Date Archives July 2007

Marxism 2007: Day Five (Monday)

OK, Day Five has been hanging over me throughout a very busy week, so rather than waiting for the right time I’m going to write about it now, while I still have a million other more pressing things to do. First up was “A history of rebel art from Dada to Banksy“. I only went to part one, which took me up to 1960, but it was a very interesting discussion, led by Esther Leslie of Birkbeck College. She argued that all art is rebellious in some way because it… Read More

Marxism 2007: Day Four (Sunday)

“Cuba after Castro” was a great talk, with one small problem: it wasn’t about Cuba after Castro. The speaker, Mike Gonzalez, focused most of his talk on Cuba under Castro, and spent only the last few minutes talking about Cuba after Castro. It wasn’t the only speech at this conference to disregard its advertised topic, however, and the effect was not fatal. I learned a lot about the way power is wielded in Cuba, and the achievements and failures of Castro. It was probably the most balanced analysis I have… Read More

Marxism 2007: Day Three (Saturday)

“Engels and the rise of class society” wasn’t quite what I expected. Firstly the speaker was not Mark Thomas the comedian-activist, but Mark Thomas the manager of socialist bookshop Bookmarks. And secondly, he was talking not about modern class society, but about the development of class in ancient and prehistoric societies. Fortunately, neither of these proved problematic. He was an interesting and knowledgeable speaker, and the topic raised valuable points. His basic thesis was that the competitiveness, greed and selfishness that now seem so pervasive are actually fairly recent phenomena…. Read More

Marxism 2007: Day Two

The day started perfectly. A last-minute programme change and poor organisation meant that only two other people turned up to hear Ernesto Gonzalez and Andres Lofiego talk about their experience with occupying a printing factory in Buenos Aires. Sad for Ernesto and Andres, but lucky for me, because it turned the event into an intimate conversation rather than formal speeches. It was fascinating to hear them talk about the occupation, particularly because apparently none of the workers were revolutionary or even left-wing – they were quite conservative in fact. It… Read More

Marxism 2007

I am attending the oddly-named Marxism 2007 conference for the next few days. I say “oddly-named” because the Bearded Wonder himself doesn’t get much of a look-in as far as I can see – the usual broader left-wing causes like Iraq, Palestine, racism, the environment, etc., seem to be covered much more extensively than the Grundrisse. Anyway, it started today, and the offering was mixed. First up was a speech on the environment by someone called Alison Smith, and I’m sorry but it was dreadful. There was nothing in the… Read More

Shorthand thinking

Shorthand language results in shorthand thinking. Ideas are abbreviated to fit into a small space, not nurtured and allowed to breathe and grow.

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Get in touch with your inner racist!

When I lived in New York, there was a small shop across the street that was owned by a man from Afghanistan. I used to visit him in the days after September 11, and he had a bewildered, beleaguered look about him. Business was slack, he said, and the few people who did still come into his store were often either cold or abusive. Whereas on September 10 he was the local newsagent, on September 11 he suddenly became a “Muslim”, and a national of an enemy country to boot…. Read More

Happy July 4th!

As Americans celebrate their Independence Day tomorrow by grilling dead animals and hoisting flags, I have a proposal to make for the rest of the world: let’s declare our independence from America. So many people are doing it already – the new left-wing leaders of South America are paying off their debts to the Washington-controlled IMF and World Bank and creating their own Banco del Sur so that they may finally control their own economies rather than seeing them destroyed by the prescriptions of American economists. Europe is finally shaking… Read More