‘Mother’ Nature is punishing us with Covid? Call Child Protection!

Tom Griffiths

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“In a tribal society in which ‘everyone knows’ that you need to sacrifice a goat to have a healthy baby, you make sure you sacrifice a goat. Better safe than sorry.” – Daniel Dennett (Breaking the spell: religion as a natural phenomenon, 2006)

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The world is now well into the third year of Covid and how we have dealt with it is a mixed bag. Scientifically we have ticked quite a few boxes with research and treatment responses being rapid, ongoing and impressive. The political and policy responses, nationally and internationally, are less impressive due to varied approaches, all ostensibly following the same scientific advice. Regardless of this, governments have taken the pandemic and its impacts – health, social and economic – seriously and negatively.

However I will not be going down this rabbit hole here because it would be a distraction from the purpose of this post although, regarding the politics, hints may be drawn from here. What I am wishing to comment on are the frankly reactionary voices that emerged from some sections of the environmentalist and related movements that took an overtly sanguine and/or smug attitude to the implications of the pandemic – the benefit to the planet of the slowdown, the view that Mother Earth is, in effect, striking back.

These romanticised and reactionary attitudes lie behind, and breathe life into, the positive spin placed on the crisis. For example A Pandemic in Retrospect – Looking Back on the Corona Virus by Hazel Henderson and Fritjof Capra is a case in point. Readers may remember the latter’s The Tao of Physics from the mid 1970’s. This article has pretensions of ‘scientific’ expertise, being written by two people with scientific qualifications and experience. In reality it reads like poorly envisaged sci-fi. The Corona Virus is not Mother Nature’s Revenge by Alan Levinovitz provides a counter view, although as the title suggests, there are plenty of views afoot that do see Covid-19 as Mother Nature’s revenge, as this piece in Counterpunch by Evaggelos Villainatos affirms. Its title, ‘Nature’s Revenge: Climate Change and Covid19’ rings the alarm bell and its concluding sentence is as blunt as it is backward looking:

But unless we connect the virus with the horrors of climate change and the anthropogenic impoverishment of the planet, we imperil ourselves and this beautiful Mother Earth, Mother to All.

Now, in terms of what I want this post to be about I couldn’t have put this better as it is this romanticised and backward take on our dear ‘Mother’ that galls and that is reactionary in more than just a contemporary sense. I’ll pick up the Child Protection angle at the foot of the article – if some think it okay to romanticise and deify our dear ‘Mother’ then it is also okay to take the piss out of ‘her’ and those who worship and apologise for ‘her’.

Whether our relationship with nature is seen and expressed metaphorically, the principal mode of expression in the modern world, or in divine or mystical ways as something actual, as it was in premodern times, there are themes that underlie both viewpoints. These are our dependence upon nature, our compliance with nature’s requirements or dictates, the need to maintain a balance between what we want from nature and what nature can give us, and the need for us to respect nature, to have an attitude to it characterised by scientific understanding as opposed to servility and hubris. Of these, our dependency is the most obvious, containing as it does a level of credibility, as we are part of the natural world and are subject to its laws. But we are left with choices as to how we respond to this dependence and this is where the politics really kicks in. A fine line can distinguish being dependent/part of nature and being subservient before nature, being subject to its control and vagaries. It is important to be clear about the difference and I would argue that it is a part of humanity’s nature, and hence part of the natural world, for us to rebel against the constraints of powerlessness and to maximise autonomy. Goethe’s Faust gave expression to this when he said to Mephisto “If I stand fast I shall be a slave”, the practical expression of which is found in science and technology, not to mention a spirit that rebels against servility.

Struggle against the constraints of ‘Mother Nature’

The struggle against these constraints is a very old one that precedes the development of written language. By Ancient Greek times, Archimedes for one, had picked up the gauntlet, advising those around him: “Don’t just live in the lap of the gods. Don’t be dominated by Mother Nature. You, as a man, can take control of your own destiny.” What Archimedes was getting at was that destiny can be something we create, not something that is delivered to us and that we are bonded to. And this process of creation implied a struggle against, and a wrenching from, prevailing forces, be these natural or human made.

Although the term ‘mother nature’ itself heralds from a Greco-Roman heritage, Gaia being the mother of all life in Greek mythology, equivalents are a common feature of human history and mythology. Most of human history, even extending into the medieval period, saw humanity being subject to what must have appeared to be the whims and caprices of the natural world. Being solution-seeking animals, our forebears sought answers. In colloquial vein and employing my favourite acronym of the early 21stC, they wanted to know wtf was going on and wtf they could do about appeasing what were powerful and mysterious forces. 

Our ancestors came up with answers that enabled them to survive. Beliefs in spirits, gods and demons of varying powers and persuasions, some good, some bad, but nearly all fickle, the movers and shakers of the natural world, made sense to them. It appeased fears; it gave them sufficiently credible answers and directions that helped them get on with the much more pressing task of survival and to accept the inevitability and propriety of their severely limited agency. 

To make these gods and spirits more understandable and potentially accessible to human influence, our ancestors anthropomorphised them. As an inevitable part of this (a devil’s bargain if you will) they accepted personal/communal responsibility for pleasing them and gaining their support or displeasing them and incurring their wrath. The philosopher Daniel Dennett wryly put it this way: “in a tribal society in which ‘everyone knows’ that you need to sacrifice a goat to have a healthy baby, you make sure you sacrifice a goat. Better safe than sorry.” (p160 Breaking the Spell)

While these conclusions are not contentious in the modern world, it is worth reminding ourselves that it was our ancestors who created the spirit world and the divinities that inhabited it; and for those forces they anthropomorphised, our forebears projected much of themselves into their creations. Which brings me back to ‘Mother Nature’. One of the gains we have made in the modern world is, in essence, the jettisoning of the idea of Mother Nature as a sentient, subjective force and the embracing of the natural world (with us being part of it) as something controlled by natural laws that can be understood and applied for humanity’s betterment, of helping us get out from under, develop and improve. 

While speaking of mother nature metaphorically is clearly a step or few in advance of divine interpretations, the line between them, as suggested above, can be thin. It can also be easily breached. Henderson and Capra’s piece, ostensibly scientific, employs ambiguous phraseology such as: “our planet taught us”, “our mother star”, “Gaia responded in unexpected ways”, “Earth is our wisest teacher”. This is an ambiguity that stretches credulity to breaking point. Villainatos however takes it further. His language, like that of Henderson and Copra, is certainly deferential but more overtly mystical. As well as the sentence I quoted above he writes:

“The Earth, I think, is still beautiful, fruitful, alive and sacred. The Homeric Hymn to Gaia (Earth) describes the Earth as mother of the gods and wife of heavens, very ancient Mother of All, which nourishes every single plant and animal.”

