Comparethepolitics.com. A consumer’s guide to post-election inquests

January 7, 2020

A guest post by BOB MYERS

Many people will have been bitterly disapointed when they found that most consumers had bought the Eton toffs’ slogan “Get Brexit Done”, rather than the product on offer from Labour. And I agree, it is utterly nauseating to see the public school aristos put in charge of the tuck shop, and stuffing goodies into their slavering mouths faster than their arseholes can evacuate their waste.

When Jeremy Corbyn beat the remnants of Tony Blair’s privatising war junkies, and became Labour leader, thousands of people were excited by the prospect of what Corbyn himself described as “a new kind of politics”.

However, Comparethepolitics.com has looked at the election, and found little or no actual

Greek referendum 2015: demonstration for voting NO at Syntagma square, Athens, Greece / Creative Commons

evidence of “new politics”. While the products on sale may have had very different labels, the contents were identical in one vital respect.

Both set out to sell their products to a passive audience sat in front of TVs, mobiles and toilet paper dressed as newspapers. Both said: “Vote for me to solve your aches and pains.”

Where was the “new” politics?

Now Labour Party leadership hopefuls are rushing to the Guardian to tell their middle class readers that they know what the working class really want and need.

The hard truth is that the defeat of the miners’ strike in 1985 by the Thatcher government saw the almost total destruction of the British working class.

Of course there are workers: workers on ever deteriorating wages, workers on zero hour contracts, workers living homeless on the streets, workers doing two or three jobs to get Read the rest of this entry »


People and Nature greatest hits of the 2010s

December 23, 2019

I hope, dear readers, you get time for reflection, rejuvenation and relaxation in the midwinter holidays. If you find yourself reaching for your phone for something to read – then, rather than winding yourself up with news of Boris Johnson’s vileness, go a level more thoughtful: look at those People & Nature articles you missed out on first time round. Here is some stuff that has stood the test of time. Thanks for your interest, and see you all (virtually or really) in the 2020s. GL, 23 December 2019.

Climate and ecological emergency

Disaster environmentalism: looking the future in the face (5 December 2019). A critique of Rupert Read, Jem Bendell and other writers linked to Extinction Rebellion

Climate grief, climate anger (25 June 2019). How different global warming looks to young people

What does “climate emergency” mean? Let’s define that OUTSIDE parliament (2 May 2019)

Still bigger mountains of plastic on the way (March 2018). The petrochemicals companies are driving it

Global warming in the Indian context (June 2016). A pamphlet by Indian climate campaigner Nagraj Adve

Let’s face it. Melting ice has passed point of no return (23 November 2015)

The Paris climate talks and the failure of states (February 2015)

Stop tailoring global warming scenarios to make them “politically palatable” (July 2013). An interview with Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research Read the rest of this entry »


Labour defeat: thoughts on democratic socialism

December 23, 2019

To continue discussion on the aftermath of Labour’s election defeat, I am republishing these “thoughts on the strategy of democratic socialism” by Angry Workers of the World, a group of worker militants based in London. This article was published on Saturday on their web site here, and is part of an upcoming book reflecting on six years of working class inquiry and intervention in west London.

“Democratic socialism” is currently the main alternative vision to transforming capitalism, and as such we need to take it seriously, despite our deep disagreement with it. By democratic socialism we mean the idea that by using the two legs of the organised labour movement – the trade unions and a socialist party in government – we can walk step-by-step towards socialism. Socialism is defined as a society dominated by either nationalised or cooperative ownership of the means of production and workers’ representation when it comes to management of these economic units.

The general strategy of democratic socialism can be summarised briefly.

The idea is to campaign for an electoral victory of a socialist party based on an economic programme of partial re-nationalisation of a limited number of key industries, and the creation of a wider sector of “solidarity economy”, formed by cooperative or municipal Read the rest of this entry »


Nightmare on Downing Street

December 16, 2019

Until I saw the exit poll from the UK general election on Thursday evening, I was holding out hope that there would be a hung parliament, leading either to Boris Johnson squirming again under an opposition majority, or a Labour-led coalition or minority government.

I wasn’t the only one. The polls were narrowing, and millions of people were at least giving the impression of being undecided until the last minute.

