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the foundations of oppression can't be plucked up without the anger of a multitude

Hard Right Johnson, Wilhelm Reich and the ‘befogging’ of the masses

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So said Wilhelm Reich in 1944, “Only on paper does the process of social development appear as easy and pleasant as a taking a stroll through the woods. In hard reality it encounters new and unrecognised difficulties one after the other. Regressions and catastrophes result”.

The election of a Conservative majority government in the UK with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister is definitely a regression and may well be a catastrophe. Johnson’s Tory government becomes the latest in a line of hard right governments that have taken over major geopolitical states. Positioning themselves as daring voices speaking out against the ‘establishment’, despite in fact being the establishment, this model of leader started with Victor Orbán (elected Hungary, 2010). A number of world leaders have followed in his wake, such as Narendra Modi (elected India, 2014), Donald Trump (USA, 2017), Matteo Salvini (Italy, 2018), Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil, 2019), and now, Johnson (UK, 2019).bojo flags

 In the UK, economically, what this means for the balance of power between capital and labour was made clear in Johnson’s Queen’s speech. Elizabeth II read the news that the Tories’ promised raise in minimum wage will be delayed until “economic conditions allow”. We learned that they will promote “flexible working” and that transport workers need to keep a “minimum level of service” during strike action. Meanwhile, tax credits for research and development, changes in business rates and state investment in infrastructure all promised better news for business despite the looming hard Brexit. Of the newly elected Tory MPs, Democracy Now research showed that “one in five have worked in lobbying for PR and corporate interests,” with firms that represented, among other things, private health care, banking, the Qatari state, pharmaceutical companies, weapons manufacturers, the National Casino Forum and SCL, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company. The institutional corruption at the heart of British government continues apace.

In further news from that speech, belligerent nationalists in the Tory party are looking forward to some belligerence. Thus it was announced that JohnQueens speechson would build a “defence research agency”; fight “hostile activity by foreign states”; and raise spending on the military, who will be protected against “vexatious prosecutions”. This latter was a gesture of thanks to the far-right who have made the case of defending Soldier F (who shot dead unarmed civil rights’ marchers on Bloody Sunday[1]) a part of their patriotism. Promising to “stand firm against those who threaten British values”, the signs are that state abuse on people, home and abroad, will be (at best) tolerated.

Even before he got into government, Johnson sacked 21 MPs in a Stalinist purge, preferring to operate with a minority than brook internal opposition. Having done so, his new government launched an “open consultation” on “strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments”. Targeting Travellers and Roma was almost a nod of appreciation to Orbán, for whom anti-Gypsy racism has been a key pillar of his self-titled “illiberal democracy”. Johnson’s ‘open consultation’ is also straight from the Orbán playbook. The latter’s “national consultation on immigration and terrorism” of 2015, for example, contained questions such as: “Do you agree with the Hungarian government that instead of spending on immigration they should rather support Hungarian families and future children?”  The Conservative version was only slightly more subtle.

George Monbiot has argued that not only is this a racist attack on the already persecuted Roma, Gypsy and Traveller communities it is also a broader fulfillment of the Tory manifesto promise to “make intentional trespass a criminal offence”, removing the right to roam and potentially criminalising, for example, rough sleepers and anti-fracking protestors[2]. You can still respond to the consultation here.

Wherever the hard right take power, control of dissent is a necessary corollary to their policies. In fact, it seems to be a political ambition. Bolsanaro, say Eduardo da Motta e Albuquerque and Cláudia Feres Faria in a recent International Socialism article, “has attempted to make social activism ‘a police case'” It is no surprise, therefore, that after the UK election, the emboldened British police have announced an extension to their counter-terrorism Prevent programme to label almost every protest organisation from CND to XR as ‘extreme’. Things look decidedly dark.

Britain First have joined the Tories[3], UKIP has practically disbanded. Their fight is over as most of what they want is now in power anyway. The question for the rest of us is how did a genuinely left-leaning option fail to defeat it?

