Forum Replies Created
August 29, 2013 at 2:56 am in reply to: As a Socialist, should I oppose immigration or not? #95906
FYI:The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s 2013 International Migration Outlook takes an in depth look at the fiscal impact of immigration on the 34 OECD member countries, finding “an overall fiscal impact in terms of GDP that is positive but small”http://tinyurl.com/nkb939t
Robert Graham writes:Thanks for forwarding the review. I guess no publicity is bad publicity, but for the reviewer to claim that Volume 3 of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas tries to constrain anarchism within a mutualist framework is ridiculous. There is one pro-mutualist piece, and another which sees some merit in some mutualist ideas, but which also discusses anarchist communism in a favourable light. The two pieces make up less than 10 pages of a 600 page book (that’s about 1.6% of the book). To try to discredit David Graeber because his piece on the new anarchism originally appeared in the New Left Review is just plain stupid.http://tinyurl.com/kxblsrt
"Another outstanding unemployment speaker in the 1920's was Tom Waller, affectionally known as Workhouse Waller. He too had got his Socialist education from the SPGB [and is later identified as an ex-member]. Like his voice, his speeches were strong and rasping. Wage slavery and capitalism were his enemy, a Socialist society his objective. When the local board of guardians said that there was to be no more poor law relief without tak work – which meant the workhouse – he was ready with the answer: 'We enter the workhouse all together.' (p.21)
One of the climbers mentioned comments " It's a very enlightening look at the history of the mountain and conquest. I'd forgotten about all the controversy surrounding the treatment of Mallory's body and the selling of photos by the expedition that discovered him."
One supporter of the People's Assembly Against Austerity has responded saying although he is sympathetic to our "call for socialism to be the alternative" he feels "that sometimes demands can be made on that road to socialism.. A shop steward does not just call for workers control of the workplace but places demands on the employer (wages and conditions etc) on the way. To get to the top of the mountain you do not necessarily have to take the most direct route (you might just fall off). It is imperative if we are to advance to focus on the enemy and not spend huge amounts of time dissecting the views of our friends."
According to one of the climbers involved, "we never said that using ropes or oxygen is like walking. Using ropes is part of climbing, it keeps us alive, and we use them all the time. I'm also not sure that I ever said that I despised any restrictions. There are no restrictions on the mountain so saying that i despise them is a bit over the top if they dont even exist? Also the Nepalese Govt never intervened. No one was ever arrested, I never saw a single policeman. The ringleader sherpas were back working on the mountain almost straight away!"
A Professor writes:"The implication of the review is that a water well blow up. It is important to appreciate that it was not the well that blew up but an explosion took place in a poorly vented space above the well. In fact, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has warned the people of Dimock for years and years that they must vent spaces over water wells because of the well-known and documented, naturally occurring methane in virtually all water wells in the Dimock area as documented, again…by Prof. Robert Jackson. The owner of the well in question failed to pay attention to PA-DEP. Would there still have been an explosion in the housing above the water well had the space been properly vented? We will probably never know."
Another academic remarks:My own approach to class analysis is clearly more Weberian than yours, in that I see social mobility a key component if classes are to be identified on the basis of occupational categories. Also, the Bourdieusian approach, which I favor over an orthodox Marxist approach, has a sharp distinction between classes as epistemological and ontological entities. This goes back to the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, and his notion of epistemological obstacles. Classes can be identified “on paper” by charting out the capital structures in a multidimensional space of capitals, and by locating the positions within this multidimensional hierarchy. Whether or not these classes also become actual classes, i.e. mobilized groups for struggles, is a different story. Also, the concept of the middle class, or middle classes as they would say in France, proves to be understood in different ways across Europe. In Norway, 70% see themselves as part of the middle class, and +/- 25% as a part of the working class. In the UK, which in this respect stands out in the Western Europe, 50% see themselves as a part of the working class. In short, belonging to the same occupational category, e.g. a plater or a mechanic at a shipyard, does not necessarily imply that the class identities also are similar. This is yet another reason why a favor the Bourdieusian framework to class analysis.
One of the academics involved in this study believes that the seven classes are not so much at odds with Marxian perspectives and writes more on this here. He is keen for us to provide feedback.
