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Gramsci and the tasks for the Left

Posted by Left Luggage on July 25, 2009

Antonio GramsciThe Italian revolutionary Antonio Gramsci is one of the most abused and also most useful of Marxist thinkers. His theories of ideology and hegemony are particularly vital tools for the Left today.

But they have also been appropriated and often stripped of their class content by the liberal academy which seem to forget Gramsci was a founder member and later leader of the communist party in Italy and that this was the context of his thought. In the 1970s and 1980s the so-called “Eurocommunists” used Gramsci to justify a retreat from social struggle. His work was latterly taken up by academics involved in “discourse analysis” who, although they found regrettable the “economistic residue” of privileging the role of class in his analysis, nevertheless took up his ideas now stripped of this archaic content.

This could happen partly due to the mystifying nature of his most important work, The Prison Notebooks, written in a coded style while his was imprisoned by Mussolini, but it is also due to the power of his thought. Yet precisely because Gramsci in his notebooks written between 1929 and 1935 is reflecting on a period of utter defeat for the Left, with the triumph of fascism and the destruction of the communist party, he is useful for us today. Clearly we are not in a period of defeat in any way comparable to the moment in which Gramsci was writing. But nevertheless, the Left in Britain finds itself at low ebb historically, with its political forces small, its influence low, and its ideas marginalized.

On Left Luggage we try to avoid straying into too theoretical territory, trying to stick to straightforward analysis, strategic questions and “common sense”. Therefore, we will only summarize a selection of key points that can be found in Gramsci’s thought, focusing on what we might effectively call counterhegemony i.e. the most urgent task from the Left’s point of view today.
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Posted in Class, Socialism, Strategy | 1 Comment »

Inequality and the battle of ideas

Posted by Left Luggage on June 25, 2009

Tuesday’s report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on public attitudes to inequality shed some light on the state of the battle of ideas that is underway between Right and Left.

The headline findings might be taken to support the suggestion that there is negligible support for the world view and policy proposals of the Left. This was certainly the conclusion of the Guardian, which chose to concentrate on the fact that 69% of respondents said they believed that there were plenty of opportunities for economic advancement, for those willing to take them. Other findings that many on the Left might find depressing include the widespread assumption that benefit claimants will not go on to make a positive contribution to society (p25) and the fatalistic attitude that inequalities are “inevitable in a market economy” (p47).

All of this underlines the challenges faced by the Left in attempting to convince the public of their position. David Osler made this point in a post on the JRF report:

All of this represents a major problem for any left that is actually interested in expanding it base. Capitalism – and the inequality it creates – continue to enjoy moral legitimacy in the eyes of an overwhelming majority.

While the unfolding recession has generated popular outrage aimed against those at the apex of the banking system, clearly general purpose ‘tax the rich’ fat cat-bashing will most of the time have little purchase.

I’m not suggesting any retreat whatsoever from the underlying principles involved. No socialism worthy of the name can be anything but redistributive in nature. But we need to come up with a more effective way of selling the message to the public, and sooner rather than later at that.

If we look at the report in a little more detail, however, we might find more reasons to be hopeful than either The Guardian or Osler. It is certainly true that the report found high levels of support for the concept of “fair inequality” – that differences in wealth were justified as long as those who had more deserved their wealth. There was only minority support, the report found, for “abstract notions of equality” (p43).

-Keep reading>

Posted in Class, Ideology, Morality, Socialism, Strategy | 2 Comments »

Positive steps

Posted by Left Luggage on June 24, 2009

A few months ago, we received an email from a reader seeking some advice on how to become politically active. His workplace was not unionised and he felt he lacked roots in the working class community where he lived. His neighbours seemed so disengaged from politics, and the challenge of changing this situation so huge, that our reader despaired.

We replied that we were certainly no experts on organising, but that in our experience the best way to win support, trust and confidence was to tackle the most pressing problems people face. Often these issues do not at first sight appear political, but addressing them can force local councils and other agencies to be accountable to the communities they claim to serve. Crucially, they also increase people’s faith in collective action as a way of improving the social environment.

Our reader got back to us recently with the good news that he had helped set up a community advocacy group in his town. Pleasley Hill Plight has been busy since its foundation a month ago. They have already distributed a newsletter and are planning a range of activities including a community clear-up, a bike race for kids and a campaign to lobby the Council over its regeneration plans.