Both pieces are awash with a smorgasbord of mainstream to extremist environmental concerns, ranging from overpopulation to environmental depredation, and laced with environmental hubris and varying degrees of misanthropy. In this sense they vary little fromthe traditional model of mother nature – the need of obedience or compliance to nature or to the whims of the gods; of understanding and accepting our ‘place’. The subsidiary meanings and implications of this stance, its politics, has always been conservative and as human society developed beyond the limitations and constraints imposed by prehistorical, tribal and medieval conditions, reactionary. 

In saying this I am not wishing to sidestep the gendered nature of the creator because our Mother of All had male ‘consorts’ and competitors – Uranus, Zeus, Odin and the Abrahamic God amongst others. Both ‘mother’ and ‘father’ are human creations that their followers, well, follow, seeking to please and to gain succour from; or disobey and suffer the consequences. And the fear of the consequences of disobedience was a very useful tool to wield against those whose behaviour or manner differed too much from those who held the power to do the wielding.

But whether we are speaking of and relating to nature as sentient and emotional, or whether we employ these as metaphors in describing the natural world and our part in it, we cannot be absolved from the politics our stance and our choice of language contains. 

But that being said, and meant, I’m going to end this post poking a bit of fun at both ‘mother’ and her contemporary two legged acolytes. I am going to accept these projected fantasies as real and play with them. In doing this I wish to bring no slight upon our ancestors, those we all have to thank for figuring out ways that worked for them in the survival game (we are here because of them). The same cannot be said for today’s advocates and the conceit they embrace.    

As mentioned above we are curious and problem solving creatures with a tendency to anthropomorphize things, a perverse form of empathy perhaps, and Mother of All is the gold standard. But the freer we become – especially of constraints that have really boxed us in – the more another human quality emerges from behind the shadows. And that is our capacity for humour, to take the piss out of things, including, especially including, ourselves. 

With this in mind I would like to accept Mother Nature as the beautiful ‘Mother to all’, as Villainatos put it, and on this basis ask questions about Mother’s KPIs as a ‘parent’, whether she has met or failed to meet basic parenting responsibilities. Evidence appears overwhelming that Mother Nature has been cruel, capricious and utterly indifferent to the suffering inflicted upon her progeny, including to those who have worshipped her. Countless millions lost to starvation, disease, disasters termed ‘natural’ and occurring with no or little warning and cynically ascribed to human folly (in contemporary jargon this is known as victim blaming). Need I go on? But why is our Mother to All so cruel, indeed viscous in her indifference to human wellbeing? All we can do is hypothesise, but unlike Villainous et al, my hypothesising will be focussed on Mother of All and not ‘her’ victims.      

Mother Nature as a ‘dominatrix’?    

Could Mother Nature be a dominatrix? Kinky, and depending on one’s proclivities…. But ultimately unsatisfactory, the nature of the SM relationship being too voluntary. Dominatrixes are supposed to elicit sexual pleasure through the infliction of measured physical pain, humiliation or servitude. If that was all it was, Nature’s role would be trivialised beyond measure. Humiliation and servitude are certainly part of the ‘deal’ but the physical pain inflicted has been anything but measured. This hypothesis can therefore be discarded.

Could she be a single divine parent with a tragic history of severe attachment disorder? This is more promising as it may explain why ‘Mother’, and ‘her’ slightly lesser divine male cohorts, flipped between going missing in action, perhaps at some divine haunt getting a skinful, or going troppo when presented by the kids with anything remotely resembling demanding behaviour. (Please [mother] may I have some more?). To my mind this hypothesis is worth consideration and jostles with the one that follows.

Mother Nature is suffering from an uncontained sociopathic personality disorder, aka Mother Nature is a nasty piece of work. This too ticks a few boxes, but it raises the question of wtf was the intergalactic child protection agency doing? It was either missing in action (in a collusive relationship and rubbing shoulders at the above mentioned haunt?) or, heaven and associated divine agencies forbid, it doesn’t exist. Either way we kids are on our own and are forced to shoulder the responsibility for negotiating what has been a difficult and complex developmental pathway. And this is where Faust’s advice comes in, enabled as it was by Mephisto’s Life Coach Facilitation Agency.

My point in taking a swipe at Mother of All and her human cheerleaders, aside from having some fun, is to criticise their profoundly reactionary nature. It is misanthropic too of course but misanthropy is, perhaps, too broad for it allows its essentially class nature to slip through unnoticed. It is not the aspirations of the less well-heeled that is the problem. Where significant environmental or social problems emerge we do not point our fingers at the Oliver Twist brigade – wanting more is not just reasonable, but proper – but at those, or the systems, that stand in the way.

Finally, let us not forget that there are two targets we confront in our ongoing struggle for development and prosperity. One is Nature, the natural world. We have an impressive track record in this struggle, discovering and applying natural laws to our advantage. The other is human made, the reactionary killjoys and misanthropes who, generally from a position of privilege, accuse the less well-heeled of greed, selfishness, of caring more about themselves and their progeny than they do about ‘the planet’. And behind the killjoys? Marx hit the nail on the head.

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Fifty years ago – gaolings, resistance and a win

Barry York (republished from ‘Overland’ literary journal )

Fifty years ago, on 4 August 1972, three La Trobe University students—Fergus Robinson, Brian Pola and myself—were released from Pentridge Prison after serving, respectively, four months, three months and six weeks. Hardly any other political prisoners of that period in Australia had served such lengthy terms, with the exception of some of the draft resisters. This was an extraordinary and unprecedented case of political repression.

The ‘La Trobe Three’ had been imprisoned in a maximum-security prison without trial, without rights to bail or appeal, and without sentencing. Formally speaking, we were jailed for contempt of the Supreme Court of Victoria for violating an injunction restraining us from ‘entering the premises known as La Trobe University’. The injunction had been issued by the university governing body, the Council, because of the students’ leading roles in what academics refer to as ‘the La Trobe Troubles’. A fourth student, Rodney Taylor, was also singled out and named in the injunction. However, he was never captured by police.

