Letters

Make the theory fit the economic facts

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Mark Thomas’s review of Kim Moody’s book On New Terrain, the interview with UCU activists and Simon Gilbert’s article on the Chinese working class (April SR) all share a common theme, namely Marxists and the working class coming to terms with the restructuring of capitalism.

As Mark’s article states, “new concentrations of capital have also created new concentrations of workers” and therefore new opportunities for the left and our class.

This is a welcome addition to the left’s intellectual concentration on “the ongoing crisis of capitalism”.

Up with curationism?

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I enjoyed Noel Halifax’s review of the exhibition Another Kind of Life (April SR). It is a complex exhibition and as he says raises questions about the nature of photography and how it is exhibited.

I think that on the whole the rise of the curator is to be welcomed: it makes explicit the previously hidden biases of exhibitions. It makes clear that any artwork is a transaction between creator and viewer.

Voting leave was still the wrong decision

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I supported Remain in the EU referendum. After reading Charlie Kimber’s article (“Tories out before 2022?”, February SR) I have not changed my mind. I believe that a second referendum should be held on the terms and conditions offered.

Whatever Kimber means by a “workers’ Brexit” I don’t know; neoliberal economics exist outside the EU also.

All that I can see or read about life in the UK is that racism is on the increase, that EU citizens will be very poorly treated, requiring visas and all sorts of exemptions from benefits of all kinds.

Is our theory relevant?

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Naima Omar’s article on religion and socialism (March SR) was fascinating and illustrated a consistency in practice from socialists, stretching over a century, in support of those who are under attack for their religious beliefs.

But Omar says that socialists always have to “maintain our politics” in relation to religion and I wonder whether the socialist political theory of religion has been or indeed should be maintained a century or so on?

Marx famously wrote that religion was the “opium of the people”, a drug that people take to escape reality.

Nazi bans no answer

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Nadia Sayed wrote a good piece in last month’s SR on the far-right. Historically, as Nadia says, it has been mass resistance confronting the Nazis in the streets, such as at Cable Street in 1936, that stopped fascism in Britain. East London, of course, has its own great tradition, which is kept alive by many local activists.

One point though: campaigning to ban the far-right was mentioned. Some anti-fascists seek to stop the far-right by calling for fascist marches to be banned.

Did the Bolsheviks win?

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Patrick Nielsen paints a vivid case of how Lenin neither led to Stalin nor did he lay the foundations of the Russian Revolution’s demise (“From the dream to a nightmare”, January SR). All the more refreshing that he does so by concentrating on the objective circumstances and the state of the Russian working class, rather than going on about what a great guy Lenin was.

Politics of mindfulness

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Iain Ferguson’s Politics of the Mind, reviewed in January SR, is my book of 2017. There is however one notable omission and this is any reference to mindfulness.

I understand why. It is for the same reason that R D Laing’s contribution is dismissed when he wanders off into mysticism. It is because they involve a recognition that there is a spiritual element to human nature.

If you are an historical materialist then Iain’s book is the full story.

1968 began in Vietnam

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It was the Vietnamese who kicked off, 50 years ago, what became one of the greatest years in recent history for political advance — 1968.

On 30 January that year an 80,000-strong combined force of the Viet Cong and the People’s Army of North Vietnam carried out surprise attacks on some 100 towns and cities, including 36 regional capitals, in South Vietnam.

The Tet Offensive, named after the Vietnamese New Year Tet holiday, was aimed particularly at the major command centres of the South Vietnamese Army and its then massive US military support.

High and low art

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I don’t disagree with Sabby Sagall’s account of Russian music and modernism (December SR) but I do want to add a few extensions. The article mentions that Stravinsky did not like the revolution and left Russia, but it was more than dislike. As he wrote to the Nazis to get himself listed as an Aryan composer:

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