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Socialist Studies

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jondwhite
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Oct 12 2015 10:37
Socialist Studies

Another thread mentioned

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On another tack,but still involving the impossibilist socialist current, it seems that Socialist Studies, the most recent breakaway from the SPGB, is now down to 4 members, all now quite advanced in years.

Thought I would split this off to see if anyone wished to discuss them separately.

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jondwhite
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Jun 6 2016 11:38

This Sunday is their Summer School day talk on “Marx’s Revolutionary Idea and Socialism" at 2pm at Marchmont Street Community Centre, London. I'm planning to attend.

Battlescarred
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Jun 6 2016 17:56

what will you say?

ajjohnstone
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Jun 6 2016 23:55

Hopefully, he'll ask "Will you donate your fairly valuable socialist archive material to HO at No. 52 before you all die off?"

Battlescarred
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Jun 7 2016 10:09

And they'll most likely say no, hostile as they are to the SPGB.

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jondwhite
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Jun 7 2016 13:14

I often ask 'what class struggle happens outside the party?'

Often the reply is merely workers organised economically to struggle for higher wages. Once I was answered 'none, ideally' which left me a bit dumbfounded.

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klas batalo
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Jun 9 2016 02:02
jondwhite wrote:
I often ask 'what class struggle happens outside the party?'

Often the reply is merely workers organised economically to struggle for higher wages. Once I was answered 'none, ideally' which left me a bit dumbfounded.

WOW

Spikymike
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Jun 9 2016 11:11

jondwhite,
By all means advertise this 'summer school' if you must, but I'm perplexed as to why you think anyone on this site would be remotely interested in discussing the nature, origins or present function of this tiny sect split from the spgb many years back without you providing some more extensive background information and some political, social and/or psychological reasons to justify your very thin request? Perhaps best left to the spgb forums since the 'socialist studies' website does not provide any similar means of discussion either internal or external.

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jondwhite
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Jun 10 2016 08:56

Twenty five years of existence formed from the biggest ever split in a hundred years from their predecessor, with some members activity going back before most here were born, around three hundred monthly meetings, both recorded and at speakers corner, a hundred quarterly journal issues, around fifteen pamphlets, all by no more than twenty people, with almost zero turnover (either joiners or leavers), claiming adherence to principles in wording over a hundred years old, hostile to all other political parties, and virtually no mention of them anywhere outside of their own press. Any other libcom groups discussed here share any of these characteristics?

What are the political, social or psychological reasons for their existence?

Only other libcom group so small with zero turnover but hostile to almost all other groups and having written principles and articles are the recent but short-lived Libertarian Communist Initiative.

Spikymike
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Jun 10 2016 09:49

jondwhite,
Well now that's better, though we really are now in the territory of sect and religious behaviour and the results of turning some half decent analysis into dogma, perhaps in part a result of the members disconnect from the everyday experience of class struggle in it's widest sense - something you hinted at earlier. Of course that group is not in any shape or form 'a party' and seems to have shrunk to little more than an inward looking discussion circle. As I have said before in other related discussions on this site political groups often have a time limited useful function which unfortunately they fail to recognise until it is too late.

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jondwhite
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Jun 10 2016 12:24

Being small, committed, critical, or independent to any degree can't be the only criteria for 'sect-like', 'religious behaviour' or 'dogma'. It has to involve some abrogation of some broader obligation.

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Cooked
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Jun 10 2016 20:17
jondwhite wrote:
Twenty five years of existence formed from the biggest ever split in a hundred years from their predecessor, with some members activity going back before most here were born, around three hundred monthly meetings, both recorded and at speakers corner, a hundred quarterly journal issues, around fifteen pamphlets, all by no more than twenty people, with almost zero turnover (either joiners or leavers), claiming adherence to principles in wording over a hundred years old, hostile to all other political parties, and virtually no mention of them anywhere outside of their own press.

