The Conservative Workers Party! Wtf?

Some Tory twat just suggested on Newsnight that the Conservative Party should be renamed, The Workers Party. 

He went on to say that the Conservative Party needed to be the ‘trade union’ for everyone in the UK and that as a political party it had always stood for workers rights, workers opportunity, workers jobs and high wages for workers.

The thing is the twat seemed to really believe what he was saying. He seemed to really believe that the Conservatives are and always have been the party of the workers.

He said the symbol of the Conservative Party needed to be a ladder because they were all about helping workers onto the ‘ladder of self-improvement and prosperity.’

However, I personally found it very revealing about why people who aren’t rich vote for the Tories.

They seem themselves as hard working and aspirational. They ‘aspire’ to ‘make something of themselves’, to be ‘somebody’.

They buy into the rhetoric that failure to ‘succeed’ or ‘make something of yourself’ by ‘playing by the rules’ demonstrates laziness or moral fibre.

This is guy is describing the Party of the aspiring lower middle-class who believe in ‘hard work’ as a moral virtue but who do not wish to be identified as ‘workers’ in the sense of being ‘working class’.

Hence for them voting Tory is for them a signal that they aspire and validation that they are not members of the lumpen proletariat.

Jack London once said that socialism in the USA had never gained traction as a political idea because poor Americans did not see themselves as an exploited working class but as temporaryily embarrassed millionaires.

This is the self-deluding form of Conservatism that allows millions of the victims of capitalism to vote Tory.

My father trained as a plumber but became a self-employed builder with economic and especially ‘social’ ambitions. He was a classic lower middle-class Tory who was convinced he could ‘make something of himself’ by his own sheer determination and hard work.  He worked as hard as any man I have ever known and did indeed manage through this relentless slog to provide his kids with the material benefits of a lower middle-class life-style including periods of private education.

BUT he paid a terrible, terrible, price for this as the capitalist system like a school bully sensed his character defects and his emotional vulnerability and ate the poor bastard alive. A serial bankrupt, his life from his early thirties to his death was one long tragedy of stress, confrontation, rage, marital  failure, financial insecurity, humiliation and mental illness. His career ended in divorce, bankruptcy and complete financial aniahlation. 

By his 65th birthday he lived alone in a small rented furnished flat above a shop and his only income was the state pension and housing benefit. Three months later he died in hospital from Multiple Myloma a form of  Leukemia that had rotted his spine away meaning every and any tiny movement was excruciating agony. He was in an NHS hospital for nearly three months in a private side ward and on increasingly large doses of morphine 

So at the end, despite all his efforts, despite 40 years of humiliating and unimaginatively stressful ‘hard work’, this aspiring working class Tory was entirely reliant on the NHS and the welfare state that his politics told him was the domain of dispicable, lazy scroungers, and which he had so resented paying for through the taxes he could not afford to pay and sought to avoid paying at all costs. And he didn’t even get to enjoy his free bus pass or his senior citizens rail card or free pensionsers meals at the day care centre because he was dead within three months of his 65th birthday.

This is not the story of ‘aspiration’ that the Tories want to tell, but for every Alan Sugar, every Richard Branson, every self made millionaire, there are ten thousand like my poor old man who were naively seduced by the lie that capitalism will reward hard work and broken on the wheel of their ownhopes and dreams.

The workers party my arse.


At last the neoliberal era is over!

OMG!!! Imagine if the PLP had actually supported Corbyn!? Imagine if we actually had an ‘impartial’ BBC!? imagine if Brexit hadn’t split the Labour vote in the North?

One thing is clear. The neoliberal era is over. I wasn’t ever sure I would live to see it. I left University in June ’79 a month after Thatcher won for the first time. I’m now 60. Its taken a long, long time for the awful lived reality of neoliberalism to counteract the overwhelming and dominating pro-capital media propoganda. But at least for today the neoliberal Emperor’s lack of clothing has become visible to at least half the country.

What happens next isn’t written and the fight must go on. If, and it is a big if, Corbyn has the physical strength to carry on until the next election, and it clearly won’t be 5 years away, then he would stand a very good chance of winning.BUT make no mistake the forces of reaction will move up a gear now and the level of vitriol against Corbyn and the Left will become even more viscous. The wealth and status of the ruling elite are now genuinely threatened for the first time since since 1979 and they will fight, fight, fight.

