Saturday, December 22, 2012

"What's Wrong With The Left?" Part 296

Andy Newman at Socialist Unity is worried :

"I think there is another underlying problem, in writing about what the left is doing,  because the left really isn’t doing much at the moment which engages with the political mainstream. I will write a longer and more considered article on this, but I am interested in what our readers think. Has the left lost its way?"
Well there's a surprise. What could the matter be, I wonder ? In a week when the statutory consultation period for large-scale redundancy has been reduced from 90 days to 45, and the Agricultural Wages Board ('which permits the fixing of minimum wage rates and terms and conditions for agricultural workers') has been abolished, all with hardly a ripple of opposition, what could a left-winger in the UK possibly find to worry about except US gun control and gay marriage ?

But if Andy doesn't understand what's going on, his commenters can fill him in :

Alan Gibbons : 

"The Tories have been relatively successful at slicing away at public services. There has been no ‘big bang’ provoking a generalised fightback... anti-welfare rhetoric has struck a nerve with some sections of the population. The second national anti-cuts march, while substantial, was smaller than the first...what worries me more, from the perspective of somebody involved as an independent activist in the fight against the cuts and particularly the campaign to save the public library service, is that the Left looks much older, greyer, divided and less confident ..."

You're telling me ... I think this post needs a link.

"The time of salami-slicing in public services seems to be coming to a close and whole areas of public spending may be axed, as shown by Newcastle’s withdrawal from the Arts. The assault on redundancy, the privatisation of the NHS, the proposed onslaught on the teaching unions and accelerating attacks on benefits show a weak government with a fragile mandate going ahead regardless with an offensive strategy."

A slight diversion here - I think some areas of public spending OUGHT to be axed. The dynamic of the last sixty years in local government is

a) central government puts statutory obligation on local government
b) gives them some money to fund it.

Until a local authority gets far more of its money from central government than from local taxation, and this is cancerous to local democracy, because you don't really get what you vote for. As a school governor, for example, I saw our Conservative local authority zealously implementing Labour's hideous "Every Child Matters" agenda, and wondered what the point of a Tory vote was. If central government want something done, they should do it themselves.

So anyway, I wouldn't mind if some of the legislative nagombi (how many diversity consultants) was dropped. Alas, this isn't going to happen any time soon. What's more likely is that the local authority (LA) staff will end up being outsourced to whichever company promises the LA that they can do the same stuff as the council did, with the staff having the same terms and conditions (except pensions - a not inconsiderable point, as LA pensions are index-linked final salary i.e. what you don't see in the private sector any more) - and all at 10-15% less cost ! I invite the reader to imagine at whose expense these savings will come.

I digress.

Nadia Chem - fine old English name, but she talks sense (though should that be "overestimated"?) :

"What has been missed is the reality that the working class might not have the confidence to resist such an offensive. The atrophy of working class organization at workplace and community level cannot be underestimated... the locus of the offensive has been as much in a general attack on living standards as in cuts. This has generated an enormous well of bitterness but little active resistance... the fact that this attack on living standards started under the Labour government from 2006 weakens Labour’s ability to grasp the bitterness."

Mr Newman himself :

"My experience of knocking doors for Labour, is that people are open to a traditional Labour message, but not with any real conviction that labour would be even different, let alone better."       


Trust the people, Andy.

"I fear that much of the left – including the so-called revolutionaries – have actually given up on social change"

I wouldn't say that. We've seen unprecedented social change, and will see more.

BrokenWindow :

"the Left is as atomised as the workers collectively are atrophied. Underpinning this is an absence or failure to theoretically engage in wider debates about globalisation and nation states... most of all it must re-engage with the people it hates the most,the young working class white men and women who have gone to the right."

So there are plenty of people who can see that there's a problem. But in 175-odd comments, no one seems to really know why they're up the Swanee.


"the best thing we could do for the cause is to recruit more people to unions/help install a sense of discipline/participate in community campaigns and start working where people are rather than where we want them to be." 

Of course ! Like good old  Boxer in Animal Farm, "I must work harder" ! If only we were better socialists...

Laban dropped into the comments a quote from the anthropologist Peter Frost (of 'Fair Women, Dark Men') :

"In late capitalism, the elites are no longer restrained by ties of national identity and are thus freer to enrich themselves at the expense of their host society. This clash of interests lies at the heart of the globalist project: on the one hand, jobs are outsourced to low-wage countries; on the other, low-wage labor is insourced for jobs that cannot be relocated, such as in the construction and service industries.

