Just a few comments on the Rg ‘Monday Interview’

I just wanted to expand or clarify a few issues from raised by todays ‘Monday interview’ concerning myself and this blog that was published in todays RG.

In the picture concerning the Anti-Racism Rally the caption reads:

“In December 2006, anti-racism rally organiser jonathan Starling stepped in after Portuguese activist Robert Pires angrily approached the podium after speaker, former Senator Calvin Smith made controversial comments and was heckled. Mr Starling asked Mr. Smith to finish his speech.”

The Rally was actually held on July 14th, 2006. This date was chosen partly due to its closeness to the attack that inspired it, and also due to the symbolism of the July 14th storming of the Bastille with the idea to storm the bastille of racism that still holds sway in our society, and the call of the French revolution for liberty and equality for all, that inspired the revolutionaries in Haiti. I had asked the honorary French representative to speak, and he really wanted to, but due to the short notice of organising the event it proved impractical, similarly with many others who wanted to speak but who had scheduling conflicts. Readers should recall the event was largely organised within 72 hours, which is not always conducive to getting all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. The caption itself may be misintepreted as implying that I asked Brother Calvin Smith to end his speech. Rather, I asked that he avoid the hecklers and not to get distracted from his original point, and to finish his speech as he had intended. just wanted to make sure there weren’t any misperceptions on that.

On the reference to me not liking drunkards, that is true. But it shouldn’t be mistaken as implying that I have a puritanical approach to alcohol. Those close to me are having a good laugh at that implication. I advocate responsible consumption of this drug, and while the occassional drunken episode happens to us all, I generally view drunkeness as a symptom of a wrong approach to alcohol consumption, and I do not enjoy the company of drunkards.

It notes that I support Independence. This is entirely true, although I fear I mangled myself on this issue. Firstly, I advocate the formation of a British Federal Republic, ultimately with the inclusion of the entire Commonwealth into a Federl Republic on a voluntary basis, no doubt with the federal capital being moved to india should that occur. Realistically I see Bermudian independence and subsequent unification with a Caribbean Federal Republic as a more likely development. All the same I think former colonial citizens should at the very least recieve home fees and visa-free travel to the UK as ‘…the least they could do for the crimes committed during the empire.’

I do support full and expanded conscription, but with a radical change to the existing model that is the Regiment. I envision combining it military training with first year college level technical and academic education and a National Service type system. I find the focus of the existing model on field infantry tactics as pointless as they are useless from the perspective of defending Bermuda from an invading military force. Only an urban guerrila resistance approach to such an invasion would have any realistic chance of defeating an invasion, or, at the very least, increasing the cost of such an invasion to such a degree as to make it prohibitive for the invading force. Greater emphasis on post-hurricane reconstruction and coastguard services are also necessary.

When the Soviets came they were full of ideas and passion for the idea of ‘socialism with a human face’ as gorbachev called it, and the debates raged over glasnost, perestroika and the like. Many were oncerned that the gains of the revolution might be lost and capitalism restored in a counter-revolution. The vast majority were for a democratic socialist society and not for capitalist restoration. As we all know, the counter-reveolution succeeded and the ‘katastroika’ of capitalist restoration still haunts the former Soviet peoples today. but their passion for a democratic socialist society was very influential for me all the same.

What exactly is a ‘libertarian Marxist?’ I knew this might cause confusion. I could have used different words to describe my position, but all of these would have had problems. Basically I am for a non-authoritarian socialism that is dependent on both the social and political revolution. I find the authoritarian socialism of the former Soviets of Maoism as essentially fascism with socialist rhetoric. Libertarian connotes opposition to authoritarianism. In the West we know the word more for its use to describe anarcho-capitialism/libertarian capitalism. I could have used the term anarcho-socialist, but was worried that people would confuse this with individualistic/nihilistic anarchism. I could also have used the terms ‘Left Communist,’ ‘Council Communist’ or ‘Marxist-Luxemburgist’ but these are relatively specialised political terms and I thought they would unnecessarily complicate things.

I hope that makes for a greater clarification of these issues. I’ll be happy to further discuss any of these below.

