An Error of Proximity

Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has publicly spearheaded a repositioning of the party’s policy regarding Britain’s departure from the European Union. In what can only be described as a U-turn, this shift contains within it the worst of both worlds. As Starmer lays out in The Guardian, Labour now commits itself to remaining “in a customs union with the EU and within the single market” for a “transitional period” over the next two years. The Shadow Brexit Secretary also manages to provide little detail regarding Labour’s approach to Freedom of Movement (FoM), with the exception of recognising “the need for more effective management of migration”. This is an intervention which prides itself on allaying business concerns and appealing to political maturity. The uncertainty looming over the British economy demands of the official opposition an answer that poses solutions to the problems of a devalued pound, declining investment, sluggish growth and low productivity. The trouble with Labour’s policy shift is that it isn’t geared toward providing even social-democratic solutions to the difficulties of Brexit. What it is concerned about are the dilemmas confronting a political party with a real chance of managing the capitalist state. It is in this spirit that Labour has reversed its European policy and put much of its policies at risk when it could be maintaining and elaborating radical, class-based solutions to the challenges posed by Brexit. Continue reading “An Error of Proximity”

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Labourism & Marxist Strategy

From different political standpoints much has been debated in relation to Jeremy Corbyn and Labourism. This debate isn’t confined to the left I came into, but to a growing and revitalized left in an ever-more politicized and polarized British society.

On the revolutionary left this debate has sometimes inadequately been reduced to whether one should join the Labour Party or not. To my mind, this represents the strategic impasse of both those who speak correctly to the historic and contemporary limitations of Labourism, but at such a level of abstraction that no practical activity is offered; and to those who would, with good instincts, join Labour out of a desire for a genuinely mass politics, but fail to offer a strategic counter-weight to the problems of Labourism, often indulging in the worst moralism toward those who refuse to join the Labour Party.

Neither of these formulations offers revolutionaries a way forward. Continue reading “Labourism & Marxist Strategy”

Racism and anti-racism after the referendum

 

– I don’t think we can have an absolutist assessment of the referendum result that dismisses the contribution of either racism and nationalism, or class. This referendum result was a racialized vote against the consequences of decades of neo-liberalism and a hated political class, channelled to some degree through a nationalist set of politics.

– The left, whatever your position in the referendum, can’t downplay the rise in racist attacks over the last few days. 57% is the reported rise. On the one hand, hard racists will have been emboldened by the result, on the other, those looking for racialized solutions to their economic and social misery will feel their explanations politically vindicated, and far less so than the hard racists, be prone to racist lash-outs and outbursts, rooted in despair.

Continue reading “Racism and anti-racism after the referendum”

Movin’ on up?

Review of Richard Seymour’s Corbyn: the Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics

For much of my life, I have had this vague, unconfirmed memory of my parents, standing in the kitchen of our old flat, displaying relief and even slight jubilation at the election of Tony Blair as the British Prime Minister. Until last year, I have always wondered why the fuck they were so chuffed.

Even worse, roughly eighteen years after Tony Blair’s first general election victory, I woke up early in the morning, on May 8th, for a Job Seekers appointment. Only to, adding insult to injury, turn on the news and find out that Cameron’s Tories had won an electoral majority. Walking to the job centre had never felt so grim. That feeling of grimness had nothing to do with any hope or illusion in the prospects of Ed Miliband delivering one for ‘the class’. Far from it. The party he led to defeat sparked almost no connection to notions of ‘solidarity’ or ‘the left’ to me growing up. They almost always sparked thoughts of ‘war’, ‘ASBOs’, ‘immigrants and Muslims’, and that is not even to imply those words were filtered through to me with progressive connotations. Growing up, more often than not, we settled for Dizzee Rascal’s assertion: “I’m a problem for Anthony Blair.”i

The grimness I felt waking up that morning was so far removed from how I felt, sat in a Highbury pub four and half months later, watching a video on Facebook, of Jeremy Corbyn, elected leader of the Labour Party only hours beforehand, speaking at a 90,000-strong demonstration in London, in support of refugees. It’s that story, its challenges, its future and ultimately its limitations that makes Richard Seymour’s recent book amongst one of the best things written on Corbynism and a must-read for militants inside and outside the Labour Party. Continue reading “Movin’ on up?”

Proletarian inheritance: A letter to a comrade of an earlier era

Dear comrade,

You asked me to talk you through how my generation of militants was radicalised, through what routes we came into struggle and why we found ourselves amongst that minuscule section of society that believed in what were, supposed to be, outdated ideas. It’s not an easy question to answer. How did we find ourselves attracted to a marginal far-left whose principal obsession was the power and transformative capacity of a class which had no idea it existed, let alone any interest in listening to it?

Continue reading “Proletarian inheritance: A letter to a comrade of an earlier era”

Why radicals should read Fanon.

This was originally published for the January 2016 issue of rs21’s magazine, Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century. 

Peter Hudis’ Revolutionary Lives edition on revolutionary militant, philosopher, theorist and psychiatrist, Frantz Fanon, is a fantastic introduction to an outstanding figure of the freedom struggle, who has left behind a complicated but refreshingly original legacy. Rather than try and give a comprehensive review, I shall, influenced by Hudis, give 3 reasons why any socialist should engage with Fanon.

Continue reading “Why radicals should read Fanon.”