Lunging, flailing, mispunching

Terry Eagleton lambasts Richard Dawkins's mechanical materialism.

REVIEW: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding.


Tristan Ewins calls on socialists to join the Fabian Society to prevent its statement of purpose being stripped of its socialist objective.

Editorial note:

"Labor Tribune welcomes Tristan Ewins call to fight for socialism throughout the movement and for the unity of socialists. However, the Fabian tradition was always about trying to marry the impossible: socialism for the working class with a reliance on the capitalist state. We believe a radical rebirth of the democratic core of Marxism - and the radical transcendence of the state from below - is required to overcome the liberal and anti-working class traditions in our movement."

From early September this year members of the Australian Fabians will have received a mail-out from the national executive announcing its intent to alter the constitution, in particular the statement of purposes, with the aim of removing all reference to socialism, classes, social and democratic ownership of any sort. The aim of this move appeared to be one of eliminating the traditional role of the Australian Fabians as a reformist socialist think-tank of the left, and of reducing it to a broad liberal forum devoid of traditional leftist aims or identity.


Jack Conrad questions the romantic image of prehistory presented by green thinkers

Almost without exception, greens of virtually every stripe, variety and hue display a half-dreamy, half-atavistic tenderness for the pre-capitalist past. They did things better then.

Feudal greens such as Edward Goldsmith imagine England returned to the social stability and ecology of contented serfs, loyal vassals, chaste damsels, gallant knights, christian alms-giving and strong monarchs. Essentially, a dull-witted repetition of Young England in the 19th century: “The greatest owned connexion with the least; from rank to rank the generous feeling ran, and linked society as man to man” (Lord Manners England’s trust 1841). Everyone has their place and everyone is in their place


Should a democratic republic maintain common law or seek codifcation of law? Mike McNair argues that codification gives more power to the working class.

Labor Tribune “stands for the immediate abolition of the monarchy system and its replacement with a democratic republic”. Marcus Strom, Labor Tribune editor, asked me as a Brit communist and advocate of a democratic republic in Britain, who is also an academic lawyer, if creating a democratic republic involves breaking with the common law.


Philosophy of the Encounter: Later Writings, 1978-1987, Louis Althusser, edited by Francois Matheron and Oliver Corpet, translated by GM Goshgarian, Verso, London/New York, 2006

Scott Hamilton asks if there is life after death for Althusser and his last minute discovery of the anecdote

Twenty five years ago, at the beginning of a particularly cold northern winter, an elderly man strangled his wife in the Paris flat they had shared for many unhappy years. November 16, 1980, marked not only the end of Helene Althusser's life but the end of her husband's career as an academic philosopher and communist political activist.


Garry Wotherspoon entered the recent Labor Tribune/Ozleft debate to recommend Richard Florida's writings on the "creative class", while dismissing a Marxist understanding of class as outofdate.

Marcus Strom replies...

Dear Garry Wotherspoon

Thanks for dipping into the debate starting on Labor Tribune about the nature of class in modern society.


Recordings of the Labor Tribune official launch held on 16 May 2006 in Sydney. Four voices from the labour movement discuss the relevance of Marxism in the 21st century

Meredith Burgmann MLC (president NSW upper house), Andrew West (SMH columnist and Fabian), Jack Mundey (environmental campaigner and former BLF NSW secretary) and Marcus Strom (secretary Summer Hill ALP and Labor Tribune editor) discuss the relevance of Marxism in the wake of the federal government's industrial relations legislation.

Voice files (MP3 format) are now available for the introduction and four contributions presented at this forum.


The book Marx’s ecology - materialism and nature by John Bellamy Foster does much to reclaim a lost tradition of ecological thinking in Marxism. Mark Fischer spoke to the author about the relationship of red and green politics, ideas and traditions.

(MF) The question of how Marxists relate to environmental issues - as Marxists rather than as born-again greens - is clearly a controversial one.

(JBF) The answer to your question is complicated. There definitely is a danger in the sense that at least some of the views of the Greens - as a party-movement - are hardly progressive. There are some definite reactionary views mixed in there. So Marxists have to address them critically, like anything else.


Hillel Ticktin concludes his discussion on the theory of decline by examining its forms as capitalism makes way for a higher society

How does the decline of capitalism and the transition to socialism differ from the previous declines and transitions discussed earlier - see part 1.


In the first of two articles, Hillel Ticktin, editor of Critique, looks at the rise and fall of different modes of production and the problems of transition and non-transition

Aspects of the decline of modern capitalism are all too evident today - most notably the law of value, which is fundamental to the system. We see the constant tendency to replace the law of value with administration, resulting in increasing bureaucracy, both private and public, managerialism and a tendency to authoritarianism. At the same time there is also the self-defeating attempt to force the market back to its former dominance.


The editor reviews:
Beyond Right and Left: new politics and the culture wars
by David McKnight (Allen & Unwin, $24.95)

The path from erstwhile Marxist to academic apologist for the system of capital is a well-worn one. Most who have travelled this path have drifted into obscurity. Not so David McKnight. He remains an advocate for social change, albeit with a twist.