Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The Communist Manifesto

Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels (1848)

The introduction is rather brief but is seems to summarise Communism as a power. Marx says that Communism is becoming accepted as a power across Europe, and that Communists should openly publish their aims, views and tendencies with a manifesto of the “spectre of Communism” of the party itself.
He questions the whereabouts of the opponents to Communism, and believes that the lack of or no presence of opposition is the reason for Communism’s high rise.

Bourgeois and Proletarians
Marx states that the modern bourgeois society that comes from the feudal idea of society has not accepted the idea of social rank like in Ancient Rome and the Middle Ages. This new society has achieved new classes, conditions of oppression and new forms of struggle.
He says the Bourgeoisie has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and instead of having the small indefeasible freedoms, has created one “unconscionable freedom” – Free Trade.
He says the bourgeoisie has stripped the former occupations that people admired into works of paid labourers, people such as poets, lawyers and physicians.
Their manifesto goes on further to state that the bourgeoisie brings nations together and that individual creations of different nations become common, and that narrow-mindedness amongst nations becomes more and more impossible as the demise of national and local literatures result in the creation of a world literature.
Marx says that the modern society, by means of communication and improvement of production turns all nations into civilisation, even the most barbaric. It aims at creating a world after its own image.

The proletariats begin their struggle with the bourgeois at birth. The bourgeois use the proletariats for their cheap labour, simply to create a profit for the society itself. However, Marx says that the working class (Proletariat) will revolt and rise to power through the means of riots and trade unions.
Marx says the bourgeoisie is in a never-ending battle with the aristocracy, with portions of the bourgeoisie itself who turn against the industrial progress and of course with the bourgeoisie of foreign countries. Within these battles, it asks the proletariat for help by entering the political arena. Therefore the bourgeoisie educates the proletariat with political education, which in turn gives the proletariat the power to fight the bourgeoisie.
He goes on to say that the conditions for the existence of the bourgeois class are the formation of capitalism, and the condition for capitalism is wage labour. The manifesto states that wage labour relies on competition between workers, and the advance of the industry (whose promoter is the bourgeoisie) replaces the workers’ isolation due to competition.
The development of this industry effectively overturns the bourgeoisie products, and what the society produces is its own demise, along with the rise of the proletariats.

Proletarians and Communists
The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only:
• In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality.
• In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.
Marx and Engels say that the Communists are the most understanding and resolute section of the working class of every country, the section that pushes all the other forward.
They claim that the aim of the Communists is the same as all other proletarian parties: to form the proletariat into a class, to overthrow the bourgeoisie, and to conquest the political power by the proletariat.
“Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriations” – This effectively means that all communism does is moreorless stop anyone from questioning the work of others.

This section defends communism from various objections, such as the claims that people will not perform labour in a communist society because they have no incentive to work.
This section on Proletarians and Communists finishes with a 10-point plan, which Marx and Engels have admitted to wanting to modernise in future times:
1) Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2) A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3) Abolition of all right of inheritance.
4) Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5) Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6) Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
7) Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8) Liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9) Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country.
10) Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.

Socialist and Communist Literature

The third section, "Socialist and Communist Literature," distinguishes communism from other socialist doctrines prevalent at the time the Manifesto was written. While the degree of reproach of Marx and Engels toward rival perspectives varies, all are eventually dismissed for advocating reformism and failing to recognize the preeminent role of the working class. Partly because of Marx's critique, most of the specific ideologies described in this section became politically negligible by the end of the nineteenth century.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Smith and Gillan stepping up

When David Tennant departed our screens as the legendary Doctor on New Years Day, critics, admirers and actors alike believed that nobody could replace him in the way he portrayed the Tardis-flying timelord. Four months later and 27-year-old Matt Smith has already taken his role as the Doctor in two episodes that saw the actor for his true ability.

On first observation of "The Eleventh Hour", to me Smith seemed a mockery of the legend Tennant left behind him, however the old saying "patience is a virtue" took effect in true style, as he surprised me in his ability. He was surprisingly good, and if I saw the man I would apoogise. I was overly critical of the show's first ten minutes. It seemed very focused on the Doctor's consumption of various food types ranging from baked beans to fish fingers with custard. It seemed irrelevant to the episode's storyline, and even though writer Steven Moffat wanted to implicate the transition from Doctor Number 10 to Doctor Number 11 in classical style, his attempt at portraying it seemed rather lacklustre.

