Friday, March 16, 2007

...bear it onward till we fall.

Pieter Lawrence, member of the SPGB for over fifty years (part of a family of members) has died after a long battle with cancer.

It's always a choker when old comrades pass.

I was in the same branch as Pieter, and despite fundamental disagreements on policy and theory, he was a solid comrade who could put his case together with cogency and aplomb.

His battle cry was for practical socialism - using making concrete proposals based on observation of contemporary society - such as the food and agriculture organisation being the the basis for a future world information clearing agency for food production. He was proud to have been instrumental in the authorship of the SPGB Pamphlet Socialism as a Practical Alternative(PDF).

On one occassion he and me had a screaming argument - or bellowing argument, I should say. Members on the fourth floor of SPGB HO could hear us raising our voices ever louder - it seemed to me, at the time, that in some way he enjoyed that sort of encounter. He certainly could bellow.

He was the author of the socialist novel The Last Conflict, as well as a book on Practical socialism. In the mid 90's he was instrumental in the debate on sexuality in the party that saw homophobes routed. Later he was central to ongoing debates on the existence of law in socialism.

If anything, somewhere down the line, his arguments for practical socialism played a part in my leaving the SPGB - afterall, if we're going to engage in practical politics then the SPGB isn't really the vehicle for it.

Ave Atque Vale.

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Blogger Darren said...

Hello Bill,

nice of you to mention Pieter on your blog. I think I remember that row. I thought Head Office had been invaded. ;-)

From experiencing practical politics at the sharp end in the States, I'm all the more convinced that 'impossibilism' is the only route to socialism, even if it is the case that we seem to have temporarily misplaced the map . . . the directions . . . the vehicle . . . and the passengers.

all the best,

9:30 AM  

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