One person who had a profound effect on my political beliefs was a fellow garage-worker, who I met on my 'gap year'. It wasn't called a gap year then ; it should've been dubbed a 'I- haven't- a- clue-what-to-do' year really.
   I wrote the poem 'John' about his premature and sudden death from a heart attack. He was one of many people I adopted as father figures, as I never got on with my own.
   In his 20's, John had walked out from the Valleys' Depression to seek work in the nascent car factories of the Midlands. Now he was retired, but working part-time 'on the pumps'. In the middle of our many political discussions, he once told me - 'as I get older, I get more revolutionary.'
   At that time he veered towards Plaid Cymru and that same year another Plaid activist in Barri persuaded me to go along to a local meeting addressed by their one Councillor, John Dixon , then of Dinas Powis. As an anarchist, it didn't take long for me to realise that I had little in common with them.
   I feel now as John did then, just months before his untimely death, that every day reinforces my belief in revolutionary politics. I recently spoke to one prominent member of Plaid who dismissed Marxism sweepingly with - 'Is anyone a Marxist nowadays?' To which I instantly replied - 'Yes, I am actually!'
   But it's much more complicated than that. Culturally and historically I identify with Cymru, Britain being a product of Empire, war and monarchy and Europe a  conveniently constructed economic market. I want to see a socialist republic in Wales as I do in every country, each different according to their relative histories. Trotsky's 'world revolution' has never been more pertinent and we must organise globally as well as nationally and locally to overturn capitalism which thrives on the Markets' greed and gambling with the lives of the poor.
   So economically I remain an avowed Marxist. While I can see that tinkering with the present system can have short-term benefits and would praise the efforts of the One Wales Government and the SNP to introduce universal policies such as free bus passes and prescriptions, this is ultimately 'pissing in the wind'.
   In the end, SNP leader Salmond (seen as a role model by Plaid) knows that getting elected is all about not offending too many Scots and supporting the monarchy and, worse still, ingratiating himself to Rupert Murdoch to ensure that the 'Sun' in Scotland fully supported the SNP.
  In short, Marx was right in his analysis of bourgeois democracy. It has an appearance of power, but the real power actually lies with the multi-national corporations. Gas and electricity prices rocket and many people will die this winter as a result, but the solution of re-nationalisation isn't even whispered by social democrats.
   Yet it is the only solution to ensure price control and fairness for all. Of course, it must be very different next time around. The workers themselves must own the companies, so they have a  continual interest in their improvement. They must be run on a democaratic basis, with management elected and accountable at all times.
   As stock markets plummet, cuts abound and prices soar, as benefits are slashed and pensions and jobs threatened, the whole nature of capitalism should be questioned. In the long term, any system based on division, greed and 'boom and bust' will fail. Marxism is a relatively new philosophy in historical terms and, with the exception of Chile ( destroyed by their own military in league with the CIA), there have been no revolutions which fitted Marx's ideas of the majority of workers taking their place in history.
   In the midst of all this, the best hope for social democracy in Wales (i.e. Plaid Cymru) are looking to their US-based guru Adam Price to return like Lenin to the Finland Station (there the analogy ends) and save us all!
   The 'Western Mail' has spent the 'silly season' touting him as Wales's future 'Salmond factor', with a possible interim leader such as Leanne Wood.
   Yet his absurdly argued 'Flotilla Effect' doesn't even do justice to reformist politics. More like 'the floater effect' , whereby it's impossible to flush the shit down the pan. The shit being capitalism and its unending series of crises.
   Price's arguements about the benefits of being a small country in Europe are patently ludicrous. You have only to look at neo-liberal Ireland to see that. A succession of right-wing governments doling out the very low corporation tax Price advocates, have led that country to the brink.
   His analysis is devoid of any Marxism, as befits a Harvard scholar. The problems created in Ireland with an unregulated banking sector and exploitative companies would merely be replicated in a capitalist Wales.
   Furthermore, I am an anarchist as well, because I believe power must be distributed as widely as possible. Co-operatives need to be run democratically, as do educational establishments, with no hierarchies to cause endless friction as a result of bullying by management, headteachers etc.
   With revolutionary politics coming to the fore in the Middle East and north Africa, it is positive aand refreshing to witness what can be achieved without resorting to the militarism of those oppressive regimes.
   I am not naive enough to suppose that peaceful revolutions will inevitably happen in Europe in the near future, but simply do not see reformist social democratic parties like the Greens, Plaid or even some elements in Labour being able to deliver.
   They may dismiss revolutionary politics as deluded, but I believe their adherence to a corrupt and ultimately destructive system is far more dangerous. Passing the Plaid stall this week at the National Eisteddfod I saw Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas sitting in splendour : monarchist, pro- nuclear power and peer. The system changes them, they do not chnage the system.