The founding post on the group’s website makes its stance clear:

As I walk around this area, I do see a community of people. People whose children play together. People who donate to each other, and people who share their skills and their labour when their neighbours need a hand. Yes there are divisions in our own community. But when we stop and think, we are united by so much. When I walk out my door, people are friendly, and talkative. What is lacking in Pleasley Hill is not community, but organisation. It is organisation that has brought about change for communities throughout history. It is organisation that makes authority listen. And it is organisation that has freed people throughout history.

An organised community has the strength to hold its council to account. The ability to enact change through pressure. And it has the power, if it so chooses to reject the authority of the council, and take control of its own future.

-Keep reading>

Posted in Socialism, Strategy | 5 Comments »

Leftovers #11

Posted by Left Luggage on June 21, 2009

Before this month’s European elections, the No2EU platform had been both written off as an undemocratic, nationalist stitch up and vaunted as laying the promising foundations for a new workers’ party. All of this became rather academic once the results came in and No2EU joined the long list of far left contenders to have received a derisory vote in national elections.

Gregor Gall produced a detailed analysis last week of the reasons for No2EU’s failure. In his view, these include the low level of understanding in Britain about the EU’s neoliberal role, the fact that No2EU chose to target the EU rather than the New Labour government, the absence of a British referendum on the EU (which would have polarised views and created an opportunity for anti-EU arguments) and the way the platform’s name was phrased to obscure any “class message”.

Given all this, there is a danger that, instead of advancing the struggle against new Labour and neoliberalism, No2EU actually sets it back.

A disappointing vote for a left-of-Labour project can dent the willingness of other forces to get involved in creating a united and progressive radical front because people’s confidence in the viability of such a project has been undermined.

As we reported previously, the disappointing performance of No2EU and the success of the BNP have lead to renewed calls for “unity” on the Left. Respect’s Salma Yaqoob has shown interest in a coalition with the Greens, while the Socialist Workers’ Party issued an “open letter to the Left” indicating the Party’s willingness to resurrect a Socialist Alliance-style initiative.

The debate (such as it is) on how to go about constructing an alliance has so far been narrow in scope, but there does seem to be some evidence of a divergence between those like Yaqoob, who aim to align themselves with liberal “progressives” and those who seek a coalition of the “hard Left”. (There does not so far appear to be much awareness of the need to address broader questions such as the way the Left is organised, its priorities and the best strategies for building support.)
-Keep reading>

Posted in Anti-fascism, Leftovers, New workers' party, Socialism, Strategy | Leave a Comment »

Labour and BNP – both got what they deserved

Posted by Left Luggage on June 11, 2009

While posts on its website are a rare phenomenon at best, the Independent Working Class Association consistently produces startling content. Considering the recent Euro election results, the IWCA argues along similar lines to Left Luggage that the BNP’s victory (which it undoubtedly was, despite attempts to minimize it extent) demonstrates conclusively that the Left now needs to adopt a “strategy of winning-over rather than side-lining the alienated working class voter”. In other words, the way forward is for a genuine political alternative from the Left to be built. And, as we have highlighted, the IWCA admits there are lessons to be learned from the BNP’s success:

Ideology aside, the BNP has established a benchmark for how smaller parties can advance. There are lessons to be learned there and it is futile to deny it.

The IWCA also points to Labour’s historic drubbing and the hollowing out of the party’s activist base as presenting a historic opportunity for the Left, but it is without organisational or ideological presence or coherence:

to say that progressive elements are ill-prepared to take advantage is to underestimate the scale of the disarray. Putting it bluntly, the working class and its allies are utterly adrift. […] For the first time in living memory there is no identifiable working class/left leadership visible anywhere in Britain.

Furthermore, the IWCA points to the failure of Left groups to have learned the lessons from the BNP’s early successes or the IWCA’s own pilot-schemes where the group had members. We recently highlighted some of the problems of Left sects focus on party-building at the expense of the working class. The IWCA say:
-Keep reading>

Posted in Anti-fascism, New workers' party, Socialism, Strategy | 3 Comments »

What Left?

Posted by Left Luggage on June 7, 2009

I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine recently, in which he questioned Left Luggage’s strategy. He asked why we direct our arguments towards the section of the Left populated by groups whose names contain the word “Socialist…” or “Workers’…”, rather than towards much larger groups involved in global justice, human rights or environmental campaigns. He acknowledged that the latter groups were not explicitly socialist (or often even left wing) in orientation, but argued that they were preferable to the groups we currently address in a number of ways.