On a less millenarian note the ‘New’ Labour era is also finished. For the first time since ’83 we have a Labour Party putting forward a genuine alternative to Toryism. The ‘unelectable’ argument regarding certain political views is no longer credible, at least in the immediate short term, so hopefully those of us in the Labour Party can now move on to actually discussing the issues on their own merit without constantly having discussion closed down by the ‘unelectable’ trope.

And finally this election yet again illustrates the almost complete moral and indeed functional failure of our media and the commentariat. Journalists and commentators have entirely lost touch with what is going on in the country and the actual political, social and economic forces that are now acting in the country.
Anyway, what a great morning. Everything to fight for and hope rekindled.

Once upon a time in a land not too far away…

Imagine this scenario… Once upon a time in a land not too far away a leader of a political party was elected by the biggest majority in the parties history and their election to the leadership attracted over 350,000 people to join that political party making it the biggest political in Europe. The reason this new leader was so incredibly popular was because he believed in policies that helped the many not the few.

But the rich nobles and their friends amongst the Grandees of this political party didn’t like the idea of these policies that were going to benefit the many not the few because they were ‘the few’ and they wanted policies that would benefit them. 
So the party Grandees and most of their servants in the party bureaucracy turned against this most popular of new leaders and embarked on a 2 year campaign to publicly undermine and humiliate the incredibly popular new leader. 

Previous leaders of the party, previous government ministers, sitting MP’s, party officials all publicly ridiculed the new leader and made jokes about his clothes and his beard. Some of these party Grandees even told the voters that the best way to support the values of the party was not to vote for the new leader because they said he was so completely useless.

Some of the 350,000 new members complained that the party Grandees were being disloyal by openly attacking the incredibly popular new leader but the Grandees were not used to being criticised by ordinary people and insisted that their servants in the party throw the complaining new members out of the party.

Then, taking their cue from the party Grandees, all the media folk in this land started to think that this incredibly popular new leader must in fact be incompetent because so many of the parties Grandees were saying so and saying so so often. 
It also turned out that some of the rich nobles who gave the jobs to all the media folk were friends of the party Grandees so they encouraged all the media folk to attack the incredibly popular new leader and rewarded them when they did so.

So all the media folk openly attacked the new leader and shamelessly ridiculed him even though some have them had a legal duty to be impartial. They said that the problem was that all the people who voted for the incredibly popular new leader and the 350,000 who joined the party once he was elected, must be stupid because they could not see what the rich nobles and all the party Grandees could see. 

This went on for nearly 2 years and all the voters of this land watching all this everyday started to think there ‘cannot be smoke without fire’ and that the new leader must indeed be incompetent because all the rich nobles, the party Grandees and their servants in the party and even all the media folk kept saying so and saying so so often.

Strangely it turned out that the voters actually agreed with most of the policies the incredibly popular new leader put forward but the 2 years of all the party Grandees and all the media folk saying over and over again that the new leader was useless meant that the voters wouldn’t vote for the new leader even though they agreed with the things he wanted to do.
As a result when the election came along the new leader wasn’t incredibly popular anymore and not many of the voters voted for the new leader and he lost the election.

The party Grandees and their servants and all the media folk then said ‘see we told you the new leader was useless’ and all the 350,000 new members were expelled from the party for being something called ‘Trots’.

Thank goodness its just a dystopian fantasy eh!

Anti-Semitism, colonialism and the banality of evil.

I’m reading Hannah Arendt’s, Eichmann in Jerusalem, for the first time. This is her study of the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann the chief bureaucrat behind the Holocaust. When the book was first published Arendt was vilified as being a ‘self-hating Jew’ because she used the phrase ‘the banality of evil’ to describe the unexceptional, bureaucratic, corporate, ‘yes man’, that was Eichmann.

It seems self-evident to me that what she says about the human capacity for evil is correct. It wasn’t the punks, hippies, nutters, anarchists, eccentrics and rebels who committed the atrocities of Nazism; on the contrary it was ordinary, normal, little men and women like Eichmann.

And I’ve met hundreds of Eichmann’s over the years. Otherwise unremarkable men and women who have invested their sense of self in obediently doing as they are told as if this were a moral virtue.

Most intriguingly the first two chapters of the book are basically discussing why and how the German and Austrian Zionists were negotiating with the Nazis in the early 30’s. Indeed, Arendt reports that Eichmann made great play in his defence of the fact that he had supported Zionism and the idea that the Jews needed their own ‘ground beneath their feet’ as he put it. He also claimed that he had ‘saved’  thousand Jews by extraditing them, to Palestine.

