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Communist University, Teaching Philosophy, Socialist Economists, RPG Open Meeting, Oxford, London

ested in people’s wills was not
relevant to the will of the
people.

In other words, I think
that the key to the difference
between the images of man embedded
in the ‘old’ and ‘new’ paradigms
lies in the psychologist’s relationship to his subject – who is,
in the one case, an entity to be
acted on in accordance with his
employers’ needs; in the other,
an agent with the same status as
himself .

It follows from this that the
difference between the concepts
of the ‘old’ and ‘new’ paradigms
is not at heart a descriptive,
but a prescriptive one: what is
being redefined is not men’s
nature, but their status. The
best example of this normative use
of the concept ‘human being’ that
I know comes (not surprisingly)
from Ibsen, where Nora in A Doll’s
House says – ‘I believe that
before everything else I’m a human
being – just as much as you are …

or at any rate I shall try to
become one.’ To be sure, a human

News

Communist
University

The annual Communist University
of London was held this year at
Imperial College, over nine days
at the end of July. Participants
numbered between 250 and 300, of
whom, I gather, roughly half were
party members. The programme
included non-specialist courses in
Philosophy, Economics, The state
and Class Struggle, and Imperialism (each consisting of four
three-hour sessions); plus
specialist courses in Arts,
Economics, Education, History,
Law, Literature, Philosophy,
Science and Technology, Sociology, and Introductory Marxism
(each consisting of nine threehour sessions); plus various
plenary sessions and evening
activities.

I attended various of the
lectures and discussions in the
introductory and the specialist
philosophy courses. The introductory course consisted of a
talk on the fundamentals of
dialectical materialism, a
session on marxism and historical
change, one on marxist theory of
knowledge, and a talk on socialism and the future.

These varied
widely in quality and level of
sophistication: the first was
hardly more than a sermon; the
middle two were thoughtful and
thought-provoking, and the last
was very amusing and anecdotal,
but hardly philosophical, except
in the broadest sense.

I was
only able to attend the last few
sessions in the specialist
course: these included one on

46

being in this sense does think
and act differently from a ‘nonperson’; but the essential difference is not in their behaviour
but in their status.

I suspect
it may be this that Harre and
Secord are pointing to when they
note that it is logically necessary to being a person that one is
so regarded by others (an otherwise jangerous doctrine, since I
could theoretically deprive you of
your claims as a human being simply
by denying that you were one, and
persuading everyone else to do the
same). But the extent of ‘human
rights’ is not a discoverable fact
of natur~: humanity, autonomy,
freedom and self-government are
not properties of a man himself,
but of his relation to others, and
they can only be conferred. How
they are conferred is the study
of politics, and if this is what
psychology is now interested in,
then psychology is now politics.

David Ingleby

Althusser, a discussion of Lenin
on ‘reflection’, a marxist treatment of the Hare-Foot debate, an
account of philosophy in the USSR
by a soviet sociology professor,
and a session on objectivity and
partisanship. The speakers were
all party members, ranging from
veterans such as James Klugmann
and Maurice Cornforth, to younger
people who lecture in philosophy
in various institutions, such as
Irene Brennan and Martin Milligan.

Although the sessions varied
greatly in content, certain broad
themes and preoccupations ran
,through several of the discussions,
and there was quite extended discussion of various key theoretical
concepts in marxism, such as
ideology, reification, alienation,
the base-superstructure relation
etc, and of central philosophical
texts by Marx, Engels, Lenin and
other authors. One theme which
came to the fore frequently in
discussions, was the nature of
science, the relation between
science and ideology, and the
conditions of objectivity. Many
questions were raised about the
nature of philosophy, particularly
about the place of philosophy
within marxist theory and practice, and the question of how much
marxists can draw upon pre- and
non-marxist sources. There was
also much discussion of the nature
of revolutionary practice itself,
and the problems of adopting a
revolutionary stance in a nonrevolutionary situation.

