1990s >> >> no-1057-september-1992

Party News: Socialist summer school

The 4 and 5 July Socialist Party weekend of speakers, debate and socializing was a great success. Although outside of the Party and critical of some of its aspects, I felt welcome and included. The food was wonderful and much thanks must go to our hosts and caterers. Having toiled from the bus stop up the hill, I was greeted with a cocktail, lunch and a splendid view over the Gloucestershire countryside. For a moment I had the illusion of having stumbled into William Morris’s News from Nowhere. After lunch, proceedings continued with an impressive piece of oratory exploring a socialist vision of the future and the poverty of alternative aspirations.

Where Socialists look to a moneyless cooperative society where creativity is released and humanity grows in myriad ways, cynicism rules amongst the non-socialists. A John Major version of “Imagine”, including lines such as “Imagine no inflation, it’s easy if you try”, may not have been the musical highlight of the weekend but illustrated the theme. Imagination was shown to be, just as much as theory, a weapon of revolutionary struggle and a central aspect of Marx’s system.

Other discussions addressing such topics as sex, economics, ecology and personal freedom looked in greater detail at the possibilities of a socialist society, one where individuals rather than the blind economic force of capitalism, might determine progress. One of capitalism’s most dangerous ideological ruses is to dress up our present decaying order of ecological degradation, mass poverty and alienating work as the only way that things can be. The lesson of the weekend was that we could imagine alternatives and work towards a socialist world.

Contributions to the discussions were wide-ranging and well-informed, covering such diverse issues as democracy, political practice and vegetarianism. For me the event was both very enjoyable and contributed to my understanding of socialism, I look forward to similar occasions. The Social Democratic Federation of which William Morris was a founder member and which the Socialist Party split from in, I believe, 1904, used the slogan “Educate, Agitate, Organise”. I feel there is a greater hunger for radical education amongst those disillusioned by the failures of both capitalism and the Leninist Left. This hunger can perhaps be fuelled and filled by rigorous but comradely debate such as the Libertarian Socialist weekend, in particular, and the activities of the Socialist Party in general have provided.

Derek Wall

Bristol

Derek Wall helps edit Green Revolution and is writing a book examining Green politics and Marxism that will be published by Greenprint in 1993.