Left, Right and Centre? Who the f**k is who?

Saw this on Facebook today and read the comments underneath and it made me realise that in the UK we cannot even agree about definitions anymore, let alone strategy, tactics, policy or even our common aims and objectives!

The argument in the comments was about whether the description on the left is of Democratic Socialism or of Social Democracy. This might seem an arcane argument to some but it actually indicates an argument of some substance that is at the core of much of the political confusion of the last 5-10 years.

For the last 100 years to be ‘left wing’ was to be anti- capitalist, or at the very least critical of capitalism. ‘Left-wingers’ are anti-capitalist because they believe that all humanity is part of one family and that we are all born equal with a mutual responsibility to each other and that capitalism inevitably creates a privileged elite who become unjustly wealthy by exploiting the labour of others. Whether you are a Communist, Socialist, Anarchist, Social Democrat, Democratic Socialist, Revolutionary Socialist or  Libertarian Socialist, the one thing you have in common is that you are anti-capitalist… or at the very least critical of capitalism.

Liberalism on the other hand, is the belief that capitalist markets are the only route to ‘freedom’ and prosperity for all; that unregulated markets provide a genuine equality of opportunity that interfering, inefficient, governments never can. Liberals often share with the left a believe in our common humanity and a desire for equality of opportunity but they believe that capitalism and free markets are the route to achieving those ends.

For many liberals equality before the law IS equality and as a result we often end up in the liberal world of Identity Politics, which is the idea that progress will be achieved by each identity group fighting for its own liberation… within the current capitalist system.

This is a profoundly liberal rather than a ‘leftist’ project yet with the profound shift to the right of UK and US politics in the 90’s, liberal identity politics is what many now regard as ‘being left wing’, although in and of itself it really isn’t because although the freedom for women, homosexuals and people of colour to be equally exploited by capitalists is progress of a kind, it is not what socialists are fighting for.

Continue reading

Posted in News | 1 Comment

What is to be gained by democratic socialists staying in the LP?

In the light of the end of the Corbyn era in the Labour Party, some on the left say that left social democrats and democratic socialists (as opposed to the revolutionary socialists) MUST stay in the LP and continue to fight for our values. I think this is profoundly wrong.

I am not optimistic myself that there is currently any viable alternative to the LP or indeed, a clear route to how such an alternative would arise, but I am also certain that to condemn ourselves to fighting perpetual ideological civil wars within the LP is a sure way to ensure that an alternative never arises! Continue reading

Posted in News | 2 Comments

The myth of the Labour right’s concern with ‘electability’

The LP leaked report shows conclusively that in 2017 it was the Labour right who purposefully enabled the Tories.

Despite the constant attempts by the PLP and the party machine in collaboration with the likes of the Daily Mail, to dislodge Corbyn and smearing the party as being institutionally antisemitic to do so, he very nearly got an overall majority!

Is it possible that with the full support, or even frankly simply the silence, of the PLP and Party bureaucracy he might have got that overall majority!? Continue reading

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Poor Lives Matter: Class and Identity Politics

To many of us the “All Lives Matter” and “White Lives Matter” response to the Black Lives Matter protests seems either knowingly racist or at the very least wilfully ignorant and/or disingenuous. But a recent conversation I had suggested another possibility.

I pointed out to someone that the full meaning of the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is actually something like “Black Lives also matter”, or perhaps “Black Lives Matter as well.” Or maybe “Black Lives Matter as much as white lives“. Whichever way you define it to me and I am sure all of us on the left, the phrase “Black Lives Matter” clearly entails the idea that ‘all’ lives matter.

However, the person I was talking to seemed genuinely surprised by this idea and said to me, “Why don’t they say that then?” Continue reading

Posted in News | 3 Comments

The LP is finished as an alternative to the Tories.

The LP is finished as an alternative to the Tories. Even the LP as ‘the lesser of 2 evils’ is debatable because at least the Tories are authentically the Tories and actually believe in their destructive, divisive, exploitative philosophy. New Labour’s centrist liberalism is Toryism without the guts to see it through. New Labourism is simply the “compassionate Toryism” of the LIbDems, which is of course a contradiction in terms.

For any genuine socialists to remain in the LP after the behaviour of the PLP and party bureaucracy as exposed by the leaked report, behaviour which is currently being endorsed and perpetuated under Starmer’s leadership, is to participate in the destruction of a socialist alternative to the Tories. Staying in the LP is not ‘fighting on for socialism’, it is guaranteeing the defeat of socialism. Continue reading

Posted in News | 2 Comments

“Tropes” – The Curse Of Contemporary Public Discourse

 


trope
noun

1./ a figurative or metaphorical use of a word or expression. “both clothes and illness became tropes for new attitudes toward the self”

2./ a significant or recurrent theme; a motif. “she uses the Eucharist as a pictorial trope”


The problem with “tropes” in any discourse is that they are essentially interpretive and require interpolation (the insertion of something of a different nature into something else). They involve the ‘discovering’ and ‘decoding’ of malign meanings, motives and intentions from statements which in and off themselves may not be malign.

If someone were to make the assertion that, “Indian and Pakistani immigrants are good at running corner shops”, this is, in and of itself, a fairly innocuous statement that contains an  element of truth, i.e. in the UK Indian and Pakistani immigrants have in the last 50 years made great success out of running corner shops and local grocery stores.

So what’s the problem? Well, anyone with a liberal sensitivity will have immediately  been on the alert reading that sentence because the statement while containing some truth, is also regarded as a racist “trope”. Why? Because it is an idea that generalises about millions of people and because it is an idea that is sometimes used by racists to characterise people of Indian and Pakistani heritage in order to denigrate, demean and limit them.

Thus some people of a liberal bent would read the fairly innocuous statement that “Indian and Pakistani people are good at running corner shops”, as in fact a racist statement in and off itself, even though the speaker may never have intended it to be. Continue reading

Posted in News | Leave a comment