Martin Milligan devoted the
main part of his :ecture to a
patient and detailed exposition
of the post-Moorean tradition of
moral philosophy. He quoted the
remark of the soviet philosopher

Oleg Drobnitsky who, before his
death recently, took part in a
symposium on moral philosophy in
England, and who said that work
among marxists on ethics was
‘barbaric’ in nature. Milligan’s
treatment of the academic debate
might be criticised for making
too great a concession to the
terms in which the post-Moorean
debate is conducted.

It is also worth singling out
for specific mention Professor
Zamoshkin’s talk on the role of
philosophy in the USSR (not least
because of the light shed by the
subsequent discussion, on the
subservient and uncritical attitude of CP members to the Soviet
Union).

Zamoshkin explained that
soviet philosophy had undergone
a renaissance in the last few
years. There used to be about
four books published on philosophy
in the Soviet Union each year,
whereas now there are about 500.

Many popular works on historical
figures in philosophy are sold
out within a few days of appearance. Philosophy is obligatory
for students in all university
courses, even medicine and engineering.

He also stressed the
close links between philosophy anq
sociology in the Soviet Union: in
Soviet academic institutions there
are no separate sociology departments.

It would appear fram his
account that there is great
dynamism in soviet philosophical
research, but a certain lag
between the progress of research
on the one hand, and publication
of text-books and the teaching of
philosophy, on the other: “the
complaint is often raised that
text books are as much as ten
years out of date. Nevertheless
philosophy is extremely popular
in the Soviet Union, even with
people who have not been involved
in university education. The
soviet journal ‘Problems of
Philosophy’ organises readers’

conferences not just in universities, but also in factories.

Zamoshkin also suggested that
the best soviet philosophers were
women: his wife had published
twice as many books as he had.

Steve Torrance

Teaching
philosophy
At the end of June, Middlesex
Polytechnic arranged a two day
conference on ‘The Role of
Philosophy in Higher Education’.

This was a conference designed for
teachers of philosophy and aside fram invited speakers chiefly attended by non-university
teachers.

It is likely that most
university teachers would feel
that such a conference could have
nothing to say that would concern
them. From the programme, i t was
just about possible to suppose
that this was to be a chance for

teachers in Further Education to
get together to rap about their
peculiar problems – especially
‘the problem’ of inveigling their
students into doing ‘hard’ (i.e.

academic/Oxford) philosophy. And
a hard core of the people attending the conference clung to this
possibility for most of the two
days. But their ‘problem’ was
not one that the organisers had
catered for.

So there was some
bewilderment that it should be
thought in place to notice the
failings of academic philosophy,
accompanied by familiar claims
not to understand what Oxford
Philosophy might be anyway. There
was also a ‘brave attempt to carry
on just as if they were at the
conference that they had been
expecting (‘the answer’ to ‘the
problem’, apparently, is to start
your students off on substantive
issues) •
The attitude of these frustrated academics was perhaps part of
…rhat the conference was about.

The short, rather cryptic, preamble
to the conference programme
attempted to crystallise the
intended area of discussion in
terms of a clash between ‘a trend
towards using Philosophy as a
general humanizing discipline in
multidisciplinary courses’, and
the tendency of Philosophy te~chers
still ‘to regard their subject
as an academic discipline’.

In
fact a slightly more ambitious
programme than this seemed to be
operating.

The effects on
Philosophy of being an academic
discipline did seem to be central
to the programme, and it would
have been helpful if Jonathan R~e’s
discussion of the historical determination and self-assertion of
Philosophy as a subject by the
institutional development of
Universities had been one of the
first papers, instead of the last.

This threw light on the background
to the academic speCialisation
complained of; it is of course
still a strong feature of British
academic Philosophy that it is
much concerned with strictly delimiting what is ‘really
Philosophy’. Academic Philosophy,
seeing itself as a given merely
happening to occur within an
institutional framework, invites
only trivial answers to questions
such as why anyone should study
Philosophy (‘ for fun’) and to
whom it should be taught (those
with sufficient ‘ability’), and
questions of how it should be
taught only arise when students
are so obstinate as not to slip
into the discipline like fish into
water. That is to say, academic
philosophy does not invite
serious discussion of the role of
Philosophy as a taught subject.