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16 thoughts on “Just a few comments on the Rg ‘Monday Interview’

  1. Still don’t know what a “libertarian marxist” is. You don’t actually define it. You suggest reasons to think you might not define it.

    Also, you on Russia:”Many were oncerned that the gains of the revolution might be lost…” (cough) What on earth would those be? You refer I guess, to the USSR which was built to a great extent on enforced slave labour so pervasive its work force was three times that of the Congo Free State. The socialist state that made the appalling Hitler look like a pussy? Was it gains of work awareness and dignity? Where were they to be seen? How can you imagine that any other form of government than cleoptocracy could replace the USSR? Do you wear a Che tshirt? Do you romanticize and glorify the incompetence of socialism and the useless sacrifice of millions made under communism? Capitalism is ugly but it works. Socialism is proven to be horrific and it makes everyone poor. The ruling class in this capitalist society, for fear of the masses, has made absolutely sure you eat everyday. Its practically illegal for you to go hungry. Which makes it possible for you to wonder about which vintage of commie you are.

    Go pick up your paycheck… Boyeeee!

  2. Hi civil monster.

    No I don’t wear a Che t-shirt or anything of the like. Thats a rather superficial expression of ones political beliefs and one doesn’t have to do that to be committed to socialism. I actually have more initial respect for those who don’t wear such superficial expressions; of course it as one gets to interact with one one gets a better idea of their position.

    There were many gains of the revolution including expanded healthcare, expanded education and others expansions of social services along the lines of social security. Those were the gains the soviets were concerned would be, and were, lost during the counter-revo.

    Without democratic control socialism cannot work. There have been numerous instances of democratic socialism in practice that give one a general idea of what or how it would be. For various reasons they were crushed by external military force or internalised captivity to older forms of organisation (Party structure, etc.). Examples would be the pre-Bolshevik soviets, the workers councils movements in Germany and Italy around 1918-1920, elements of the Spanish Republic, elements of the Portuguese Carnation Revolution, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, etc. One must not slavishly idolise these examples and make them into some new pantheon, but one can learn alot from these examples of what is meant by democratic socialism.

    The crimes of Stalinism are what they are, and as I wrote I see them as essentially fascist. Socialism is not proven to be horrific, but Stalinism has.

    Lovely level of discussion all the same.

  3. Hi Jonathan:

    You’ll know something of the Bloomsbury Group, I imagine, if just by the names and the general idea most people have of them, which they created and cultivated. Woolf, Bell, Forster, Grant, Strachey, Carrington, Fry, Eliot, Keynes and so on … With satellites like Lawrence (DH, not TE), Aldous Huxley, Vita Sackville-West and Lady Ottoline Morrell. I suppose Leonard Woolf might have been a “true socialist”, though he hardly suffered for any reason, not even for being Jewish. But … these were ARISTOCRATIC SOCIALISTS, they were snobs at heart … Yet, they formed a kind of community, most of them struggled to get by on their trust funds (yes, Trustafarians, even then), and looked down on the ruling classes. Sixty or seventy years on, one can look at these individuals and see how flawed they were psychologically … sexually confused (at best), a tad inbred, mentally ill, artistic (the worst thing one can be!), manic depressive, suicidal, and so on.

    So what? That was the Bloomsbury Group. Upper Class twits …

    But look at the famous Communists. Psychologically … WHERE were they as individuals? Put Lenin on the couch, or Stalin, or Trotsky … Was there any sweetness and light in them? Is Fidel Castro what you’d call a nice man, with clean hands, free of blood? Would you have trusted your parents to Mao? MUST revolutions be bloody? And stay bloody?

    They are all as bad as King George III, or Leopold II, or the Kaiser. Or Saddam and Blair and Bush. Or God.

    Socialism belongs in the home, not in great societies where single men (how rarely women) feel compelled to rise to the top, by any means, to lead the thing.

    I don’t think the Indians and the South Africans and the Bermudians REALLY want to have a confederated state, centred in India or anywhere else. If votes are allocated by population, India rules, Bermuda does not exist. If votes are by state, a billion Indians wonder why sixty thousand Bermudians can cancel their vote.