The ‘Troubles’ on the campus were part of the broader student and youth rebellion of the late 1960s and early 1970s, with core issues the Vietnam War, apartheid in South Africa and demands for greater ‘student power’ in university decision-making. Monash University had been the bête noir of the establishment due to its campus militancy and the capable leadership of Maoists like Albert Langer and Mike Hyde.

The immediate background to the La Trobe incarcerations dates to 19 April 1971, when a meeting of a thousand students—the largest ever held on campus—voted nearly unanimously in favour of a motion calling for the resignation of the Chancellor, Sir Archibald Glenn. Glenn was managing director of Imperial Chemicals Industries (ANZ) and sat on the board of its UK-based parent company. His presence as head of the University Council was intolerable to the great majority of students because ICI(ANZ) had been awarded a contract by the Department of Supply for Australian troops in Vietnam and the parent company was involved in the apartheid-based economy of South Africa.

The popular demand for Glenn’s resignation allowed the militant left-wing Labour Club (not to be confused with the Labor Party) and the Communist Club to connect the campus issue to the wider question of capitalism and whose class interests the universities served. The Communist Club leader, Dave Muller (1946–2021), had undertaken the initial research into Glenn and ICI, and this provided a firm basis for the campaign.

As with Monash, the communist leadership at La Trobe—which was also predominantly Maoist—posed a special challenge to the authorities. The leadership emerged through struggle within the Labour Club, while the revisionist Communist Party supporters split and either went with the Maoists or removed themselves from the practical struggle. Other factions went ‘every which way’, though basically supporting militant action.

There were other campus issues, too, such as an ‘exclusion clause’ introduced by the authorities to exclude anyone under suspension from a university from being admitted to La Trobe. This was clearly a political move designed to stop left-wing students who had been suspended from Monash being admitted to La Trobe.

The militancy at La Trobe went back further than 1971, most notably with the forced removal of Defence Department recruiters from the campus in June 1970 and later that year, in September, with the Vietnam solidarity marches from the campus along Waterdale Road in West Heidelberg. The first of these peaceful marches was savagely suppressed by police, as was the second march in defiance of the repression. Nineteen students were arrested, two at gunpoint. A third march attracted 800 people, including trade unionists, and marched defiantly along the street to the campus. At this time, the Maoist group was ascendant as leader of the campus left.

Robinson, Pola and myself were recognised as prominent among the leaders on the campus in 1971 when the campaign for Glenn’s resignation gathered momentum. As a matter of principle, no actions were initiated by the Maoist-led Labour Club without first convening a general meeting of students, either through the auspices of the Students Representative Council, or through unofficial general meetings. The latter were often larger than the former and, in July 1971, a meeting resolved to blockade members of the University Council until such time as the Chancellor resigned. A couple of hundred students blocked the doors of the Council room, where Council was in session, and police were called onto the campus that evening. 

As a result of this action, eight students were suspended by the university disciplinary body—the farcical ‘Proctorial Board’. Five of them were also arrested by police. Occupations of the administration building, endorsed by general meetings, took place in protest against the repression, which in turn resulted in greater repression. On 30 September, the authorities called in the police to evict students who had occupied the Administration building. This was a first on an Australian campus. In October, twenty-four students were hauled before the Proctorial Board, of whom twenty-three were suspended and/or fined. (The late John Cummins was one of them).

Hundreds of students took part in occupations of the Admin building on 30 September and 1 October. When the police were called on 30 September, students escaped via the windows of the ground floor. In response, the Vice Chancellor arranged for heavy-gauge wire gratings to be rivetted over the windows. A student general meeting on 11 October voted to remove them and marched to the building, where a group attached ropes to the gratings and proceeded to tug on them until they broke from the rivets. This was done in broad daylight—a sign that intimidation would not work. It was later revealed that the authorities had collected evidence against the student leaders over this action, but no charges were ever laid.

The struggle and sacrifices proved worthwhile. In early December 1971, prior to the end of his term, Glenn announced his decision to resign as Chancellor, and the University rescinded its ‘exclusion clause’. By the end of 1971, the students had won significant victories. However, the campus struggle continued, bringing to mind Marx’s saying about people making history not as they wish but rather as circumstances dictate.

A characteristic of the La Trobe struggle in 1970 and 1971 had been the willingness to bypass official structures of student representation as part of building a revolutionary socialist movement. In early November 1971, the official representative student body—the SRC—resolved to pay the fines imposed by the Proctorial Board, subject to approval by a general meeting of students to be convened early the following year (which, as expected, supported the move). The University Council objected and threatened legal action against the SRC and against any suspended students who remained on the campus. The latter group included Brian Pola, who was the elected SRC President.

The slogan ‘Student control of student funds’ was popular but created a struggle that refocused the campus left onto official SRC politics rather than the previous revolutionary politics that challenged the role of the universities under capitalism. Had this shift not occurred over the issue of payment of the fines, the left would have raised the money from the rank-and-file student body instead. This would have been the ‘Maoist’ way of doing it—relying on the people—and it would have been effective.

With our victory over Glenn and the ‘exclusions clause’ achieved by the end of 1971, Fergus, Brian and I were among the few of the 1970-1971 militant activist generation to return to campus the following year when the continuing, unresolved, issue was ‘student control of student funds’.

Our consistent revolutionary perspective on politics and struggle, challenging the role of the universities under capitalism and supporting unity between students and workers, was as much of a threat to the authorities as the actions we supported. The use of Supreme Court injunctions to stop us entering the campus grounds was a clear attempt to stop us expressing our views at general meetings.

It is pertinent to note that in the three other cases of university authorities applying for injunctive relief against student radicals—at Sydney and Monash in 1970 and Queensland in 1971—the restraining orders were narrowly focused and specifically prohibited the named students from participating in disruptive activity. The exception was an ancillary injunction taken out by Queensland University on 30 July 1971 against an individual leader, Mitch Thompson, who was prohibited from entering the campus. This served as the model for the La Trobe injunctions, which sought to stop us from entering the university grounds—that is, to stop us expressing our views on campus.  This left us no choice but to be defiant, as a matter of principle. And, of course, we were aware that the injunctions were designed to intimidate other leaders and developing leaders.

