Five excellent pieces that are well worth reading

Here’s five excellent pieces of writing I’ve recently come across and thought I’d share. I’ve given you small extracts but please do read the full pieces if you have time. I hope you’ll find them rewarding.


The man of the hour Ralph Miliband deserves getting an airing again and in Beyond Social Democracy he argues for a more modest model of socialist organisation.

The very notion of a ‘vanguard’ party has acquired an arrogant and ‘imperialistic’ ring, quite unacceptable in labour movements with a long history and with many different and contradictory or at least disparate tendencies.

Vanguard parties are by definition unique and dominant: there cannot be two or more such parties. But it is only by compulsion and coercion that one party can impose itself as the ‘vanguard’ or leading’ party. In the circumstances of advanced capitalist societies, with a high density of different organisations, interests, purposes, tendencies and aspirations, a socialist party can only expect to be one element in a comradely alliance between different formations.

It may hope, by virtue of its conduct, clear sightedness and support, to become a major reference point in that alliance, even a senior partner in it, but without any pretension to an arbitrary and stifling predominance.”


The immigration lawyers Kadmos have a short piece after receiving information back from an freedom of information request on the success rate of applications to remain in the country by parents of British children.

Obligingly, the UKBA volunteered alternative information in relation to applications for extension of stay as the partner of a British citizen or a person settled in the UK… The statistics appear even more shocking then anticipated: of the total 5401 applications for the partner visa made in the UK within 12 months from 9 July 2012 and 30 June 2013, only 1453 have been decided, and of these only 313 have been successful!

Out of the 313 successful applications, 168 (53%) were made by women and 145 (47%) by men. Of the 1140 unsuccessful applications, 491 were by women (43%) and 649 (57%) by men. One might speculate whether the gender imbalance is related to it being more difficult for women to sponsor the partner under the harsh financial requirements of the new rules. It is interesting that in 57% of applications the applicants were men, although with account of same sex couples it is not immediately clear what percentage of sponsors were women.


Dave Renton is currently running a series on back articles from the long defunct SWP women’s magazine “Women’s Voice” on his blog Lives Running, here various socialist women reflect on love it’s delightful. Here’s part of Anna Pacuska’s contribution.

Those who shy away from emotions like love and call for self control assume that passion is something that is weak enough to be controlled. But love’s not like that.  Love is not merely a poem, or a song or a photograph. Love is living, present and vital, changing and motivating human beings.  Love is energy and laughter and joy.  It is emotions spinning like Catherine heels.  It is selfish and it is generous.


Ed Rooksby in the International Socialist Journal; “Left Reformism” and socialist strategy.

One of the problems with the idea of left reformism as it used by its critics is that it functions as a very broad catch-all term and as such its analytical usefulness seems to me somewhat limited. In Molyneux’s use of the term, for example, left reformism seems to encompass a diverse range of historical formations and phenomena from Attlee’s 1945 government through to left Eurocommunism, and Blackledge uses the term similarly… The trouble with this approach is that it lumps together a pretty wide spectrum of political positions, presenting them all as much of a muchness. From this perspective everyone from a left social democrat through to those who advocate “structural reforms” in order to help spark the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism is a left reformist and may be analysed in the same terms.


Maciej Zurowski at Z Zone; takes a look at a famous Hitler quote on how the Nazis could have been stopped in the original German and finds something surprising.

“Hitler’s was not the only militant völkisch movement in Germany at the time. Even if a group of ‘militant anti-fascists’ had succeeded in smashing the nucleus of the NSDAP, they would have still been up against the whole rest of a massive cesspit that had been forming on the back of a failed revolution. For all his self-assurance, the Führer had no idea how lucky he was to emerge from that cesspit as the main contender.”

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