless if it makes us “ineffective” or dreamers. That is our basic function: to develop alternatives, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable. The best we can hope for is to use this as an opportunity to regroup, in order to get the working class in a stronger position to start from when the boom returns. All we can do is to try to negotiate the best redundancy terms possible and try to resist as effectively as we can the increased downward pressures on wages and working conditions (for which we need collective organisation and action, even within the existing trade unions). As to what revolutionaries can do, at the moment being so small a minority, we can’t do much more than keep on arguing that the only way-out is to replace capitalism by a system based on common ownership (instead of class ownership) and production solely for use (instead of production for profit) and to keep on urging workers to self-organise themselves democratically to bring this social revolution about. A working class that can’t defend itself is also a working class that is incapable of making a revolution. We all know the Debs quote…if we support what we don’t want – just guess what we will get.Chomsky said “Those who prefer to ignore the real world are also undermining any hope of reaching any popular constituency.”Well, since half of Americans already ignore the elections anyway, that leaves us with quite a potential popular constituency to work on.Chomsky has also said “The smart way to keep people passive & obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”That’s virtually the entire function of the Democrat party.Your reply seems to me to be a bit moralistic. Politics as charity and that one wing of the business party are supposedly more humanitarian and virtuous than the other.We should treat people as grown-ups and state our position honestly declaring that no-one you vote for is going to change your life for the better. If you want a better life, you’ll have to fight for it. Aren’t we serious about abolishing wage-slavery?And what about our own Party’s integrity, attacking the person we just finished telling people to vote for. What a way to earn people’s respect and trust. Even Lenin got caught out with that one by publically saying Bolsheviks should support the Labour Party like a noose around its neck on the gallows …or whatever the actual quote was.
Or perhaps line up with Ron Paul, too, as the lesser of the three evils running for the Republican nomination?