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Jack Graham

Jack Graham wrote about Doctor Who and Marxism, often at the same time. These days he co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper.Support Jack on Patreon.

10 Comments

  1. mr_mond
    December 1, 2016 @ 11:00 am

    I was eagerly waiting for your take and I was not disappointed. I frequently encounter the “socialism = authoritarian state governing from the top (and taking away all the stuff that’s rightfully ours)” thing from my right-wing acquaintances, and it was great to read an actual Marxist’s response to that charge. Thank you.

    Reply

  2. Austin Loomis
    December 1, 2016 @ 3:05 pm

    “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

    Reply

    • Jack Graham
      December 1, 2016 @ 4:27 pm

      What people often forget about that last sentence is that the animals looking in from outside can see the difference between themselves and the creatures inside. They’re seeing the similarity between the pigs and the men, rather than failing to see it. And they’re noticing the alienness of the pigs/men to the other animals. And we don’t know what the animals do next, because the book ends there. Poor old Orwell. He asked for some of the misinterpretation, but it’s still rather unfair.

      Reply

      • Kit Power
        December 2, 2016 @ 11:26 am

        Well, and also what everyone seems to miss is the farmers – i.e. the ‘men’ the pigs have come to resemble, are the bloody capitalist ruling class… I’m still kind of amazed this one is taught in schools, TBH.

        Reply

  3. Chong Li
    December 1, 2016 @ 4:37 pm

    An incredibly provoking quasi-eulogy, Jack. I don’t know if that was your intention, but it certainly left me a bit gloomier than I was before…

    The gist I get is that true socialism (or at least, your own take on it) can’t occur unless working classes worldwide rebel and no elite authority rises among those classes… and… several dozen other things go right (and climate change doesn’t kill us all first). Until then, the closest thing we’ll get is a new batch of gangsters fighting the old ones again, and again, and again…

    Reply

    • Jack Graham
      December 2, 2016 @ 9:22 am

      Welcome to my world.

      Reply

      • John G. Wood
        December 2, 2016 @ 9:15 pm

        You’re welcome to it.

        Now, where was that door leading back out again…

        Reply

  4. David Bateman
    December 4, 2016 @ 11:59 am

    NIce one, Jack! Well said!

    Reply

  5. Doug M.
    December 5, 2016 @ 8:12 am

    Lenin’s passion for national self-determination for small nations abruptly changed character once it turned to small nations that had been part of the Russian Empire. Under Lenin, the Soviets crushed independence movements in Ukraine and Central Asia, and mounted military invasions to reconquer the three independent Caucasus states — Azerbaijan in 1919, Armenia in 1920, and Georgia in 1921. Lenin’s government also made

    (I’m currently living in Tajikistan, and I’m about an hour’s drive from the place where the Red Army decisively crushed the nationalist independence movement in 1922. Since the current Tajik government is dominated by former Soviets, the commemoration is… ambivalent.)

    Soviet attempts to regain former Russian borders only ceased after Lenin’s death and the failure of the Estonian coup and the unsuccessful revolt in Tatar-Bunar in Moldova. Stalin then tacitly accepted the existing borders for the next fifteen years, until a chance for revision presented itself in 1939.

    It would perhaps be unfair to suggest that Lenin’s small nations policy was pure cynical opportunism; there was certainly something there. He seems to have sincerely wanted a different arrangement for the various ethnic groups within the Russian Empire. But at the end of the day, once he was in power his policy on small nations, was not all that different from that of the imperial powers — opportunistic expansion by military force, justified by arguments of national security.

    Doug M.

    Reply

    • Jack Graham
      December 5, 2016 @ 11:32 am

      Largely fair comment, though you have to remember the new regime was genuinely fighting a war on many fronts. One of the central problems of the Bolshevik revolution was that it was a revolt by a relatively small working class in a vast empire, the extensive borders of which made it vulnerable to attack. I’m no apologist for everything Lenin and the early Soviet Union did. I just want to insist on the historical context.

      Reply

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