The indeterminate nature of the ‘sentence’ for contempt could only be resolved if and when the ‘La Trobe Three’ agreed to purge our contempt before the Supreme Court and promise not to enter the campus grounds if released. This we were not prepared to do. Rather, we sought to continue to exercise our right to participate in the political life of the campus, including helping to organise, initiate and address rallies and general meetings of students, and take part in protest actions on the campus.

It was very hard doing time without knowing when we would be released. We could not count down the days and we were in ‘A’ Division, which had a lot of long-term prisoners doing time for armed robbery or murder. The fact that we were placed with so many long-termers was an ominous sign. However, a campaign for our release was underway at the La Trobe campus, building strong support from other campuses and trade unions and, notably, within the legal profession.

I remember being told that Amnesty International was about to take up our case in London but we were released before that became necessary.

All our mass actions on the campus had been endorsed by general meetings of students. Therefore, after the capture of Fergus on 12 April and Brian on 1 May, the left leadership called for the holding of an official referendum on the campus to allow students to resolve the issue. The left called on the Vice Chancellor and Council to agree to abide by the referendum’s results. The main issue—the release of Fergus and Brian—carried the day in the referendum which was held from 10 to 12 May 1972. Of the 1667 students who voted, 1005 voted for the withdrawal of the injunctions.

I was captured and lodged at Pentridge in June, which added further pressure on the University authorities to abide by the referendum results and highlighted their refusal to do so. The Council was encouraged in its hard line by a ‘pro-violence minority’ among some senior academic staff and students aligned with the National Civic Council who consistently refused to support democratic means of resolving the conflict.

We never apologised to the Court nor did we purge our contempt before it. So, how were we released?

On the 20th and 22nd July, Vice Chancellor David Myers visited us in Pentridge with a view to persuading us to purge our contempt. We still weren’t prepared to do that, as it would mean agreeing to not enter the university premises, but we were certainly willing to discuss any offer he would make on behalf of the Council. He wanted us to sign a statement repudiating violence on the campus. We were not prepared to do this either. Although the far right ironically described us as a pro-violence minority, we knew that the real pro-violence minority were those who relied on police violence and intimidation, not to mention those who sent troops to prop up a fascist regime in South Vietnam and ‘bomb back to the Stone Age’ those who were fighting it.

One of our legal advisors, communist lawyer Ted Hill, also visited us and advised us to sign the statement only on condition that Myers also sign the repudiation of violence on behalf of the Council. In this way, the terms for the disbandment of the injunction and for our release were neutralized and we felt we could sign. So, on 31 July, we joined with the University Council in repudiating violence on the campus.

Our release on 4 August 1972 was a victory because the University authorities bowed to mass pressure and it was the Vice Chancellor who applied to the court for an end to the injunctions and for our freedom. We never apologised to the Court and we promptly returned to the campus where, still under suspension for specified periods, we continued to take an active part in campus politics.

My book, Student Revolt, published in 1989, provides greater detail and contextualisation about the La Trobe student movement from 1967 to 1973. It is available for free on-line: https://c21stleft.com/2015/09/05/student-revolt-la-trobe-university-1967-to-1973/

Melbourne Panel Discussion – Marxism and Anarchism – Saturday 30th July

Saturday July 30th, the Melbourne chapter of the Platypus Affiliated Society will be hosting a Panel Discussion on “Marxism and Anarchism: Radical Ideologies Today”, at Trades hall in Carlton, Melbourne, starting at 1pm AEST.

It seems that there are still only two radical ideologies: Anarchism and Marxism. They emerged out of the same crucible – the Industrial Revolution, the unsuccessful revolutions of 1848 and 1871, a weak liberalism, the centralization of state power, the rise of the workers movement, and the promise of socialism. They are the revolutionary heritage, and all significant radical upsurges of the last 150 years have returned to mine their meaning for the current situation. In this respect, our moment seems no different.

To act today we seek to draw up the balance sheet of the 20th century. The historical experience concentrated in these two radical ideologies must be unfurled if they are to serve as compass points. To see in what ways their return in our current moment represents an authentic engagement and in what ways the return of a ghost.

Platypus asks the questions: Where have these battles left us? What forms do we have for meeting, theoretically and practically, the problems of our present?

Panelists:

Matthew Crossin – Melbourne Anarchist-Communist Group

Lachlan Marshall – Solidarity [International Socialist Tendency]

Benjamin Smith – Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation

Tom Griffiths – Unreconstructed Maoist

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This event is free, and seating is limited by the venue. Please register for tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com.au/…/panel-discussion-marxism…

The event will conclude in under three hours.

Please register for tickets so that we can keep track of numbers.

Entrance via Victoria Street.

Join us at the Curtin across the road for a drink afterwards to continue the discussion.

A livestream of the event will be available over Zoom. If time permits, questions from the online audience will be permitted.

## About Platypus:

The Platypus Affiliated Society, established in December 2006, organizes reading groups, public fora, research and journalism focused on problems and tasks inherited from the “Old” (1920s-30s), “New” (1960s-70s) and post-political (1980s-90s) Left for the possibilities of emancipatory politics today.

Twilight of the American Left – from Unherd

This essay by Park Macdougal is reprinted from ‘Unherd’

“The most vulgar, simplistic view of the Left — that dissolves all the supposed distinctions between centrists, liberals, leftists, socialists, communists into one homogenous Democratic blob — happens to be correct.” So writes Benedict Cryptofash, an anonymous Twitter user and self-described “anti-leftist” whose other theoretical contributions include “the Left and Right are fake and gay” and “only libtards care about policy”.

Despite appearences, Cryptofash — his pseudonym mocks the tendency of online leftists to accuse their critics of “cryptofascism” — is not your typical Right-wing internet troll. He’s a Marxist who regards “leftism” as the ideology of bourgeois supremacy, the twenty-first-century equivalent of the classical liberalism that Karl Marx spent his mature years attempting to demolish. “My critique focuses on the Left,” Cryptofash writes in one of his periodic straight tweets, “not because they are worse than the Right, but because they are better than the right at precluding proletarian class consciousness.”

Cryptofash is one of the more visible members of a political tendency known as the “post-Left”, the latest in the endless stream of new and strange ideologies thrown up by social media. Although professing commitment to traditionally Left-wing goals such as anti-capitalism, the post-leftists are defined mostly by their aggressive hostility to both the Democratic Party and the radical Left — including the Democratic Socialists of America and the academic-literary Left of magazines such as Jacobinn+1 and Dissent.

