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Reports from London, Cardiff, Swansea, Radical Historians, etc.

REPORTS
~

time to take this on would be one in London based
mainly on people at Middlesex Polytechnic. It was
agreed that they should take over the production work
starting with RP6 at the end of the summer. The
editorial work of reading and evaluating contributions
would continue to be done by a wider group, and it was
in fact decided that editorial meetings should from
now on be open. Anyone who would like to take a share
in the editorial work(which would involve reading
articles and attending editorial meetings) should get
in touch with Jonathan Ree (Middlesex Polytechnic at
Hendon).

~
OPEN MEETING

~

There will be another Open Meeting of the
Radical Philosophy Group (see “London Meeting”
Report of last meeting) at University College
London, Department of Philosophy, 19 Gordon
Square, London W.C.l at 11.00 a.m. on Saturday
30th June. Barry Wilkins is preparing an
Agenda. Please send suggestions for topics,
as items for an Agenda, to:

Barry Wilkins, Department of Philosophy,
University College, Cardiff.

He will send copies of the Agenda to all
subscribers to the journal and to all local
contacts.

Conference
There was a good deal of support (though not
universal) for the idea of a national conference in
the summer; however, no group of people could be
found who were willing to do the work. Martin Field
said that he would try and investigate the possibilities.

[It now seems that there is no chance of
organising anything for this summer. The question
of whether to try and put anything on at a later
date can perhaps be raised at the next Open Heeting.]

~

LONDON MEETING

Book
The first of the projected Open Meetings was held
in London on Saturday 31st March. About 30 people
attended. Once again the discussion revolved mainly
around questions of organisation. The proposal was
again put forward that we should have a Central
Committee consisting of representatives elected by
local Radical Philosophy Groups. In support of this
proposal it was argued:

The possibility was mentioned of trying to
produce a book which would be a critique of the
current philosophical orthodoxy, probably consisting
mainly of chapters written by different people on
each of the traditional areas of philosophy (epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, etc.). The production of
the book could be preceded by an investigation into
the nature and content of existing university
philosophy courses. It is hoped that contributions
can be got from students, discussing just what it’s
like to undergo such a course. Anyone interested in
helping with the work should get in touch with Peter
Binns (School of Philosophy, University of Warwick,
Coventry).

1.

that the people who had so far been organlslng
things like the magazine had been too cut off from
local groups, and that such a structure would help to
involve the local groups more directly in Radical
Philosophy activities;
2.

that a democratic central committee would be
able to designate and authorise individuals to
undertake specific tasks, an9 that this would make
it easier to get national activities, like conferences,
under way;

Future Meetings
We returned to the question of organisation. It
was agreed that we could go some way towards involving
local groups and other local contacts more directly if
future meetings were to have a specific agenda. People
would see more point in attending if they knew more
specifically what was going to be discussed and what
decisions would have to be made. It was suggested that
a convenor should be appointed to organise the next
meeting and to draw up an agenda. Barry Wilkins (Dept.

of Philosophy, University College, Cardiff) was asked
to do this, and agreed. All items of business for
inclusion on the agenda should be sent to him. The
agenda will be sent out to all subscribers to the
journal, and to all local contacts (local sellers of
the journal and organisers of local groups).

Other people, however, felt that it would be
better to continue with completely open meetings; they
argued that there did not exist a structure of local’

groups capable of supporting the proposed arrangement,
and that it was unlikely that such a structure would
ever exist, since support for Radical Philosophy took
different forms in different places and the formation
of a local group was in many cases not appropriate or
possible; hence the proposed arrangement, though
intended to bring more people into the running of
Radical Philosophy activities, would actually have
the effect of excluding people, and might well lead
to the disintegration of any viable organisation at
all.

It was also agreed that people would be more
encouraged to attend if the meetings were to include
some philosophical discussion, perhaps with ‘someone
reading a paper.

The issue was argued at great length throughout
the morning session, so after lunch we decided to talk
about more specific matters before returning to it.

