50 Years Ago: Labour Party hypocrites & Summer School Report
Labour Party hypocrites
The Labour Party, now in opposition, has the opportunity to try and rebuild its severely
damaged image of being the party with ideals. Their publicity men tried their best with posters and hoardings during the election, but the reality of Labour’s record in office was just too much for them to whitewash.
“Arms for South Africa” is an issue which the opportunists in the Labour Party are determined to hang on to and develop this purpose, but their hypocrisy in doing so should be obvious to anyone who has followed the Labour government’s foreign policy. It was Denis Healey, Minister of “Defence”, who in 1968 proclaimed. “Her Majesty’s government and the South African government share the responsibility for maritime security in the South African area”. It seems now that he expected them to carry out this function with arms supplied by countries other than Britain. Throughout Labour’s period of office the Simonstown Agreement was honoured and joint naval manoeuvres continued. Healey and his colleagues by accepting a ban on arms shipments to South Africa were attempting to gain the best of both worlds: defence of the Cape trade route and continued trade with and investment in South and South-West Africa and, at the same time, expanding trade and influence in the rest of Africa.
(From front page Socialist Standard, August 1970)
Summer School Report
Plans for this year’s Summer School sadly ground to a halt earlier in the year, as the lockdown came into effect and our usual venue – Fircroft College – had to temporarily close. 2020’s Summer School looked like it would be the one that never was. But when Discord came along we realised this could be the way to hold the event after all, much as it’s come to the rescue for other talks and meetings. Appropriately, given that Summer School’s theme is Technology, the internet and social media enabled us to go ahead. A bonus was that this meant it would be a shorter journey to a computer screen than to Birmingham, especially for people outside Britain.
Summer School was held on the 7– 9 August, with over 30 people joining in. The weekend’s agenda was more-or-less the same as if it had been at Fircroft, with six sessions discussing technological progress and its application in the past, present and future.
Adam Buick opened the weekend by raising the question of whether Marxism is technological determinism, and reminding us that class struggle also drives change.
Next, Bill Martin’s talk considered how the way we think is a form of technology, as the ideas behind inventions come from social relations. Mike Foster’s talk about philosopher Gunther Anders’ views opened up an interesting discussion about many people’s often-wary attitudes around scientific developments.
More optimistically, Leon Rozanov explored the potential of digital technology for streamlining distribution and democracy in a socialist society. And Paddy Shannon closed the weekend with his talk about what new tech is around the corner and how we can get ready.
Paddy also hosted a discussion session about more effective ways we can engage with others online, whether through memes, messaging boards or podcasts, with many useful suggestions for us to work on. Summer School isn’t just about the talks, it’s also an enjoyable opportunity to share ideas and catch up with like-minded comrades and friends around the globe.
There was also time for a fun quiz on Saturday evening, a first for ourselves on Discord.
For anyone who wants to revisit the event, transcripts of talks and links to related articles have been uploaded to the site, and recordings of the sessions will be added to the party’s website soon.
Thanks go to everyone who gave talks, chaired discussions and tuned in. Preparations for Summer School 2021 will soon be underway, so keep an eye out for an announcement later in the year.
Socialist Standard September 2020