Enemies Close…

Corbyn’s Labour were up against it from all angles. The right-wing media went after him, of course, but even the supposedly left-ish Guardian and numerous liberal individuals were helping spin the self-fulfilling prophecy of him not being electable.[4] Corbyn’s friends in high places were few, and his enemies closer. Having taken over Labour’s leadership in 2015 with massive membership support, but only about 8 or 9 MPs he could genuinely trust, Corbyn fought through two attempted coups, and continual briefings against him. From within his own party, the once all-powerful New Labour spin doctors, Alistair Campbell and Peter Mandlesson and their former boss, Tony Blair, were weaving ways to turn opinion against him. MPs left the party (abandoning their safe Labour seats with little respect for the people who put them there) and declared him anti-Semitic or a bully.Anti corbyn propaganda

Potential allies – the Liberal Democrat and hard Remainer types – got lost in their own conspiracies. The inheritors of the rational, Enlightenment position, found themselves believing in Russian foreign agents manipulating the game. Only a few years ago, they would have sneered at similar grand narratives of a secret few hands controlling everything. Now they were saying that Corbyn was a ‘secret leaver’ with a ‘hidden agenda’ to help Brexit happen, despite what he campaigned for, voted for and said about it. When offered a chance to unite, vote out a minority government, extend Article 50 and prevent a ‘hard’ or no-deal Brexit, Jo Swinson declared, “Jeremy Corbyn is not … the person for this task.” She decided it was better to try and topple Boris Johnson on her own rather than join with Corbyn to do it. Sure enough, encouraging people not to vote for Corbyn, meant helping Johnson win. And his win, for those who consider maintaining the customs union, European trade agreements and European freedom of movement the most important thing for British politics, were disastrous. Inevitably, if Rebecca Long-Bailey wins the Labour nomination it will be exactly the same again.

Then there were the rich, who generously coughed up the cash in order to defeat him. Figures for election donations of over £7,500 showed that, in just one week in November, the Tories collected £5.7 million, miles above any other party. Labour were fourth with £218,500 – behind the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party. Of course, Labour had lots of donations from those less able to part with ten grand (the mean average Labour donation was £26), but the figures for big money gifts indicate on which horse the rich were placing sizeable bets, at a time when apparently belts must be tightened.

On top of all this, you had the Tories themselves. They were not insignificant opponents, with teams of people well-versed in the dark arts of behavioural psychology and election manipulations. Revelations from Cambridge Analytica whistleblowers, and the open boastings of, for instance, Dominic Cummings, suggest there was a lot of digital and data-directed mud-throwing going on. Masochistically I gave myself the task of watching a 30 minute lecture from Cummings.[5] In his megalomaniac, vainglorious way, he boasts about how he swung the Brexit referendum, turning the tide unusually, he reckons, from a ‘status quo position’.  This time around he did it with the united help of the status quo.

Dominic Cummings

No doubt, similar tactics which he talked about at the excitingly named Nudgefest 2017, were employed again. Fear seems a big component of it. For Brexit, he says, “we had to motivate that third of [pro-leave] people to turn out to vote, we had to demotivate the third who wanted to stay in and we had to try and persuade enough of that fraction [who were unsure] – the fifth – not to be frightened and to vote with us”. They did this, he claims, by making Remain seem more frightening than Leave, scaring voters with, for example, the thought of Turkish accession, and by making voting leave seem anti-establishment.

Sure enough, in this general election, voter turnout was down 1.5% from 2017, a figure that cannot have been evenly spread out across the country, if we can credit reports in some places of ‘busiest ever polling stations‘ and people queuing 45 minutes to vote. Of course, winter had a part to play but no doubt there were messages put out to certain communities not to vote. Anti-Corbyn messaging had to make working-class people afraid enough of a Labour victory to not bother voting at all. This may be because Corbyn is, as Johnson said in his final speech before the election, “an IRA-loving, Hamas-supporting anti-Semite”, but it felt a lot like the messages of the media and political class were being repeated uncritically. A vox pop video from Darlington released by The Sun the day before what they obediently called the ‘Brexmas election’, had people saying Corbyn was a “terrorist sympathiser”, “always going to these funerals abroad of the terrorists and that [sic] who were fighting our soldiers”, and that because of him “Brexit is being slowed down.”