This is all in the historical record of course but nonetheless Ken Livingstone has been suspended from the Labour Party for referring to it in order to make a broader point about how criticism of Israel and Zionism, as a distinct philosophy, is not in-and-of-itself, anti-Semitic and how anti-semitism in the LP is being used for petty political gain.

ZIONISM (noun) – a movement for (originally) the re-establishment and (now) the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel. It was established as a political organisation in 1897 under Theodor Herzl, and was later led by Chaim Weizmann.

But even from this first reading of Arendt it seems clear that between 1933-37 the Nazis and the Zionists worked closely together for the common objective of removing ‘the Jews’ from German territory. What Livingstone actually said was that Hitler ‘was supporting Zionism’ and it is clear that whether Hitler himself did, the Nazis as an organisation did.

“They came in order to enlist help for the illegal immigration of Jews into British-ruled Palestine, and both the Gestapo and the S.S. were helpful.”

But in fact such was the nature of Nazism and the total rule of the Furher that it is inconceivable that Hitler had not sanctioned this cooperation between the Nazis and the Zionists. Indeed, Eichmann at his trial confirmed that he had been partly responsible for setting up training schemes for German Jewish emigrates to Palestine – as Livingstone has recently claimed.

Indeed, Arendt provides clear evidence that before the outbreak of WW2 at least some Zionists saw the Nazis as allies and the British as the enemy – because the British were in charge of Palestine and resisted Zionist aspirations.

“… their chief enemy, prior to the extermination program, was not those who made life impossible for Jews in the old countries, Germany or Austria, but those who barred access to the new homeland; that enemy was definitely Britain, not Germany.”

The Nazis supported a Jewish homeland as a solution to what they conceived as ‘the Jewish problem’ i.e. removing Jewish people from Europe.

“Zionists, according to the Nazis, were “the ‘decent’ Jews since they too thought in ‘national’ terms.”

But so what might we ask? What was Livingstone trying to imply by these remarks? What is Arendt trying to prove by reporting it on so extensively? These  Zionists in  the 1930’s were clearly not Nazis, neither were the Nazis Zionists. On the contrary surely these particular German Zionists were merely trying to make the best of the terrible situation of German Jews under the Nazis and further their Zionist cause in the most difficult of situations and for a few years the aspirations of Zionists coincided with the objectives of the Nazis. “My enemies enemy is my friend…” and all that.

But perhaps the point Livingstone was trying to make is that ‘Zionism’ as a philosophy is inconsistent with Western Enlightenment political ideas of religious tolerance and freedom. Israel as conceived by Zionists is a state in which full citizenship is only granted to those of the Jewish faith. In Israel today non-Jews do NOT have the same democratic, social or even property rights as Jews. The tragic irony of the Jewish victims of Nazism where they were persecuted because of their religious faith, establishing a Jewish state in which the extent of your human rights are determined not by your humanity but by your religion, cannot be ignored.

Many (most?) of us who criticise Israel argue from the position of believing in a genuine 2 state solution. We argue that Israel should withdraw to the 1967 borders and that Palestine be allowed to develop as a credible and sustainable homeland for those displaced by the establishing of Israel.

The problem for Israel is that this would mean they would be surrounded on three sides by a hostile Palestinian state that has never accepted the legitimacy of the Israeli state and indeed claims the territory that Israel itself sits on.

Thus some (many/most?) Israel’s have come to believe that a credible and sustainable Palestinian homeland is incompatible with the survival of Israel as a Jewish state. And lets face it the Israeli government is manifestly not interested in a 2 state solution as the continued building of settlements on the West Bank illustrates. The Israeli government is clearly committed to the gradual appropriation of most of the area they occupied in 1967. They are seeking over time to redefine the borders of an expanded Israel. And they would presumably argue that the survival of Israel as a Jewish state is absolutely dependent upon doing so

Thus it would appear that the phenomena of the conflation of criticism of Israel with anti-semitism comes from the fact that many Jews conflate criticism of Israel with calling for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. Many Jews believe that those who criticise Israel do not accept that Israel is a legitimate state and ergo should be dismantled as a state.

And to some extent this is of course true. There are many men and women of good faith across the globe who do not accept the ligitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state. Indeed, there are many Jews and indeed some Israeli Jews who do not accept the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state in which rights are determined by religion. Many believe that Israel should be transformed into a secular democratic state with equal rights for citizens of all religions. It could still be a safe-haven for Jews but not a state in which Jews were privileged by dent of their Jewishness.