As it was, the conference was
not operating with any fully
stated theoretical assumptions.

The various criticisms ~f academic
Philosophy had the air of being
optional extras inserted to annoy
the academics. And the two long

sessions on the teaching of
Philosophy in different institutions mostly ranged between high
and low levels of insights and
anecdote. Other sessions included
discussions of interdisciplinary
teaching, course design and
assessment. The discussion of
assessment was introduced by
Jonathan Powers, with one of the
more thoughtful papers of the
conference, suggesting a system
of assessment geared to something
like its proper purpose – to
give information about the
various abilities of students,
rather than labelling them ‘fail’

or ‘pass’.

I gather that these
suggestions were subsequently
rejected by Middlesex Polytechnic,
which will please some who
attended this session (and, I
hope, please others less).

Janet Vaux

Socialist
Economists
The CSE began in spring 1969, when
various socialist economists came
together at the Convention of the
Left and at the Workers’ Control
Conference, and decided that it
was high time that some framework
existed for the development of the
‘critique of political economy’ in
the socialist movement in Britain,
especially given the ever more
acute state of the British economy
and the prospects of class struggle
ahead. We began with nothing more
than this in mind – no grandiose
visions, just a one-off conference to bring people together and
see what happened. From the
start, we insisted on the conference being organized on a nonsectarian basis, arguing that it
was not only possible, but
necessary to include people from
all tendencies on the left. We
also wanted to include not only
academics (‘professional’

economists) but any students and
trade unionists who were
actively interested in questions
of political economy. Apart from
the need for such work stemming
from the political situation,
many of us also had a more
personal reason, namely the acute
sense of isolation of working in
bourgeois economics faculties and
trying to develop our critical/
radical/marxian ideas against
indifference or hostility from
our ‘colleagues’ (which is not to
say that many weren’t sympathetic).

OUr first conference in January
1970 attracted about 75 people,
and we discussed a wide range of
subj.ects, and elected a carunittee
to organize a second conference.

This focused on the economic role
of the state in modern capitalism,
took place in October 1970 and
attracted 125 participants (20
from overseas) and 18 papers. At
this point it became clear that
something more permanent was

definitely on the cards, and the
new carunittee was asked to look
into the possibility of a journal
and to consider in general
perspectives for a continuing
organization.

In early 1971 we weathered our
first organizational crisis, with
resignations, breakdowns in
carununications etc, and by the
end of the year we got out the
first issue of the ‘Bulletin of
the Conference of Socialist
Economists’ (far too long a title
but we haven’t got round to
changing it), and brought 100
people to our third conference,
on Britain and the:~EC. The level
of discussion at the December
1971 conference will not be
recalled for its brilliance, but
a lot of questions were raised,
and it was resolved to hold the
next (now annual) conference on
‘capitalist crisis’.

From there on, we seem to have
established the CSE very firmly •
The Bulletin continues to appear,
if usually a little late: the
content improved rapidly, and
now we have more material coming
in than we can possibly include
(i.e. initially we had difficulty
in getting anything~).

It could
be argued that it’s become too
theoretical (abstract might be
a more accurate term), but I think
this will correct itself so long
as the Bulletin continues to
reflect the interests and work of
CSE members in general – not all
are interested solely in interpretation of the transformation
problem.

OUr membership continues ‘to
rise – much faster than we ever
expected: 1970-71, about 135;
1971-2, 205; 1972-73, 408 so far.

About 25 per cent are outside
Britain: about 50 per cent are
students.