Journal
Sean Sayers and Richard Norman said that another
group of people would have to be found to take over
the production work after RPS. It turned out that
the only group of people with sufficient numbers and

42

At the end of the meeting there was some criticism
of the way it had been chaired. Some people felt that
the discussions, particularly on the organisational
question, had been allowed to drag on too long, in too
chaotic a fashion and without getting anywhere. As I
was chairing the meeting, I would say that though the
argument could have been cut short by taking a vote
and finding a majority on one side or another, this

would still have left us just as divided and would be
no real solution. We have to argue the matter out and
find a way of working together. At any rate, it was
decided that the first business of the next meeting
should be to elect a chairman whose job it would be to
implement the agenda and get the things on it properly
discussed.

Richard Norman

In the summer term we are going to try to set
up study groups on a number of topics in order to try
to get some continuity into the discussion of those
topics, and also (hopefully) to try and make some
progress. The topics suggested so far are:

Aesthetics; Marx’s materialist conception of history;
Gransci; Marcuse; Intention, action and morality.

About four or five people are interested in each
group, but whether or not the groups get off the
ground remains to be seen. The weekly meetings will
continue, and it is hoped that any fruitful work
done in connection with the study groups will be
presented to the weekly discussion meetings.

CARDIFF

A radical philosophy group is being organised
by the students at University College, Swansea, and
although there has been little contaat so far
between Cardiff and Swansea people interested in
radical philosophy, it is hoped by people in Cardiff
that some joint meetings may be held in the future.

People from other colleges are, of course, welcome
to come to the meetings in Cardiff. In fact anyone
interested in philosophy (not only those who study
philosophy formally in educational institutions)
would be welcome to come to these meetings. I will
send details of the Cardiff meetings to anyone who
would like to attend.

Sixteen people from University College, Cardiff
attended the Radical Philosophy London Conference in
April 1972. The conference generated a fair amount
of enthusiasm, and it was decided to try to set up a
radical philosophy group in Cardiff. A group was
formed in the first week of May 1972 and met weekly
throughout the rest of the summer term, with an
average attendance of about ten people.

In the first term of its existence the Cardiff
radical philosophy group discussed a number of
different topics ranging from Sartre’s ethics to the
justification (if any) for torture. However, the
discussions understandably returned time and time
again to questions about the nature of philosophy,
and the perennial ‘what is radical philosophy,
anyway?’ These discussions were not helped by staff
and students who insisted, with the aid of familiar
and well-worn jargon, that philosophy can only be a
‘second-order discipline’ consisting of ‘conceptual
analysis’ and nothing more. As term progressed the
absurdity of this doctrine became more evident, and
correspondingly discussions became more fruitful.

At the end of the summer term a lot of the
people are leaving Cardiff who have supported the
radical philosophy group since it started a year ago.

Without greater support from the people remaining in
Cardiff the future of the group seems uncertain.

However, all possible efforts will be made in order
to continue holding meetings next academic year.

Barry Wilkins
Department of Philosophy

Initially, some members of staff took an
interest in the meetings of the group, but for the
most part this interest soon faded out. Only two
staff members are actively involved in the group.

Other members of staff still occasionally come to
meetings, but usually only when the topics are of
particular interest to them.

SWANSEA

The first meeting of the group in the autumn
term (a paper and discussion on the nature of
education) was well advertised, and about 40 people
turned up. This was one of the best meetings we have
had – the paper was provocative and well argued, and
the discussion was lively and stimulating. Later
meetings in that term were less well advertised, and
numbers fell to around 6-8 at the end of term~

General dissatisfaction over the examination
system combined with a desire to change the course
content has been a central issue with philosophy
students at Swansea. A feeling, somewhat hard to
express, that philosophy does not seem to be concerned
with what really matters, and the general apathetic
attitude towards the department’s ‘philosophy society’,
was the last issue at several student meetings during
the past academic year.

Ouring the autumn term it became obvious that
the hard core of people who attended meetings
regularly and who were prepared to organise meetings,
advertise them etc, was really quite tiny, and that
the majority of people who came to the meetings came
only to those whose topics were of particular interest
to them. This made it very difficult to obtain any
kind of continuity or progress from week to week in
the discussions. The meetings became very much
isolated discussions on (more or less) isolated
topics. This tendency continued and grew in the
spring term this year.