It didn’t happen. We suffered a defeat. Here are some thoughts about it.

1. Boris Johnson’s xenophobic populism worked.

Clearly there were many reasons why working-class voters either voted Tory or did not turn out to vote Labour. But equally clearly, amidst the fear and desperation caused by

Demonstrators at Downing Street, Friday 13 December. Photo by Steve Eason

years of austerity policies, falling living standards and unemployment, the Tories’ vilification of outsiders (the continent of Europe, migrants, Muslims, and so on) had some resonance. Let’s not try to pretend otherwise.

“Get Brexit Done” was the latest in a series that includes not only “Take Back Control” but also Donald Trump’s “Lock Her Up” and “Build That Wall”.

Three days before the election, Johnson returned to the heart of his Brexit message, Read the rest of this entry »


Reading Marx on ecology: “capitalism generates an unrepairable physical rift”

December 3, 2019

Today I am very pleased to publish Barbara Harriss-White’s discussion of Kohei Saito’s book, Marx’s Eco-socialism: capital, nature and the unfinished critique of political economy (Monthly Review Press, 2017) on People & Nature. It is based on her talk at a panel at the Historical Materialism conference in London, on 8 November 2019 that reviewed the book, which won the 2018 Isaac Deutscher Memorial Prize. Please read and share!

 


Getting lost on the road to communist utopia

September 3, 2019

A response to Fully Automated Luxury Communism: A Manifesto by Aaron Bastani (Verso Books, 2019)

Communist utopias are the stuff of life. They have given hope, widened horizons and fired imaginations, from Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s What Is To Be Done (1863) and William Morris’s News from Nowhere (1890) through to Woman On the Edge of Time (1985) by Marge Piercy.

So when my copy of Aaron Bastani’s Fully Automated Luxury Communism: A Manifesto arrived, I had high hopes. They were not all realised.

There were things in Bastani’s book I really liked: his optimism, and his conviction that any communist society – that is, any society free of exploitation and hierarchy – will be based

From the front cover of Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed (Gollancz edition)

on material abundance. But his ideas about how this might be achieved were unconvincing.

Fully Automated Luxury Communism (FALC), he writes in the concluding chapter, is

a map by which we escape the labyrinth of scarcity and a society built on jobs; the platform from which we can begin to answer the most difficult question of all, of what it means, as [the economist John Maynard] Keynes once put it, to live ‘wisely and agreeably and well’ (p. 243).

Bastani writes that FALC, unlike the world of actually existing neoliberalism,

will not demand constant sacrifices on the altar of profit and growth. Whether it’s ‘paying down the debt for future generations’, as our politicians are so keen to repeat, or growth and rising wages always coming ‘next year’ it’s becoming ever clearer that the good times aren’t coming back. What remains absent, however, is a language able to articulate that which is both accessible and emotionally resonant.

Bastani aspires to provide that language – by identifying political principles for a movement beyond capitalism; by returning abundance to a central place in socialist Read the rest of this entry »


Zealots and ditherers

August 15, 2019

The UK government seems hell-bent on crashing out of the European Union without a deal on 31 October. This leap into the unknown carries the threat of economic hardship and disruption, constitutional crisis and the reconfiguration, or even break-up, of the UK.

The political uncertainty since the 2016 Brexit vote, on top of a decade of austerity,

“FcK Boris” demonstration, 24 July 2019. Photo by Steve Eason

is causing most Brits anything from stress to nervous exhaustion. And the next ten weeks are unlikely to be any less worrying.

Can the manic “no deal” crusade be stopped? The short answer seems to be: it’s difficult, but may be possible, provided parliament gets its act together. Suggestions about how that might happen are being made daily by “left” and not-so-left writers who know more about parliamentary procedure than I do.

This article focuses, instead, on what this frenzy tells us about the crisis of the Tory party and the property-owning class it represents. Because, to develop radical politics in the face of this insanity, we need to understand more clearly what generated it.

Our enemies are divided

It’s not the prime minister, Boris Johnson, who is driving the “no deal” process, as far as I can see. Rather, he is the enabler of zealots: Dominic Cummings, chief of Read the rest of this entry »


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