More about that relativ

Paul W. Cockshott cockshpw at
Thu Oct 6 11:54:20 MDT 1994

My line of reasoning is the old Marxian one that the point is
not to interpret the world but to change it.

It is true that the Poll Tax struggle was not revolutionary in that
it did not raise the class struggle to the level of a people's war to
smash the state. If Maoist revolutionaries had been more numerous and
had they been in a position to continue leading rather than merely
initiate the campaign things might have been different, but even so
to describe the campaign as moderately reformist is wrong.

It was defensive not reformist, seeking to defend an existing position
rather than put forward a definite reform, but it was not moderate.
It was denounced by all the reformist establishment of the Labour
Party as illegal and unconstitutional. Unlike moderate reformism its
key elements were mass lawbreaking.

It was a struggle not against a particular political party or government
but against the state itself, in which the enemies of the people were
shown to be not only the Tory party but also the reformist Labour Party
who implemented the tax. It is only through the school of practice, through
the experience of mass solidarity and victories in such struggles that
one can hope to build a revolutionary movement.

On Fri, 7 Oct 1994, Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters wrote:

> | founders of the Anti-Poll Tax Union there. This was the most successful
> | civil disobedience campaign in British history, and in Glasgow, the
> | city where I was mainly active, we ended up with over 50% of the
> | population refusing to pay tax, with working class estates becoming
> | no-go areas for sheriff officers intent of poinding peoples furniture,
> | and when the campaign spread to England it culminated in the Poll Tax
> | Riots that were a key factor in bringin Thatcher down.
> This might be characteristic of the mistake I think Cockshott makes
> in his line on the relation of academics to radicalism.  I
> understand his reasoning in several other posts to be that academics
> are per se not radical insofar as they do not have a revolutionary
> *effect*.  I.e. it matters not what opinions they espouse if those
> opinions are not realized.  There is certainly a correct insight
> about "armchair radicals" in this, but I don't think that is enough.
> I think one way to see this is with the Anti-Poll Tax Union
> Cockshott mentions participation in.  I quite agree it was a radical
> movement, but insofar as it "brought Thatcher down", it replaced her
> with Major.  This isn't a terribly radical *effect*, IMO.  Although
> the particular regressive tax is repealed, the welfare state is
> still demolished.  Judged purely on its successes, the Anti-Poll Tax
> movement would appear only moderately reformist.  But I think one
> has to look at more than that.
> Yours, Lulu...
> quilty@   _/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/ THIS MESSAGE WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY:_/_/_/_/_/_/  v i
> philos. _/_/                      Postmodern Enterprises             _/_/   s r
> umass. _/_/  MAKERS OF CHAOS....                                    _/_/    i u
> edu   _/_/_/_/_/_/ LOOK FOR IT IN A NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR YOU_/_/_/_/_/_/_/     g s


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