Summer School 2019

Our political views are shaped by the circumstances we find ourselves in and how we relate to our situation. How does a socialist understanding of capitalism and the aim for a free and equal world compare with other political stances and belief systems? Why should we have a socialist viewpoint? And how does it impact on our lives? Our weekend of talks and discussion looks at what it means to have a socialist outlook in the 21st century.

Fircroft College How to Find Us

Full residential cost (including accommodation and meals Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) is £100. The concessionary rate is £50. Day visitors are welcome, but please book in advance.

E-mail enquiries should be sent to spgbschool@yahoo.co.uk. Book a place online, or send a cheque (payable to the Socialist Party of Great Britain) with your contact details to Summer School, The Socialist Party, 52 Clapham High Street, London, SW4 7UN.

Friday 2nd August

From 17.00: Arrival

18.30 – 19.00: Dinner

19.45—21.30

Be Realistic: Demand The Inevitable

– Edmund Griffiths

This talk will look at the notions of the impossible and the inevitable in a range of belief systems, including (but not limited to) socialism and other political belief systems. Why are people attracted to ideas that seem to be either impossible or inevitable? Or put off by them? What does it mean to campaign for something that might be impossible, or inevitable? What happens when assessments of impossibility or inevitability change? How do people believe that an impossible thing is true anyway? Or that an inevitable thing may never happen?

Besides socialism, the talk will hopefully address impossibility and inevitability in contexts such as liberalism, capitalism, flat earth, the end of the world, extraterrestrial life, Scottish independence etc.

Saturday 3rd August

7.30 – 8.45: Breakfast

10.00 – 12.00:

Living In Capitalism As A Socialist

– Janet Surman

Profit is the backbone of capitalism and profit is made from a plethora of resources, the greatest and most easily attainable of which is the global human resource, to be found in any village, town or city anywhere on the planet. The capitalist system is well known for waste as a necessary part of maximising profit and there is no greater waste than that of the human potential trapped in non-productive, non-useful work.

This session will take a look at the human misery attached to jobs, to work that many don’t really want to do but have to do to survive and will also look at the opposite position when human potential can be fulfilled to the satisfaction, and pleasure even, of billions of individual human beings.

“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at.” Oscar Wilde

12.30 – 13.15: Lunch

13.45 – 15.45:

Team Human’: Can You Live A ‘Socialist’ Life In Capitalism?

– Howard Moss

Someone recently wrote a book called ‘Team Human’ which emphasised that humans are social creatures who are most happy and fulfilled when working together for common goals. But how do we stay human in the vast antihuman infrastructure that is capitalism which constantly undermines our capacity to work together and connect with one another?

Despite the powerful forces that set us against one another (employment, nationalism, monetary gain), people are at their happiest when associating together in, for example, clubs, societies, family groups and social and political activities, which involve working with and helping other human beings. Socialists do this too. They belong to local clubs, community groups and trade unions. But how do they – or should they – react to being asked to go further and be associated with campaigns which involve, say, lobbying governments to improve conditions in particular areas, signing petitions calling on political parties to support certain changes in the law, or being members of or giving money to charities which seek to remedy deficiencies in social provision (e.g. housing, health care) or to save people from the consequences of sudden disasters, natural or man-made?

The Socialist view is that time spent in attempts to reform capitalism is time wasted. But on a human, day-to-day level, Socialists often find it difficult just to stand by and do nothing. So how do we cope with the constant dilemmas thrown up by wanting to spend our time helping to create a truly associative social system, yet constantly being called upon to help patch up the contrary arrangements fundamental to capitalism?

18.30 – 19.00: Dinner

19.15—20.45:

Socialists Synonymous – An Evening Of Personal Stories

– Carla Dee

As socialists, we see and understand the world in a very particular way and what is once seen cannot be unseen. How did we get here, and how has this affected our lives, our families and friends? Has being a socialist been a source of frustration, confrontation and disappointment or has the party case been an enlightenment and given us a sense of clarity and sanity? Or all of these things? Sometimes, thinking the way we do can be a lonely business.

Members and sympathisers get together to share our stories.

Sunday 4th August

7.30 – 8.45: Breakfast

10.00 – 12.00:

 ‘Ye Olde Worlde Revolution’

 - Bill Martin‘

In 1264 the Baron’s war (which historian Adrian Jobson characterises as the First English Revolution) saw a wide-scale attempt to inhibit the power of the monarchy. It was a revolt in which the burghers (bourgeoisie) of London played a significant role. This struggle saw the birth of the English Parliament, but it would be a further 400 years until the final constitutional curbing of the power of royalty lead to the social dominance of the capitalist class in England.

This talk will look at the life and activity of the bourgeois revolutionary Thomas Fitzthomas, who led that primitive revolt against the English monarchy. It will look at how the bourgeoisie developed as a revolutionary class, and how they struggled within a still vigorous feudal system. It will address how the knowledge of the capitalist revolution arms the imagination of the socialists of today, but also haunts the ideas many have of revolution. It will look at the role of ideas and self-image in the making of a revolutionary class, and the role of ongoing class struggle in the cause of revolution.

12.30 – 13.15: Lunch

13.30: Close

People are welcome to just attend the talks, but need to book a visitor place in advance by emailing spgbschool@yahoo.co.uk; there is a charge for any meals.