UK: The Two Souls of Labour

Published on JACOBIN, by Jeremy Gilbert, Aug 3, 2016.

Corbyn supporters’ vision for the Labour Party is fundamentally at odds with that of its entrenched elite … //

… What Kind of Democracy? … //
… The British Party System: … //

… Strategies for Labour:

The rise of UKIP as a force in working-class politics, and the loss of millions of working-class votes during the years of New Labour government, has finally rendered this assumption redundant, and has posed once again the question of exactly what kind of party Labour wants to be, who it wants to represent, and how.

In response to this problem, the most articulate of the Corbynites see Corbyn’s key role not as being the leader of a parliamentary bloc, but as a figurehead who can inspire people to join the party in their hundreds of thousands, to the point where there is a realistic chance of Labour’s memberships approaching one million within the next year or so.

What exactly they plan to do with a million members if they get them remains unclear — but the general proposition that achieving such a figure would create an opportunity to transform British political culture through member-led community activism seems reasonable.

It frankly seems more reasonable than the alternative proposition being put by Corbyn’s opponent for the leadership, Owen Smith. Essentially, what Smith proposes is a replay of the failed electoral strategy pursued by Neil Kinnock in 1987 and 1992, by Ed Miliband in 2015, and arguably by Gordon Brown in 2010: an attempt to make a weakly social democratic platform acceptable to a broad public in the hope that appearing respectable and non-threatening will convince powerful economic interests not to use their influence over the press to undermine any chance of electoral success for that program.

There is simply not one shred of evidence that this can work. Observed dispassionately, it is quite clear that since the great defeats visited on the organized left in the mid-1980s, the balance of forces in British society has been such that the Right can and will destroy any chance of electoral success for any political program which threatens to undertake any meaningful form of economic redistribution.

It is able to do this largely because a small but electorally crucial section of the electorate (ageing swing voters in marginal parliamentary constituencies) continues to rely heavily on the tabloid press for news and opinion. Blair understood this and so proposed not to undertake any significant redistribution — and consequently was permitted to win elections.

The “soft left” mainstream of the PLP and the Guardian-centered commentariat either do not understand it or would prefer to remain in a perpetual state of respectable opposition than risk any major transformation of the political universe within which they have a secure, if basically impotent position.

By contrast, the Corbynite attempt to build a large enough political army to be able to counter right-wing propaganda on the ground may not work — but it is a least a strategy which recognizes the reality of that situation, and proposes a new answer to the question of what the Labour Party should be; by insisting that it must be a social movement before it is anything.

This project may fail. But whatever the eventual answer to the question of Labour’s identity and strategy, it seems increasingly implausible that it can involve simply offering the same response as would have been given in the 1990s, or the 1960s or the 1930s.

Faced with a new epoch and a new political terrain, Labour will have to reinvent itself, as it has before. The question is whether its MPs and its key supporters in the press, all of their assumption shaped by a historical moment which has now passed, are capable of grasping that fact. At present, it seems that few of them are.

(full text).

(This article is adapted from Labour Pains, an ongoing collaboration between the People’s History Museum in Manchester and the Department of History at the University of Sheffield which uses material from Labour’s official archives, original scholarship, and commentary to discuss the development of the party).


Monsanto In India – Meet The New Boss – Same As The Old Boss? on Counter Currents, by Colin Todhunter, Aug 3, 2016: in capitalism, the state’s primary role is to secure the interests of private capital. The institutions of globalised capitalism – from the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO right down to the compliant bureaucracies of national states or supranational unions – facilitate private wealth accumulation that results in the forms of structural inequalities and violence (unemployment, poverty, population displacement, bad food, poor health, environmental destruction, etc) that have become ‘accepted’ as necessary (for ‘growth’) and taken for granted within mainstream media and political narratives …;

Portland Teachers Expose Lead in Schools, on Labor Notes, vy Samantha Winslow, Aug 2, 2016;

Context Matters: Turkey After the Failed Coup, on Global Juatice in the 21st Century, by Richard Falk, Aug 2, 2016;

Degrowth Meets Convivialism, Pathways To A Convivial Society, on Counter Currents, by Frank Adloff, Aug 2, 2016;

European Banking System Collapsing Now – Next up, Sovereign Bonds? on SilverSeek, by Andrew Hoffman, Aug 2, 2016;

Une exposition sur ‘La vanille Bourbon, l’or noir de La Réunion’, dans Tömoignages, le 1er août 2016;

Brexit Beckons – thinking ahead by leading economists, on VOX, by Richard Baldwin, Aug 1, 2016;

Popular Uprising Backs Striking Teachers in Southern Mexico, on Labor Notes, by Emily Keppler, July 14, 2016;

Vidéos mises en ligne par Forces Françaises Libres 2.0:

  • La vérité sur le Nazisme et l’extrême droite de nos jours, 18.14 min, le 16 mars 2016 … une escroquerie dénoncée;
  • Le terrorisme, arme ultime du Capital contre les peuples occidentaux, 5.18 min, le 21 janvier 2016 … si le terrorisme ne servait qu’à terroriser les peuples et à les détourner du vrai combat qui devrait être le leur ; c’est à dire celui de la lutte contre la pauvreté et la répartition inégale des richesses dans nos sociétés occidentale et dans le monde. Comment éviter que 99% de la population se retourne contre les 1% qui détiennent 50% des richesses ? Tout simplement, en terrorisant les populations et en faisant voter des lois pour surveiller et contrôler les citoyens. La lutte contre le terrorisme est avant tout un outil de surveillance au service de nos Etats pour éviter toute contestations et révolte des peuple contre l’oligarchie qui nous dirigent;
  • L’Amérique contre De Gaulle, 31.04 min, le 21 janvier 2016 … la guerre secrète des USA contre la France;

… and this:

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