However, and this is where it gets really tricky, there are many millions, especially in the Middle-East, who believe that the state of Israel should cease to exist completely and be replaced by a Palestinian, Muslim state, in which Jews would undoubtedly become an oppressed majority as full citizenship would only be granted of the Muslim faith.

Thus many Jewish people see ‘criticism’ of Israel and/or support of the Palestinians, as de facto an attack on Israel as a Jewish state and thus, according to this logic, as being against the Jewish nature of Israel and thus being anti-semitic.

However, for a Western, secular, educated, agnostic or atheist, gentile, Jewish claims to the land of Israel are based on a Bronze Age, tribal, origin myth and can not hold political legitimacy in the 21st Century… if it were not for the horror of the Holocaust. But the Holocaust did change everything and in the West after WW2 the Holocaust made calls for a Jewish homeland morally and politically irresistible.

For the Muslim inhabitants of British Palestine the Holocaust is understandably less compelling as a moral justification for the forced appropriation of their land. From their perspective the events of the Holocaust took place far-away in Germany, yet it is they, not the Germans, who have had to pay the price for the Nazis crimes.

And that in itself reflects a Eurocentric, colonial and racist world-view in which the plight of European Jewry is privileged over the plight of Middle-Eastern, Muslim, Arabs. Far from being the oriental outsiders of Medieval history, today the Jews of Israel are regarded in the West as being part of ‘us’, as being part of a civilised, democratic, modern enlightened, Western Europe, as opposed that is to the primitive, uncivilised, violent, Medieval, theocracies of the Muslim, Arab world.

In this light Israel can be seen as nothing more than the latest instalment in the story of European colonisation and appropriation of the land and resources of the third world. One of the many tragedies of the Israel/Palestine conflict is that 70 years after the defeat of the Nazis their racist, colonial, Eurocentric, moral degeneracy is still playing out in the Middle-East.

My review of Adam Curtis’ Hypernormalisation on the Culture Matters website.

My review of Adam Curtis’ Hypernormalisation on the Culture Matters website.

The Lansman Momentum Constitutional Coup isn’t really about Lansman at all – its about Corbyn and McDonnell

I suggest that the ‘Lansman Constitutional Coup’ of Momentum, isn’t really about Lansman at all – its about Corbyn and McDonnell.

A grassroots movement was useful to them at the beginning but now in order to put up a credible fight in the next election they are going to have to come to an accommodation with the centre of the Labour Party. Not the Blairite, ultra-right of the party, they will never support Corbyn. But the soft-left, Guardian-reading, pragmatic, party loyalists who would like to see more left-wing policies if they could be convinced the voters do too (Owen Jones et al).

So in order to appease the soft-left of the party, Corbyn/McDonnell will have to compromise on some of the policy shibboleths of the left. Could be Trident or Palestine/Israel or a pullback on the rhetoric around Blair as a war criminal, or whatever. In order to pursue this strategy of ‘appeasement’ Corbyn/McDonnell could not countenance a grassroots Momentum that was further to the left than they are and unwilling to compromise on these policy shibboleths. Continue reading

Political Managerialism, Proceduralism, Electorialism and Legalism 

The suits rule the world!

They probably always did but briefly from the mid sixties to the early eighties the ‘suits’ were derided as boring bureaucrats. To be an accountant was just about the most laughable career choice anyone could make and banking was for dull old men.

During this period the rulers of the universe were rock stars and actors, film makers and playwrights. It was teachers, lecturers, doctors and lawyers who were the stars of their professions. And in politics it was iconic individualists like Tony Benn and Norman Tebbit who captured the public imagination.

But after 1979 the ‘suits’ mounted a counter-revolution and took back control of every aspect of our lives. But these weren’t Thatcher’s risk-taking ‘entrepreneurs’; these new ‘suits’ were the boring A-grade students who at school got all the prizes but completely lacked charisma or imagination and were about as risk-averse as you can get.

This has led to the sociopathic dead-hand of corporate managerialism taking over all our lives. The dreaded MBA has spread the myth that all organisations are the same and that ‘managing’ a bank, a supermarket or a button factory is the same as managing a hospital, a school or a theatre.

And worst of all this world-view has infected politics , and even the politics of the left. The labour party, the trade unions and the labour movement have been overtaken by a technocratic managerial proceduralism, electorialism and legalism that has rendered them almost apolitical.

Continue reading