One charge thrown at him, it has been pointed out, was perhaps true: that he cared about the lives of foreigners as much as he cared about British lives. Daughter of Albion’s youtube offering “Pleeease Don’t Vote Labour” quotes anti-Corbyn Labour MPs such as Ann Cryer, John Mann and Jack Straw in its bid to show how Labour are responsible for the Rotherham ‘grooming gangs’ scandal. Its small, but not insignificant 25,000 views and the nature of the comments’ section suggest that the message resonates well with some. One commenter reckons, with admirable gender-progressive pronouns to support their paranoid racism, “If any white perosn votes Labor [sic], they will have blood on his or hers hands”. For some it is clear who to support: “Hide your daughters. Vote the progressives out. Take back your homeland. All muslims must leave. There is no other way.” For others, a no-vote option is best, as “both sides serve the same globalist masters.” These racist or conspiracist ideas are the “elements” Cummings boasted his Brexit “Communications team [was] built around trying to exploit”. His great slogan “take back control”, was, he claims, successful because of the power of the word “back”, both triggering ‘loss aversion’ and the hope for people to regain what has been lost.

Cummings’ coke-style narcissism assigns his own intelligence a greater role in this victory than is perhaps credible. His work is also not that novel. Fear-mongering, lies and manipulation are as old as politics itself. What we should take seriously though, is the scale of the operation. According to him, big spending in last few days of the Brexit campaign meant that “7 million people saw 1.5 billion digital ads over a relatively short period of time.” The quantity of mud thrown meant that surely some of it must have stuck. The data, handily given over (at a price) by Facebook, also meant that Cummings’ teams could send canvassers to places that “would be most useful”.

Much has already been written about Labour’s own faults and I do not need to dwell on them here. Racism, nationalism and xenophobia were a huge stumbling block in a Brexit-dominated political landscape and Labour did not know how to come out with a truly anti-racist, transnational position, while uniting both Leave and Remain voters.

The Conservative messaging was much simpler. ‘Get Brexit Done’, repeated ad nauseam, was more manageable than Labour’s sprawling, if interesting, manifesto. For many people, it was an attractive idea that we could be done with all this politics and let our natural rulers sort out the problem. We could do away with all this “dither and delay” (i.e. debate and democracy) and put difficult decisions (back) into the hands of the efficient. If that meant a government that would disempower us politically, lock up our children in the promised 10,000 prison places, and sign deals with the USA, China etc. that would sell off our public services, apparently that was an acceptable trade-off.

The question that has troubled us is not so much about Tory policies, which seem alarmingly familiar, but how and why these policies have succeeded. Why were people attracted to populist talk of a “points-based immigration systems”, charging non-British citizens for healthcare and “taking back control of our borders”? What was there to believe in vague, meaningless metaphors about giving “Britain back its mojo” and cooking up the famous “oven-ready” Brexit deal? How could people accept Eton-educated toffs telling them they were “servants of the people” while simultaneously not noticing those same people promising tax breaks for the rich and big business?[6] The Tory manifesto headline contained the contradiction in its juxtaposition: “Get Brexit Done. Unleash Britain’s Potential.”

HItler and the richThis contradiction is not without its historical precedent. In the 1930s, a new party emerged in Germany promising to be the party of the people, while at the same time reassuring business that National Socialism would be the bulwark against the true threat of International Socialism. Let us turn to Wilhelm Reich, who in that period, was trying to explain the election of Adolf Hitler:

“It was known that Hitler negotiated with industrial magnates, received financial support from them and promised an injunction against striking. Thus it must have been due to the psychological structure of the average worker that such contradictions were not squarely faced.”

The view of the Nazis as some exceptional historical anomaly means it is hard to make comparisons without being accused of minimising the horror of their extreme inhumanity. They did however exist within historical time and the people who voted for them in 1932 were real humans. Wilhelm Reich seems to me to be a handy guide to plumb the depths of this current inferno. “It is essential to assess the social maturity of a community,” he wrote, “not in terms of quantity of votes but in terms of the actual, tangible substance of its social activity”. Let us try and understand why 2019’s British electorate would vote for a party, whose mark of success would be to give them more suffering rather than try out a party, who, at worst, would have failed at making their lives better. It is as true now as it was then that, “one is on the wrong scent when one attempts to explain Hitler’s success solely on the basis of the demagogy of the National Socialists, the  ‘befogging of the masses’, their ‘deception’. … For it is precisely a question of understanding why the masses proved to be accessible to deception, befogging and a psychotic situation” (His italics).