Here's another perspective:"…Hugo Chávez’s presidency (1999-2013) was characterized by a dramatic concentration of power and open disregard for basic human rights guarantees. After enacting a new constitution with ample human rights protections in 1999 – and surviving a short-lived coup d’état in 2002 – Chávez and his followers moved to concentrate power. They seized control of the Supreme Court and undercut the ability of journalists, human rights defenders, and other Venezuelans to exercise fundamental rights. By his second full term in office, the concentration of power and erosion of human rights protections had given the government free rein to intimidate, censor, and prosecute Venezuelans who criticized the president or thwarted his political agenda. In recent years, the president and his followers used these powers in a wide range of prominent cases, whose damaging impact was felt by entire sectors of Venezuelan society. Many Venezuelans continued to criticize the government. But the prospect of reprisals – in the form of arbitrary or abusive state action – forced journalists and human rights defenders to weigh the consequences of disseminating information and opinions critical of the government, and undercut the ability of judges to adjudicate politically sensitive cases…"Venezuela: Chavez's Authoritarian LegacyHuman Rights Watch
Some further related material is to be found on Socialism Or Your Money Back.Robert
Hi!Yes, Robert in Norway is still fielding enquiries sent by e-mail. This may change when the Enquiries Department becomes responsible for such work. YFS.,RobertSeptember 8, 2012 at 8:45 am in reply to: Book Reviews: ‘Marx’s Das Kapital for Beginners’, ‘The Atheist’s Guide to Reality’ #89152
Professor Wayne writes:i do think Marx’s theory of the tendency for the rate of profit to fall is important – it is the expression at the level of economics of the profound problem that capitalism cannot universalsie its productive potential to the benefit of all.on Lenin – it would not have been appropriate to have simply made a doctrinal point (Lenin is bad or good) on a matter of such complexity in a page in a book which is not about Lenin.Gramsci of course is a less divisive figure and important in my view. Experience alone is not enough as you imply in my view, experience has to be integrated into theory (the basis of praxis) and intellectuals (like Marx and Gramsci) have an important role to play in that – their job is to make the specialist division of labour which makes their access to education and theory possible – redundant; Gramsci’s aim was to develop organic intellectuals from the working class – an absolutely necessary transformation for socialist change.on the length of time it would take – a very complex and difficult question – my hunch is that it would take a long time – why would every country undergo a process of change in sync? Revolutionary change is a difficult and complex matter – having seen how complex and difficult it is even in one country after spending a year in Venezuela, it seems likely to be a long process rather than an event. I don’t see why though that is pessimistic. Capitalism took many generations to develop and it certainly co-existed with feudalism for generations. But who knows for sure? I do know that getting to the ‘majority’ on a global scale is not an easy task, nor can socialism be ‘enacted pure and simple’. Reconstructing an entire global political economy on the basis of use value rather than exchange – that is not going to be simple.Anyway, thanks for the review which on the whole is positive and more importantly appreciates what the book was trying to do
Below FYI is a review of Coleman’s biography of De Leon from The People, January 22, 1994. I have posted it here in full as an online version seems unavailable.
Factual Errors, Prejudice, Mar De Leon Biography
By Robert Bills
From certain quarters, we have been reproached for neglecting to take notice of Stephen Coleman’s 1990 “biography” of Daniel De Leon, “a man whose name and career are indelibly intertwined with the history of the Socialist Labor Party and its official journal, The People. We accept the rebuke for the reason that some may interpret our silence to mean we have no criticism to offer, while others may have been confused by it.
However, Coleman’s book presents a number of formidable obstacles that are not easily overcome. For the most part, it is simply a rehash of what previous would-be biographers of De Leon have written. There isn’t an original idea in it that we could discover, though the book has several peculiar distinctive qualities that make it almost impossible to read. These range from an avalanche of errors in simple fact that justify the conclusion that Coleman didn’t do his homework, to a veritable blizzard of proofing errors that serve as a constant distraction.
According to his publishers, “Coleman paints a critical but sympathetic portrait of a complex and committed Marxist thinker w ho refused to compromise his belief that capitalism had to be abolished.” Speaking for himself, however, Coleman summarizes his “portrait” in terms that leave a much different impression:
“It is customary for biographies to conclude with a summary of the practical achievements of their subjects. In the case of Daniel De Leon a summary of failure would be more appropriate. De Leon did not succeed in destroying, or even slightly denting, the edifice of American capitalism. “
This, however, is not a conclusion Coleman draws from painstaking research into the life and work of Daniel De Leon. It is also his thesis -the thing he set out to prove to himself and, presurnably, to his readers. Hence, Coleman also introduces his work as “a study of uncompromising revolutionary hope and dismal political failure” In short, Coleman’s purpose in writing a “biography” of Daniel De Leon was not to produce a disinterested and objective study, much less a “critical but sympathetic” one.Coleman’s purpose was to pick straws from a straw man whose only existence was in his own none-too-fertile imagination.