    You cannot bind people by anything but force. Look at the EU! Economic blackmail … Energy blackmail … The Fourth Reich. Socialists, aren’t they?

    How about Papa Doc Ewart Brown? The only man for the job? Now THERE is an artistocratic socialist (or labourite) if there ever was one. A snob who likes the good life? Private jet? Big car? Bodyguards? Playboy mansion? First balls and gala balls? Movie stars? Recording stars? I don’t suppose he drinks plonk.

    Jennifer Smith … another artistocratic socialist. If she went missing, you could follow the trail of champagne corks. Yes?

    No, raise up a family, share there. Better a man give his little children horseback rides around the living room, than attend a political party … If the little children grow up feeling loved and wanted, then THEY may save the world. The world revolution we need should, for this generation, stay at home.

    Back to Virginia Woolf … What a gal!

  4. Its remarkable that when one wants to desparage a political system, the habit is to call it fascist. The socialists have been far worse, yet they are still considered cuddly. People think of the great flake Gorbachev not Stalin. Its one of those political perception paralaxes. In US politics people think the democrats are the fiscal spenders and the republicans are abstemious. The exact opposite is true, administration over administration, the republicans have always outspent democrats. But never mind.

    Your examples of Socialist success are noble but all have been failures. My favorite is the Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War. I am good capitalist by necessity but my heart yearns for the anarcho-syndiacalists. And I don’t think my love is foolish. It worked for a while. I would add another to your list noble failures – Julius Nyrere of Tanzania. He is much riviled for his various wierd ideas – Ujama – tribal socialism – but look at the legacy. ( And by the way, I have not the time or ability to investigate this properly ) Tanzania is completely surrounded by african nations extruded from the colonial experience of which it itself is a product. All the others had violent births and violent aftermaths. Not Tanzania. Was this because of Nyrere. I think so. A locally relevant political system empowered the ancient practices of power and provided stability. This is impossible in a democratic system imposed from outside. People like to point to Uganda as a promising start for sub-saharan non-South African Africa because its social infrastructure seems to be getting on its feet. I say what about Tanzania? Poor but relatively happy historically. (Discounting the Lake Victoria problem)

  5. I happen to equate authoritarian/totalitarian/corportist regimes with fascism, and that was the basis of my describing the Stalinist CCCP as ‘fascism with socialist rhetoric.’

    Socialism must be twinned with bottom-up direct democracy if it is to avoid counter-revolutionary developments along the likes of Stalinist top-down bureaucratic totalitarianism.

    Yeah, its true, those examples were defeated, mostly by overwhelming external military force. This does not mean that they did not provide a model for an alternate social system. Capitalism had its embryos in the Italian and Flemish/Dutch city-states, amongst other examples, long before it successfully overturned the fuedal order and became the dominant system.

  6. Well, with the Tanzania reference I am kind of saying you are not wrong. I think Barcelona of the early part of the Spanish Civil War was very hopeful. Until of course the communists turned up.

    How you are going to get a system of socialist values to work with a libertarian structure, with out adopting the anarcho-syndicalist model, I do not know. Even then, I don’t see it. Much as love I Durrutti.

  7. Hello Jonathan, I feel the urge to chime in here. We have met and talked before in another setting and I have been meaning to contact you. After reading the Royal Gazette interview, I must say that I was left bewildered with the “libertarian Marxist” tag. I consider it to be a serious oxymoron. As someone who lives his life as a principled libertarian (slanted to minarchism)
    I am not sure how you can marry these two ideals.
    I considered as political choice, but I find it unnatural and too demanding. It is such bad religion. Once you start to scratch beneath the surface it emits a terrible odor. That will be your biggest challenge. No matter how much you polish a turd…it’s still a turd.
    As libertarianism seeks to respect the rights and freedoms of individuals within a society, please explain how the liberty and freedom bits fit in your plan.
    If I refuse to join your groups or organizations, what will be my fate? Are there consequences for not toeing the Marxist line?
    I do recognize that our government is to large and wasting far too much our resources. I pay as little taxes as possible because I don’t agree with all the programs, and so-called goods and services that they provide.
    I believe that revolution is necessary. I have started it by living it. I pay no attention to the nonsense that flows down from the Hill. I am responsible for me and my loved ones. I have no more need of the ridiculous fools who tell us that they are our lords. I am a citizen not a subject. Join the revolution. All governments are vile. How is it that you think you can change it from within?