Class composition

Naturally enough, the Tories held seats in richer parts of the country. Looking at the places that switched to Tories, the Economist concluded that most of them were in “Leave-voting towns on the edges of more successful cities”, where average hourly wages were lower than national figures, and where the populations are ageing. The number of over-65s in Bishop Auckland, which the Conservatives won for the first time, has increased by a third since 1981, while, as the young and ambitious headed for bigger cities, the number of 18- to 24-year-olds has fallen by a quarter[7]. This is good news for a Conservative Party that won 57% of the vote among over-60s and 67% among over-70s, according to YouGov. The Tories success was also gendered, winning “a 19-point lead over Labour among men, compared with a six-point lead among women”.[8] These are statistics worth thinking about.

distribution

Massive warehouse in the Black Country

Jobs outside of London and the big cities are increasingly precariatised. The often part-time, temporary or zero-hours jobs in retail and call centres are gendered differently to the ones they replaced in mines and factories, so that female unemployment rates in the UK in the 21st century have been consistently lower than for men.[9] Thus a nostalgic narrative for a time when things could be done without the red tape and when men earned enough to look after their children and wives has an affective appeal. These small towns with older populations may have fared differently over the years since the Fordist era. There are the beneficiaries (particularly in the South-East) of the state-subsidised housing boom and low interest rates – good for people paying mortgages on properties which are steadily increasing in value, or for tradespeople  who build them. And there are the long-term unemployed (particularly in the Midlands and North). In opposing the EU, many perhaps understand something that the ‘I heart EU’ flag-waving Remainists have not. The EU’s internal weighting means that the South and East of the continental bloc provide cheap labour for the North and West. In the Black Country, for instance,  where “unemployment is twice the national average”[10], over 14,000 EU citizens registered for a National Insurance number in the year 2016, Brexit’s Year Zero. Overwhelmingly young, they come to the UK to find better wages, end up in the West Midlands mainly by chance, are generally employed by agencies and “disproportionately concentrated in low-wage jobs”[11].  Although there is no evidence that these EU migrants (Poles being the largest nationality among immigrants to the area) are actually taking jobs or reducing overall wages, their segregation according to capital’s xeno-racist logic, means resentments build up among the local population. Big industrial workplaces have been outsourced to the Third World and the jobs which can’t be are in services, logistics and transport rather than production. Many of the warehouses and distribution hubs along the M6 employ EU nationals as agency workers, while the only in-house permanent employees are ‘native’. It creates a hierarchy in the workplace, which mirrors and helps widen the divide outside. The privileged ‘British’ contracted worker looks down on the EU agency ‘migrant’. Similarly, the unemployed, social-housed British national resents the precariously employed, EU national paying private rents. These rents, incidentally, help to pay the mortgage of the buy-to-let petit-bourgeois landlord (in 3% of cases, according to a 2007 study by the University of Warwick, also their employer). And those buy-to-let landlords vote Tory. Similar dynamics, with agricultural labourers, play out around the East Midlands, almost all of which remained, or went Tory.

“It is the willingness of the masses to absorb these ideas that constitutes fascism’s strength” (Reich)

All of this is to say it is not that the ‘working class’ voted Tory. Rather, the Conservative constituency was disproportionately male, and its class constitution was fascism’s usual base: the aspiring, envious lower-middle-class, the lumpen-proletariat and the rich. In big cities, where populations are younger and more diverse, and there is still some sense of collective life, working-class people (people dependent on the wage to survive, not small business owners or landlords), were more resistant to nationalist ‘befogging’.