                                      THE ROAD DOWN

The desert lands, flat and treeless
and dust in our throats
no water could wash away.

The motel where we stayed
on the road down, the noise
of other refugees from the Great Collapse.

This Leisure Centre where there is
no enjoyment, close to shopping malls
and diners I couldn't show my face.

The school where I disguise myself,
where I learn  silence about a mother
stranger I haven't heard for years.

The hall we call home,the floor
we room, the mattresses we bed down,
and dreams I balance on top of canyons.

My father says - 'We're at the bottom, darlin'.....
there's only lookin' up from now on.'
I tell no-one where I'm living.

If it had been a flood or hurricane
we'd flown from........but job, house, debts ,
gone without breakages, except out heads.

I want to crack the mirror where
my mom's eyes stare back, to break
every neon mocking what we've become.


Adam Price
08/14/2011 09:03


As someone who, unfashionably, still believes that the Russian revolution in 1917 was an expression of a hope in a more humane society, that would have been on the POUM side in the Spanish Civil War (I too somewhat incongruously mix Marxism with anarchism in my philosophical make-up) and who counts Alain Badiou, Toni Negri, Roberto Unger and Slavoj Zizek among his favourite contemporary writers I didn't recognise myself in this blog. As Gwyn Alf was wont to say, I measured myself on the parquet floor….

In a vain attempt at a Sunday afternoon auto-apologia I would say this: I left front-line politics in part because I was all too aware of the dangers of co-option that you rightly point to. During my time in Westminster I, at least, was thrown out once, tried to impeach a Prime Minister, cost the Government 5 billion in lost pensions for steel workers, and exposed the corrupt nexus of power between plutocrats and politicians. Parliamentary cretinism suffuses our political system as Lenin argued, but there are some that are more cretinous than others.

You are correct in saying that the advanced industrial West is not on the cusp of the kind of rapid social upheaval that we have witnessed in the Arab world - though recent events may make you wonder. I am afraid that the position of what I would call "revolutionary transcendentalism" that many on the Left then adopt simply leaves me cold. Just because an irreversible shift in the direction of the kind of humanist values that you and I espouse is not immediately possible doesn't mean that the "little victories" which are made possible either through activism or democratic politics are to be sneered at (and that includes bus passes). It is these little victories that give people the confidence to imagine "the Wales that could be".

The report you cite was deliberately limited in its scope and in its ambition. It says nothing of the Wales that I want to create other than the fact even within the narrow framework of conventional economic success in the world as it is currently constituted there is no reason to believe that an independent Wales would be a busted flush, based on its small size alone. The report does actually say that an independent Wales given its socialist or social democratic values base would probably follow a policy path similar to that of the Scandinavian countries which, though not quite the Utopia of which you and I might dream, are light-years ahead of us in their quality of public service and levels of social inclusion.

As a socialist, and, to use another unfashionable phrase, anti-colonialist, I see no difficulty in arguing that disadvantaged countries like Wales should be allowed to use financial incentives in order to attract in private investment. Whether these take the form of grants or tax breaks is to me a strategic and not a moral point. Arguing that disadvantaged regions/localities/nations should not be allowed to do so is to argue in favour of the currently unjust distribution of economic activity across the European Union.

This isn't my single prescription for the Welsh economy, however, which is the impression your blog creates. I would invite you to read my report The Collective Entrepreneur which calls for a massive expansion of the role of worker-coperatives, industrial democracy and social enterprise in the Welsh Economy, very much along the lines you suggest. Mark Drakeford called it "a plum pudding" of a report. I think this was a compliment, but you're the poet so perhaps you're the better judge.

in solidarity, still I hope...


10/14/2013 12:34

Great blog, I just created an account here too.


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