I’ve decided to change my original sub-title for the blog.
Since the inception of this blog in 2007, it has been officially called “Catch A Fire – For Workers Power“. The origin of that term came from a combination of three sources.
First off, it refers to one of Bob Marley’s albums, ‘Catch a Fire‘ which helped establish Bob Marley and the Wailers internationally (or at least cement their reputation) and bristled with social critiques. It’s one of my favourite albums to listen to.
Secondly, it is a bit of a homage to the important publication Iskra (Russian for ‘spark’), which played an important role in laying the foundation for socialist thought in Russia in 1900-1905, culminating in the 1905 Russian Revolution.
This, in turn, greatly influenced the thought of Rosa Luxemburg, who in turn provided an important basis for my own thought.
The origin of the name Iskra comes from a poem, reading ‘From a spark a fire will flare up.’ The idea being that this blog will serve as a ‘spark’ for igniting socialist imagination and thought in Bermuda.
‘For Workers Power‘ came from the name of a book of the collected works of Maurice Brinton (real name Chris Pallis), an Anglo-Greek neurologist and socialist theoretician. I was reading his work at the time of starting the blog, and it, too, has had a great influence on my socialism.
So, why change now?
Basically, I felt that the sub-title ‘For Workers Power‘ was open to misunderstanding and didn’t necessarily speak to the nature of the blog. Only the handful of people familiar with the work of Maurice Brinton might get it, and everyone else would just ignore it.
So, I decided to develop a new sub-title that better caught the essence of what this blog is all about.
It is, quite frankly, a blog about Bermudian politics, and a blog on various issues of an ideological bent which may be best caught under the term ‘socialism for the 21st Century‘.
The ‘S’ word
Yes, that’s right.
For the 21st Century.
Socialism is, for many, a dirty word, and conjures up images of the Soviet Union, China, North Korea and Cuba.
At best I consider those ‘State Socialisms’; at worst, fascism hiding behind socialist rhetoric.
There are numerous approaches and visions of socialism, from the more social-democrats of the various Labour Parties, to democratic-socialists and State socialists.
It is a mistake to view socialism as a monolithic ideology or system, just as it’s a mistake to regard all forms of capitalism as identical.
I did debate whether it was wise to self-identify, publicly, as socialist.
This came up when I ran for parliament as an Independent in the 2012 general election. I had a choice of creating some new ‘name’ for my worldview, denying my worldview, or educating about my worldview.
I’ve decided on the latter. I figured that no matter what I called myself, people would (correctly) invoke the saying ‘a rose by any other name is still a rose‘ and call me a socialist. And if I didn’t call myself anything I would be called a socialist anyway.
During the election campaign, although I didn’t include the word ‘socialism’ in any of my literature, I made no secret about my being a socialist.
I am also a realist however, and I do not foresee for a moment socialism being built in Bermuda in isolation.
My platform was essentially a green and left social-democratic platform.
My idea is/was that such a platform is about as ‘socialist’ as would be possible in the Bermuda context at this moment in time, and also that by introducing its ideas I would widen the space of social/political imagination of what is possible, and build on it from there.
I found that certain of my rivals in Constituency 20 were spreading misinformation about what I represent.
It wasn’t uncommon to hear from constituents that my rivals had called me an advocate of Stalinist Soviet or Castroist Cuban policies and other related lies. I never denied to these constituents that I was a socialist, and did my best to explain to them my vision of socialism, and the differences between democratic socialism and State socialism.
“…the irrepressible lightness and joy of being a communist”
So ends the book Empire by the autonomist-Marxists Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt. It seemed fitting here too.
Going forward I will try to explain what my vision of socialism, of democratic socialism, is, what I understand as ‘socialism for the 21st Century’.
I look forward to this daunting task, and welcome questions as I pursue it.