Perhaps Johnson was right, that he is a servant of the people. He has dutifully served up a nationalism, a feeling for ‘British’ people that they can be ‘British and proud’. Corrupt as he might be, at least he is ‘our’ leader rather than one who will defend ‘their’ rights. Mark Fisher explained:

“There is a sense in which it simply is the case that the political elite are our servants; the miserable service they provide from us is to launder our libidos, to obligingly re-present for us our disavowed desires as if they had nothing to do with us.”[12]

One particular desire in question was described by Reich: “This identification with authority, firm, state, nation etc., which can be formulated ‘I am the state, the authority, the firm, the nation’, constitutes a psychic reality and is one of the best illustrations of an ideology that has become a material force.” The man as head of the family, the mini-führer in the home, who holds together his mini-society by provision of material resources and discipline of disobedient subjects (women and children) is the mirror of the state itself.

Britain’s landscape is shorn of infrastructure that can challenge this ideology. The loss of industrial workforces with active trade unionism and workers’ associations; the privatisation of public space; the corporatisation of mass recreation; the rise of cheap consumerism backed by finance plans; the privatisation of mass entertainment with streaming sites on the rise and cinemas, pubs and nightclubs closing down; all contribute to a new subjectivity not amenable to collectivism and solidarity.

Nevertheless, Corbynism managed to bring to mainstream Britain some of the growing global discontent against the neoliberal order and fringe ideas about alternatives. Since 2008’s crash and the Arab Spring, across the world, the post-War political order of alternating social-democrat / Christian conservative has been disrupted, with many of the former big parties falling away completely. Currently (although it is hard to credit it in Britain), powerful protest movements are unseating leaders and changing laws. From Hong Kong, to Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Algeria, France and Chile, mass movements are winning concessions. In Argentina, Mexico, Spain and Finland new left-wing governments have taken power.

Santiago

Mass protest in Santiago, Chile

After 40 years of neo-liberalism, the Right has had a crisis of direction. The split in the ruling class between neoliberal globalists and nativist, hard-right populists has been, in the UK, partly resolved for now, with the Conservative Government achieving its mandate to pull together the various strands of the Right – from Britain First thugs to billionaire capitalists. It is not without historical precedent that they did so via a referendum, or plebiscite. Philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt wrote this in her 1948 classic, The Origins of Tyranny:

“While the people in all great revolutions fight for true representation, the mob always will shout for the ‘strong man,’ the ‘great leader’. For the mob hates society from which it is excluded, as well as Parliament where it is not represented. Plebiscites, therefore, with which modern mob leaders have obtained such excellent results, are an old concept of politicians who rely upon the mob.”

Thus, a plebiscite is the classic tool of the totalitarian. It, says Arendt, “puts an end to the citizen’s right to vote, to choose and to control the government”, instead rubber-stamping state policy. We can probably expect more ‘open consultations’ and fake democracy. Although some old school Conservatives like John Major and Ken Clarke have been kicking against it, most have acquiesced on the need to swallow some unpalatable aspects rather than risk another ‘strong and stable’ neoliberal leader with no popular appeal.

The common enemy is enough to unite them. In May 1924, the communists in Germany had 3,693,000 votes and the ruling social democrats only six million. By 1930 there were 4.6 million communist voters, but this was actually a slowing of the rise of the workers’ movement.[13] Something else had come to challenge it in a way that bourgeois political parties could not. The political need for a counter movement to socialism was set out at the time thus:

“Not until the international world view – politically led by organised Marxism – is confronted by a folkish world view, organised and led with equal unity, will success … fall to the side of eternal truth”.

In contrast with Adolf Hitler who wrote the above lines in Mein Kampf, today’s hard-right, neo-fascists are more post-modern in their view of ‘eternal truth’. Although they know that it works in confronting ‘organised Marxism’, it is not clear that Johnson, Modi, Orbán et al believe the nationalism they feed to the mob. Not so long ago, Johnson told a Bloomberg audience that if there were to be a referendum on EU membership he “would frankly be happy to campaign for a yes to stay in”, as long as he got a few essential reforms.[14] These reforms, incidentally, were not “folkish” populism about immigration but about ending “unnecessary regulations”, opening up third-world markets for British goods, and stopping “pointless attacks on the City of London – which is after all the asset, the financial capital of the whole of Europe”. It is for the sake of financial capital that we must endure the proponents of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and White-Christian chauvinism. For the sake of financial capital, we must hear these same people label Corbyn as the man who is “rightly or wrongly” perceived as a “figurehead” of anti-Semitism.[15]

