Monday, October 09, 2006

The stripey Leopard, pt. 1

Delivered over the weekend to Central London Branch of the Socialist Party.

Dear Comrades,

I owe the party a great deal. It has been a well-spring of information and knowledge: a genuine working class university of socialism. Its analysis is sound, as is its emphasis on knowledge and consciousness as a liberating factor for the working class. I have been a member now for nine years, and do not regret one minute of it.

I have always argued that doing what you believe to be the right course of action is the most important thing in politics: sticking by your guns even when the way ahead seems impassable and progress is negligible. I have come, though, to believe that whilst the party’s analysis is sound, its prescription is not.

The workers, presented with the party case do not simply reject it because it conflicts with propaganda brainwashing but because it conflicts with their experience of life. Althusser was, to an extent, correct: ideology is lived and no amount of passionate debate or cooky advertising is going to penetrate through that concrete material ideological experience.

I am increasingly convinced that since the capacity to make a revolution lies outside our hands and that the workers seem disinclined to revolution, the right course of action for me is to be in making myself useful to the class struggle and generally supporting the widest engagement of my class fellows in that struggle – even if that only ends up with us winning (in my life time) the best available capitalism.

After much thought, then, I am resigning from the Socialist Party. I wish the rest of you luck and sincerely hope that the political conditions change for you – I fervently look forward to the day when returning to the Party makes the most sense for me.

I remain, yours for the revolution.


Blogger Phil said...

Good work.

Althusser was a ghastly scholastic idealist whose legacy within Marxism has been little better than poisonous. But the argument you rest on him is sound: it's impossible to divorce the determinations of material life from some ethereal realm of ideology, where the correct message battles it out with capitalist propaganda. Philosophers have only interpreted the world, and so forth.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Darren said...

Sorry to read your resignation letter Bill.

I'm sure I won't be alone in thanking you for all the sterling work you done down the years for the Party, and it's not just puff on my part to say that you have always been one of the best advocates for the case for revolutionary socialism - whether it be as a speaker or a writer - in the SPGB.

I find much to agree with in your letter, and I've chewed over the same questions that you raise in your post again and again, but I always return to the view that whilst it is continues to be a cold climate for socialists, I remain a committed supporter of the SPGB/WSM because it is - with a handful of other groups - one of the few standard bearers for a politics that places particular emphasis on the self-activity and political consciousness of the working class.

Despite its current meagre resources and for all its faults - and they are there in spades - the SPGB tradition has a major contribution to make to those future political battles if and when political conditions change. And as daft as it may sound, I think that hoary cliche of 'If the SPGB didn't exist today, we'd have to invent it" continues to apply . . . albeit without the seventh principle in the D of P this time, please. ;-)

I'm rambling now, but I just wanted to leave a wee comment to say that you're a diamond, and I'm looking forward to read the future material that you post on the blog.

all the best,

11:30 AM  
Blogger Darren said...


Before I forget - SPLITTER!!! ;-)

11:32 AM  

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