George Walford: Editorial (57)

With this issue come copies of a leaflet, entitled EXPLORING IDEOLOGY. It is hoped that readers favouring the theory will distribute these as the occasion offers – passing them to contacts, enclosing them in letters and so on. And those not liking the theory? Perhaps they will distribute them so that its absurdities and enormities may be more fully exposed. Further supplies on request.

Aficionados will have noticed the reduced amount of attention given to the bifurcated (A-)SPGB in recent issues. They have always been good for a page or two, but with SW4 (much the larger division) relaxing towards orthodox anarchism, and N12 having moved even closer to the attainment of pure quality with no quantity at all (see The Inverse Ratio, page 21 below) they no longer offer the same provocation. We have not abandoned them, but they are being deprived of their privileged status; after this issue free copies of IC will not be sent automatically to all their branches. (Branches and members are invited to subscribe).

Addendum: It may prove harder to ignore them than we had thought. The July issue of the Socialist Standard has just arrived, containing the cartoon reproduced on page 23. How can one turn away from an opponent who gives openings like that?

A reader writes (he really does, we haven’t cooked it up):

The Swiss sell automatic watches for £3,000 which do no more than my cheap Japanese watch. Yet their buyers drool over them. They buy them because they are expensive; that seems to be their main selling point. You should immediately treble the subscription price of IC and aim to take it, up to £10 next year. People take more notice of something they pay £10 p.a. for than they do of something at £2. I am not suggesting that IC subscribers are so easily taken in, but it really is worth at least 5 times what you are currently charging.

So if you find the price going up to £3, or even £4 – it has stayed at £2 for a number of years now – you will know that this shows commendable restraint.

Your prayers are invited on behalf of SPANNER. Issues 1, 2 and 3 have appeared with lengthening intervals between them and No. 4 is taking longer still. Well over a year ago they accepted for publication a study of Karl Marx’s book: The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Engels claimed that this work demonstrated

the validity of the law which [Marx] himself had discovered, the great law of motion of history, the law according to which all historical struggles… are in fact only the more or less clear expression of struggles of social classes…

This claim carries obvious implications for the value, status and validity of systematic ideology, and the article challenges it, showing that the book does not at all demonstrate this ‘law.’ We had not expected it to be held so long in limbo, and now issue a condign threat: if this piece has not appeared in SPANNER before IC58 goes to press in October we shall wait no longer but print it in IC first. (That should frighten them!).

On page 18 there appears a review of Beyond Politics from the Bulletin of Anarchist Research (recently defunct but a successor in prospect) with a reply. The book is still available (see back cover) but supplies are getting low. No substantial alterations or retractions have proven necessary (although more than one review has tried to help by suggesting some) but a good deal of fresh material, both factual and theoretical, some of it reported in IC, now needs to be incorporated. This rules out a reprint, and the amount of work required for a new edition is unlikely to be undertaken in the near future. So: Get Your Copy Now! Although photocopies will be made available to cover any gap.

IC sometimes gets accused of supporting the right wing, and with one correction the charge is justified: we also support the left, ultra-left and extra-left. (Though we usually try to avoid using ‘left’ and ‘right’; slippery with long use they now offer little grip for firm thinking). What we oppose, to the best of our limited ability, is any attempt, by any ideological group, to suppress or eliminate any other.

Our title, IDEOLOGICAL COMMENTARY, is at best clumsy (although it gives convenient initials) and one reviewer, while saying nice things about the contents, called it pompous. An alternative perhaps worth considering is IDEOLOGIC. On the other hand, the journal does do a lot of commenting. Readers presumably feel more interest in the contents than the title, but if anybody cares to comment notice will be taken.

from Ideological Commentary 57, August 1992.