Rather than a throwback to the 70s as it was accused of being, the most interesting part of the Corbyn project was the move away from statist and racist models of Labour-ism. From Atlee’s wars in Malaysia and Kenya in the 1940s[16], Calaghan’s Immigration Act of 1968 and Blair’s expansion of immigration detention and the War on Terror in the 2000s, Labour governments have been involved in imperialist adventure abroad, racist borders at home and used xeno-racism and Islamophobia to allow the state to sidestep the rule of law. Corbyn’s manifesto was talking about ceasing arms trade to Saudi Arabia and Israel, recognising Western Sahara and Palestine, and ending “the ‘bomb first, talk later’ approach to security”. His ‘Race and Faith’ manifesto[17] promised to end the ‘hostile environment’, review the Prevent programme, “tackle persistent inequalities, in particular within housing, education and criminal justice” for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people; end “NHS access charges for resident migrants and refugees”; and address discrimination in education, employment, healthcare and policing for BAME people. Maybe these were all fanciful or impractical schemes, but they at least showed some commitment to thinking about the problems of institutional racism. As regard workers’ rights, Labour talked about massively strengthening trade unions, protecting all kinds of employment rights, giving workers a seat on company boards. Rather than a totally statist approach to industry, they promised funding for “bottom-up transformational changes by start-ups, small businesses, local co-operatives and community projects”.[18]

Even if, by some miracle, Labour had won the election, they would have found themselves hampered by economic interests. Private companies who are running things which Corbyn hoped to nationalise, for instance, would not have given up all those juicy state contracts without a fight. And, as the experience of Left wing governments elsewhere in the world shows, there would have been other ways to mess with his programme. If you don’t think that would happen in the UK, remember, when he first became leader of the party in 2015, an unnamed general told the Sunday Times what he thought about Corbyn becoming PM: “I think people would use whatever means possible, fair or foul to prevent that. You can’t put a maverick in charge of a country’s security. There would be mass resignations at all levels and you would face the very real prospect of an event which would effectively be a mutiny.”[19]

The logic of parliamentary parties means that their priorities are getting elected, rather than managing the country. Representative politics disempowers the voters and does not engage us in real democracy (in its Greek sense of ‘rule by the people’). In Britain, it is hard to imagine a place where people have a real say and participation in the running of their housing, their street, and local services; and where workers collectively manage a workplace. Voting for ‘oh Jeremy Corbyn’ and hoping he will be the messiah to lead us to the promised land makes us cult followers rather than empowering us as active citizens. Tory voters might have wanted an end to politics with a party that would ‘Get Brexit Done’ for them, but perhaps Labour voters similarly hoped that they could find a shortcut to socialism through simply electing a party that would implement it for them. The reality is that overthrowing the system is going to be hard work.

Corbyn has at least, against the odds, managed to drive the Labour party away from its neoliberal controllers. His message resonated well with young people and in the big cities. From a 10% gap among 18-24 year olds in 2015, Labour have opened up a 40% lead in the age group over the Tories. If 2019’s election had been contested purely by over-65s, Conservatives would have won 64% of the seats (interestingly, in all of Liverpool and the Wirral and most of London, a majority of senior citizens voted Labour). Corbyn was unpopular in a way most people could not adequately explain, but for young people who are precariously employed, badly housed and concerned about the future, his policies made a lot of sense. Where there are communities with a sense of collectivity intact, nationalist rhetoric has less effect. Thus we need more community and collectivity, not better professionals and stronger leaders.

Wilhelm Reich

Reich: ‘Why do the masses allow themselves to be politically swindled?’

