Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thoughts on Labour

John McDonnell told the Labour Party Conference that they should no longer be afraid to use the word "socialism". Of course all he means is more government interference in the workings of the capitalist economy and government subsidies to get manufacturing industry going again. Sadly, the vast majority of the population think that what McDonnel has outlined IS socialism. The fact that some Labour leaders are now talking again about "socialism" works both ways. It confuses what "socialism" is but, like Bernie Sanders in America, allows us to get in on the debate by saying what socialism means or should mean. There's some mileage in us saying "oh no, McDonnell doesn't stand for socialism but state capitalism. Here's what socialism really means".

John McDonnell went on to say: “In the birthplace of John Lennon, it falls to us to inspire people to imagine. Imagine the society that we can create. It's a society that's radically transformed, radically fairer, more equal and more democratic. Yes, based upon a prosperous economy but an economy that's economically and environmentally sustainable and where that prosperity is shared by all. That's our vision to rebuild and transform Britain.”
The trouble he has a rather limited imagination, along with his leader, Corbyn, who said:
“We want to see a genuinely mixed economy of public and social enterprise along with long-term private business commitment…”

Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader, proclaimed, “Capitalism, comrades, is not the enemy.”

That's a more accurate and honest statement of the Labour Party's position.

Corbyn and McDonnell still adhere to the old Labour Party policy of the gradualist, parliamentary, reformist road to "socialism" (actually, state capitalism). Whereas most of the anti-Corbyn plotters identify with managed capitalism, "responsible" capitalism. It is quite possible for real socialists to have discussions with Corbyn’s and McDonnell’s supporters as to the best strategy and tactics to get to socialism.  But we cannot imagine discussions with most Labour MPs any more than we could with a Tory MP.

Given the current level of political understanding (or, rather, ignorance), Labour under Corbyn has little chance of winning a general election, certainly not one where the issue will be who is the best party to lead Britain out of the current economic and political crisis provoked by the Brexit vote.  Sad and cruel perhaps, but the truth. Which shows the need not to engage in the politics of leadership as Corbyn's supporters are doing, but to do what we do: encouraging the spread of socialist understanding.

For the Labour Party’s hangers on, a hotchpotch of Trots, this commentator was spot-on:
“ The practice of Trotskyist politics has long been built around the idea of the “transitional demand”, a rather cynical manoeuvre whereby you encourage people to agitate for this or that – a hugely increased minimum wage, perhaps, or the end of all immigration controls – knowing full well it is unattainable within the current order of things, but that when the impossibility becomes apparent, the workers will belatedly wake up. In other words, the herd gets whipped up into a frenzy about something you know it won’t get, while you smugly sit things out, hoping that if everything aligns correctly, another crack will appear in the great bourgeois edifice.”

"Fair” elections don't occur under capitalism. All political parties which have leaders can be ruled out. True, in the UK we have one-person-one-vote, but it's not an informed vote. Workers only get to hear the case for continuing to support capitalism. Our socialist voice is swamped out. While the socialist voice is a small one, workers will continue to support capitalism. Every day Corbyn is smeared by the mdedia but so too is our interpretation of socialism. In reality, Corbyn is only a harmless reformist advocating what Harold Wilson did 60 years ago. 

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