PODCAST: Raymond Williams reading ‘You’re A Marxist, Aren’t You?’

The Raymond Williams Society blog for May features the first in a monthly series of podcasts from a new project on some recently discovered Williams recordings.

Phil O’Brien writes…

As I announced on the blog in February, I’m working on a project to digitise and make available for the first time a collection of previously unpublished recordings of Raymond Williams lectures. The first to be released is a tape from 1975 of Williams reading ‘You’re A Marxist, Aren’t You?’.

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The Border Country of Class: Lynsey Hanley and Raymond Williams

On the blog for April we have an interview with writer Lynsey Hanley. The author of two books on class and working-class life, Lynsey was also involved in the 2009 re-issue of Richard Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy. What follows is an edited extract from an in-depth interview, conducted by Phil O’Brien in Liverpool back in January, which appears in the forthcoming issue of Key Words. This year’s journal, co-edited by Phil and Nicola Wilson, is on working-class writing; it will include, amongst a range of articles covering the 1930s to the twenty-first century, an unpublished essay by Williams on the working-class novel after 1945. To receive your copy this autumn, please subscribe to the Raymond Williams Society.

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Radical Resources: Sheila Rowbotham on Raymond Williams

On the Raymond Williams Society blog for March we have a review by Sheila Rowbotham of Williams’s 1983 book Towards 2000. Originally titled ‘Picking up the Pieces’, it first appeared in New Socialist in October 1985. Williams was on the advisory board of the defunct Labour Party magazine and contributed such essays as ‘Mining the Meaning: Key Words in the Miners’ Strike’ and ‘Walking Backwards into the Future (both later featuring in the 1989 collection Resources of Hope). Here Sheila discusses the importance of Towards 2000 at a time of demoralisation and defeat for the Left in 1980s Britain.

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Popular Culture in Thatcher’s Britain: Didier Eribon interviews Raymond Williams

We end 2019 on the Raymond Williams Society blog with a translation of an interview Williams gave to Didier Eribon in 1980. This is the first time it’s been published in English after first appearing in Libération as part of a series of interviews with leading figures of the New Left, including Stuart Hall and E. P. Thompson. It’s a wonderful interview, with Williams discussing theories of culture, mass communication, the New Left, cultural studies, the sixties, dominant, residual, and emergent culture, the New Right, the working class, and cultural resistance to Thatcherism. Many thanks to Edward Lee-Six for translating from the French and to Didier for granting permission for its use by the society.

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Countercultural Legacies in Contemporary Left Imaginaries – Raymond Williams Society Annual Lecture

On the blog for November we have two short pieces by David Wilkinson to preview his annual Raymond Williams Society lecture on Wednesday 20th November in Manchester. Below is an abstract to the talk, which is titled ‘”The Dropouts Are Anticipating Future Economic Policy”: Work, Class, and Countercultural Legacies’, as well as a reflection on what the work of Raymond Williams means in the twenty-first century. Full details can be found here. It starts at 5pm and will be followed by the launch of this year’s Key Words: A Journal of Cultural Materialism.

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Capitalist Realism, Precarity, and Co-operatives

This month on the Raymond Williams Society blog we are pleased to publish a talk Yaron Golan originally gave at this year’s RWS Conference in Manchester. He looks at the possible responses to the current crisis of capitalism and how we can move beyond the ideologies of capital by re-evaluating the modes of thinking which emerged with the co-operative movement.

Yaron writes…

Mark Fisher, in his book Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, defines capitalist realism as an ideological framework that obscures anything that lies beyond the horizon of capitalism. It gives the impression that there is no alternative, that there is no choice between capitalism and other possibilities, that the world was always going to evolve in the direction of capitalism, and that nothing will ever evolve beyond it. Capitalist realism, then, is a closing-off of the horizon of possibilities, of our ability to imagine anything beyond what already is. It is common sense.

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Raymond Williams and André Gorz: Class, Communism, Humanism

The Raymond Williams Society blog this month sees the return of Daniel Gerke who recently published an article on Williams and Antonio Gramsci in Key Words. Here, Daniel turns to the thinking of André Gorz, in relation to Williams, in order to outline the revival and significance of class consciousness in the twenty-first century.

Daniel writes…

In a 1995 essay titled ‘Raymond Williams and Marxism’, John Brenkman diagnosed Williams with a case of over-attachment to the working class. The prescribed tincture was a dose of André Gorz, whose work, Brenkman argued, better grappled with the necessity of decentering class, both in response to the radical challenges of feminism and post-colonialism, and as a way of facing the realities of post-industrial capitalism. In one respect, this was an unusual critique of Williams, who had more often been regarded, even by comrades, as insufficiently attentive to class, at least in its structural dimension. But in the mid-nineties, with the collapse of ‘really existing socialism’ provoking announcements of the end of history, the idea of the revolutionary proletariat as the agent of historical change must have seemed passé.

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Crisis, Which Crisis? Climate Change and Capitalism

On the Raymond Williams Society blog for August we have an extract from the Introduction to this year’s Key Words: A Journal of Cultural Materialism. Robert Spencer and Christopher Vardy are editors of the special issue on ‘Crisis’ and argue below for urgent critical, theoretical, and political questions to be posed to greater understand how crises are understood and narrativized. Key Words 17 is out this autumn; to receive a copy please join the society or renew your membership by 31st August 2019. It includes essays by Daniel Gerke on Raymond Williams and Antonio Gramsci, Robert Spencer on James Kelman and post-work, Christopher Vardy on Colson Whitehead and climate change, Amy Rushton on mental health and the Manic Street Preachers, and former RWS Essay Prize winner Ryan David Furlong on nineteenth-century working-class autobiography and William Dodd.

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