Thursday, October 11, 2012

How we can get the left back on track



This column of mine appears in the Morning Star.

According to former Communist Party general secretary Harry Pollitt we would have had a revolution a long time ago in Britain if not for horse-racing.

As a racing-loving socialist and someone who has a bet on the gee-gees most days of the week, I'm not sure I'd entirely agree. It could be argued that the block to radical change hasn't been Lester Piggott, Frankie Dettori and Red Rum but the Labour Party.

Labour undoubtedly has some great achievements to its name: the NHS, the creation of the post-war welfare state and the extension of public ownership in the 1940s, '60s and '70s. But it has done some terrible things too - with the illegal war on Iraq right at the top of the list.

As the party's 2012 conference ends, the question is: should we give up on Labour as an organisation which can deliver positive change or persevere with trying to get the party back on a more progressive path? To answer that we need to understand exactly what the Labour Party is.

You can read the whole piece here.

8 comments:

John said...

Great article, Mr.Clark. The Left certainly needs more people like George Lansbury in politics to provide a moral center to socialism. I think the lack of a moral center explains the rise of New Labour and the various faux- socialist and faux-social democratic parties in the world today.

Neil Clark said...

Thanks, John. The 'faux-left' is a big problem, they have effectively captured the main left-of-centre parties not just in UK but in other countries in Europe too pushing their pro-privatisation, pro-austerity, pro-globalisation, pro-'liberal intervention' and pro-banker agenda.

Cynthia Soso said...

I was brought to your blog (which I am enjoying very much) by way of your piece, Hungary is Counting the Cost of Capitalism. I am just disgusted with a recent ad by billionaire Thomas Peterffy in which he describes Hungary as a real shit hole under socialism and that unless one votes with the Republican Party (U.S.) we will slide into the depths of socialist hell. I was very happy to find your article as it reflects very much my outlook after having lived for a few years in Hungary during the 1980s and know the heartbreak of what it has become. I hope you will view the Peterffy advertisement and share your thoughts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnX7TNFIELg All the best.

Cynthia Soso said...

I was brought to your blog (which I am enjoying very much) by way of your piece, Hungary is Counting the Cost of Capitalism. I am just disgusted with a recent ad by billionaire Thomas Peterffy in which he describes Hungary as a real shit hole under socialism and that unless one votes with the Republican Party (U.S.) we will slide into the depths of socialist hell. I was very happy to find your article as it reflects very much my outlook after having lived for a few years in Hungary during the 1980s and know the heartbreak of what it has become. I hope you will view the Peterffy advertisement and share your thoughts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnX7TNFIELg All the best.

jock mctrousers said...

"...the Blue Labour movement would continue their fight within Labour for the party to make a clean break with neoliberalism"

You cannot be serious Neil. Glasman focuses on the only good things Labour ever did as " where we went wrong" - the welfare state, social security, the NHS.

Blue Labour don't even pretend to be left. The 'one-nation' Toryism (which featured big in Hitler's rhetoric too)is what they offer to the elites as their application for a ride on the gravy train. They're even worse than neoliberals; they're libertarians.

Neil Clark said...

Hi Cynthia- thanks for the link and for yr kind words. That Republican line seems incredibly desperate! It's very sad what has happened to Hungary in recent years.

jock: v.good to hear from you. I hope you're well. BL do attack the worshipping of the 'market', and I don't think they can be classified as 'right-wing Labour'. Though of course BL is very much work in progress, I think its very important that BL supports the achievements of Labour in the immediate post-war period eg welfare state, NHS, programme of nationalisation.

Douglas said...

I have a modest proposal. Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein wrote:

All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly which can--and must--be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. As racial survival is the only universal morality, no other basic is possible. Attempts to formulate a "perfect society" on any foundation other than "Women and children first!" is no only witless, it is automatically genocidal. Nevertheless, starry-eyed idealists (all of them male) have tried endlessly--and no doubt will keep on trying.

My modest proposal is that if you wish to make the case to me that the Left is anything besides surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury or folly, I would be interested in any argument you would advance as to how the Left is beneficial to pregnant women and small children.

neil craig said...

I am repeating myself but I think the "left's" failure is largely economic. As Clinton said "its the economy stupid". A "socialist" movement that could produce wealth better than a "capitalist" one would be immensely popular.

Unfortunately, with the failure of the USSR hardly anybody on the "left" put the hard detailed thought necessary into getting a succesful model. Instead they did the easy and worst possible thing - they invited in the extreme reactionaries of the Green movement to come along and tell them that they didn't need to be able to run a successful econiomy because successful economies are bad - the exact opposite of what Marx, Stalin and all those in between believed.

The USSR did fail in the end. On the other hand it did achieve very successful growth in the 1930s before bureaucratic sclerosis set in. There are lessons to be learned there if there is the will.

A "left" which adminsters the means of production to produce wealth less successfully than capitalism, fails in Marxist terms, fails the people it claims to be helping & will deserve to be put in the dustbin of history.