Libraries are beginning
to take the Bulletin. OUr
activities have been extended by
holding day schools (capital
theory, internationalization
of capital, law of value, money)
by local activities (CSE groups
as in Sussex, London, informal
networks, seminars etc, elsewhere),
and by continuing discussion
groups (political economy of
women, political economy of
housing). We hope to start a
series of occasional papers which
will circulate much more widely:

the Bulletin is seen, and will
probably continue to be seen, as
a ‘house journal’, more informal,
responsive, less bureaucratic none of the ‘articles in sextuplicate six months before publication’

approach if it can be helped.

The most important task now is
probably to extend our activities
inwards and outwards: inwards in
the sense of organizing or helping to organize many more localized
activities, especially aimed at
students or at trade union members,
of an educational/agitprop kind;
and outwards in the sense of
continuing to extend our contacts
~verseas, both with similar groups

47

1

like the Union of Radical Political
Economists in the USA and the
A.C.S.E.S. (guess the title) in
France, with related journals,
and with informal groups and
individuals. We certainly have
had the basis for moving in both
directions. We have members in
every major conurbation in the UK,
covering most universities and
not a few polytechnics, and
contact with many related journals
and groups; and also in all the
‘West European’ countries except
Greece and Turkey (but inc~uding
Spain and Portugal), the USA,
Canada, Australia, Argentina,
Chile, Japan, Tanzania, South
Africa, Hungary .•.

The problem will be to maintain some coherence, some sense
of co11ectivity, assuming that
the expansion continues over 500
towards 1000 members. Paid
secretarial help will have to be
used.

The secretary will no
longer know a large proportion
of the members and be able to
channel informally a great deal
of information. We shall have to
guard strenuously against the
emergence of an elite group,
against professionalism (in the
pejorative sense: we’ve always
aimed at efficient administration) .

The solution can only be through
continuing to hold to our aims
of collective work, involving as
many people as possible in their
specialist areas, and integrated
through meetings and the Bulletin;
and our non-sectarianism, which
led in one meeting to the

interesting sight of CP, IS, IMG
and other group members all
engaged in a fierce debate – with
each party/group split between
the two sides of the debate~ We
are beginning to do some valuable
work, I think, and I hope that
this can now be extended,
consolidated, and most of all be
of benefit to the socialist
movement.

This is a personal view and does
not represent any collective
self-image.

HugoRadice
Forthcoming Annual Conference
January
The topic for this conference is
‘Imperialism’. Two introductory
papers will be presented, on the
Marxist theory of imperialism and
on the nature of imperialism
today; most of the time will be
spent discussing a range of
current issues in workshops,
including unequal exchange, the
concept of underdevelopment,
industrialization at the periphery, the export of capital,
internationalization of capital.

For details on joining the CSE,
see Radical Philosophy 5, inside
back cover, or write to: CSE,
c/o R. Murray, lDS, University
of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9RE,
from whom copies of the Bulletin
m~y be obtained.

Be~o__ls_ _
Open meeting
REPORT ON RAUICAL PHILOSOPHY
OPEN MEETING HELD ON 30 JUNE 1973
AT 19 GORDON SQUARE, LONDON
Barry Wi1kins was in the chair.

Organisation
The meeting passed a motion from
Richard Norman concerning its own
organisation, amended to read:

‘Our main organisation forum
should be general meetings, which
should be held at least in every
academic vacation.

To these should be invited:

(a) representatives of local
groups, where these exist (groups
can be left to decide in their
own way who will represent them)
(b) local con~acts who are res-,
ponsible [or local sales of the
!’lagazine.

But the meetings should also be
open to anyone else who wishes to
attend, and their time and place
should be announced in the
magazine.

48

The main function of these
meetings should be:

(i) comparison and co-ordination of ideas for local activities;
(ii) deciding what activities
should be attempted at a national
level (eg conferences) and finding
people to do the work for them;
(iii) deciding who will be
responsible for the production
of the magazine.

The meetings should also
include a session for phi10sopnica1 discussion, perhaps with a
paper being read.

