Saturday, May 18, 2002

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | History gets the last laugh

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | History gets the last laugh

Piece by Terry Eagleton - hard not to concur with most of it (dissenters feel free to try).

This bit - "Socialism, after all, is out to expropriate the propertied classes, not to exterminate them. Its weapons are general strikes and mass struggle, not anthrax and dirty nuclear bombs. Its aim is for people to live in plenty, not for them to scavenge their scanty grub from war-scarred urban deserts. Socialism was the last chance we had of defeating terrorism by transforming the conditions which give birth to it; and those who helped to send it packing - not least those among them whose offices are rather high off the ground - ought to be licking their lips for the taste of ashes."

- was sort of what I was aiming at with some of the final comment in my piece on the third way

I wrote: "In amongst it all, the third wayists and other neo-liberals have managed to pin onto us other lefties this image of being anti-progress, anti-comfort, anti-material, anti-the modern world. It's a nonsense, but one that serves their purposes very well. The left, the real left, has always been for material progress, for making life easier, better, more fulfilling and they still are. Hell, they've even been in favour of globalisation, if that's what you want to call it: their theme song isn't The Internationale for nothing. If you think for a minute that I don't want a nice house, a decent car, gadgets and remote controls, then you've really got the wrong idea. Who in their right mind wouldn't want all these things?

"And only a hypocrite could not recognise the truth in this passage from Raymond Williams, reflecting on the 1930s and 40s: ''At home we were glad of the Industrial Revolution, and of its consequent social and political changes. True, we lived in a very beautiful farming valley, and the valleys beyond the limestone we could all see were ugly. But there was one gift that was overriding, one gift which at any price we would take, the gift of power that is everything to men who have worked with their hands. It was slow in coming to us, in all its effects, but steam power, the petrol engine, electricity, these and their host of products in commodities and services, we took as quickly as we could get them, and were glad. I have seen all these things being used, and I have seen the things they replaced. I will not listen with any patience to any acid listing of them -you know the sneer you can get into plumbing, baby Austins, aspirin, contraceptives, canned food. But I say to these Pharisees: dirty water, an earth bucket, a four, mile walk each way to work, headaches, broken women, hunger and monotony of diet. The working people, in town and country alike, will not listen (and I support them) to any account of our society which supposes that these things are not progress: not just mechanical, external progress either, but a real service of life."

"To Williams' list I'm happy to add that I'm glad of the advent of the new communications technologies, of the internet, the cordless phone, the DVD, as well as two minute noodles, eftpos and Wet-Ones.

"But I'm not happy, or willing, to give all the credit and all the profit and my undying obedience to the great abstraction of market forces and to then organise my whole life around its whims and fancies. I'm especially not willing to listen to the sort of crap that says I can have all the material stuff and have stable families, cohesive communities, participatory democracy as if they appeared like manna from heaven rather than as the consequence of the use of real resources and the application of real labour."



Anyway, the Eagleton pice is worth a read, so click the link.


Friday, May 17, 2002

US patriotism has run amok, says TV anchor - theage.com.au

We truly are moving into a helthier time. This piece about Dan Rather admitting to self-censorship and feeling badly because of it, and the recent revelations that GW and Co. knew 'something about hijacked planes' in August and the fact that the Dems have decided to go after him on it, all suggest that the mood swing is actually happening. Be prepared for the conservative backlash, and long lectures from the likes of Rumsfield and Chaney on the need to back the President in 'this time of war'.

US patriotism has run amok, says TV anchor - theage.com.au