The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
Philip Pettit's lengthy review of political philosophy - written unfortunately in a very abstruse style - extends as far back as classical Rome.
In it, he continues an old discussion on how in a republic equal freedom can be preserved for all citizens, given that the state needs coercive powers to ensure that we are not dominated by others but must itself be controlled lest it restrict freedom.
His solution to the problem is a "dual-aspect democracy," whereby elections can decide short-term issues but in addition over a longer period governments and society as a whole will respond favourably to press reports, petitions and demonstrations.
His example of this public enlightenment theory of social progress is the growth of humanitarianism and the slow advance in the reform of the evils of industrial society in 19th-century England.
Yet he is silent on the conflict of class interests and the pressure of the working-class movement for concessions by the capitalist masters.
And his account omits the battle of ideas, of which Marx wrote in The Civil War In France: "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas ... The class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control over the means of mental production."
Today's adage that nothing can be done because we are in the hands of the market exemplifies the effect of brainwashing by the media.
Pettit never contemplates the extension of democracy to the means of production. Nor does he consider a move towards direct democracy, with elected representatives subject to recall, as in the Paris Commune. Disappointing.