  8. Nicely put song bird. How about a government, under which all complaints finally rest with the complainer because power so throughly devolves to each citizen. All the mistakes we make, we own. We’d make fewer of them I say.

  9. The confusion arises from our proximity to the US and its political discourse. In US discourse ‘libertarianism’ is what one would properly describe as anarcho-capitalism. In
    Europe ‘libertarianism’ is essentially a synomnym for anarchism, or, rather, anarcho-socialism.

    As this seems to be a bone of contention I will attempt to write, as its own thread, a general description of my conception of libertarian Marxism.

  10. I think you need to go back to your roots Jonnstar. Your a white man trying to make a point in a blackmans world and you seem confused. Plus some of your retoric about what all you write leaves me muddled at times but then again I am sure your a great guy to work with but I would not hold your hand in any marriage.

    We all have dreams and hopes, are you not another tool of the powers that be?

    You know me………gotta run…………..

  11. And to think that I replied in another thread without having read it, similar thoughts.

    I need a double.

  12. I agree that there are various shades of libertarianism, One of the primary practices for libertarians is non-aggression. My understanding of socialism is that it requires force and coercion to ‘encourage’ the whole of society of participate.
    I believe the Bermuda Regiment is indicative of that. These young men are stripped of their freedom to serve politicians and the powers that be. I was forced into such servitude and I will tell you that my sons will not be joining the regiment unless they desire to do so.
    I have to say that your idea of “National Service” (national slavery) is alarming.
    What part of libertarianism is exercised there? Are you saying that young people can freely join, and if they don’t you are prepared to harm them?
    Help me work this out.
    Regards.

  13. I disagree with you that socialism requires force and coercion. Authoritarian Socialism, of which I oppose, does.

    I see no contradiction between national service and compulsory education.

  14. Thinking a bit I came up with some other examples of societies that were relatively free – if I can fling that much flung word.

    You can always go back to tribal groupings which it would appear are high on enfranchisement but low on productivity. Even women get a better swing here. The political is so close to the domestic that the two blend.

    The Icelandic republic – about 800 to 1300 was as pure a democracy as we are likely to see in literate societies. They did have some slaves and women were not overtly empowered. However, there was no titular head of government and desicions were made at a gathering every summer called the Allthing. If you had a grievance, you brought it here and it was discussed. The decision was a compromise. Our notion of justice would not have worked because there was no final arbiter. Everything was consensus. The system worked remarkably well. However there were blood feuds. Since there was no finality to legal issues, sometimes they tended to get drawn out. If you killed someone, you could pay a fine and get off. This didn’t always satisfy all parties. And many of the icelandic sagas are a record of these feuds. And thrilling reading they make I can tell you. They read like modern novels.

    But overall the system worked. A great amount of responsibility rested with the individual because of course, the social contract was negotiated by everyone, every summer. Because the conditions were extremely harsh and everyone lived in far flung homesteads, that sort of thinking came naturally. Men were often away from home, tending animals and hunting, so women handled many important life issues.

    The icelanders had no external threats. So they did not need to pay for and maintain an army that could sit around doing nothing until it decided it could do a better job of running things. And take over.

    The icelandic political praxis relied on legal precedent much like English common law. It all came to halt when winters became colder, they wrecked the icelandic enviroment and they ran out of food. After about three centuries. They then sought the aid of the King of Norway and became part of Norway and eventually Denmark. They got independence again some centuries later.

    They retained their democratic pratices domestically all that time and can claim to be the oldest democracy in the world. Except of course for people who still conduct themselves politically under tribal terms. Which is probably the most successful political system ever.

    Can’t think of the other example just now.

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