Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I'm giving a seminar. Check out the Freudian slip in that abstract.


Blogger Dave Brown said...

Ha ha meditations.
Well they may as well be meditations for all they are worth.
Maybe you have a future as a sidekick.

4:43 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I went to the seminar - it was brilliant. It has to be realised that people coming to Thompson are perhaps more likely to be receptive to "radical" ideas or theory than someone thrown into the deep end of Marxism or Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism or Troksyism (or into any political "arena") - such terms sound rather alien - all these "isms" can be frightening - better to look at Thompson (and his actions and ideas) has at a real person (a good way to approach Mao, Trotsky and Lenin also?) - complete with his faults and his brilliance (when he was).

He apparently had quite a following - perhaps almost excessively so - but like Orwell he gives ideas and views and approaches that allow insights people might otherwise be wary of.

Such as Thompson (and I know he could be pretty cranky, and was often flawed in his thinking (who isn't?), from what
Scott and others have said) have value as interesting individuals and in their contribution to the human debate. His approach to history and sociology - he bridged the number crunching extremes, and went for an insightful response to "progress". At a certain stage he gave up a good academic job to travel to India where he saw that there were parallels with Imperialism - or withe the right wing trends (today loosely called "globalisation") that were happening in India under Indira Ghandi as much as it was in the US and today to quite an extent in China (in fact everywhere - so he was aware that all was not well in the State of Denmark so to speak.

And his history of the workers was -from memory one of the best books of history I have read. (Like Gordon Childe's "What Happened in History"; "To the Finland Staion" by Edmund Wilson (also a great literary critic); Franz Fanon's "The Wretched of the Earth"; C. Wright Mill's "The Marxists" (Mills was touted by one sociologist there are as perhaps more the "in there" politician, whereas Thompson was more the image of a kind of 18th Century "gentleman" - certainly - he Thompson - had panache and originality! And certainly he was much traveled and in many debates.)

These writers and their ideas silently feed the culture and the historic stage; all is not wasted.

The literary influence was important also (Thompson for a long time just wanted to be a poet) perhaps more in England from the 18th to the 20th century and associated or added to the study of history and sociology emerged (from Swift, to Blake, Dickens, Thackeray, to Morris - but contra that Carlyle and other (right wing historians / literati) - the lack of very decisive revolutions in Britain (except the Civil war of the 1650s) meant that Britain was in some ways receiving its ideas more via culture than philosophy as such (as the Germans received ideas via Hegel (although Goethe and Schiller etc became important in Germany also, and Hugo say in France))

And of course Marx lived in Britain.

This literary-philosophical to political chain was interesting...

It was a very inspiring and thought-provoking seminar and pretty well received. Maps used images and documents well.

Dave - you know you don't mean your comment too much - just as I say a lot of nonsense on here on a bad day (say about Hitler or women wrestling) (Or things probably a bit "provocative") - I think - well - need I say more!?

An old mate, in the 70s, commenting on an anti war demonstration, said, basically, that people could either over estimate or underestimate their contribution to social/political change.

Some may simply walk once down a street on demonstration against war - for them it is a really big thing.

This cannot be underestimated - people are at all stages and levels of political awareness, "class sense", commitment and experience.

"They also serve who only stand and wait"

(Milton in "On His Blindness")
Milton sided with the Republicans in the Civil War.

9:02 pm  
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1:47 am  

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