Firstly, he argued that these groups had far more members and supporters than the openly socialist groups, even if most of those members were middle class. This, he said, gave the “soft Left” a greater reach than the “hard Left”, and a greater potential for influence.

The second argument was that the soft Left was far more internally democratic than the hard Left, and less attached to the kinds of symbols, slogans and dogma that might put ordinary people off. These two advantages make the soft Left better able to launch creative campaigns that capture the attention of the public, he claimed.

My friend felt that the involvement of the soft Left in environmental and global justice campaigns was proof of their progressive values, and suggested that it might be a strategic error to ignore such a numerically significant and (potentially) influential demographic.
-Keep reading>

Posted in Class, Environmentalism, Left Luggage, Socialism, Working class | 4 Comments »

Moving beyond the sect

Posted by Left Luggage on May 29, 2009

Our essential reading for the weekend is a new article by The Commune’s Dave Spencer which aims to draw some lessons from his decades of experience with far-left groups. It’s a little heavy on obscure and now obsolete sects, but at its core is a searing analysis of the problems of vanguardist parties and the Left’s methods of organising in general:

A key feature of the failed politics of the Left is its aping of the hierarchical and adversarial politics of the bourgeoisie. Without exception the parties and groups on the Left were and are bureaucratic. They conduct policy-making in a Machiavellian manner, doing deals behind the backs of the members. Internally their regimes are undemocratic and characterised by bullying and the use of personal abuse. Our politics has to be the opposite — open and democratic and comradely. This will not be easy because we are not used to it. We have to make a conscious effort.

This is not just a broadside against easy targets, however, but an attempt to highlight examples of where the Left has been effective in organising and how these efforts have been stifled and why. He contrasts the creative and effective developments initiated by grassroots working class members with the centralising tendencies of party leaderships, which too often moved to shut down activities that were not within their control. He first cites the Socialist Labour League (SLL) which, working through the Labour Party, organised social events for working class youngsters, a strategy initiated by young SLL members in Wigan that apparently met with some success:

The way the SLL achieved this was by getting University students to go into Council Estates to organise weekly discos and weekly meetings for the youth of the area. Delegates from the youth groups were then sent into their local constituency Labour Parties.

Next he cites the case of the International Socialists (IS) in the late 1960s, before the organisation became the Socialist Workers’ Party in the early 1970s. Within this group -Keep reading>

Posted in Sectarianism, Socialism, Strategy, Working class | 2 Comments »

Losing the battle of ideas

Posted by Left Luggage on May 26, 2009

There is always a battle of ideas going on in society and it is not an exaggeration to say that the Left has been consistently losing this battle for most of the last thirty years.

Given this fact, the lack of critical self-examination on the Left is truly startling. There seems little recognition even that we are marginalized and should be on the defensive, trying to rebuild our force, ideas and strategies. Instead, much of the Left too often engages in self-delusional triumphalism, trumpeting a minor uplift in militancy as the beginning of a tidal wave of radicalism.

So in what is largely a vacuum as far as serious strategic analysis is concerned, John Wight’s recent post on the Socialist Unity blog is welcome. He argues the Left is losing the battle of ideas to the Right and radically needs to rethink its strategies. He points to the “wave of patriotism” stimulated by Joanna Lumley’s Gurkha campaign, the furore over the increase in the top rate of tax, the disarray of far-left electoral platforms, the sectarianism of the Left, and the failure of trade unionists to mount a militant response to the economic crisis.

This is a welcome piece of self-examination by a Left activist. We would not agree with all the conclusions, especially his thoughts regarding the prospect for Labour after the forthcoming general election and the notion that it could take a major shift to the Left and get into bed with Respect:

Attempts to move the Labour Party left from within have thus far lacked any real focus or coherence and remain at a nascent stage of disparate meetings and conferences. It will take Labour’s defeat at the next general election to provide the catalyst for the shake up within the ranks of Labour that could spell the death of the New Labour and a turn to the left. If such a change in trajectory were to occur, the ramifications for Respect could be significant, not to mention interesting.

But we can agree with his conclusion. He argues that unless the Left now engages in a spell of critical reflection and rethinking of its strategies, as consistently advocated on Left Luggage. If it does not, it can only look forward to a longer spell in the doldrums:

The rebuilding of an ideological and political alternative to free market capitalism and the racism and reaction which it has spawned will take some time. The key question will be whether we are able to learn from the mistakes of the past and move forward on solid foundations.