Aside from Cryptofash, other leading lights include What’s Left? co-hosts Aimee Terese and Oliver Bateman, editor of The Bellows Edwin Aponte, the Irish writer Angela Nagle and a coterie of pseudonymous Twitter accounts, such as @ghostofchristo1Red Scare co-hosts Anna Khachiyan and Dasha Nekrasova might be considered fellow travellers.

The core assertion of the post-Left is relatively simple: The real ruling class in America is the progressive oligarchy represented politically by the Democratic Party. The Democrats are the party of Silicon Valley, Wall Street, the Ivy League, the media, the upper layers of the national security state and federal bureaucracy, and of highly educated professionals in general. The Republicans, however loathsome, are largely a distraction — a tenuous alliance between a minority faction of the ruling class and petit bourgeois.

Effectively incapable of governing outside the bounds set by the Democrats and Democrat-aligned media, corporations, NGOs and government bureaucracies, the GOP’s real function is to serve as a sort of ideological bogeyman. By positioning itself as the last line of defence against phantasmic threats of “fascism” and “white nationalism” coming from the Right, the ruling class is able to legitimise its own power and conceal the domination on which that power rests.

Leftists, in this telling — whether Ivy League professors or Antifa militants on the streets of Portland — are thus little more than the unwitting dupes of the ruling class. However much they profess to hate the Democratic Party, they are, in practice, its running-dog lackeys. They support the party electorally, harass and cancel its designated enemies and enforce pro-Democrat ideology in the media, academia and the workplace. Crucially, they also help maintain the permanent state of moral emergency that serves as a pretext for the expansion of ruling class power, whether in the form of the increasingly direct control that tech monopolies wield over political discourse or the pursuit of Covid policies that transfer wealth upward and subject workers to a dystopian regime of medical surveillance.

At the core of this diagnosis is the idea that “identity politics”, “antiracism”, “intersectionality” and other pillars of the progressive culture war are mystifications whose function is to demoralise and divide the proletariat.

Similar criticisms have been made by Left-wing writers such as Adolph Reed and Walter Benn Michaels, but whereas these “class-first” leftists tend to regard “identitarianism” as a liberal deviation from authentic leftism, the post-leftists regard the idea that there still is a radical Left meaningfully distinct from the Democrats as meaningless. And because post-leftists see the Democrats, and by extension the Left, as their primary enemy, they have no problem engaging and even entering into provisional alliances with the populist Right, especially on cultural issues. Hence the right-wing memes.

Of course, the post-leftists operate at varying levels of coherence and theoretical sophistication, and most of them have produced far more in the way of podcasts and tweets than sustained considerations of political theory. (Cynically, one might say they are less of a “tendency” than a Twitter clique centered around Aimee Terese.) But it would be a mistake to dismiss it altogether on those grounds — the Dirtbag Left’s Chapo Trap House podcast, after all, has played an outsized role in the revival of millennial socialism, and it is always difficult to predict which of today’s shitposters will be setting the tone of the culture five years from now.

For one thing, the post-Left channels powerful currents of Marxist and post-Marxist critique that have been downplayed or forgotten during the “Great Awokening” and the recent socialist renaissance: from Amadeo Bordiga’s communist hostility to “anti-fascist” collaboration with the bourgeoisie to Christopher Lasch’s early writings about the medical-therapeutic state as a tool of class domination.

But perhaps the most obvious spiritual predecessor to the post-Left is the Italian-American philosopher Paul Piccone, the founder and long-time editor of the critical theory journal Telos and another Marxist who eventually left the Left only to find himself in a strange alliance with the Right.

Piccone began his career as a disciple of Herbert Marcuse and proponent of his theory of “one-dimensionality”, which held that capitalism had advanced to such a degree in the West as to effectively abolish all opposition to itself. With the proletariat co-opted by consumerism, radicals, in Marcuse’s view, should instead look for resistance from racial minorities and other outcasts who had yet to be integrated into the system.

But by the late 1970s, Piccone, reacting to the failures of the New Left, had broken with Marcuse. He began to argue that the new social movements that Marcuse had perceived as expressions of anti-system negativity had in fact been forms of what Piccone dubbed “artificial negativity” — pseudo-radical protest movements generated by the system itself.

Piccone agreed with Marcuse that by the mid-20th century, capitalism had triumphed over all internal resistance. But he believed that because the system required such resistance in order to periodically restructure itself and avoid stagnation, it had begun to manufacture its own controlled opposition. He interpreted the initial Civil Rights movement, for instance, as a product of the system’s need to “rationalise” the segregated labour market of the South, after which it seamlessly transitioned to promoting black nationalism in an “attempt to artificially reconstitute an otherness which had long since been effectively destroyed”. The allegedly radical protest movement against the Vietnam War had, similarly, merely allowed an evolving US capitalist class to abandon an imperial quagmire that had become obsolete.

Indeed, Piccone grew so pessimistic about the “artificial” nature of Western leftism that he spent much of the rest of his career seeking out extant pockets of, and resources for cultivating, “organic negativity” — his term for social practices and political formations that genuinely stood outside the logic of the system. Some of these he found on the far-Right, in the regionalism of the Italian Lega Nord, the anti-liberal political theory of Carl Schmitt, the paleoconservatism of Paul Gottfried and Samuel Francis, and the right-wing “identitarianism” of Alain de Benoist. Such explorations, or flirtations, were justifiable because, in Piccone’s view, nearly all of what passed for radicalism in the mature societies of the West was pseudo-radicalism that ultimately served capitalist interests. 

Although Piccone could be more than a bit conspiratorial, it is not hard to see how his “artificial negativity” thesis could be applied to a great deal of the officially sanctioned cultural radicalism of today, which may help to explain why ideas similar to his are beginning to resurface. One can also point to the experience of leftists during the Trump years who found themselves corralled into an anti-Trump popular front that had them allying with not only centrist Democrats but also Never-Trump Republicans, including many of the architects of the Iraq War.

Bordiga had famously argued against this sort of broad-based “anti-fascism”, which he warned would “breathe life into that great poisonous monster, a great bloc comprising every form of capitalist exploitation, along with all of its beneficiaries”, and this is indeed what happened — socialists such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, initially popular for their opposition to the “corporate” establishment of the Democrats, ultimately fell in line behind the party’s leadership and urged their followers to do the same.

