Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Trotblogging evolves!

Dave Osler is now blogging.

This is good news. I know people who have worked with Dave, and whenever they gather to drink, they always get the evening off to a good start with 'Dave Osler stories'. Like the time that ..... no. Better not.

But he's very far from the mould of most writers on the far-left. He can write for one thing. And his politics aren't based on the kind of Straussian opposition that he writes about on the article linked to below.

Without endorsing Dave's perspective on pretty-well anything, or agreeing with all of his conclusions, this piece on Neoconservatism and the war on terror is worth a read.

Lots of detail, and well argued.

"But in the final analysis, whether America’s post 9/11 foreign policy can be labelled distinctively neoconservative or not is a point of crucial importance to perhaps two groups. The first is the hardened factionalists jockeying for position on the US right. The second is that section of liberal opinion that - to invert a Straussian idea - needs the neoconservative threat as a ‘necessary myth’ to rally its forces.

It is far more important to determine whether or not it is a just policy, or even a policy capable of achieving its stated ends. Seen in that light, it must be harshly judged."


NB: Look for the para in which Dave uses the word 'epiphenomenon'. Popinjays such as Hak Mao may have something to add to it?

7 comments:

hakmao said...

That epitomises the epiphenomenon of the epiphanous epigrammatic epidemic of epigones.

...

I think I need an epidural.

hakmao said...

PS - I know who Dave is. Even saw him on telly recently. He's a canny bloke most of the time.

Epidural said...

Are you taking the wee-wee?

Paulie said...

The reason I mention the 'epiphenomenon' para is because I know that you (Hak Mao) endorse a postition that this para contradicts.

Dave says

"...ex-neocon Michael Lind, who argues that neoconservatism effectively inverts the Trotskyist concept of permanent revolution into a notion of ‘global democratic revolution’. He also believes it imported from Marx’s historical materialism an understanding of liberal democracy as essentially an epiphenomenon of capitalism."

And I know that you'd take the view that the worst liberal-democracy is still better than the best tyranny.

I completely agree with you on this by the way. But what Dave appears to be arguing is that Liberal Democracy and Marxism are incompatible.

I'm not enough of a Marxologist to contradict him on his, but this viewpoint explains a good deal about some sections of the left, and why they don't share your (my) view here.

hakmao said...

This is a big topic.

There are debates about the nature and interpretation of Historical Materialism both within and without Marxist thought and about what Marx himself was saying (especially following the publication of the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts in the 1930s). These debates have in turn spawned several 'schools' of thought and I'm not going to give a definitive answer to you here. One thing though, most 'Marxists' would agree that liberal democracy is only a stage in development of history - that LD goes hand in hand with developed capitalism and that this political mode is the one that best 'corresponds' with capitalism. LD is not, however, the most optimal form of democracy - this is Socialist democracy - the merely formal democracy of LD structures is made actual by the socialisation of the 'means of production'.

But what Dave appears to be arguing is that Liberal Democracy and Marxism are incompatible.

I don't think that's what he's saying - one is a stage in development on the way to the other, whether as a discrete stage (the Mensheviks), or as carried out by workers (the Old Man).

I'm off to the pub.

You might find this essay by Amartya Sen (not a Marxist, but still worth reading), interesting in that it highlights the usefulness of democratic modes of government - whether applied to LD or socialism.

Paulie said...

"....the merely formal democracy of LD structures is made actual by the socialisation of the 'means of production'."

Yep. I'd go along with that absolutely. I'd suggest that 'the socialisation of the 'means of production' would be a painful and doomed project unless you chose the right kind of democracy. Thus one of the obsessions of this blog.

Working in Co-Ops for the last six years has given me a number of experiences that have underlined why the way that common ownership can work (or not work).

In a nutshell, my line on this is that workers should concentrate on ownership rather than day-to-day control.

Elected managers with a fixed term of office (and NOT regular recall) would be my preference.

hakmao said...

...one is a stage in development on the way to the other, whether as a discrete stage (the Mensheviks), or as carried out by workers (the Old Man).

Bugger, that should have read:

"...one (LD or bourgeois revolution) is a stage in development on the way to the other (socialism), whether as a discrete stage (the Mensheviks), or as accomplished by the proletariat as part of Permanent Revolution (the Old Man)."

Much better...

Anyway, without the socialisation of the means of production you aren't going to have actual democracy.