If you're interested in politics and you want to give Twitter a try, an essential must follow is @HouseofTwits. It's raison d'etre is retweeting useful updates from the 3,000 or so political folk the account follows. It sometimes means tolerating ignorant and right wing nonsense (not altogether uncomfortable bedfellows, going by many twitterings I receive) but it is still one of the best Twitter-related political resources going.
As part of a series, I've been "twinterviewed" by HoT proprietor, Peel. You can view the short piece on site here, or alternatively carry on reading. The twinterview took place over direct messaging, hence the format:
@HouseOfTwits: Ready for your Twinterview?
@averyps: Sounds good to me! Will you be doing it via DM?
@HouseOfTwits: Yep, I'll ask the first question soon, once I've thought of something clever, pithy, amusing but not too pleased with itself...
@averyps: Cool. Fire when ready.
@HouseOfTwits: You joined the Labour Party from the Socialist Party before the election. Are any leadership candidates to the left of Brown?
@averyps: Diane is certainly to Brown's left. I would say Ed M is more social democratic too. Ed B is good on the economy, but awful on immigration.
@averyps: It angers me that some leadership contenders think reconnecting with working class voters means bashing immigrants and benefits claimants.
@HouseOfTwits: If you could pick the leader, from all Labour MPs, who would it be?
@averyps: In an ideal world, John McDonnell. Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world.
@HouseOfTwits: I note you didn't refer to the attributes of D Miliband. Does he have Blair's talents?
@averyps: I'm not sure what Blair's talents were. I think David Miliband will be a competent Labour leader from the standpoint of politics as usual.
@HouseOfTwits: Will the left be able to get behind him if he's leader?
@averyps: I don't think the left will get behind him as in awarding him a ringing endorsement. But they will accept the ballot's outcome if he wins.
@HouseOfTwits: Re. Blair - getting Clause 4 removed must have required a talent of some sort?
@averyps: You have to look at the context. The 1992 election shattered the expectations of a lot of people...
@averyps: Many on the left were willing to swallow it if it meant getting the Tories out.
@HouseOfTwits: Was it worth it?
@averyps: It got the Tories out, though it's debatable whether abolishing Clause 4 aided that. But what Blair brought in wasn't that different. It was neoliberalism with a smile.
@HouseOfTwits: How would a modern Socialist structure the tax system without disincentivising enterprise and wealth creation? In 140 characters ;)
@HouseOfTwits: I should probably rephrase 'wealth creation' - 'job creation' maybe less provocative for you ;)
@averyps: Ha! I am for progressive taxation, closure of loopholes, etc. I am also for placing large economic enterprises into the hands of the workers and consumers who use them.
@HouseOfTwits: Re-Nationalise everything that moves?
@averyps: No. Through cooperatives or other forms of workers' ownership. Britain's co-ops - with a turn over of £34bn - have little problem "incentivising".
@HouseOfTwits: What about the innovating risk takers?
@averyps: Who are these people? Seems to me most enterprises are very risk averse. And besides, it's often the workers who take on the real risks for them.
@averyps Would you rather risk your capital investing in a suspension bridge or risk your neck building it? Risk is a question of class.
@averyps Returning to the main point, socialism is at base economic democracy. Economic activity should not be about earning money for unaccountable shareholders.
@HouseOfTwits: But the shareholders have capitalised the growth of the enterprise, without which...
@averyps And that capital has been earned from the work of current and previous generations of workers. True, in a capitalist society there is a symbiotic relation between labour and capital.
@averyps The difference between the two is you can conceive an advanced industrial society without production for profit. But you cannot conceive any kind of capitalist society without the labour of workers.
@HouseOfTwits: Socialism has produced many successful, cogent thinkers, but very few successful nation States - fair?
@averyps: I don't think the states that claim to be socialist can in any meaningful sense be described as such. They're certainly not democratic.
@HouseOfTwits: The undemocratic success stories?
@averyps: I don't think you can have socialism without democracy. That said, it would be churlish to deny some of the successes of self-described socialist states.
@averyps China has seen the largest and fastest reduction of absolute poverty in world history. Cuba has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, easily eclipsing that of the USA.
@HouseOfTwits: The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted!
@averyps: Definitely not, unless the revolution breaks out in the US and the internet's architecture is placed under workers' control!
@averyps But I think socialists can learn many things from the experience of the so-called socialist countries without apologising for their regimes.
@HouseOfTwits: How would Marx and Engels adjust their thinking in the light of the 20th Century? i.e. the failure of the pragmatic application of Socialism?
@averyps: Looking at how they polemicised against rival trends in the socialist movement of their day, they would have been scathing of the regimes
@averyps: If they were around today they'd be doing what any decent Marxist is already doing, such as analysing how capitalism has developed over the last century and trying to develop socialist strategies appropriate to the current situation.
@HouseOfTwits: Ok, I'd like to do a Part II one day, but that's all we have space for now... Thanks for your time, A Very Public Sociologist!