The Trump years also revealed something about the nature of power in the United States that, once seen, is difficult to unsee. For all the warnings that Trump would turn out to be Hitler, he in practice turned out to be more like Berlusconi — a vulgar entertainer with a sordid personal life who in most respects ended up governing like a normal politician.

What happened on the other side of the aisle was more subtle but also, in the long run, more sinister. We saw the national media collaborating with shadowy intelligence agents and researchers to launder a conspiracy theory about Russian collusion and, later, employ the same playbook to block Trump’s planned withdrawal from Afghanistan. We saw constant media-generated and wealthy NGO-funded campaigns against racism and sexism welded to the electoral priorities of the Democrats. We saw “Critical Race Theory”, a crude ideological rationalisation of the Democrats’ coalitional logic, elevated to the level of quasi-official religion. We saw Twitter suspending The New York Post for publishing embarrassing information about Joe Biden’s son in the run-up to the election and payments processors such as PayPal partnering with progressive NGOs to monitor their customers and report “extremists” to law enforcement.

In short, we saw the consolidation of a near-unified ruling class bloc explicitly aligned with the Democratic Party against the potential disruption of Trump. This development has already created a host of strange new political alliances. If it holds, we should not be surprised if more than a few anti-capitalist radicals begin to reassess who their real enemies are.

_____________________________________

“Radicals” Book Launch 6pm Thursday 9 June

This Thursday. Solidarity Hall, Victoria Trades Hall

54 Victoria St, Carlton VIC 3053.

Link for RSVP form above not clickable. Turn up anyway

Update: Just got RSVP link:

https://mckellinstitute.activehosted.com/f/31.

Here is report on Sydney launch at author Nadia Wheatley’s web site:

http://nadiawheatley.com/news/2021/5/20/radicals-sydney-launch

PS Sorry I haven’t been posting here.

100 days of Putin’s fault.

Been busy at this Ukraine thread in a discussion forum:

https://discourse.bomberblitz.com/t/russia-invades-ukraine-from-4-may-2022/25784

My posts can be found by clicking the Blue button for second most frequent poster ArthurD.

Also via:

https://discourse.bomberblitz.com/u/arthurd/activity

Only just got this flyer and thought I would not be able to post it. Sorry.

Fighting the Tsar of All the Russias

  1. I concluded the previous article by saying:

Sending NATO troops to Ukraine would not be particularly helpful. Russia has complete local dominance in its region (land, sea and air) and would defeat NATO in such battles. But if the West wanted to do more than just send arms and other supplies to the Ukrainian resistance it could certainly cause serious military problems for Putin instead of just making speeches. For example Turkey could and should close the Bosphorous to bottle up the Russian fleet (as could and should have been done over Syria). NATO naval forces would be completely dominant everywhere else and could cut off most of Russia’s revenue from trade. It would be up to Russia whether it wished to escalate from a losing position or would prefer to withdraw quickly. A lot of lives could be saved if the West was not so completely gutless…

https://c21stleft.com/2022/02/26/putins-war-on-the-peoples-of-russia-belarus-and-ukraine/

If NATO was as gutless as feared, Turkey would not have done it despite the fact that it really is not optional.

But Turkey HAS done it!!! That makes a BIG difference. It suggests that NATO will fight as well as make speeches.

In time of war, Article 19 of the Montreaux convention clearly prohibits warships of belligerent powers from passing through the straits in Turkish territory except to return to their bases (unless permitted by Turkey on the basis that they are assisting a victim of aggression or fulfilling international obligations). This isn’t optional. Russia is a belligerent. Russia’s Black Sea fleet can only return to Sevastapol (eg from Syria if they were based in Sevastapol rather than Vladivostok or Syria).

Russia’s war on the Syrian people did not make it technically a “belligerent” under that treaty since it was not at war with Syria but allied with the Syrian government iagainst the people, just as the US and Australia were not “belligerents” when the US occupied southern Vietnam and attacked the north in alliance with a puppet “Republic of South Vietnam”.

Turkey could, and should, have exercised its options under Articles 20 and 21 to “consider herself to be threatened with imminent danger of war” and prohibit passages of Russian warships supporting the Syrian regime despite Russia not technically being a “belligerent”.

But there in nothing optional about the prohibition under Article 19. Turkey would be actively complicit with Russia if it pretended Russia was not a belligerent in its current war. Turkey is far from being actively complicit this time, and so is NATO. The Syrian people were betrayed. The Ukrainians may not be.

http://publikationen.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/opus4/frontdoor/deliver/index/docId/50470/file/Dissertation_Yuecel_Kurtulus.pdf

Interestingly Russia’s entire Mediteranean naval presence of 16 ships are currently in Syrian waters headed directly for the Russian base at Tartarus:

Preventing Russia’s Black Sea fleet from leaving and permitting NATO naval forces to enter is unlikely to directly affect the war on Ukraine since NATO is unlikely to actually fight Russian naval forces on their home ground.

But if the West is serious about cutting off Russian trade, it has overwhelming naval superiority everywhere else in the world. A naval blockade would be an act of war but it would be up to Russia whether it wished to escalate from a losing position or accept having its ships searched for prohibited contraband by countries supporting the Ukrainian resistance by sanctions. Without the Black Sea fleet Russia really has no option but to submit to Russian ships being prevented from carrying Russian trade. China might well carry Russian trade by land and sea. But could not get Russian goods through customs in most of the developed world.

Some quick notes follow on other measures recently requested by Ukraine.

2. Requests for munitions are being met. The critical thing will be keeping supplies flowing under Russian occupation.

Ukrainia’s borders with the EU and NATO are nearly 1400km.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Border_of_Ukraine

An occupation force of 140,000 can be thought of as 1 every 10m (if they did not have anything else to do).

3. A no fly zone has been requested but not yet offered. Over important parts of the border this could be critical for maintaining the flow of supplies as well as for protecting Ukrainian cities etc. It would take some time to establish since the NATO force posture is not prepared for it. A No Fly Zone does actually mean acts of war to shoot down Russian aircraft and missiles. The Stinger missiles already being supplied for use against assault helicopters etc would be operated by Ukrainian defence forces and would not be an act of war by the suppliers. But more effective air defence operated by NATO from NATO territory would be legitimate targets for Russian counter attack and would need to be heavily defended.