Coleman’s proof of De Leon’s “failure” as a thinker, strategist and tactician of the socialist movement is that the SLP never attracted large numbers of workers to its ranks. That, however, is tantamount to conceding that the socialist movement – to which there are many more claimants than the SLP – is a failure. That line of reasoning might be understandable if it came from a writer who did not identify himself with that movement; but that is not the case where Coleman is coneerned, he being a writer and spokesperson for the Socialist Party of Great Britain.
Coleman is entitled to his opinion, of course, and we would be the last to deny him the right to express it. However, that does not change the fact that this luminary of the “SPGB” and, as his publishers dutifully note, “professor of History of Ideas on the London camp us of Drew University,” is a borderline illiterate who is a lazy researcher to boot. Perhaps literary abilities also fall into the category of opinion, so we will pass over them and enter the realm of facts – concrete, immutable, jump-up-and-kick-you-where-it-hurts facts – that are twisted beyond recognition.
According to Coleman, for example, a youthful De Leon was removed from the German town, where he was a student at the local gymnasium when the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870, “to the prestigious University of Leyden in Holland, where there is evidence that he followed his father’s footsteps in studying medicine.” (Emphasis added.) Yet, virtually every other researcher reports that there is no documentary evidence that De Leon ever attended the University of Leyden, much less of what he may have studied there. Coleman cites no source for this revelation.
According to Coleman, “It has been alleged by De Leon’s opponents that in the five years between 1878 and 1883 he worked in a private law practice.” Why “alleged?” Had Coleman bothered to read as much as De Leon’s obituary in The People he could not help but come across this sentence: “For a short time he [De Leon] practiced law in Texas …. “
No wonder, after getting only nine pages into his “biography” of 192 pages, Coleman curtly states: “So much for personal biography.” Amen.
But there is more.
According to Coleman, “De Leon became editor [of The People], in 1891.” De Leon became editor in 1892. According to Coleman, De Leon “retained the editorship for twenty-three years, working for all of that time without any paid journalistic staff, but relying at all times on volunteer writers to fill the space.” (Emphasis added.) While De Leon single-handedly staffed The People from 1892 until the Daily People was launched on July 1, 1900, the paper has had a paid editorial staff from that day down to this. If reading up on this was too much for Coleman, he might at least have looked at the at the pictures in the Daily People’s fourth anniversary souvenir pamphlet; or, if he couldn’t scare one up, the 90th anniversary commemorative supplement published in the June 30, 1990, issue of The People.
According to Coleman, “the People … did endure financially without advertising.” (Emphasis added.) In truth, every single issue of The People from 1891 until after World War I carried advertising for everything from corn plasters and Coca-Cola to cigars and cigarettes. Even pictures are too much for Coleman to look at?
According to Coleman, “it was De Leon himself who translated into English for the first time Marx’s Value, Price and Profit.” In truth, Marx delivered that speech in London, England – Coleman’s home town – before an English audience of English-speaking people who may have thought from Marx’s accent that what they were hearing was German, or Greek, or something else. Nonetheless, Marx wrote and delivered his speech in English – plain English, we might add, should Coleman ever care to take a peek at it.
According to Coleman, “De Leon did not answer the following statement and question which was put to him by [Job] Harriman” during their debate in November 1900. The reason “De Leon did not answer” in Coleman’s account is that Coleman looked in the wrong book! Had he researched the subject, he would have come across the fact that two versions of the debate were printed and put into circulation: The SLP version, “stenographically recorded by Benjamin F. Keinard,” printed in the Daily People and as a pamphlet immediately after the debate took place; and a later, Harriman version printed by the “Socialist Co-Operative Publishing Association.” He also would have found De Leon’s answer in the stenographically recorded version.
These are a few of the errors that appear in Coleman’s “biography” of Daniel De Leon. The few we’ve chosen come from the first 50 pages of the book. We dare not go on to what our “professor of History of Ideas” discovered when he “researched” the ideas of De Leon. Only a masochist would try.