This two-way movement redistributes wealth from owners of labor to owners of capital. Business people benefit from access to lower-paid workers and weaker labor and environmental standards. Working people are meanwhile thrown into competition with these other workers. As a result, the top 10% of society is pulling farther and farther ahead of everyone else, and this trend is taking place throughout the developed world. The rich are getting richer … not by making a better product but by making the same product with cheaper and less troublesome inputs of labor."
 

I think Mr Frost describes it pretty well. The UK business elite in 1940, as noted in Harold Nicolson's diaries, were prepared to go down in flames rather than see Hitler triumph. But now ... even "conservatives" like Boris Johnson and Michael Heseltine* "are no longer restrained by ties of national identity", let alone businessmen who've seen their incomes soar, both absolutely and relatively. This is why the end of the journey will soon be in sight.
    
Anyway, Andy (or his gofer, I know not) deleted the post in about minutes one. They don't want to know, and that's why they'll continue to get shafted - along with the rest of us.

Andy is at this moment involved in  an industrial dispute between Carillion, an outsourcer, and their many Asian employees - mostly Goan Catholics and I'm sure good people (the details of the dispute make depressing reading - looks like third-world petty corruption is already here).

But you do have to wonder why people from half way round the world are needed to clean Swindon's hospital - especially as Swindon is a place where there are 30 applications for every vacancy in Next.

The answer to Andy's questions are literally staring him in the face - but there's none so blind as those who will not see.

    


* Heseltine gave a famous Spectator interview where, asked if he was worried about Britain being merged into a Greater Europe, replied "who now remembers the Heptarchy (the seven kingdoms of Saxon England)?" 

21 comments:

Yaffle said...

Laban,

I always enjoy your anthropological reports from the far corners of the Left.

But these leave me with the impression that they're no more worth bothering with than, say, New-Agers.

If these guys were any good, they'd either accept your/Frost's point, or refute it.

I actually have several left-wing friends (rather more than right-wing friends), but much as I'd like to argue with them, I sense that there just isn't any point.

BenSix said...

It's when you see a socialist illustrating their "has the left lost its way" post with a drawing of Mao that you wonder if they are just pulling our legs.

Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

“The selfish spirit of commerce… knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain.” –Thomas Jefferson to Larkin Smith, 1809. ME 12:272

“Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.” –Thomas Jefferson to Horatio G. Spafford, 1814. ME 14:119

Mark said...


'Anyway, Andy (or his gofer, I know not) deleted the post in about minutes one. They don't want to know, and that's why they'll continue to get shafted - along with the rest of us.'

Laban- Peter Frost is right, of course, but to the likes of Mr Newman he's a tainted source; a physical anthropologist in the tradition of Carleton Coon for whom 'race' is rather more than a mere 'concept'. A purveyor of forbidden knowledge, therefore, fit only to be ignored or vilified.

The points made in this link were also eloquently made by someone similarly held in low esteem by the left, namely, Sir James Goldsmith, in his book 'The Trap', published nearly 20 years ago. He was given a platform on US television when the English language version was published, which can be viewed on youtube-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4PQrz8F0dBI

Moriarty said...

I'm surprised the AWB still exists, I thought it had been abolished when the minimum wage was brought in. Most of the immigrant workers weren't being paid the rates anyway.

Can't see many metropolitan lefties being bothered about the peasants though, they rarely are.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX Business people benefit from access to lower-paid workers and weaker labor and environmental standards. Working people are meanwhile thrown into competition with these other workers.XX

And, WHERE are these lower paid "workers" coming from? Ans WHO was responsible for that?

Of course the commy scum bags will ALWAYS side step such uncomfortable questions, NORMALLY by sterting to hystericaly scream "racist" until they puke all over their Boots plastic shower sandals, and crochet nickers.

Anonymous said...

Mark - thanks for the Goldsmith book info - I'll see if I can find a copy.

Be quite ironic if a guy who almost personified buccaneering capitalism could also put his finger on a few of its major flaws - on the other hand, he sees them from the inside...

Laban

AgainsTTheWall said...

For most of the last century the left has derived its intellectual thrust, organisational energy and financial support from Jewish sources. However these class war warriors dont seem to realise that the Kosher mafia has moved on. They are now the ruling class and their talents have been redeployed firmly behind multiculturalism, open borders and predatory capitalism (altho not for Israel). The Old Left has served its purpose and been discarded. Who was it coined the phrase 'useful idiots'? Schadenfreude you cunch of bunts.

Anonymous said...

"The Old Left has served its purpose and been discarded."

I don't see what you see. The Labour Party, biggest left organisation, is and has historically been mainly funded by trade unionist subscription.

And it's not as if Jewish people are avoiding the left all of a sudden - IIRC a chap called Miliband is Labour leader...

AgainsTTheWall said...