I had to read that out loud to my partner. Particularly that last bit made a huge impression.

ajjohnstone
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Jun 11 2016 01:25

Sadly, Socialist Studies may well be only a mirror image of many other small, insignificant political groups ...and for even some one-time influential political parties - i myself mourn the death of the Socialist Labor Party and for those with a Labour Party heritage, who now remembers the ILP - even the Co-operative Party outlived them.

i think there is a lot of truth in SpikeyMike's comment

Quote:
As I have said before in other related discussions on this site political groups often have a time limited useful function which unfortunately they fail to recognise until it is too late.

We have all watched organisations grow moribund and wither. We all have been members of such groups that failed to blossom the way we had intended.

But if i recall Thompson's history of the IWW right, they were reduced to just 90 members in the 50s/60s but clawed their way back to half-respectable numbers because the political conditions and activities of the 60s reflected some of their core principles and was recognised as such.

Not that i hold out such hopes for Socialist Studies. But as for their principles, well, i still have the tiniest teeniest bit of optimism that the future might stumble over them and pick them up and re-focused and apply them as what occurred with the Wobblies.

We should all remember, we ourselves are growing older, frailer and younger comrades and activists are becoming less...we may suffer the same fate, and die before we see the re-emergence and resurgence of the Thin Red Line....

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Entdinglichung
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Jun 14 2016 12:15

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_Studies_(1989)#Relations_with_the_Socialist_Party_of_Great_Britain

Quote:
Much of the material published by Socialist Studies is highly critical, and often outright contemptuous, of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, which it refers to as the "Clapham-based Socialist Party" or the "Socialist Party of Clapham". The group variously claims that the SPGB is anarchist,[1][12] reformist,[12] capitalist,[12][19] fascist,[30] Stalinist,[31] Trotskyist,[31] undemocratic,[12] and democracy fetishist.[12] According to Socialist Studies, the Socialist Party of Great Britain colludes with the Electoral Commission to "prevent Socialists [from] carrying out political propaganda on the web", and does this because its own propaganda is not being read as widely as that of Socialist Studies.[19] Socialist Studies also claims that the SPGB has a secret de facto leadership of "godfathers",[31] who conspire to suppress socialist ideas and to destroy Socialist Studies.[19][25]

Spikymike
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Jun 17 2016 13:14

jondwhite,
I will probably kick myself for asking this but since you were so keen to go to their 'summer school' and ask such searching questions how about a report back - how many attended, who were they, what were your questions and the answers (and are they still slagging off the real spgb and 'hostile' to everyone else within the broad libcom milieu) ?

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Jun 17 2016 15:43

Yep, I attended their summer school. The talk started a little late, there were eight in attendance, one lady, seven men including the speaker. Room was unmarked, no signs, no banner, not even the lectern they've previously used at speakers corner but there was a literature table. It didn't really rehash the split, but members expressed the feeling the split was necessary.

I asked two questions then a follow up one.

Other than trade unions and organised labour waging an economic struggle, what class struggle from the political side, happens outside the party? They replied the political struggle is waged by forming a party to seek election for socialism.
My second question of the three was to quote Comm. Manifesto Chapter 2 'The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties. They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. ' They replied that they didn't agree with Marx who was advocating a broad church approach to a party before he failed in the First International. Hmm? I'm not sure the key word isn't 'separate' rather than party.
A little later I asked what socialism happened or organised socialists existed before 1904. They replied there was various groups the SDF and the Socialist League but all dallied with reforms. After the talk, I asked if Marx and Morris were socialists or would have been admitted as members, but I think they drew a distinction between the conditions in the 19th Century and now.

What was mentioned of interest, was of those forming the Socialist Studies group in 1991 was only five (out of sixteen according to Wikipedia) founder members remained. I presume this means 'still living' as no founding members resigned as far as I know. I was able to identify four at the meeting. It must also mean three or four talk attendees who I didn't speak to, were either non-members or post-1991 joinees. What had changed in years gone by was attendance at Marchmont St had dropped from 30-40 as greater opportunities for socialising and entertainment outside of meetings exist. While the internet may have affected attendance, it had also opened up new opportunities for socialists. Outdoor speaking had disappeared and even speakers corner was now merely a tourist attraction.

A recording was said to have been made by them to upload to their website.