In the autumn and spring terms discussions have
taken place more or less weekly on a very wide range
of topics, including: the nature and justifiability
of civil disobedience, generosity, Marx’s conception
of communism, ‘Is radical philosophy enough?’, the
liberation of women, Whitehead’s philosophy of
process, Marx’s views on alienation and the nature
of man, relativism in science, and many more. But,
generally speaking, the discussions which have takenplace at these meetings have been isolated and disconnected.

Many of us think that British philosophy is at
an impasse – there is something wrong but it is
difficult to say exactly what. Concern with the
trivial; the whole mythology of academic neutrality;
the slogan ‘philosophy leaves everything as it is’,
contribute to the lack of genuine philosophic
enquiry.

43

A series of meet’ings originally held to discuss
examination reform and proposals for course changes
led to discussions about the nature of contemporary
philosophy. Copies of Radical Philosophy were sold,
read and discussed. Towards the end of the Lent term
a group was formed with membership open to anyone,
staff or student, from any faculty, who is interested
and willing to contribute to our work. So far the
group has held seminars on ‘Marxism and Leninism’ ,
and a series of open meetings which have been
arranged for next term, beginning with a paper on
‘Marxism and Crime’. Meanwhile we hope to make
contact with other members and extend a welcome to
any visitors, speakers etc from other groups.

OXFORD RADICAL
HISTORIANS

expire when its key members have taken their final
exams this summer; that their activities have been
confined to Oxford University; that they have failed
to make contact with many students; and that they
have not taken direct action such as intervening in
lectures.

In the Spring term of 1972, a questionnaire sent
to history undergraduates at Oxford University revealed
widespread discontent with history courses. Out of
the 70% response, only 5% said they were satisfied.

Most of the students complained about the syllabus,
mainly on the grounds that it was too huge, and about
the methods of teaching; they wished there were
seminars to supplement the existing system of lectures
plus donnish chats.

At the end of the term the students who had
administered the questionnaire organised an open
meeting, with the aim of making the discontent they
had discovered more coherent and effective. They felt
they needed an autonomous organisation rather than the
existing student-staff consultative apparatus. At this
meeting they began to work out not only a policy on
practical matters, like examinations, but also a
programme of theoretical tasks. They set up study
groups to work on Oxford history as ideology; on the
contrasts between history courses at Oxford University
and elsewhere; and on the connections between social
anthropology and history. In the summer term they had
a few more meetings, and some outside speakers came
and gave talks.

Inquiries about the Radical History Group can
be sent to Andrew Lincoln at Balliol College,
Oxford.

J VR

PHILOSOPHY IN HIGHER EDUCATION CONFERENCE
Middlesex Polytechnic, Thursday – Friday,
28th-29th June, 1973.

In spite of the normally destructive effect of
the summer vacation, in October 1972 they brought out
an impressive piece of agitprop, a pamphlet called
Histerectomy, which provided an array of analys’es and
criticisms, post mortem examinations of ‘the history
corpse’. They also organised a meeting to deepen and
extend their analysis, which drew 120 undergraduates.

They saw their activity in the light or recent
experience of student radicalism. Andrew Lincoln,
one of their key members, wrote at the time of the
‘failure by English students critically to assess
their own condition’, and claimed that ‘when the sit
ins came they were more often a final frenzy before
a relapse into fatigued quietism than a creative and
expansive act of consolidation.’ The theory of
student radicalism embodied a contradiction: ‘the
revolutionary student was to be fully committed to
workers’ control, while himself spending uncritically
his everyday life within the treadmill of bourgeois
university life.’ The way forward, according to the
Radical Historians, was indicated by various alternative classes, and by the magazine Radical Philosophy.

This conference is a response to the growing
feeling that philosophy courses in universities,
polytechnics and colleges of education cannot
fulfil the demands made on them.

Philosophy
courses are increasingly expected to fit into
wideranging multidisciplinary student programmes,
or to provide an interdisciplinary synthesis;
but they tend to be taught by teachers who,
whether they like it or not, have been trained
only in philosophy as a narrow academic specialism.