I don’t know how long it would take but it should start right now. NATO does at least have a force posture for rapid deployment to the Lithuania-Poland border area known as the Suwalki gap (named after the nearby town of Suwałki), because it represents a tough-to-defend flat narrow piece of land, a gap, that is between Belarus and Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave and that connects the NATO-member Baltic States to Poland and the rest of NATO.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithuania%E2%80%93Poland_border

A no fly zone there would also put pressure on Kaliningrad and Belorussia. It should be extended as rapidly as possible southward to fully cover the border regions close to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Rumania, then North to Latvia (putting further pressure on Belarus). Later consideration could be given to putting pressure directly on Russia by extending to Estonia and offering to Moldova.

As soon as the air defence deployments can be adequately protected from Russian counter attack they should start shooting down Russian aircraft and missiles. That may not be very soon so lots of munitions should be got across the border as fast as possible to be hidden away for long term use.

4. Removal of Russian veto. That has also been requested despite there being no obvious way it could be done since Russia would veto it.

But it can be done by UN General Assembly deciding to form a replacement United Nations that existing members not currently engaged in wars of aggression prohibited by the UN Charter are invited to join. Why not? The UN needs replacement anyway. Would require agreement on other changes to the Security Council of the replacement organization. That is long overdue and may take more time but the process could be started now and would immediately intensify the isolation of Russia long before it was completed. Even if China refused to join it would be sufficient if India joined together with most countries. The old UN would simply wither away along with the Tsarist regime in Russia.

4. The battle for is for democracy, not just in Ukraine. Victory requires democracy in Belorussia and Russia too:

Ukraine’s guerilla war could topple the Tsar of All the Russias.

Ukrainians will fight

And they have interesting competent leadership from a comedian who could also lead elsewhere

Putin’s War on the peoples of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine

Putin’s declaration of war does not mention Belarus. But it does mention Belgrade, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Putin laments the existential threat to the Russian regime from the West, suggesting that Russia must invade Ukraine to avoid sharing the misfortunes of the fascist regimes in Belgrade, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Putin pretends Russia faces a military threat from NATO, and does not mention the EU. But the real threat from “the West” to Russia’s backward Tsarist autocracy is very clear. The threat is that the slavs would prefer to flourish in the EU rather than the life of slaves to Tsarist autocrats.

It is too late to to drag the Ukrainians back to slavery. But it is not yet to too late to delay Belarus going the same way. A joint operation with Belarus to occupy parts of Ukraine could help postpone the next regime collapse in Russia. Maintaining endless conflict and disruption in Ukraine makes Ukraine’s path away from rule by corrupt oligarchs more difficult and slower. It also provides a basis for much harsher repression to keep the people down in both Russia and Belarus. Putin’s war can make Ukraine a less successful and attractive contrast to Russia’s stagnation and the “Western” enemy can be blamed for that stagnation continuing to get worse.

My guess is that’s what the war is about. If so, I would assume Putin would want to occupy areas with as few Ukrainians engaged in guerilla resistance as possible, while posing a constant threat to the rest. Occupying a narrow coastal strip from the Donbas to Transnistra would block Ukrainian access to the sea. That strip includes Odessa, Ukraine’s third largest city. But that is a less difficult proposition than long term occupation of the whole country. It is also easier to exit from if things go badly.

That’s just a guess. It is consistent with a blitzkrieg aimed at surrounding and then seizing Kiev, perhaps with special forces pretending to represent an internal coup from the Ukrainian army to decapitate the current government. But it does not require a capability to maintain a long term occupation with a puppet regime in Kiev. It could succeed if the West actively blocked Ukraine from getting adequate supplies of weapons and other support. But I don’t think the Western acquiescence over Ukraine is anywhere near the level of the current Western betrayal of Syria or the 1930s Western betrayal of Spain. Ukraine won’t run out of ammunition to keep fighting.

The omission of Belarus from Putin’s speech is curious. With only one ally directly participating, surely it would be worth mentioning?

“In the near future we will do what we and Russia need,” Sputnik Belarus quoted Lukashenko as saying.
He also stressed that, if necessary, Belarusian troops would be involved in Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
“We will not make excuses about whether we participate or not participate in this conflict. Our troops are not there. But if it is necessary, if it is necessary for Belarus and Russia, they will,” the President of Belarus said.

https://tj.sputniknews.ru/20220224/lukashenko-belarus-operation-1046212644.html (Google translation)

https://tass.com/politics/1410061

The troops directly threatening Kiev crossed the northern border of Ukraine from Belarus at its weakest spot, the radioactive and therefore undefended Chernobyl exclusion zone. But most of them remain positioned in Belarus.

Lukashenko’s boasting that he persuaded Putin to keep Russian troops in Belarus for protection against the West has nothing to do with fears of NATO invasion from Poland, Lithuania or Latvia. It reminds the people already rising up against the local fascists that removing them would require more than breaking the local armed forces.

That reminder is realistic. When it falls the Belarus regime will fall more heavily as despised collaborators. But it will take longer to overthrow them than if they were not backed by a Tsarist garrison.

Putin’s speech is also a direct threat to the Russian people. Claims that they face genocide and nuclear attack from Ukrainian Nazis are not intended to convince anybody. Western media keeps repeating how ludicrous such claims are. But there seems to be some assumption that they would look less ludicrous to Russians. I haven’t seen any discussion of the implications of them looking ludicrous to Russians too.

To me these claims are similar to the sort of claims made by the Assad regime when it unleashed its thugs to suppress the Syrian people with nerve gas, Russian support and Western acquiescence. The point is that if you resist you will be crushed, not argued with. There is some support for invading Ukraine among the more stupid and reactionary sections of the Russian people. But not much, even among Putin’s fellow oligarchs. Putin has not even attempted to mobilize popular support and does not have reserves available to mobilize for a long occupation. If the present level of repression was maintained in Russia an anti-war movement would quickly gain majority support and become a serious threat to the regime. The message is that opposition will be far more ruthlessly crushed than previously. The regime knows it will continue to become less and less popular and is declaring that it will continue to rule by naked fascist force, as in China.

I haven’t studied what’s actually happening in Ukraine (or its neighbours) and am relying on quick impressions gained from reading the Australian (ie US) mass media plus the “other side” as linked above. A more nuanced version of the other side is provided from a Russian foreign policy think tank in an interview:

“How are Putin’s actions going down in Russia itself? What do Russians think about this?