Nevertheless, the episode as a whole for one Smith to get suited to his new role. It was ideal, nothing too extreme but nothing too easy. The threat of incineration from an alien empire because of the escape of an alien prisoner. Its presence on Earth meant that the planet would be burnt until Prisoner Zero was found. Now because of the Doctor, as usual, he was found and the Earth was saved. As an episode its not one that is going to set off the excitement scale, but it was ideal for Smith the play the role and convince the audience he is up to the task of replacing Mr Tennant.

I do admire one thing about Smith though. He realises the expectation put upon him after his predecessor's five year reign. He respects it, and within the episodes "The Eleventh Hour" and "The Beast Below" he eventually came into his own and became the actor he is known for, and not copying the ability of Tennant.

Karen Gillan on the other hand has work to do. As yet, I haven't been too impressed with her skills as the Doctor's new assistant. Her lack of constructive advice and support for the Doctor is not impressive for a show which has seen strong characters like Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), Martha Jones (Freeman Agyeman) and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate). Gillan plays young Scottish woman Amelia Pond, better known as Amy. The character was introduced as a young girl alone in her Aunt's house, to which The Doctor enquired as to why she was alone. Young Amelia was played by 10-year-old Caitlin Blackwood. Blackwood is the cousin of Gillan, and achieved the role after Gillan persuaded show directors to let her play the part. Amy Pond was only seven when she was first introduced to the show, able to cook for herself despite an unusual childhood. Next time she crossed paths with the Doctor she was 19, working as a kissogram which Pond herself describes as "a laugh".

To me, her role as Pond seemed very poor in the series' first episode. She just seemed a bit lost in the role, and it seemed to overwhelm her. She didn't really offer any kind of brilliance we expect to see from the assistant of a world famous timelord because she just seemed too simple. However, I was put to shame during "The Beast Below" when her act of brilliance stopped the Doctor killing a fellow alien, as well saving millions of British citizens on the spaceship carrying Britain.

What is known is that on Saturday 17th April, Smith and Gillan will be put to the ultimate test and have the chance to prove any doubters wrong. They come up against The Daleks, the Doctor's oldest and most deadliest enemy in an episode which sees Moffat bring back the historice war leader Winston Churchill. One thing's for sure, it is sure to be an exciting episode if the Daleks are involved, and it will be more than interesting to see how The Doctor and Amy Pond respond to the biggest threat in timelord history.

Many Thanks for Reading


Monday, 5 April 2010

HCJ Lecture Four Karl Marx

Karl Marx was a journalist. He was editor of Rheinische Zeitung in 1841 and London correspondant of the New York Tribune in the 1850s. Marx acheieved a fusion of Hegelian philosphy, British empiricism and French revolutionary politics accordings to Engels.
He was an economist who made economics central to the understanding of human life and the motive power of history. For Aristotle man is the rational animal, for Plato the poltical animal, for Kant the moral animal, for Hegel the historic animal. For Marx, man is the productive animal and mankind creates the environment it inhabits.

His method was scientific-everything based on the masses of evidence that were being collected for the first time by the British state such as information on taxation, demographics and commodity prices.
'The Young Hegelians'-Feuerbach-God is created in the image of man; and the garden of eden is a real place, like an ideal society. Marx's thesis on Feuerbach was the world will not evolve naturally towards a perfect society because men must be able to create the perfect society themselves. He uses a basically Hegelian system to criticise "mechanistic materialism" which he describes as not science, but as "bourgouise ideology".

In the German Ideology-the Young Hegelians and liberals are ridiculed. There are no natural rights because there is no Hegelian-type built-in progression in history. But, Hegel is right about dialectical change-the dialectic is the way history unfolds (thesis-antithesis-synthesis)
The proletariat, says Marx, is the "universal class". Because of te dynamics of the capitalist economy, all men will eventually be pauperised and forced down into the proletariat because of the law of capital concentration.

