George Walford: Editorial Notes (34)

We have long been pointing to the evidence that the USSR (with China not far behind) is moving towards a system which resembles capitalism more closely than communism as Marx envisaged it. Sotheby’s have now capped our efforts by announcing their first sale in Moscow for July 7th.

We are accustomed to being told that the success of pop songs expressing dissatisfaction, and of art which breaks accepted rules, shows that young people are breaking free of the old restraints. Capitalism is weakening, a new and freer society arising. The popularity of the journal TIME OUT has been quoted as evidence of the new trends.

TIME OUT recently held a fair; FREEDOM, the anarchist journal, took a stand and their June issue reports the outcome. Attendance was disappointing, minor exhibitors were tucked away upstairs and the public address system devoted wholly to publicising TIME OUT. Even worse, the event had been presented to exhibitors as a selling fair but advertised to the public under the slogan ‘Everything for a fiver,’ suggesting that after the entrance fee there would be nothing more to pay. It quickly became clear that the minor exhibitors, FREEDOM among them, had no hope of covering the cost of their stands. A group of them occupied the organisers’ booth and grabbed the microphone to make their complaints known. The management were forced to give written commitments to refund part of the charges for stands.

If TIME OUT differs from orthodox capitalist undertakings it is in being more enterprising; it even tried to exploit the anarchist movement.

74% of British people are satisfied (very or fairly) with their standard of living, 8% express no opinion and only 18% are very or fairly dissatisfied. (Mori poll, reported in Sunday Times 12 June 88).

That, of course, is not conclusive; the reformers and revolutionaries are not bound to accept the opinions of those they claim to be working for. But it does knock a hole in the belief that the people who work for a living are groaning under a load of oppression and exploitation.

A CORRESPONDENT has commented on our ‘violent reaction’ to marxism and the remark surprised us, since we greatly respect the combative old pogonophile. (Marx clean-shaven seems as improbable as┬áHegel six years old). We don’t think he came up with the final answers, but anybody who does has quite failed to grasp marxism.

One explanation for the remark may be that by ‘marxism’ the writer meant the (A-)SPGB, and if so his description of our reaction is fully justified. How can one not respond violently to people who declare themselves ‘determined to wage war against all other political parties’? Especially when they do not confine their aggressiveness to parties.

But even then our reaction is not against marxism, for the (A-)SPGB are marxists in the same sense as they are socialists, a sense recognised by themselves alone. They try to grab the prestige carried by his name while picking out for acceptance only the parts of his work that happen to correspond with their own extraordinary ideas, repudiating the rest.

THE STANDARD map of the London Tube has long been recognised as a classic of good design, but the Tube – beg its pardon, the Underground – no longer displays the map on its platforms. It offers, instead, a ‘Journey Planner’ – which looks remarkably like the old map with a new caption. Three extra syllables and a misleading name in place of an accurate one; if you wait for one of these things to plan your journey for you you’ll still be waiting when the people who now manage the system start to spend your money on providing reliable service instead of trendy decoration.

A COMPUTER is a machine that does exactly what you tell it, but often surprises you with the result. (Richard Dawkins)

IC32 included a piece “Milner on Walsby.” Adrian Williams has pointed out that the publication date give in that was incorrect; it should have been 1987.

SUBSCRIPTION RATES for IC are set out at foot of last page.

from Ideological Commentary 34, July 1988.