Anon 9:20pm.

I take your point about Labour Party funding but the LP is not the whole of the Left even in this country and NuLabour itself has looked to big business and financial corps for funding with some success.

As for Milliband it is possible that he is a relic of non-Zionist Jewish-Marxist radicalism of yesteryear. Time will tell but I suspect that he will follow the 'whats good for Jews' line when he takes office.

Ryan said...

There was a time when 5m million or more read the Labour-supporting Mirror. Already by the seventies these people were swinging towards the Mail and the Sun. Ordinary working people began to realise that their best interests were clearly not served by Guardian inspired Labour, and only continue to vote for the party as their preferred alternative to the Tories - their votes paid for by tax credits. Similarly the Tories are bought and paid for by EU dependent British industry thus leaving their own supporters out in the cold and increasingly angry. Both parties are polluted by public school career politics parasites that have no grasp of even the smallest reality of how the world really is.

Fundamentally we have two parties that have outlived their usefulness. They are corrupted to their core. They believe in a politics they is clearly nonsense. The stage is set for a new political force to emerge that unites the working class and middle class against the underclass and the super-rich, but should such a political force begin to emrge it would be torn to shreds by a corrupt media that is only too happy with the existing tweedle-dum tweedle-dee political corruption we have at present. I do not think, however, it can be held back forever, unless the super-rich are prepared to try and go further to buy off their opponents. They tried to buy off the working class in the post-war period using the wealth of the middle-class but I think it has become too expensive for them now. In any case, the long term willingness of the political elite to turn a convenient blind eye to the growing problems caused by mass immigration and a culture of deliberate unemployability has led to a worsening situation that even money can't be used to paper over.

In the end the middle-class and the working class both want opportunities for their children for worthwhile employment, housing, peace on the streets and a real feeling we are making progress to a better future. All the signs are that the politics of the last 40 years or so has only led us to a Balkanised, decrepit, 3rd world future, riddled with impassable cities laced with drug crime and East European prostitution. Our generation may not be quite able to wash their hands of the political mistakes of the past, but we are the generation that has told our children "They are all as bad as each other". I don't think our children will be content to be ruled over by politics that not one of them believe in. They may find themselves with no choice but to forcibly demand better.




Furor Teutonicus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Furor Teutonicus said...

XX Ryan said...

The stage is set for a new political force to emerge that unites the working class and middle class against the underclass and the super-rich, XX

WHERE have I heard of EXACTLY such a party before.....?

One even wrote a book about it, from his prison cell in Bayern....DAMN! It's on the tip of my tongue....

Ryan said...

Well Teutonicus, you certainly didn't hear of such a party in Bavaria, because Hitler had no interest in taking on the super-rich of Germany. He left them exactly where they are. In fact the super-rich families of Germany are still just where he left them, a living testament to the power of the super-rich to survive even the most extreme world-wars and survive unscathed.

I'm not much interested in people that have an interest in reviving failed zombie politics of years gone by, particularly when its sourced from Germany. The political "isms" invented in Germany have only spread misery. When I go to get my car fixed I don't start out by looking for a Marxist, Socialist, Conservative, Liberal or Nazi garage to resolve the problem. I look for someone that knows how to fix the problem and let them get on with it.

This is the fundamental problem with party politics. Political parties need a central theme to rally their troops, no matter how bizarre it might be. But the people don't relate to these political narratives. They only see problems that need fixing. What they really require is to elect one ordinary man/woman from the mass of the people that can say "yes, I see the problem, and I think I know how to fix it".

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX
Ryan said...

Well Teutonicus, you certainly didn't hear of such a party in Bavaria, because Hitler had no interest in taking on the super-rich of Germany.XX

WHERE was the Hofbrauhaus again??

Nürnberg... you remember, with all those torches?

Zeppelinfeld?

WHERE was the party FOUNDED? (Clue it was in 1919)

And WHERE was the MÜNCHEN Putsch?

Somewhere East of Tokyo perhaps? A little bit North of Peking? Two Kilometers South of Watford junction?

Learn some history (Or geography, or BOTH).

Laban said...

FT - Nazism and Communism are both European political traditions, and have both contributed to the many disasters of that unhappy though gifted and prosperous continent.

The British have done well over the ages always and everywhere to avoid European political traditions. Long may it remain so.

Laban said...

"The stage is set for a new political force to emerge that unites the working class and middle class against the underclass and the super-rich, but should such a political force begin to emrge it would be torn to shreds by a corrupt media that is only too happy with the existing tweedle-dum tweedle-dee political corruption we have at present. I do not think, however, it can be held back forever"

That's why mass immigration is so important to our rulers - to prevent that unity.

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