Slaughtering sacred cows

October 22, 2013

In this guest post, ANTHONY McINTYRE, former IRA volunteer and prisoner who now blogs at The Pensive Quill, reviews Bonfire of the Certainties: the second human revolution by Cliff Slaughter.

Cliff Slaughter is a Marxist from the Trotsky school. He was a long time member of the Workers Revolutionary Party, and I recall his input into Marxist discussions


There go the certainties

within the party which I tried to follow from my prison cell, in an era when I regarded myself a Marxist. Now in his 80s, it would seem challenging for an old dog to be taught new tricks. The interesting thing here is that, rather than being taught new tricks, Slaughter has opted to learn them.

In his aptly named book Bonfire of the Certainties, Slaughter puts it starkly: humanity faces a crisis which he stresses the necessity of averting, and repeats the time honoured Rosa Luxemburg pearl of the future being either socialism or barbarism, both mutually exclusive.

Marxists, unfortunately, have been making this call for as long as anyone can remember, only for Pollyanna to trump Jeremiah. On one occasion with biblical-style imprecision, the date of the collapse of capitalism was predicted. Consequently there is a tendency not to hear them when they Read the rest of this entry »

The revolution that worked … after many experiments

October 18, 2013

In this guest post, MIKE NELSON comments on Steve Drury’s review on this site of Christopher Boehm’s book Moral Origins, and the exchange that followed between Chris Knight and Steve Drury.  

The discussion on this site about human origins points to the need for a Marxist critique of anthropology. We need to work towards a better understanding of the human revolution in the paleolithic period, and of

Lascaux cave painting

Hunters brought back food, which was shared. (A Lascaux cave painting.)

“human nature” – not as an inherent biological quality, but as the potential that we have to live in a different, communistic, way.

From the articles published, it seems that Christopher Boehm, Chris Knight and Steve Drury all profess that our morals today are not genetically determined. Most people on the left, including many anthropologists – and myself – would agree with that statement. But there are problems in understanding the period of Read the rest of this entry »

Russia: free political prisoners!

October 13, 2013

Here MARIA C., a Russian activist, comments on the sentencing of Mikhail Kosenko, who was arrested at one of last year’s demonstrations. There is a meeting on “Russia and Kazakhstan: free political prisoners” on Saturday 19 October, at 5.0 pm, at University of London Queen Mary, Mile End Road, Room 2.40 (at the Anarchist Book Fair).

In Moscow last week the first sentence was pronounced in the so-called Bolotnaya Square (or 6th of May demo) case. Mikhail Kosenko, one of 27 political

Bolotnaya Square, 10 December 2011. Photo mpeake/Flickr Creative Commons

Bolotnaya Square, 10 December 2011. Photo mpeake/Flickr Creative Commons

prisoners, was found guilty of beating a police officer and sent for indefinite forced psychiatric treatment. (News stories here and here.)

Mikhail Kosenko has a registered second-degree disability, due to a psychiatric condition caused by an injury suffered in the army.

This is the worst possible sentence. Many people in Russia think that the psychiatric institutions are worse than prisons – that many people never return from them, because they really are driven out of their minds there.

Mikhail was found guilty in spite of the fact that the injured police officer did not recognise him, and declared in the court that he is not guilty. On Tuesday more Read the rest of this entry »

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