Saturday, 25 September 2021

Socialist History Society seminars - Egyptian workers / GDH Cole

 Socialist History Society Meetings – on-line via Zoom

The Workers’ Movement and Revolution in Egypt since 1919

The meeting is free, but you must register in advance here:

Thursday 14th October, 6:30pm

Speaker Anne Alexander

Anne Alexander is the co-author, with Mostafa Bassiouny, of Bread, Freedom, Social Justice: Workers and the Egyptian Revolution (Zed, 2014). She is a founder member of MENA Solidarity Network, the co-editor of Middle East Solidarity and a member of the University and College Union (UCU).

‘G.D.H. Cole: A Libertarian Trapped in the Labour Party’

Socialist History Society Meeting – on-line via Zoom
The meeting is free, but you must register in advance here:

Thursday 11 November 2021 , 6.30pm start

A talk by David Goodway

G.D.H. Cole (1889-1959) declared forcefully at the end of his life that he was ‘neither a Communist nor a Social Democrat…but something…essentially different from both’. He had been a leading Guild Socialist at the time of World War One and that, he explained, was what he remained. Cole repeatedly described himself as ‘a libertarian’. The current volume reconstitutes Studi sul Socialismo, a collection of late articles which supposedly appeared in Italy in 1959 but never did. David Goodway has reverted to the preferred title rather than the publisher’s ‘Studies in Socialism’.

The talk will be followed by a discussion.

David Goodway is the editor of Towards a Libertarian Socialism, by G D H Cole, which is published by AK Press. The title of our talk comes from that of David’s introduction to this edition of Cole’s book.

David’s main works are London Chartism, 1838–1848 (1982) and Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow: Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward (2006, 2nd edition 2012). In addition, David is the editor of collections of writings by Herbert Read, Alex Comfort, John Cowper Powys and Emma Goldman, Nicolas Walter and Maurice Brinton (Chris Pallis).

He is also author of The Real History of Chartism: or eight fallacies about the Chartist movement (SHS OP, 2013) and editor of George Julian Harney, The Chartists were Right: selections from the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, 1890-97 (2014).

1 comment:

  1. To give a lecture on socialist libertarianism via zoom as a protection against COVID 19 amounts to an exercise in copgnitive dissonance. Let me set out my standpoint. COVID 19 exists, but the dangers it presents have been massively exaggerated and their presence used by the state to engineer an unprecedented control of our everyday lives. Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing has, since March 2020, been producing a series of papers on the powers of the biosecurity state. They are all cogently argued,thoroughly referenced and are available at and represent the gold standard in anti lockdown literature. I I cannot go into the arguments which they present, except to say that what they come down to is that, factually speaking, COVID 19 is not the plague. The problem is that much of the organised left have fallen for precisely this position and as such have become embroiled in the destruction of civil liberties brought about by the lockdown regulations. Some have even gone further and advocated the mirage of "zero covid". The teaching unions are amongst the worst offenders in this and it is in this context that the use of ZOOM has arisen. Communication amongst individuals best takes place when people are physically present. In the context of meetings organised by such as London Socialist Historians this exchange of opinion and human emotion is facilitated by the impromptu get togethers that occur afterwards, usually in some local pub. The best that can best be said of ZOOM meetings is that they facilitate the trumph of quantity over quality, which suits the philistines who manage pedagogic institutions. The assumption that underlies such practices, including social distancing and mask wearing, consists of the claim that we are all "plague" carriers and, as such we all represent a danger to one another. This amounts to an operationalisation of the theories promulgated by that seventeenth century misanthrope, Thomas Hobbes, summed up in the idea of "the war of all against all". This can only be resolved by the introduction of a state power which is authoritarian if not fascist. I will leave that problem aside. Simon Elmer, cited above, in this context, has spoken of the "normalisation of fear". The bottom line consists of the fact that most people will either never suffer COVID 19 or, if they do, will recover from it. In other words, ZOOM was introduced to combat a threat that has been woefully exaggerated. It is a poor substitute for actual face to face communication. As I started out by saying it is indeed ironic that it is being used to conduct a lecture on a libertarian socialist. There is a lot that is wrong, or politically unprogressive, with the positions espoused by the libertarian right (eg Toby Young) but they have correctly opposed lockdown.