This is the challenge facing a Left which has been missing in (in)action during a period of great economic and political crisis, a time when the central tenets of the ruling ideology have been open to question in an unprecedented way. We have to make sure we are present in future.

Posted in Ideology, Socialism, Strategy | 10 Comments »

Rebuilding working class consciousness

Posted by Left Luggage on May 21, 2009

Some arguments just seem to keep on reappearing, no matter how many times their contentions are shown to be folly. Such is the case with the “search for a revolutionary subject” by the Left, or “why has the working class failed us”. Over time this has seen various sections of the Left transferring their revolutionary aspirations to, variously, anti-colonial movements, students, peasants, the lumpen-proletariat, and international movements of a number of shades.

The concern over the working class as revolutionary subject was raised on the UK Left Network discussion group this week. As usual in such forums, the level of debate was variable at best. On poster argues “the working class no longer exists” and that the key is to oppose illegal wars, imperialism and privatisation. The writer goes on: “Once they have a good pay they will only be concerned when their own jobs are at risk. In the meantime they are engaged in a rat race, not realizing that they are losing in the end”. Another poster suggets the decline of manufacturing has put paid to the working class in the “Western imperialist countries” and argues that this class was identified as:

the agent of change not because it was the most oppressed class historically but because of the circumstances of its creation, it was able to effect change. That clearly isn’t the case today.

Another highly optimistic poster argues regarding the increasing support for the BNP, that:

To most workers nationalism is a bit of a joke- at best. barring a real socialist alternative they may vote for it but without any real enthusiasm.

The prompt for this discussion was an article on the International Viewpoint website. Now, I hadn’t come across IV before, but apparently this is the magazine of the reunified Trotskyist Fourth International, linked to the organisation Socialist Resistance. (Apologies to those readers who are more au fait with small far-left sects.) The article, in which Phil Hearse asks whether working class consciousness is dead, actually covers some very interesting ground although it reaches some worrying conclusions. -Keep reading>

Posted in Class, Socialism, Strategy, Unions, Workers' struggles | 1 Comment »

A note on No2EU

Posted by Left Luggage on May 15, 2009


Plenty has been written in the “blogosphere” and elsewhere online about the No2EU electoral platform formed by the RMT union, alongside the Communist Party of Britain and the Socialist Party to contest the forthcoming European elections . (Although, notably, this reasonably-sized political initiative from the Left has garnered only a single mention in the pages of Socialist Worker.)

Much of the analysis has been hostile, with highly sectarian and personal attacks on some of the activists involved in the more squalid corners of the far-left’s Internet presence. We won’t be directing your attention there. But it is worth highlighting some of the cogent arguments from the blogopshere about No2EU’s strengths and weaknesses, before outlining what we feel to be the key points.

First up is The Commune, which has a very critical analysis of No2EU, calling it “at best a diversion” and at worst “right wing and reactionary, pure and simple”. The writer, Dave Spencer, criticises the platform on a number of grounds, saying it has been called too late, criticising the platform for saying its candidates will not take up their seats in the European Parliament if elected, and saying it is bureaucratic and led in a top-down fashion. The most biting critique is over the platform’s “nationalism”, however:

Some comrades have called the politics of “No2EU” “left-wing nationalism”. Perhaps this is to keep the embarrassment within the Left family. Personally I cannot see how British nationalism in the context of global capitalism can be anything other than right wing and reactionary, pure and simple. […]

When there is an economic recession, the first reaction is to find scapegoats, usually immigrants or foreigners. The No2EU leaflet complains about “social dumping” which refers to foreign workers coming to Britain for jobs. This is a disgraceful, reactionary statement.

It is worth pointing out that this seems to be a slight misrepresentation of No2EU’s position. On its website the term “social dumping” appears to refer to the practise of companies bringing in workers from elsewhere in the EU for specific jobs, as in the Lindsey dispute, rather than labour migration per se.
-Keep reading>

Posted in European Union, Nationalism, New workers' party, Socialism, Strategy | 13 Comments »

Romanticising foreign movements, ignoring their lessons

Posted by Left Luggage on April 26, 2009

The sell-out event at last year’s Marxism conference, organised by the Socialist Workers’ Party, was a talk by David Hilliard, former chief of staff of the Black Panthers. By all accounts the event was standing room only and Hilliard was accorded a standing ovation at the beginning and end of the meeting.