THESIS=the bourgouise (free market capitalism, liberal state, individual rights)
ANTITHESIS=the proletariat

Definition of Socialism for Marx is also objective-it is social ownership of the means of production. Socialism as a political system can only be established by "proletarian revolution". After a proletarian revolution, the state will be 'the dictatorship of the proletariat'- it will be used to communalise all the means of production. When that is achieved, a system of communism will be achieved.
In 1843, Marx published a critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right. Like everyone else, he complained about the complexity of Hegel's writing; but liked the key idea of dialectical change and the teleological progression towards a perfect society.
In the preface to the Critique of Political Economy-Karl Marx says that eternal universal laws such as universal declaration of Human Rights are not universal.

Religion is only 'ideology' and 'mysticism'-it is the ideology of a feudal society because it justifies the "Our Lord" and reproduces in the cultural sphere the irrational authority of the feudal social system, culminating in the divine right of kings. Religion is rejected by the empiricists and economists (Smith, Hume, Ricardo) because they have the contending ideology of natural laws and natural rights. Marx says of religion that it is "the heart of a heartless world, the soul of soulless times, the opium of the people"

HCJ Lecture Three Cobbett

A tale of two revolutions and two perspectives-Urban (Dickens) and Rural (Cobbett). The United Kingdom did very well out of the French Revolution-although during the period of the Napoleonic War, it was very expensive and income tax was created in 1799 to pay for the war effort. British Naval power was absolute, and the blockades of the French ports destroyed French trade and created a boom for British exports-to such an extent that British manufacturers were actually clothing the French Army. Textiles made up 60% of exports and coal output doubled between 1750 and 1800.

Manchester went from 17,000 to 180,000 people from 1760-1830. The city was seen as revolutionary and it was something that had never before been seen.
The end of the war meant the end of the boom, and this caused widespread unemployment and a steep fall in wages. In response to this, the government brought in the Corn Laws which put a tariff on imported grains. Conditions in towns and cities were dire-most people lived in slums and Cholera was common. The policy of brutal repression on any sort of dissent and strict penal penalties was effective in the short term. The Peterloo Massacre in Manchester in 1819 saw cavalry charge a crowd of 60,000 demanding parliamentary reform, in which 11 people died.
The protesters demanded that growing industrial towns of Britain should have the right to elect MPs. Less than 2% of the population had the vote at the time, and resentment was sharpened by "rotten boroughs" such as the village Old Sarum which had 11 voters and two MPs. Manchester and Leeds however, had none.

The poor were looked after by the Speenhamland system. The new Poor Law Act of 1834 stated that no able-bodied person was to receive money or other help from the Poor Law authorities except in a workhouse.
Bentham argued that people did what was pleasant and would not do what was unpleasant-so that if people were not to claim relief, it had to be unpleasant. This was the core of the argument for "stigmatising" relief-making it (in the happy phrase of the time) "an object of wholesome horror". The Act moreorless criminlaised the poor.

Ireland (Act of Union 1801)
  • Duke of Wellington passed Catholic Emancipation in 1829 due to the threat of an irish uprising after Daniel O'Connell was elected MP for County Clare in 1828.
  • Famine: Between 1845-1850, more than one million died of malnutrition and two million emigrated.
  • During the years of the Famine, Ireland was a net exporter of food. Armed troops escorted the crops to the ports in order to export to England. The export of livestock actually increased during the famine years.

Cobbett himself was an anti-radical who became a radical-what changed him was the plight of farm workers in the early 19th century. He thought that rapid industrialisation was going to destroy traditional ways of life. He spent about 20 years abroad, mainly in The United States and France in the army but when he returned he was shocked by the state of the countryside. Farm workers were reduced to "walking skeletons". Cobbett has no time for the government that taxed the farmers, or the army who he says are free loaders, or for the church. He was nearing 60-years-old when he started "Rural Rides" and he wrote the political register which was read by the working class. Finally, a tax on newspapers led Cobbett to publish the Political Register as a pamphlet-which had a circulation of 40,000.