University Of No Reading

A "mainstream" academic text has been issued a health warning by the University of Reading. View Of Our Morals: The Ethics Of Revolution by the late Norman Geras, despite being "essential" reading for the university's Justice and Injustice politics module, is to be perused almost in secret, if it all, for fear that it might upset the censorious sensitivities of Prevent

Below, TPQ in its own small contribution to freedom of inquiry provides an intro from the Geras piece and a link to the entire version. If academic spinelessness cannot help itself desist from limiting the growth and diffusion of intellectual life,  then students themselves with the aid of those who value the cerebral over the censor need to step into the breach and prevent Prevent from suffocating public discourse.

 Of Our Morals: The Ethics Of Revolution by Norman Geras

In this essay I shall be concerned with what can be termed, broadly, the ethics of revolution.

I consider by what normative principles socialists might be guided, whether in judgement or in action, when it comes to revolutionary change. 

A comprehensive treatment of the issue would require more space than I have here. 

It would involve not only a theory 一 be it of needs or of rights or of justice 一 for the comparative
assessment of social and political institutions, a large enough desideratum, evidently, in itself; but
also, with it, the resolution of some deep questions in moral philosophy.

I shall have some things to say about all this. But I cannot deal with it, so to speak, from the bottom up.

In much, I have to proceed instead assertively, relying where I can on the advocacy of others, or on
the belief simply that a needed argument could be supplied.

The procedure allows me to use what space I have for concentration upon a narrower purpose.

Continue Reading ...


  1. That this article could be deemed as in anyway inciting violence or terrorism is preposterous. The late Norman Geras was part of a small group on the academic left including Christopher Hitchens who emerged post 9/11 to advance ideas such as humanitarian intervention and to support the campaign against Bin Laden.

    This article poses questions from a Marxist perspective as to how armed struggle in a revolutionary state can be justified. To say that he can be construed in any way as as supporter of terrorism is plain ridiculous.

    Prevent is a well-meaning, if somewhat controversial programme to counter Islamist and far-right Whiter terrorism. To use it in this sway is to create a chilling effect on free speech and academic enquiry.

  2. It is no exaggeration to say that 'Prevent' is an Orwellian programme to its very core. It isn't just the surveillance, but the legal obligation on all public sector workers to report colleagues for signs of "extremism", "radicalisation" and "hate-speech" - all completely subjective and relativistic concepts.

    "They hate us for our freedoms!". Yeah right.