Wed August 1st Meeting of the 17 Group

The August Meeting of the 17 Group will be addressed by Brian Costar, Professor of Political Science at Swinburne University in Melbourne, on the topic “Have the Young Lost Confidence in Democracy?” This will occur at 7 pm on Wednesday the 1st of August at the usual address, namely in unit 6 at 20 Drury St, West End.

Here is a brief summary of his talk that Brian has provided:

A recent Lowy Centre report told us that the young have lost confidence in democracy. While this is not true, there are some worrying trends in citizen participation in certain sorts of politics. For example, the voter turnout in the 21 July Melbourne bye-election was a record low of 67 %. There are reasons for this which should especially alarm West Enders. Come along and find out why.

Brief biographical remarks:

Brian Costar is a Queensland graduate of ancient vintage, but still remembers someone or other as the best lecturer he has ever heard. He fled to southern climes in 1977 and is now Prof of Political Science at Swinburne University in Melbourne where he continues to corrupt the feckless youth. He is also the coordinator of the Democratic Audit of Australia of which Trotsky is the (very) absent patron.

Last and only perhaps not least the perennial question: will Leon be there? Patron of the Democratic Audit though he may be, he has just shot us this opening salvo from his “The Principles of Democracy and Proletarian Dictatorship” of 1918, which, familiar though it may be to you all, is worth citing, as it implies all the usual ambivalence about his intentions with respect to our humble gathering:

Trotsky reading Militant

“As Marxists, we have never been idol-worshipers of formal democracy. In a society of classes, democratic institutions not only do not eliminate class struggle, but also give to class interests an utterly imperfect expression. The propertied classes always have at their disposal tens and hundreds of means for falsifying, subverting and violating the will of the toilers. And democratic institutions become a still less perfect medium for the expression of the class struggle under revolutionary circumstances. Marx called revolutions “the locomotives of history.” Owing to the open and direct struggle for power, the working people acquire much political experience in a short time and pass rapidly from one stage to the next in their development. The ponderous machinery of democratic institutions lags behind this evolution all the more, the bigger the country and the less perfect its technical apparatus.”

There is a scrawled marginal note to the third sentence which seems to read :”eg R.Murdoch, G. Rinehart, C.Palmer” and to the fourth “eg young ockers”, while the last two words are underlined in red with the heavily exclamationised word “Canberra !!!!” appended after them. But Leon or not, append yourself to this meeting!

One thought on “Wed August 1st Meeting of the 17 Group

  1. Dan has sent a reminder that Group of 17 topic this month is

    This will occur at 7 pm on Wednesday the 1st of August at the usual address, namely in unit 6 at 20 Drury St, West End.

    However the power of Trotsky’s response to “Have the Young Lost Confidence in Democracy?” has reached at least one person, who, young or old, has signed himself as ‘Farmer Joe’ stating:

    Pleased to see that the masses are disillusioned with the need to vote. Keeping my record consistent with Trotsky* and in this case agreeing with his argument for once I will not be attending this discussion. In particular I am concerned this practitioner is perhaps too wedded to the system as demonstrated by his particular concern.

    ————————-

    * Quote from Trotsky: “As Marxists, we have never been idol-worshipers of formal democracy. In a society of classes, democratic institutions not only do not eliminate class struggle, but also give to class interests an utterly imperfect expression. The propertied classes always have at their disposal tens and hundreds of means for falsifying, subverting and violating the will of the toilers. And democratic institutions become a still less perfect medium for the expression of the class struggle under revolutionary circumstances. Marx called revolutions “the locomotives of history.” Owing to the open and direct struggle for power, the working people acquire much political experience in a short time and pass rapidly from one stage to the next in their development. The ponderous machinery of democratic institutions lags behind this evolution all the more, the bigger the country and the less perfect its technical apparatus.”

What do you think about this article?