What must be answered, is Reich’s question: “why do the masses allow themselves to be politically swindled?” Resilience to political swindling is built at times when people feel strong in alternatives to the swindles. We can only hope for strong men and benevolent dictators if we have no faith in community, collective struggle and mutual aid. Now that the welfare state years are over, the narrative of ‘who gets the help’ is increasingly around citizenship. The extra-parliamentary left says, ‘forget waiting for the state to provide things for us, let’s build our own institutions and provide education, childcare, food, accommodation for homeless and refugee support ourselves’. This is happening right now in various forms, but it is happening where organised resistance is most prominent, i.e. the big cities that voted Labour. In hundreds of small, ex-industrial towns and across the South-East commuter belt, little has replaced the trade union institutions of the industrial years. Even the pubs have closed down. Perhaps if it really wants to win an election, the Labour Party should forget about elections. Could it not use its resources, infrastructure and reach to build again institutions in these places where people lack basic provisions and are devoid of political life? Social clubs, nurseries, after-school clubs, youth centres, community cafes, technological colleges, food co-ops – these should be the priorities for their spending if they want any chance of re-election. Could they not start on their ‘green industrial revolution’ by setting up or funding sustainable food and energy production, even without being in power? When people are working with their neighbours they are less inclined to be envious of them for taking their benefits or having a few more crumbs from the state table than they do.

Inevitably, in the media, a left-wing message will be ridiculed and misrepresented. People are only strong enough to resist that if we can develop in the UK an educated, political culture immune to the ideological propaganda of the state. If Labour continue purely as an electoral party, whoever the leader, they will not win at the ballot box. Semi-autonomous parts of Labour, such as Momentum, could promote – and not take over – democratic initiatives in communities that other Left groups cannot reach. This way can democratic strength be built, providing essential services through mutual aid, while simultaneously empowering people to believe they can take control of their lives. Only then will we not need others to ‘get politics done’ for us, the kind of people who want to make this “Kingdom”, “oven-ready” again.

 

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-47540271

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/15/tresspass-trap-law-land-travelling-people-rights

[3] “Britain First’s spokeswoman, Ashlea Simon … said: ‘We will support a party that is willing to take a firm stance against radical Islam and it looks like the Tories are willing to do that.’” https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/dec/28/britain-first-far-right-members-5000-have-joined-tories

[4] Polly Toynbee’s analysis was that, “A coterie of Corbynites cared more about gripping power within the party than saving the country by winning the election”, which seems a strange descriptions of Corbyn’s motives, who you can hardly say has made a political career out of trying to grip power for himself and forgetting about “the country”. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/13/jeremy-corbyn-labour-manifesto-antisemitism-brexit

[5] This is the speech from which a widely shared clip showed Cummings admitting how difficult it would be to sell the Conservatives as anything like ‘The People’s Government’: “I know a lot of Tory MPs and I’m sad to say the public is basically correct: Tory MPs do not care about these poorer people, they don’t care about the NHS and the public has kind of cottoned on to that.” Sure enough, ‘The People’s Government’ became a Johnson slogan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDbRxH9Kiy4

“We will continue to back businesses with lower taxes, better infrastructure and strike new post-Brexit free trade deals”, Conservative Party Manifesto 2019

[7] according to the think tank Centre for Towns

[8] https://www.economist.com/britain/2019/12/18/who-are-the-conservatives-new-voters-in-the-north

[9] https://www.statista.com/statistics/280236/unemployment-rate-by-gender-in-the-united-kingdom-uk-year-on-year/

[10] https://www.citymetric.com/politics/why-west-midlands-bluer-more-conservative-tory-england-s-other-metropolitan-counties-3979

[11] https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/ier/publications/2007/green_et_al_2007_lsc.pdf

[12] What If They Had a Protest and Everyone Came; Fisher 2005; published in K-Punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher (2005-2016); Repeater Books, 2018.

[13] After Hitler, Our Turn, CLR James 1937; published in Spheres of Existence; Alison and Busby, 1980.

[14] https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/gla_migrate_files_destination/bj-europe-speech.pdf

[15] https://angrysampoetry.wordpress.com/2018/04/29/weighing-into-the-disingenuous-anti-anti-semitism-debate/

[16] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0306396818779864

[17] https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Race-and-Faith-Manifesto-2019.pdf

[18] https://labour.org.uk/manifesto/a-green-industrial-revolution/

[19] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/british-army-could-stage-mutiny-under-corbyn-says-senior-serving-general-10509742.html

Written by angrysampoetry

January 29, 2020 at 3:42 pm

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