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(en) Freedom 6322 Nov 16th 2002 - Reviews

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 29 Nov 2002 03:03:46 -0500 (EST)


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Two Hundred Pharoahs, Five Billion Slaves
by Adrian Peacock
Ellipses
This is, it appears, an attempt to drag Guy Debord's Society of
the Spectacle screaming and shouting into the 21st century,
where it can once again be the revolutionary text par excellence,
one to be shoplifted by all who disdain property rights on their
way to the barricades. Sadly, Adrian Peacock lacks Debord's wit
and venom. By insisting on following Debord's lead, he
condemns the reader to a recapitulation, not only of Debord, but
also of the works of Marx and Hegel.
His insistence on encumbering himself with this ideological
baggage means the text is unlikely to appeal to anyone outside
the very coterie he seems so dismissive of - the people on the
fringes of the anarchist movement (there being, sad to say, no
independent revolutionary workers' movement worth speaking of
in Britain these days - nor is this the text to help build one).
Peacock also faithfully reproduces the prejudices of his
predecessors, including a dismissal of all things rural. He even
blames the Spanish peasants for starving the revolution into
submission, at a time when the collectives were actually sending
all their surplus food to the cities and the front lines to keep the
militias going.
He considers that the planet could easily feed the entire
population dozens of times over, house them, clothe them and
allow them all to enjoy a comfortable standard of living. This is
on the very first page of his text! Never mind that, on our current
understanding, we'd need two more planets Earth to bring
everyone up to European standards of living even if we reduced
all the wastage.
No, any talk of resources and population and the environment is
dismissed as being a form of neo-Malthusianism and of no
consequence. Obviously for Peacock being a materialist doesn't
extend as far as the material world. He'd rather parrot the
prejudices of former times.
He's not totally disparaging of anarchism, though. He says that
"according to the workers' movement of the 1960s, 'in 1936
anarchism really did lead to a social revolution, setting up the
most advanced model of proletarian power ever realised'." In a
footnote, he says this quotation is lifted from The Society of the
Spectacle, though sadly it's unreferenced.
This is all very well, but when did Guy Debord become the
workers' movement of the 1960s? I may have been a schoolkid
when I watched the events of Paris '68 on television, but even
then the workers' movement seemed stubbornly entrenched in
its own identity (trade unions and all that), and the situationists
were a tiny (if vocally and politically astute) bunch of agitators.
One should be extremely wary of taking the situationists'
evaluation of events as necessarily true, or of thinking they were
speaking on behalf of the workers' movement.
This pretends to be a work of revolutionary theory, but it's
idealist ideology pure and simple, dressed up in pretty packaging
and with the requisite amount of fairly amusing graphics. There
are, to be sure, some trenchant criticisms of capitalism and of
other brands of revolutionary ideology, including anarchism. In
amongst the waffle, he makes some good points. But there's
little that's new here, and much that has been better expressed
elsewhere.
To undertake a full critique of the text would take far too long for
a review like this. Not only that. As the text is based on Debord,
Marx and finally Hegel, one would need to undertake a critique
of each of them as part of a full critique of Peacock's work. Not a
job for the faint-hearted.
On one level, this is what Peacock really needs. But to be honest
I can't imagine anyone bothering to write a book-length reply to
what simply doesn't deserve it. Mind you, it does slip into one's
coat pocket very nicely.
Richard A.
Available from Freedom Press, price £8.95 post free in the UK,
add £1 elsewhere


The Vision
by Colin Millen
Health Books
Now that anarchism has become a family affair, this publication
fills a gap. There are, as far as I know, few publications aimed at
children with anarchist parents or carers. The Vision tells the
story of a space flight for tourists which goes either right or
wrong, depending on your outlook. The characters in the story,
all with suitable names - Magnus Growth, Max Profitt and Mal
Sayer - and the heroine of the future, Imagin, experience an
enlightening vision of the future.
Unfortunately, they have to return to the problem-laden reality of
today's world. But their vision inspires them "to help mankind
along his/her path of all round personal growth, social evolution
and spiritual development". I'm sure no parent or carer could
object (except to the strangely old fashioned 'mankind'),
whatever their anarchist persuasion. The content is split into
three sections - 'Out of this world!', 'Into the future?' and 'Back
down to earth!' - suitable, with some assistance, roughly for 7 to
10 year olds, although there are no illustrations.
Colin Johnson
Available from Freedom Press at £1.50 (plus 50p p&p in the UK,
£1 elsewhere).


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