January 18, 2022

Socialism

Jeremy Corbyn, at Glastonbury, 2017

The public institutions that make up a country ruled by a state, where people have a reasonably free hand in determining who rules them, are, in part, a function of the commitment that people have for each other, how together and bonded they feel, how much they like and trust each other, and how much they want to be part of the same thing.

Under capitalist institutions, the democratic state, in whichever part of the world, is bent and biased towards the interests of the capitalists. The media for one is run by the capitalists, they own the media, they can afford to subsidise it, they advertise in it, they distribute it and make it look attractive, and and they influence what it focuses on and how it represents ‘the news’.

To the extent that people buy ‘the news’ they have no real choice but to understand issues and to focus on and think about things, in the way presented to them by the rich. The interests and issues faced by the poor are ignored, unrepresented or mocked and ridiculed, such that the poor only ever experience private burdens and humiliations, and feel that reaching out to others, will only result in more humiliation, shame and hostility.

Every single Labour Leader (even the right wing Tony Blair) was pilloried by the right wing press at some point, for being socialist or a socialist in Tory clothing. Milliband was harassed for being a Marxist. Blair was the socialist in Tory’s clothing. Corbyn was Corbyn. Lets see how Starmer gets portrayed nearer the election.

In this environment, how can the interests of the poor be evolved, developed, discussed and presented as a set of political priorities, that is presented, unfiltered by the interests and agenda of the rich. The answer, it pretty much can’t.


The fear of what the capitalists will do if socialism or social democracy were to be given the popular mandate, and the history that supports that fear

Another challenge is that any system, which promises to transform the values and interests of those served by the state, capitalism and the tax system, necessarily suggests the unfolding of a violent response. There are historical precedents. The Spanish civil war. The United States government’s murder of democratically elected governments in South America. Egypt, more recently. People hold this fear in mind, when deciding if to vote, and who to vote for.

Nicolò Machiavelli had something to say about this dilemma, of the perils of creating a new order of things(1):

And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack, they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly, in such wise that the prince is endangered along with them.

I don’t know much about the Labour Party, but the fact that you often hear people within the party saying that it cannot be electable if it attempts to govern to the left (in other words, if it attempts to deal with people fairly and delivers social and economic justice) means that the forces of the right and capitalism is so powerful, that even people who ostensibly chose Labour to advance the interests of society as a whole, have capitulated before they have begun. The fact that you get writers in the Daily Telegraph uttering the same thing, arguing that the country needs a strong opposition, in other words an opposition that shares the same interests as the Tory party, but which takes a slightly different angle, only underlines the capitulation.

Terrified wealthy Americans

I’ve spent a lot more time listening to Americans in podcasts and stuff over the last ten years. I’ve met a few face to face too. One thing that I always pick up on, is just how competitive and self-centred they are. This, appears to me to be a symptom of a trauma, of always running scared, of being alone. Americans, from the greatest country of earth, so they say, even when they are wealthy and have jobs and stuff, seem like some of the loneliest people I’ve ever met. They are also greedy, but the greed appears to me to be a response to the overwhelming fear of what might happen to them if they don’t keep accruing, and endless scrambling up the hillside to avoid the drop into the abyss.

The United States in some way, feels like an utterly dog eat dog world, played out to the interests of the biggest dogs, where everyone, no matter what size of dog they are, is terrified of what people would say to them if they were to suggest that there might be a different way of going about things – of building institutions that would be funded by everyone to help everyone.

The violent reaction that the ruling interests and media make to the ideas of funding public services and support, is akin to the slave drivers cracking the whip at the slightest sign of dissent, resistance or community within the slave body.

Of course when the capitalists realise that public investment is the most cost-effective way of promoting their interests then its cool (the army, motorways, space exploration).

Capitalism, under democracy, has always been a beast with two heads

Capitalism, under democracy, has always been a beast with two heads. On the one hand the so-called respectable mainstream right-wing political face of the Tory party. And then when it needs to the more violent unrestrained head of the far right emerges. In Germany it was the usual lot and then Hitler and now AFD. In Spain, its PP and Vox. Its all the same people, moving from one party to another, working for them, representing them and funding them. OK, so not everyone who identifies with what they see the values of the centre-right would prefer a dictatorship over a democratically elected left. Granted. But generally the power behind the two expressions of the right, comes from the same beast. Francostein they called it in Spain. Farage is no different to Johnson. They represent the same interests. The people who control, intimidate and suck the wealth out of working class people. Its employment and work or its slavery, its just a dialling up of the temperature in the factory.