This would be unremarkable, except that almost his entire lecture was spent urging those activists present to reformulate their strategies in light of the Black Panthers’ experience. If you watch the meeting in full, it almost seems that two different languages are being spoken, with Hilliard’s message – restated over and over – unacknowledged by almost every speaker from the audience. Hilliard stresses the relevance today of the Panthers’ ten-point programme (08:09 = time into video), argues that the most important aspect of the group’s activity was its “survival programmes” (10:24), suggests one of the most pressing issues for left-wing activists in London is knife crime and gang violence (13:27), and proposes practical solutions to black people being harassed via police stop-and-search powers (48:34). Here are a few selections from his speech: -Keep reading>

Posted in International movements, Socialism, Strategy | 6 Comments »

Spoiling the party

Posted by Left Luggage on April 22, 2009

Lenin’s Tomb blogger Richard Seymour makes a revealing observation from the Left Forum in New York this week, commenting that while debates at the event were stimulating the absence of Left political parties was unfortunate. He says:

It has gone very well, with a very high level of debate and discussion, although it is sad to see that the only parties really present around the perimeter of the premises where the event is taking place are tiny sects with placards that look like a mixture of The End of The World is Nigh messages and Scientology posters. This perhaps speaks to a particular dilemma of the US left: huge numbers of knowledgeable, talented, committed people, but hardly any organisational presence. Sad to say it, even the ISO [the Socialist Workers’ Party’s sister organisation in the US] don’t appear to have a stall

This comment resonated with me because my experience of similar events in the UK has given me precisely the opposite impression; the British Left’s dilemma is precisely the proliferation of parties.

What strikes me most about the US Left is its comparative openness when compared to the UK. It has several excellent online publications that are both widely read and present a broad range of discussions and opinions. Since launching last month, we have easily been able to place three articles on such sites, even on controversial issues such as questioning the Left’s attitude to crime. Contrast this with the British Left. How many well-read publications or websites exist that have a relatively relaxed editorial line or are not tied to a particular party or sect?

The multiplicity of small groups with failing strategies, and the political alignment of virtually all well-read Left media, has quite an impact on our political culture. It leads to hostility to comrades in other groups or none, and leads us to spend energy directing our fire on each other. It leads to an unwillingness to debate strategic issues or engage in honest self-criticism, for fear of “giving ground” to opponents. It leads to suspicion about the agenda of others. It leads to groups whose policies are virtually indentical not cooperating or even acknowledging each others’ existence publicly. To a certain degree, this is all the inevitable outcome of politics, though the British Left seems particularly infected by this disease.

So, are more far-left parties what the US working class needs? Well, the British working class has plenty to choose from. But the Left here is largely marginalized politically and, almost uniformly, its strategies are not leading to increased membership, effectiveness, or support among ordinary people. At the same time, unlike the US it does not have a culture of open debate and discussion, most importantly over questions of strategy. Therefore the “huge numbers of knowledgeable, talented, committed people” in the US are potentially far better placed to adjust their strategies and create groups that are focussed on the enormous tasks at hand – re-engaging with and winning victories for working class people.

Posted in Socialism, Strategy, US | 6 Comments »

What comes after Labour’s defeat?

Posted by Left Luggage on April 19, 2009

There’s an interesting little debate on David Osler’s blog about the probable eclipse of Labour in next year’s general election. He compares the current state of play, with Labour on just 26% in the polls, unfavourably to the 1931 defeat, which is viewed as the party’s worst ever result.

One comment on the blog expresses “supremely indifferen[ce]” to such an outcome, another says “the main problem for the Left in Britain is the Labour Party”, while a third says “The death of a bourgeois party is to be celebrated.” But David’s point is a little bit more nuanced than simply regretting the demise of an illusory workers’ party. He points out that both socialists in Labour hoping to “recapture” the party and sections of the Left hoping a period of Tory rule will strengthen their ranks are likely to be severely disappointed. Noting that working class self-organisation is at a historically low level, he suggests that while we may pass no tears for Labour’s demise (or at least a lengthy period in the doldrums) the possibility of the Left taking centre stage is extremely limited, noting pointedly: “[the] British far left remains organically incapable of serious politics”:

The difference between now and then is that in many constituencies, Labour exists largely on paper, and wider working class organisation in trade unions and tenants’ associations is at its weakest since the second world war.