This conference has been organized by the
philosophy section at the Middlesex Polytechnic,
to discuss these issues and to allow people concerned with the problems raised to pool their
ideas.

More information and booking forms from:

Doreen Harris, Middlesex Polytechnic at Enfield,
Queensway, Enfield, Middlesex.

The main activity to emerge from these analyses
so far has been a series 6f eight meetings in Spring
Term 1973. The meetings, or rather seminars, were
attempts to work out serious alternatives to the
theoretical assumptions of the history course, or
at least of part of it. The coverage of the meetings
included Aristotle, Hobbes and Roussea4, and thus
they amounted to a counter course, since these are
the coverage of the notorious Political Thought paper
which is a compulsory part of the history BA at
Oxford University. There were one hundred students
at the first meeting or seminar, twenty at the last.

Reactions to the Radical Historians have varied.

Until very recently, history dons at Oxford have
ignored them completely. The Times Higher Education
Supplement (9 ii 73) cannot get over their ‘high
level of academic seriousness’ which, according to
their correspondent, is ‘not a familiar image of
student radicalism’. Meanwhile the Radical
Historians themselves are very modest about what
they have achieved. They point out that they are
likely to secure only minor changes in syllabuses
and methods of assessment; that there is a danger
that as an undergraduate organisation the group wi 11

It seems to me, however, that the real achievement of the Radical Historians is very great, because
they have not been, content merely to state their
objections to the theories of their teachers, and
they have not decided to leave these theories
uncriticised either. They have realised that the
conditions in which they will be able to produce
the necessary criticisms do not yet exist, so they
have set about trying to create them. They have
appreciated that the theories they criticise are
entrenched in a monopoly pOSition protected by
academic institutions, and that they can only be
discredited by organised effort. They have not only
published their criticisms in a pamphlet; they have
also tried to make radical criticism a real force
amongst the people studying their subject.

BRISTOL DAY CONFERENCE
“Ideology and the University”
A Day Conference on this topic is being
arranged in Bristol on Wednesday, 13th June.

All welcome. Further details from:

The Organizers, “Ideology & the University”
l2a Cotham Road, Bristol 6.

“It is essential to destroy the widespread pre-

judice that philosophy is a strange and difficult
thing just because it is the specific intellectual
activity of a particular category of specialists
or of professionals and systematic philosophers.

It must first be shown that all men are ‘philosophers’, by defining the limites and characteristics of the ‘spontaneous philosophy’ which is
proper to everybody.” (Gramsci)

44

Radical science journal

Socialist Economists

Many of us who have been involved over the years
in radical movements in science have for some time
felt the lack of a journal which could tackle the
analysis of science in society at a deeper level.

Both the social sciences and philosophy are relatively
well served in this respect, but we, are not aware of
any single English language journal in which
substantial theoretical articles of up to 10,000
words could be, or are, regularly published. It is
hoped that RADICAL SCIENCE JOURNAL will fill the gap,
acting as a forum for radical critiques of the
history, philosophy, ideology and current practice
of science and technology. We expect it to have a
readership among scientists, students of science, and
those concerned about the current role of science in
society.

The C.S.E. was formed to bring together
socialist economists in developing political economy
within the socialist movement. Within a broadly
Marxist perspective, we embrace all left political
tendencies. We include interested trade unionists
and students, not just ‘professionals’; and though
based in Britain we regard the development of
international links as an :tmportant part of our
worle.

The basis of the organisation is as follows:

We hold an annual conference in December
each year on a broad topic of general
interest (next one on imperialism).

We publish the Bulletin three timeS a year.

This is a major venture. It is our intention
that both contributions and distribution will be
international in character. The publication date
for the first issue is 1 November 1973. There will be
three issues annually.

Price wilt be 30p per issue
or £1 annual subscription (post-paid). Titles of
articles under consideration for the first issue
include:

We organize smaller seminars/workshops
(forthcoming ones on value theory & theory
of money – also continuing seminar on
economics of women).

Local groups are encouraged.

Policy is decided by annual conference and
administered by an elected committee and
secretary; the Bulletin has an elected
editorial board; a regular newsletter
provides information to members.