Work or slavery, same difference, according to the Nazis and their capitalist partners

Perhaps that’s why Johnson got into power after Farage had done all the dirty work. The idea is that they should put on a show, pretend to hate each other, cause a distraction, the anti-democratic far right tends to kick in, when the capitalists feel that the democratic right is no longer working for them in quite the way they want.

The mainstream right tries to maintain the social order, the far right tries to restructure it, shake it up, in part, by pitting the working classes against the middle classes, or the working class against each other. Its not hard to do, the capitalist classes control the media. Plus the resentment is already there. The working class resent the middle classes, because its the middle classes, who do most of the monitoring and managing work on behalf of the capitalist ones.

Its a shame that socialists obsess about capitalism and right wing politics too much

Socialist politicians tend to get sucked into a hate campaign against right wing politicians too much. This feeds right into the lap of those politicians, because it stops socialists from building up the broad based support they need. I’d prefer it if socialists spent their time consolidating their base and building up ideas and policies, rather than suggesting that we on the edge of capitalist collapse, and that we need a revolutionary swing, before its all too late. Socialists need to build up a picture of a positive, enjoyable, really cool world that we can live in. Not just go, we’re going to stop those bastard capitalists from being so capitalist, and give the poor a bit more benefit. That’s not going to work as a vision to get excited about it. Corbyn wasn’t strong enough for that, not that that would have necessarily made the difference.

I’d like to teach the world to sing

Its a shame Corbyn resigned. Its a shame that party politics is all about winning power. Its a shame that there are so few socialists in the Labour Party, in a position of power, that there wasn’t more than one candidate to run for Corbyn’s replacement (I know there were a few more than the one that did run).

I’d like to see someone turn the Labour Party away from something that is obsessed with winning elections it can’t win. Lets invest our time in determining, honing and improving who we are and who we want to be. We don’t have enough pride in ourselves, and continuing to engage in an abusive relationship with the right wing press (BBC included, House of Parliament question time only leads to self-doubt (look at what it did to Milliband, he did’t know who he was) or we end up prostituting ourselves (Blair was always muttering ‘But what would the Daily Mail say?’).

The middle class people who run and rule Labour. Going back to Machiavelli, how much do they really want to give up their creature comforts and their Amazon deliveries, on the back of Chinese labour and poorly paid working class van drivers?

Instead we ought to give the shoulder to our abusive partner and develop a relationship with someone who cares, and start to develop some self-respect and pride. And start to dig deep roots, galvanise and raising a shared consciousness, and a sense of pride amongst people in the idea of investing in everyone, and investing for everyone.

Private Eye hit the nail on the head with Ed : r/ukpolitics

I think this would be a end in itself. It needs to develop, nurture and raise a new social beast, which feels proud of this ambition. It needs to protect this beast from the ridicule and hostility of the right wing press. It needs to create neighbourhoods of like minded people, who support the vision, so that they can vote together and win local areas, and start to try and put their vision into reality and give strength to each other. It needs to do community work, help those who have less, bring people together with carnival and song, and brand it all, do it under a banner, under a philosophy, so that they can build up the strength, esteem and motivation to contribute. Two fingers to the general election, unless, of course, we win it.

Socialism can go very wrong

I know that. And alot of people vote for the right because they fear that. Its not that they don’t agree with the values behind socialism, they just think the socialist way of doing stuff, or the the real values and interests of the people behind it will produce the opposite result. There is no guarantee that with the best intentions that the system or the people who run it, end up creating a dystopia.

Its not really politics, its just an impulse, an approach

People get superheated about politics. Its amazing how ideas can absolutely hold people and control them. Its amazing how people can identify with ideas and be driven to serve and fight for them. It makes me wonder if you can consider ideas as having a life, that whilst depending on humans for their existence, have an ability to act back on humans (in the same way that viruses do).

At a simple level politics is a matter of choice or disposition, at a particular point in time (general election), towards one of two basic human impulses. One is to take care of yourself and your own family or tribe, and elevate their own needs above everyone else. The other is to try and construct social systems that allow thousands and millions of people, within the same space as you, no matter their allegiance to your family and tribe, that give everyone a decent standard of living. We, all of us, have and act on both of these impulses. Each one of us spans all sides of the political spectrum, in practice.