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John Palmer

And Pale Pinks Sneer

(Summer 1967)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.29, Summer 1967, p.36.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Though Cowards Flinch
Richard Pryke
MacGibbon & Kee, 12s 6d

Mr Pryke is a member of that rare and disappearing species, the left reformist. Under the Tories Mr Pryke rallied to the Wilson banner of ‘via the technocratic revolution to the good society.’ Mr Pryke seemingly helped to draft the Labour Party’s election manifesto for 1964 which promised an end to stop go; direct measures to tackle the balance of payments crises, and a vigorous attack on social inequality. Within weeks of his actually joining the Government Mr Pryke’s world was shattered by the now famous ‘July measures.’ His book is an interesting indictment of the way reformist rhetoric about the management of British capitalism was turned, in the hands of the Wilson leadership, into the admass language of consensus politics. Mr Pryke reiterates the left reformist case – ‘cut military spending;’ ‘direct restrictions on all capital investment abroad;’ ‘take over the vast private British investment abroad;’ ‘impose import controls’ and adds one demand from the programme of dissident right technocrats; ‘devaluation.’ Plausible, and in part relevant, though Mr Pryke’s prognosis is, it is not projected against the reality of the institutional behaviour of British capitalism. Mr Pryke would have us believe that the kind of inroads he wants to make into the freedom and dynamic of capitalist accumulation would not meet with any significant response. The fact is, with the control of 80 per cent of manufacturing investment in private hands, any such erosion would be met with a drastic cut back in the rate of new investment – thus jeopardising the very ‘modernisation’ programme which Mr Pryke sees as essential for the competitive survival of British capitalism. This book clears away some of the Callaghanesque jargon which attempts to mystify the processes of state monopoly capitalism; it is up to Marxists to drive home the lessons in terms of the class realities.

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Last updated: 6 May 2010