At the end of each meeting
someone should be appointed to
convene the next meeting, to draw
up an agenda for it consisting
of all the items received by him
to an. agreed date, and to chair
it; and someone else should be
appointed to take the minutes
and draw up a report for the
journal based upon them. The
agenda would be sent to all local
group representatives and local
magazine sellers. Anyone who
wants to do so can put an item
on the agenda by informing the
convenor. ‘

Magazine
(1) In order to facilitate the
transfer of responsibility for the
magazine to London, a motion was
passed to set up a bank account
for the Radical Philosophy group
as such. Two people will normally
be entitled to draw cheques:

whoever convenes the editorial
group (at present Jonathan Ree) ,
and whoever handles distribution
(at present Noel Parker).

Richard Norman,~as also named as
a drawer to facilitate the
transfer.

(2) Jonathan Ree reported to the
meeting on the situation
regarding the magazine.

Tony Ski11en has agreed to
take over as reviews editor
starting with issue No.7.

The magazine is at present
edited by a loosely defined
board, of which those actually
engaged in production are a subgroup based at Middlesex
Polytechnic.

Jonathan raised some points of
editorial policy. Concerning
reviews i t was agreed that it
would be a good thing if readers
could find at least a short
review of every book of philosophical interest that was
published if this could be
arranged – with more extended
reviews only of major conservative
or radical books. There was also
support for Jonathan’s idea of
commissioning popularising
articles: for example a series
on philosophers with implications
for radical thought who are either
ignored or misrepresen~ed by
conventional philosophy. This
would make an impact on students
and non-students. There was much
discussion about what ‘popular’

would mean in this context. Barry
read out a letter he had received
suggesting that the use of interviews with those unused to
writing for a magazine could be
a bridge between philosophy and
social life.

It was felt that
this was a good idea if sufficient helpers could be enlisted.

Jonathan hoped to receive
suggestions and contributions on
this whole topic in the coming
months.

Conference arrangements
Martin Field outlined his project
for two interrelated conferences.

One in the autumn term, following
an initial period of discussion
at local level and the circulation
of written opinions, to define
the topics that the Group should
conside.:r;- . at the second conference.

The second conference would meet
in the spring term, after a
similar period of discussion and
circulation of written papers on
specific topics assigned to
particular groups.

It was felt that there was insufficient need for the first
conference on this plan. But in
view of the urgent need to assemble
same sort of conference in the

near future as an encouragement
to local groups still meeting, and
a focus for the unarticulated
discontent of students in the
first months of their courses, i t
was decided to combine this first
conference with Sean Sayers’

suggestion of a discussion weekend in autumn term to pool the
experience of local groups. This
weekend could also arrange the
topics and specialisms for the
second conference. The weekend
of 27 October was agreed as a
suitable time for the local
groups’ conference. Martin Field,
Jeff Mason, Mike Dawney, Steve
Torrance, and Richard Norman
all agreed to help organise it
in London.

least to raise questior,s of exam
reform. Despite these signs of
life, the group has relied almost
entirely on six or seven people
for organisation, contribution of
ideas, and the continuance of the
small groups. Open meetings can
attract audiences of sixty or
seventy, but these audiences need
have no sense of involvement
with Radical Philosophy. We also
have a mailing list of around this
number.

But there is not much
evidence that OXford University
students see the Group as more
than an extra lecture service.

They are, after all, serving an
apprenticeship in uninformed
hesi tancy.

JV

Other business

London Group

Mr E E Hirschmann raised the
letter he had sent to Barry arguing that Radical Philosophy should
as a group take up a specific
humanitarian political position.

The meeting felt that this was not
something it could decide upon
until Mr Hirschmann had canvassed
support for it from local groups.

Oxford Group
The OXford Radical Philosophy
Group has now completed two years
as an alternative way of philosophical life in OXford.

In terms
of staying power, this sounds
fairly impressive; besides staging
special events, such as a conference in Summer 1972, and a series
of lectures on the University
list in Autumn 1972, the group has
run four or five open meetings a
term, and until last term three
or four regularly meeting small
groups (these dwindled away last
term because of exams).

