Roll-up, roll-up, the carnival is here.....
The theme of this Carnival is “Learning from the past”, and we are hoping to showcase and promote left blogging, particularly thoughtful and informative debate. The remit was either discussion of past events and how they affect us today, the history of the left, or how our own personal experiences have shaped us as left activists. As Sheila Rowbotham once argued: "The past is before us"....
The last few weeks have seen some important anniversaries, and the degree to which they have or haven’t been discussed throws some interesting light on the priorities of today’s left.
The 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade has seen a huge amount of gushing self congratulation in the liberal press. As a useful corrective Socialism or Your Money back reminds us what a reactionary bigot Wilberfoce actually was: “whose well known sympathy for the negro slave never prevented him from being the foremost apologist and champion of every act of tyranny in England”. Theft is good, points out that it was not Wilberforce, but actions from below that forced the abolition of slavery.
Bro. K. Bangarah argues : “The truth is that they did not stop kidnapping and deporting our people because they realised how evil and wrong their behaviour was. They did it because they were forced to; the unstoppable forces emanating from Afrikan people determined to liberate themselves from bondage, left them with no other choice.”
One of the best articles on the subject is by Jacques Depelchin who draws a historical balance sheet about the successful slave revolt in Haiti in 1804, and relates it to today’s involuntary exile of Haiti’s leftist President Aristide in South Africa.
Over at Shiraz Socialists Jim Denham discusses the question of a British state apology for slavery. The same issue is passionately discussed by Darkdaughta who concludes “Apologies from the heads of any old, monied, european clans or from career politicians ain't worth the toilet paper they'll be written on”.
And the continued symbolism of slavery for modern black people is considered by The Angry Black Woman who reflects upon the political history of the Confederate flag through art. What does this flag represent? Time honoured pride or entrenched racism coupled with brutality and violence?
Ghana’s independence fifty years ago- the first country in Africa to break the hold of colonialism - had a major and lasting impact, not only on anti-colonial struggles, but on black liberation struggles in the West, such as the Black Panthers, yet the anniversary has been barely acknowledged in the western blogosphere.
This is discussed by Justice Africa The blog questions how the upcoming 50th anniversaries of Ugandan and Guinean governments will celebrate independence when the current governments have capitulated to imperialism.
The independence celebrations within Ghana have also seen a debate about the legacy of liberation. Madam Tsikata of the Women’s movement in Ghana complains that the role of women in the anti-colonial struggle has not been recognised.
Meanwhile Prince MacDonald of the Gay and Lesbian Association of Ghana, used the day as the opportunity to confront corrupt officials saying, "they’re worse than colonials".
Closer to home, the victory of imperialism in Northern Ireland has received little mention in Britain, but Splintered Sunrise from Belfast is continuing his interesting discussion of the revolutionary programme.
The 25th anniversary of the Las Malvinas war is remembered by Socialism or Your Money back, “"So British and Argentinian service men went across across the ocean to do battle with each other in their masters' cause." While Stroppybird gives a personal take: “My introduction to the world of leftie politics was canvassing for labour in an overwhelmingly Tory naval town during the Falklands/Malvinas war. Being called a traitor and having scary abuse and threats hurled at you as a 16 year old is quite a baptism of fire.”
Away from the topic of anniversaries, there has been some discussion of the legacy of history on the left. Mike Pearn continues to publish interesting documents from the history of the SRG/IS/SWP on his blog.
But the most interesting piece on this topic is from Charlie Pottins: who discusses the tragic death of Jeremiah Duggan, and the suspicious connection with Lyndon La Rouche's organisation.
The 1970s seems like another planet (not if you have been watching cop drama, Life on Mars) in retrospect, and Finally Feminist 101 posts about her reasons for becoming a feminist and how the women's liberation of the 1970s inspired her politically. She also reflects on the continuing influence of feminism on young women today. Hooray!
We shouldn’t confuse learning from history with living in the past, and Phyllis Schlafly describes the new effort to pass the Equal Rights Amendment as “retro”…
Now, to comrades who don't know Schlafly, she is a vile right-winger, used to be a pal of Ronald Reagan (crime enough) and constantly decries equality for women (stay at home and bake cookies yada yada)! Isn't about time you retired, Phyllis? Celebrations all around when you do lady! And as Feministing eloquently argues, "equal rights for all women except Phyllis".
The unfortunate behaviour of some left groups is certainly an obstacle we need to overcome, and there is a thought provoking contribution to the debate about this on the (low volume but always interesting) left libertarian site, Spaces of Hope.
The general state of the left also receives consideration from Unknown Conscience who makes the excellent point that much of the British left have still failed to adequately theorise the impact of the defeats of the Thatcher era, and she asks the sensible question: “It seems to me that people continue to function and do politics in a way that was common in the 1970s and this hardly seems relevant any longer."
Red Squirel’s lair discusses the disastrous impact of the collapse of the USSR.
Reading the Maps discusses the influence of Trotsky in EP Thompson. The Little Lenin Library continues to post academic essay’s that could do with some journalistic editing. But among the verbiage there can sometimes be a point. He discusses the Sonderweg thesis, that the development of capitalism in Germany follwed a special path that predisposed it towards fascism. As 'ickle Lenin points out “it establishes an unwarranted “normal path” …and if one doubts the superiority of the West, the thesis loses its attractiveness;”
Liam Mac Uaid posts a rather more accessible article about the lessons of building mass socialist parties, based upon the german experience. Given the dire state of the left in England, these are lessons we need to draw upon.
Oh, and to finish on a kinda tenuous connection, the BBC 1 telly programme Life on Mars (about a cop from 2006 stuck in 1973) has finished. One word. Gutted. Danny Boyle et al take note. This is how to write a good script.....