Ideology of tribalism
The psychology of deferrence
The ideology of nature
Management sciences in the ,control of
organisations and individuals
Selected translations of Lorenz’ publications
from the Nazi period

Membership of the C.S.E. runs from December 1
for one year. It covers participation in all
activities, and the year’s issues of the Bulletin
and newsletter. Membership costs £3, or £1 for
those on limited incomes (students, retired, unemployed). Libraries can subscribe to the Bulletin
only for £6 per year. Sets of back numbers are
available to libraries only, at the same rate.

We welcome articles for consideration. They should
be sent to Radical Science Journal, 9 Poland Street,
London Wl. We would also like to set up a wider
network of contacts and distributors. The journal
has an editorial collective. Members include:

Derek Burns
David Dickson
John Goodman
Chris Green
George Cross
Mike Hales
Peter Harper
John Lamb

BULLETIN OF THE C.S.E. – WINTER 1972

Gustav Metzger
Jonathan Rosenhead
Chris Ryan
Margot Waddell
Gary Wersky
Sue Wolff
Bob Young
Jim Young

The Marxian Theory of Crisis, Capital and the
State – David Yaffe
Post-Keynesian Economic Theory and the Theory of
Capitalist Crisis – Jan Kregel
Capitalism in the Second Half of the Twentieth
Century – Michael Barratt Brown
Capitalist Crisis and Organis Composition

Andrew Glyn
Marx on the Rate of Profit – Ian Steedman

***************************

Cheques/money orders payable to “Conference of
Socialist Economists”. Overseas subscriptions in
£ sterling please.

Send to: C.S.E., c/o R. Murray, I.D.S., University
of Sussex, Brighton BNl 9RE.

tlVain is the word of a philosopher which does not
heal any suffering of man” (Epicurus)

SALES IN COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
Copies of Radical Philosophy may be obtained from
the following:

ABERDEEN: Alison HCNaughton (Craigpark, Well ington Rd.)
ABERYSTWYTH: Roger Siviter
BANGOR: Stewart Smith (4″College Road)
BATH: Hichael Rose (Hum. and Soc.Sci.)
BELFAST: Bob Eccleshall (DePt. of ‘ Pol.Science,Queen’s)
BRADFORD: Paul Walton (School of Soc.Sci.)
BRISTOL: Keith Graham ‘ (Phil.Dept.)
CM1BRIDGE: David Leon (25 Emery Street)
CARDIFF: Barry Wilkins (Phil. Dept.)
EAST ANGLIA: Nick Everitt (Phil.Dept.)
EDINBURGH: Fritz Neubauer (Pollock Halls of Res.)
Ted Ninnes
ESSEX: Ted Benton (Soc.Dept.) Colin Beardon (Rayleigh
Tower)
GLASGOW: David =-Hillel Ruben (Dept. of Horal Phil.)
KENT: Richard Norman (Darwin, Se’an Sayers (Keynes)
LN1PETER: H.M. Jones (Phil.Dept.)

45

LANCASTER: Howard Feather (Cartmel College),
Andrew Bidewell (Bowland College~
LEEDS: Hugo Heyne 11 (Phi 1 . DepL )
LEICESTER: David Henley (Qept. of Haths.)
LONDON: Jeff Hason (Hendon Tech.) Jonathan Ree (Hendon),
J.H.Cohen (Birkbeck), G.A.Cohen (U.C.L.),
Ted Welch (Birkbeck), Steve Torrance (Enfield),
Roger Harris (Enfield), Philip Edwards
(N.London Poly), Noel Parker (L.S.E.), Chris
Powell (L.S.E.)
HANCHESTER: John Harris (Phil. Dent.)
OXFORD: Janet Vaux (17 Rawlinson Rd.)
SHEFFIELD: Joe Warrington, (Phil.Dept.)
SUNDERLAND: Jon Taylor (Dept. of Education,
Sunderland Poly.)
SUSSF.X: John Hepham, Ben Gihhs (Arts Ruilding).

SWANSEA: Daye Lamb (16 Uplands Crescent)
WARWlr:K: Peter Binns (Phil.nept.)
YORK: Gerry Kelman, ran Hills, (Goodricke College)

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