Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Don't ask me

Readers may be wondering why your bloggist hasn't commented on the latest carryings on by the UK government, or perhaps it would be better to say what passes for a government. Tempted as I am, I shall just quote W.B. Yeats:

"I think it better that in times like these
 A poet keep his mouth shut, for in truth
 We have no gift to set a statesman right"

Interestingly the US government is just as big a shambles. How hard it must be for young people today to believe that the two democracies had stood together to save the world as recently as the mid-twentieth century and had then subsequently seen off the challenge of the other tyranny with which they had expediently allied to do it. Now of course the heir of the Soviet Union would seem to be having the last laugh.

It will not have escaped your notice that yesterday's post was to mark the centenary of the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. Luxemberg didn't have much time for Lenin, and one assumes that she would have had even less for Stalin had she lived that long. She was also not so keen on Bernsteinian revisionism (*), which is essentially the form of socialism as preached and occasionally practised by all mainstream Western European parties of the left, including, now that Jeremy Corbyn has recaptured it from the neo-liberalism of the Blair years, the Labour Party.

What Luxemburg did believe in was grassroots activism, whereby society was controlled from below rather from above; she took the view, which I think we can agree was borne out by events, that otherwise the new boss would be as bad as the old boss. In these dark and challenging times it doesn't do any harm to reflect on what she wrote in her critique of the Russian revolution:

"Freiheit ist immer die Freiheit des Andersdenkenden"

"Freedom is always freedom for the one who thinks differently"

* Eduard Bernstein was a friend and associate of Engels, but nevertheless spent all of his long life campaigning for the achievement of socialism by peaceful means through incremental legislative reform in democratic societies. I have no idea how he found the time to write 'West Side Story' as well.


  1. maybe grahame, but from where I'm standing (hiding), that grass roots activism could well be of the extreme right-wing persuasion if we're not careful.
    Or will that be ok, because it's a genuine impulse, coming 'from the people'?

    1. A very interesting question which I shall answer in a separate post.