Posted Under: Democracy,Protest,Revolution,Socialism
One of the most frequently repeated myths on the left is that we are fighting for the representation of this vast number of people who lie to the left of the Labour Party. In fact in nearly every single demonstration or large public meeting I attend I am told about this by some faux-psephologist with a microphone, normally someone with an interest in recognising him- or herself as the head of a growing mass-movement. I am perhaps a cynical grumpy old man, but today’s results in the Labour leadership contest should really be giving us something to think about.
Ok, the fact is that there was no real hard left candidate, but the closest thing to that in the form of Diane Abbott polled an appalling 7% before her elimination in the first round. Yes, I know that I will be told that there are all sorts of people who are left of the Labour Party so didn’t vote, but given that there has been a whole lot of caucusing around the hard left for the leadership election.
It is integral to our position as leftists that we do not give up the fight to convince people to think like us. For too long we have been complacent with the view that when the working classes realise their position in society they will join us, for too long the left has lied to itself. That is not to say that our cause is lost, and nor is it to say that we should move in the other direction towards the patronisation of current working class culture, but the signal is loud and clear that we must do something differently.
Although there are some fantastic new initiatives such as Mutiny, the leftist parties in this country lament the lack of barricades without taking any of the blame. We must think about new ways to reach people, as the old way – the production of pamphlets that nobody reads (actually, does anyone produce pamphlets anymore? Maybe it would be a good idea!), of weekly newspapers that only those in agreement buy, of parties that reaffirm the beliefs of their memberships rather than reaching out – are simply not working.
As Reuben will say to me once this piece is published, it is all too easy to lament the state of the left, it is all too easy to be critical of people who make small errors when the big errors are made by those in power, but that is not what I intend to do. Rather, this election must be seen as a call to action, a call to conviction in our principles, a call to the dissemination of radical ideas in new ways, a call to the production of new theories that engage not with the past but with how people are living, a call for changing how we organise.
In other news, at least we didn’t end up with David.