Letters to the Editor from Jim Addison and Erik Grigg

Dear Editor,

Is it a wise policy on your part to keep on calling the SPGB the (A-)SPGB? If you want co-operation you must do something positive. Karl Marx’s quarrel with the anarchists has affected the SPGB and other socialist parties ever since; why not acknowledge this?

In your Introducing IC (Revision of May 1989), the statement “Any group of people engaged in a joint enterprise are united by their common attachment to a certain ideology” contradicts the view of the SPGB that there are only two groups: the scientists (Marxists), and their opponents – the idealists who support the bourgeois political parties with their respective
ideologies.

Yours etc.
Jim Addison

REPLY:
In its generous-minded failure to grasp the rigid exclusiveness of the “Socialist” Party this letter reminds us of the man who, on first seeing a giraffe, exclaimed: “No! There ain’t no, such animal!” These people declare themselves, in one of their sets of principles, “determined to wage war against all other political parties”, and in another set “opposed to all others.”

How can one possibly co-operate with them? The mention of “other socialist parties,” implying that they are not the only socialists, will annoy them quite as much as anything IC has ever said.

Dear Editor,
Recently I went to see Jonathan Porritt (of Friends of the Earth fame) giving a speech. I was quite surprised to see that most of the people there looked obviously well-off. When I mentioned this observation to a Trotskyite I know he said that he wasn’t surprised as he thought the whole green movement was just a middle-class guilt trip that was diverting attention from “the revolution.” At first I accepted that analysis, but a few weeks later the same person was talking as if he had been a green all his life. Was this a Trotskyite guilt trip or merely because he realised green was trendy so if he pretended to be green he
would gain more support for Trotskyism? I think the latter is probably true. A trip to my local supermarket cleared up the question about why the more affluent are more likely to be green; organic vegetables, ozone-friendly sprays and vegan food cost twice as much. The “working class” just cannot afford to be green consumers. Until the green movement can suggest to the general public ways of being green that don’t just involve changing shopping patterns, or green commodities become cheaper, the green movement will be very unlikely to gain much support from the poorer elements of society.

Yours etc.
Erik Grigg

REPLY:
The only instance coming to mind of green supplies being cheaper than others is the lower cost of lead-free petrol. Has Mrs. Thatcher sincerely gone green or is this, too, a dastardly trick to divert attention from the revolution?

There was a time, not so very long ago, when “health food” meant mainly wholemeal bread, fruit and vegetables, with a few trimmings like yeast and yogurt. These were cheap, but it now seems unlikely that they were all that healthy; farming chemicals are no recent introduction.

The current move towards “organic” produce is not a return to earlier, sounder methods, but a step forward towards a level of freedom from contamination new to civilisation. In Bread of Dreams (Polity Press 1989) Piero Camporesi suggests that in the days of peasant farming the presence in bread of hallucinogenic herbs such as darnel, vetch and poppy-seed seems to have meant that pretty well everybody was zonked out for centuries.

from Ideological Commentary 40, July 1989.