I suspect that many on the left don’t grasp just how calamitous the coming decade could prove. I’ve spoken to revolutionary defeatists within Labour who believe that a spell in opposition will strengthen the small socialist layer that remains. Can they really be oblivious to the prospect of defeat on a magnitude from which Labour will never recover?

Doubtless others will maintain that the smack of firm Tory government will dispel illusions in reformism, providing the most propitious circumstances for the formation of a new workers’ party, or whatever other nonsense they picked up at last weekend’s cadre school.

Unfortunately, that is not the most likely trajectory, if only because [the] British far left remains organically incapable of serious politics. Working class depoliticisation on the one hand and growing support for the British National Party can be taken as given.

The point about the deterministic view of Tory rule is particularly apt, since come economic boom or bust, Tory rule or Labour, the Left has remained on the margins. Clearly, as Left Luggage has argued, we have to take the initiative, deal with the situation as we find it and build from this point, rather than forever waiting for political circumstances to change in our favour.

Posted in Labour Party, Socialism, Unions | 1 Comment »

‘Bossnapping’, socialism, and the public mood

Posted by Left Luggage on April 11, 2009

A couple of interesting polls published in the last couple are perhaps indicative of a certain change of mood among ordinary people on both sides of the Atlantic. We’re conscious, of course, of the tendency of the Left to exaggerate any detectable upturn in workers’ struggles as the dawn of a new militancy. Until now, resistance to job cuts, pay freezes and worsening conditions during this recession have been sporadic and small-scale, barring a few notable exceptions. But these polls are interesting in any case.

The first is from France, which finds that almost half of French workers approve of the tactic of “locking up bosses” at companies where redundancies are plannned. The survey followed the “bossnapping” of managers by workers at Caterpillar, 3M, and Sony – in three separate incidents – to secure better conditions. Forty-five per cent of those surveyed thought this was acceptable practise, while 59 per cent of “blue-collar” workers approved. Gregor Gall adds a cautionary note regarding the potential new tactic, observing that both “bossnapping” and occupations “are of little use in stopping redundancies per se. That would take much more hard-hitting and widespread action by many more workers across the whole economy.”

The second poll comes from the US and finds, extraordinarily, that only a small majority of people think capitalism is preferable to socialism. It found that overall 53 per cent supported capitalism, 20 per cent preferred socialism, and 27 per cent were unsure. Even more startingly, of those who do not invest in shares, only 40 per cent favoured capitalism and 25 per cent favoured socialism. And among Democratic voters, the difference is even less, at 39 per cent versus 30 per cent.

Posted in News, Socialism, Workers' struggles | Leave a Comment »

Time to take centre stage

Posted by Left Luggage on March 27, 2009

This should be a great time to be a socialist. The inherent instability of capitalism lies exposed more than at any time since the Great Depression. Levels of economic inequality in Britain are unmatched in any industrial nation other than the US. Unemployment figures creep inexorably upwards, threatening to dwarf those from the dark days of the 1980s. Comment pages in the respectable, middle class press worriedly ask whether we are witnessing the end of capitalism or merely its radical transformation.

Yet the response from Britain’s working class has so far been muted at best. French and Italian workers stage general strikes and Greece is rocked by massive protests, but the best Britain’s workers can muster is a small – if impressive – campaign of unofficial action against the use of non-unionised foreign labour to undercut local workers. Leftwing groups organise demonstrations declaring that Britain’s working class won’t pay the price for a crisis caused by the bosses, but by and large these attract only the usual crowd of seasoned protestors. Predictions by the police of – Keep reading>

Posted in Community, Socialism, Strategy | 3 Comments »

Ditching the baggage

Posted by Left Luggage on March 27, 2009

On much the British Left today, there is an unquestioning acceptance of the key priorities for socialists, and little willingness to engage in critical reflection on strategy. But in politics there are no self-evident truths. All ideas must be tested and stand up to scrutiny in practice. Even notions that seem common sense should be open to question. For example:

  • Can we combat the British National Party without discussing issues such as crime and immigration?
  • Should we devote more energy to international issues than to more immediate problems that the Left has a chance of solving?
  • Are we guilty of focussing on student recruitment at the expense of organising working class people?

It is comforting to console ourselves with the belief that our stance on these issues is right, but that objective circumstances need to change for them to be vindicated. The recession threatens to expose this as a fallacy. This should be an ideal climate for socialist ideas, but the Left remains on the margins. -Keep reading>

Posted in Socialism, Strategy | 4 Comments »