Friday, 20 March 2009

Hold the Front Page: Leftwing Blogger Does Some Basic Thinking..

I've used this blog to try to explore what it might mean to be a 'socialist' in these strange times. Its' title is an obscure reference to the fact I stopped party-political - though not community - activity almost 20 years ago, when the party of which I was a member, the CPGB, collapsed. So I felt like Captain Oates leaving the tent...but now, having somehow 'returned to the tent' as it were, I have found myself less than impressed by the Left of today, as I said here.

In particular I've been less than impressed by the Left's response to the current economic crisis and by the seeming poverty and purely rhetorical nature of their economic policies. So it's good to see Boffy's Blog coming up with a lengthy, detailed and austerely defended 4 part analysis of co-operatives. The key contemporary issues are covered in part 4 - but there are links to the three previous pieces on the subject which constitute a historical account of various Marxist views on the subject, going right back to Marx and Engels themselves.

He also provides a link to an Italian paper setting out a 'workable transition to socialism to be achieved through a system of producer cooperatives', from a partially Gramscian point of view.

I'm not saying I agree with any of this - I just don't know, I haven't had time to digest it. I suspect I'm much more prepared than Boffy is to think positively about consumer, as opposed to worker, controlled co-ops, since I no longer consider myself a Marxist (or nothing more than a 'ex-ish' Marxist anyway). But, my, I'm so pleased to see debate of this nature beginning....

1 comment:

  1. Charlie,

    Thanks for your comments. Its good to know when you've spent several months researching and writing about something that somebody has at least read what you've written. Better still if they agree with some of it! Actually, I don't write off Consumer Co-ops. A while ago I rejoined the Co-op for that reason. Back in the 80's, partly as an "orthodox" Trot, I rejected the idea of Co-ops as "Utopian", and so when as President of my local Trades Council, I got arrested as a result of a Manager of the local Co-op calling in the cops in response to our peaceful leafletting over the Silnetnight dispute, I didn't take much persuading to cut any ties.

    But, looking back that's pretty typical of the sectarian attitude of the "Leninist" Left, which amounts to, if people disagree with us, we won't try to convince them, we'll pick our ball up, and go create another game somewhere else even if it means playing with ourselves - and yes that was supposed to have a double meaning.

    I am as Marx and Lenin were in favour of workers joining consumer Co-ops, and attempting to bring them under some real democratic workers control. I don't think anyone can honestly claim they are at the moment. But, it is basic Marxism not just Leninism to believe that that is best done on a collective not individualist basis. We really need Marxist organisations to get engaged with that, we need the organised Labour Movement to do that through the Trade Unions. In fact, a struggle for democratising Co-op organisations has to go alongside a struggle to democratise the Trade Unions and the LP. It is all part of building a bottom up strategy of encouraging the bais of socialism - the self-activity of the class.