Of haircuts and Rhino coats…
This is the worked up text of a talk I gave in Chandernagore in February 2016. The photo is one I’ve failed to trace from the dates and evidence in the letters (see below) of the visit to the barber – if anyone is good at that sort of tracking, please let me know, the photographer of the first one is E. Dutertre, and the second, if authentic, probably the same.
Click here to read the draft chapter
Mostly entertaining because of the C-spam interviewer, in this chat Francis Wheen gets quite a bit wrong, possibly just for effect, it is only TV after all. – But, for example, the original Marx grave was not in an obscure corner at the ‘other end of the cemetery’, but 100 metres or so away from the present monument, and the monument is not closer to the entrance, its a little further away as the crow flies. And then ‘its hard to say…’ what a Marxist is, who is a Marxist etc., gimme a break! Thanks C-span. And thanks Francis Wheen – best bit about the book was the literary licence that acts as condescending smirk about boils and carbuncles. And what is this about many not finest hours etc., smearing daughter Jenny as a sponger, who commits suicide because they were weary! (yet Lenin spoke at her funeral [‘I suppose’ the Russian revolution had something to do with Marx’]), a 10 day drinking binge with Engels [‘no detailed account’] and Engels joining the firm in Manchester, it cannot al be so simply glossed – recall, Engels wrote “The Condition of the Working Class in England” already in 1844, some 6 years before, in Wheen’s narration, Marx ‘called him to come to England’. It is too easy to play story time with bits of myth, but you should probably preface it with some scepticism about the oft-repeated tales.
Have got to agree with him about bourgeois monarchy in the UK.
Not so good on definition of the proletariat, well ok, but needed to also come up to date. As does everyone – what is the proletariat now, and who is digging capital’s grave (the mining industry? – 1% Riotinto, the rest toxic minerals for iphones?)
and why isn’t 500 pages on LTV sexy?
Back to the pub crawl. You should get on the Marx Trot Francis. Coming up in 2016.
“A writer is a productive labourer not in so far as he produces ideas, but in so far as he enriches the publisher who publishes his works, or if he is a wage-labourer for a capitalist.”
Well, I had to post something on this because the debate on the accessibility of the texts is important and interesting, and the various statements in the links below are worth reading for what they say about publishing and history, both from the Lawrence and Wishart and from MIA sides.
[I’m amused that so far I’ve not seen anyone quote the obvious bit of Marx that applies, and which I’ve used above as banner quote – reader, please insert your own gender correction to the ancient pronouns (if we must get all scriptural about it – the quote is from Theories of Surplus Value – manuscripts of 1863-64, chapter 4, p303 in the Progress Press version)].
The possibility of actually turning a profit on any book nowadays, is of course also up for consideration.
Here from Hist Mat list:
As a consequence of Lawrence and Wishart’s decision to withdraw the Marx-Engels Collected Works (MECW) material under L&W copyright from the Marxist Internet Archive (MIA) website, Marxist scholars and activists all over the world have
Following a first petition and Lawrence and Wishart’s response, in 24 hours 700 people signed the following petition, including many leading scholars.
They have asked Lawrence and Wishart to allow Marx’s and Engels’s writings to remain on the MIA website and in the public domain.
“We are very grateful for the work you have done, along with International Publishers and Progress Publishers, translating into English and publishing the MECW. This is an extremely valuable contribution to the workers movement and Marxist scholarship not only in the English-speaking world, but internationally.
MIA has made these works available for free on the web to an even wider public, and they have now become an essential tool for thousands of Marxist scholars and activists around the world.
We fully appreciate the efforts and difficulties that running a small independent publishing house entails. But allowing free access to the MECW on the MIA website does not hinder sales. On the contrary, the publicity it provides increases them, and we would support any attempt to further improve this aspect.
But over and above any commercial considerations, there is a crucial matter of principle at play here. Having been available freely online for ten years, the MECW have become an essential part of the shared knowledge and resources of the international workers movement. We cannot take a step backward.
There is also the real danger that the laudable contribution that Lawrence & Wishart has made in the past would be tarnished. This decision would only damage its reputation without bringing any significant economic advantage.
That’s why we call upon you to reconsider this decision and reach an accommodation which keeps these essential resources in the public domain, where they belong.”
To support this petition, link: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/lawrence-and-wishart-allow-marx-s-and-engels-s-writings-to-remain-in-the-public-domain?utm_medium=email&utm_source=notification&utm_campaign=new_petition_recruit#share
To read Lawrence and Wishart’s response to the first petition, see: http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/collected_works_statement.html
To read the statement of the Marxist Internet Archive collective, see: http://marxists.org/admin/legal/lw-response.html