Karl Marx reviews Downton Abbey:
“His family history, the history of his house etc – all this individualises the estate for him and makes it literally his house, personalises it. Similarly those working on the estate have not the position of day-labourers; but they are in part themselves his property, as are serfs; and in part they are bound to him by ties of respect, allegiance and duty….It is necessary that this appearance be abolished.”
From “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844”.
Karl Marx will next be reviewing the programme “Who Do You Think Your Are?”.
Of all the anti-fascists to make a stand, perhaps the bravest are those who did so in Nazi Germany.
Jean Julich was one of the Edelweiss Pirates, teenagers who rebelled against Nazi society, and physically fought the Hitler Youth, at great cost to themselves. Jean died in October last year aged 82, but I have only just come across this excellent obituary from the Telegraph of 7 February 2012. It is a tremendous testament to the ability to resist.
The quote below is from today’s Telegraph Review, where amongst the book reviews Dan Jones considers Paul Preston’s work on the Spanish Civil War and its fascist butchery, The Spanish Holocaust.
“Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell and the rest sent back graphic dispatches from the front line, and their work has left the historical impression that Europe’s first open war between fascists and the combined forces of communism, socialism and social democracy was well covered and understood. Yet away from the eyes of the war reporters, argues Paul Preston, there was another Spanish Civil War, in which thousands of civilans were systematically murdered, and their deaths subsequently obscured”.
Whilst accepting his latter point, the former is a re-writing of history. In this analysis, all those Anarchists in Barcelona and much of southern Spain must have been a figment of the imagination. I do hope that Preston’s book is considerably better than Jones’ summary above!
But where Anarchist practice really triumphs is in the course of everyday life among common people who would not be able to endure their dreadful struggle for existence if they did not engage in spontaneous mutual aid, putting aside differences and conflicts of interest. When one of them falls ill, other poor people take in his children, feeding them, sharing the meagre sustenance of the week, seeking to make ends meet by doubling their hours of work. A sort of communism is instituted among neighbors through lending, in which there is a constant coming and going of household implements and provisions. Poverty unites the unfortunate in a fraternal league. Together they are hungry; together they are satisfied …
A miniscule society that is anarchistic and truly humane is thus created, even though everything in the larger world seems to be in league to prevent its being born – laws, regulations, bad examples, and public immorality.
Elisée Reclus (1894)
Papadopoulos, who spent 17 years abroad with MSF and returned to her native Greece three years ago, sees hope among the rubble. “What keeps me going is an increasingly strong sense of solidarity among the Greek people,” she said. “Donations to MSF, for example, have of course gone down with the crisis, but donors keep giving, they remain active.”
She sees a refreshing new phenomenon of self-organisation and social action. “In the past year of this crisis I have seen really encouraging, really exciting things happening – people are seeing the power of organising themselves. We have to support them.”
Here is just one example of why Greece is still a great place and why you should go there and spend your money, despite all the negativity in the press. But it is also a reminder that, whilst the financial markets are settling into the warm glow of complacency with the conclusion of the latest deal, the crisis is far from over and that none of the major economic contradictions have been addressed. Even though EU leaders think that they have successfully quarantined Greece (a policy that is the antithesis of solidarity), Portugal, Italy, Spain and Ireland are waiting in the shadows and even the Netherlands can’t meet the terms of the extraordinarily restrictive fiscal rules that they so assiduously helped to impose. There is no resolution, events are merely pausing for breath.
From the Shirazites:
- Camila Bassi on Tony Cliff’s inane politics (pdf/html)
- Alex Callinicos on Norman Finkelstein
- Judah Magnes and the tragedy of binationalism
- Ronald Fraser, Oral Historian, Dies at 81 (nytimes.com)
- The Spanish Holocaust by Paul Preston – review (guardian.co.uk)
- The Spanish Holocaust by Paul Preston: review (telegraph.co.uk)
- Reviews round-up (newstatesman.com)