It’s not a full-scale invasion as yet. This is something like the Syrian campaign. And till now we see only air strikes, targeted air strikes – something like surgical strikes in the Indian sense. Till now, Putin does not need the people’s support.

In the result of these strikes, there is no news about Ukrainian and Russian casualties. The limits of this operation will be known only by and by, and the level of the resistance from the Ukrainian forces. When you carry out air strikes, you don’t need any great public support – the US didn’t need public support in their campaign against Iraq, for example. Modi did not need public support, did not take Parliament’s support for surgical strikes. So until the [time the] scale is limited, the problem of public support is not an issue, not a question for Putin.

Where do you see it all heading? Will it stop at these strikes, do you see this escalating?

Because of the US and European sanctions against Russia since last year, they were very soft. The Russian economy did not face any problems because of these actions. If it is full-scale sanctions, problems with Swift, problems over our banks, it will be one thing. If these are softer sanctions, meant to find a resolution to the problem, it’s absolutely different. Now, the Russian economy is quite strong, we have very low national debt, we have our own system, we don’t have any great loans from the western market. What will happen further, I can’t say now.

But I don’t think he wants to incorporate Ukraine in Russia because for us, in fact, it needs a political solution. The Ukrainian issue has to be decided by compromise, not by incorporation.”

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/ukraine-russia-crisis-russian-interview-7789421/

My impression is that interview is worth studying carefully as an indication of how the Russian foreign policy establishment views the war. I don’t think it’s just covering up an intention to maintain a long term occupation of Ukraine. Rather it reflects a realistic assessment that there is no support for a long term occupation and wishful thinking that the West will somehow actively rescue Putin by arranging a “compromise”.

My take above is that it is a war on the slav peoples rather than just a war on Ukraine.

I haven’t seen that suggested elsewhere so I am throwing it out there.

I may be quite wrong but it makes more sense to me than the ludicrous fantasies about it being some sort of contest between the West led by the USA (with Joe Biden as “leader of the free world”!) and Russia.

Even Greg Sheriden can see the obvious:

“So far, in response to his aggression against Ukraine, the West has hit Vladimir Putin with a swarm of denunciations and a sanctions response that resembles being beaten with a wet lettuce. This bodes very ill for Ukraine.”

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/weak-response-to-putin-means-ukraine-has-to-fight/news-story/74bee3be70349ea5aa4487d56f1ca0f2

The West has made it utterly clear that it won’t fight for Ukraine and won’t do much to help Ukraine fight. So Putin’s fight isn’t with the West. Certainly his fight is with the Ukraine, but I am saying it is also, and even more importantly a declaration of war by the Tsar of all the Russias against the peoples of all the Russias.

On February 18 Sheridan noticed that:

“… the number of Russian soldiers on Ukraine’s borders continues to increase and is now somewhere between 130,000 and 150,000.That is enough to invade Ukraine, given the superiority of Russian equipment, aircraft and firepower. It’s probably not enough to occupy a nation of 44 million people indefinitely.”

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/inquirer/putins-ukraine-gamble-raises-the-danger-for-taiwan/news-story/9478ba0342a80630ffc102d5172518eb

But despite that rare flash of insight, Sheridan by 23 February is totally pessimistic and defeatist:

“Here we come upon another intensely strange and paradoxical moral dilemma. The future of Europe may turn on how hard the Ukrainians are willing to fight for their freedom and independence. Yet if Moscow goes for a full-scale invasion, the superiority in quality and quantity of Russian arms must mean eventual defeat for the Ukrainians.

So should they fight or should they just surrender, because the result will be the same in the end anyway?”

Evidently Sheridan has not learned much from having been on the losing side in Vietnam.

Given the superiority of American equipment, aircraft and firepower it wasn’t enough to occupy the small nation of Vietnam indefinitely. That “superiority” just meant the American aggressors did more damage than the French before them. Of course the Vietnamese did not fight when and where the Americans wanted them to. They retreated and hid and fought when it suited them. The American “superiority” did not mean “eventual defeat” for the Vietnamese. Help from the rest of the world was important, especially from the American people and especially from anti-war US soldiers who killed their officers and broke the US army. The key point was that an expeditionary army of half a million was not enough to occupy another nation “indefinitely”.

Sending NATO troops to Ukraine would not be particularly helpful. Russia has complete local dominance in its region (land, sea and air) and would defeat NATO in such battles. But if the West wanted to do more than just send arms and other supplies to the Ukrainian resistance it could certainly cause serious military problems for Putin instead of just making speeches. For example Turkey could and should close the Bosphorous to bottle up the Russian fleet (as could and should have been done over Syria). NATO naval forces would be completely dominant everywhere else and could cut off most of Russia’s revenue from trade. It would be up to Russia whether it wished to escalate from a losing position or would prefer to withdraw quickly. A lot of lives could be saved if the West was not so completely gutless. But the peoples of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine will still win in the end. The long term result will be regime change in Russia again.

‘An alien association’: Master of Arts thesis on Maoism and the Communist Party of China 1971-1977

The late John Herouvim wrote a Master of Arts thesis at La Trobe University in 1983, drawing on wide and meticulous research and interviews with Communist Party of Australia (ML) members and former members. The former members included veterans of the working class struggle such as Clarrie O’Shea, Bill Wilson and Marj Broadbent. Most of the interviewees were still members and requested anonymity but they wanted to speak because of their growing disillusionment with that party.

I only recently came upon a copy of the completed thesis. It hasn’t previously been scanned, to the best of my knowledge.

I am yet to read it properly but recall having a few differences with John, such as his use of the term ‘ultra left’ too loosely. At the time he was researching it, there were a few social-fascist types who tried to stop his progress. John purchased a large steel safe, like a fridge, in which he kept his notes and drafts. He told me once that the safe would even survive a bomb blast. Thank heavens, it was never put to that test.

Ted Hill, the party chairman, wasn’t happy about John’s research and declined to cooperate with him but I remember John telling me that Hill offered him unrestricted access to the archives of a small trade union should he drop the project and focus on a history of that union instead. Presumably, the party had strong influence in that union, whose name I forget.

The thesis is now an historical document about a party and period that, in my view today, represented the decline of the left. I didn’t articulate my frustrations in that way at the time but quit organisationally in late 1980 or early 1981 and had no problems with being interviewed by John for his thesis. I was in the esteemed company of Clarrie O’Shea, after all.

Nearly four decades on, I have scanned the thesis and share it here (in four parts).

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