Friday, December 21, 2007

We Are Building The New Britain

As someone who pokes fun at a selection of the world's press, it is only fair to turn the spotlight on some of my own journalistic efforts. Whilst sorting through an old box file the other day I can across a rare copy of the first - and as far as I recall the only - issue of the magazine Proletariate which I founded and edited some forty years ago. It was the magazine of the Halifax Labour Party Young Socialists and - as you can see from the picture of the front cover - it attracted some celebrity guest contributors. Re-reading the articles is fascinating and I will return to some of the themes covered in days to come. However, let us start with the editorial which appears under the heading "Proletarians Speak". Here is the piece in full :

"A socialist press is now, as always, an integral part of the struggle for democratic socialism, and it is in this spirit that we launch to the public our humble efforts. Limited as we are by scarce finances and the cruel realities of the capitalist system, we hope, in the coming years, to raise our voice - sometimes in protest, sometimes in praise, but always in the interests of true socialism. The task we have set ourselves is a simple one : to make you think and, wherever possible, to stir you into action. We amplify the words of Karl Marx - educate, agitate and organise. Only by organised action can we oppose and finally destroy all those who, through motives of self-interest, oppose the progression of civilisation to a society based on freedom, peace and sanity.

"We are, by necessity, a local magazine. As a local Journal part of our policy must be to spotlight local affairs and to make a stand for those with just grievances against, what is at times, faceless authority. We mean to give just praise to all those who work selflessly in the interests of humanity, not only on an international level, but in our own geographical back garden. We intend to be ruthless in our opposition to all those who suppress and exploit the individual, whether they be local shopkeepers or military dictators.

"It is with all these things in mind that we present to you our first issue for your criticism, perhaps even for your praise. Harold Wilson has said it, countless generations of socialists have said it, Proletariate echo's the sentiments of the Prime Ministers' words : "We are building the new Britain. We do not claim to have built it yet, but in all we have done, whatever the difficulties, whatever the bottlenecks we have had, we have kept our eyes on the great design of the structure we are seeking to build"
The Editorial Committee (Comrade Linda Grant, Comrade Stuart Blaylock, Comrade Darrel Oldfield, Comrade Alan Burnett)

Looking back at what we wrote forty years ago it is all too easy to cringe with embarrassment at our youthful fervour. But if you get rid of a few of the daft words and distill it down to its raw spirit, I could happily still sign up for the majority of it. The truth is, I feel a lot more comfortable in defending the Labour Party of the mid sixties that the New Labour Party of the 21st century. Call me an old, unrepentant, unreconstituted socialist if you will. I think I might be proud.

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