The group has also tried to
make its presence felt by way of
the Graduate Students Consultative
Committee, and has managed at

Info.-malion
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT LOCAL
RADICAL PHILOSOPHY ACTIVITIES,
CONTACT:

ABERDEEN: Bryan Turner, Soc.

Dept, University of Aberdeen

Although Radical Philosophy has
numerous supporters in the London
area, it has always been difficult
to co-ordinate a London group.

But we thought it would be possible
to get fair sized audiences for
meetings, provided that these were
well advertised, fairly informal,
and that they took place at some
central location at regular
intervals. So we organised a
series of four meetings in May
and June, in a room above a pub
in the Tottenham Court Road.

The
meetings were fairly conventional,
with speakers presenting topics
for discussion; but they attracted
some people not hitherto interested
in the Radical Philosophy Group,
including non-academics. Advertisements in Time Out attracted
good audiences; notices in colleges
did not. But the bulk of the
audience normally consisted of
friends of the speaker. We
collected money from members of
the audience who said they could
afford it, but only one of our
meetings covered its costs.

No
one has yet volunteered to take
over the organisation of future
meetings.

NP, JR

OXFORD: Graham Moran,
14 St John Street
SWANSEA: Dave Lamb,
16 Uplands Crescent
YORK: Gerry Kelman, Ian Hills,
Goodricke College, Univ. of York

BRISTOL: Antoinette Satow,
Phil. Dept, Bristol University

OTHERWISE PLEASE CONTACT:

Richard Norman, Darwin College,
University of Kent, Canterbury

CAMBRIDGE: David Leon,
25 Emery Street.

TERROR IN CAMBRIDGE·TRIPOS

CANTERBURY: John Thackara,
Rutherford College, University
of Kent
CARDIFF: Barry Wilkins, Phil.

Dept, Cardiff University
GLASGOW: Scott Miekle, Dept.

of Moral Phil., Glasgow Univ.

LONDON: Jonathan Ree, Middlesex
Poly. at Hendon, The Burrough,
London NW4

A final year Indian student wrote
a vigorous Marxist attack on
Rawls in his long essay paper.

L. Jonathan Cohen who was one of
his examiners wanted to give him
an overall third despite his
having three firsts on other
papers, saying ‘This obviously
shows that he has not benefitted
from his education in Cambridge’.

He was given a 2.2.

Radical
Philosophy
Conference
Saturday 2~ – Sunday 28 October
1973, University College London
Intercollegiate Building,
Gordon Street, London WCl
Discussion will be directed in
two main areas:

(1) Radical Philosophy as a
movement: the .roles of local
groups and activities; changing
existing course and examination
structures; providing for
philosophical work and discussion
outside existing structures.

(2) A discussion on the general
theme of WORK.

It is hoped that
this will be a prelude for a
further ccnference on that ~heme
in Spring 1974. Possible topics:

Labour and economic value;
ideology and work; alienated and
non-alienated labour; work versus
play; mental and material
production; education, discipline
and the production of.the labour
force; the division oi mental
labour and its implications for
the production and distribution
of knowledge; sex roles and labour.

Provisional timetable for the
October weekend:

Saturday
11-1: Radical Philosophy as an
Oppositional Force general session.

1-2
Lunch.

2-4: Continuation of earlier
discussion, in smaller
groups
4.30- Work: general session.

6.30: Gerry A. Cohen of
University College London
will read a paper on
‘The Dialectics of Labour’

Sunday
11-1: Activities of local Radical
Philosophy Groups – general
session – reports back from
Saturday afternoon’s small
group sessions
1-2: Lunch
2-4: Work – general discussion exploration of themes for
future conference.

For more information please contact:

Jeff Mason, 1 Harvard Court,
Honeybourne Road, London NW6
01-435 1393
Steve Torrance, 86 Mountgrove
Road, London N5 01-226 2491

Open meeling

r

There will be an open meeting of
the Radical Philosophy Group at
the Philosophy Department,
University College London, 19
30rdon Square, London WCl at
llam on Saturday 15 December.

~

~

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