Friday, 15 July 2016

Could this be It for Socialism and Socialist Parties? What Next?

A piece from Labour Uncut got me pondering.  As did this piece.

Essentially Labour espouses an -ism.  In this case Socialism.  Might the 'meltdown' in Labour reflect a meltdown in the support for Socialism?  Globally? You might argue that Blair did for socialism in the Labour Party by reforming Cl4.4. (language-wise for the worse.  The old Cl4.4 was expressed in wonderful Edwardian English, whereas the replacement text is IMHO just more management-speak.).  And you could argue that Thatcher created Blair, who could only achieve  power, if we are honest about it, by deceit. 

In turn Blairism spawned the Cameroons.  And they too, have just been heartily rejected.

In any event pretty well everywhere you look the outcome for socialism has been dire.

It might be that English Socialism (God forbid 'Ingsoc') was really a protest movement against Tory-ism (not 'capitalism' per se) - aka landlordism.  The party of the Toffs.

If Iain Martin is right, and I suspect he is, then we have now moved into a post left / right world. 

Our democracy has now a new binary choice.  Big Government v Small Government.  How long will it take for those groupings to coalesce?


Barnacle Bill said...

With the Labour Party about to break it's self apart, both halves probably hating each other enough to never consider sharing power. The LibDems never being able to command the support of enough of the electorate to get to power themselves or, with the support of the one of the other Labourish party.

It is beginning to look like we will have a dictorship government coming from the Tories for a long time to come.

Lola said...

BB Yeah. Worrying isn't it?

Antisthenes said...

The failure of socialism is advertised constantly. Venezuela, Cuba, the Soviets Union the list is long and added to daily. Yet there are those who still think they can market the brand by saying that authoritarianism, shoddy products and services constantly in short supply is a price worth paying for social equality. Those who will buy into it are those who are so poor or marginalised that anything is better than they have.

As their standard of living and status improves so does their love of socialism decline. However the legacy of socialism is to create societies that are unbalanced as the establishment created an environment that is overly generous in the redistribution of wealth. Made so to blunt the socialist message and appease those who may overthrow them who subscribed to that message.

So socialism may be dying in areas where wealth has improved to such an extent that it is no longer relevant but it has thrown up a new area of political conflict. Between those who want things paid for by others and those who are doing the paying. In other words the former(statists) and the latter (those who desire small government).

The moral being appeasement is a route that should be taken with extreme caution. Those unilateralists, pacifists and apologists should never be taken seriously.

Woodsy42 said...

I suppose it depends how you define socialism.
In some senses we have all become socialist. Pretty much everyone agrees on sharing the costs of health treatment, sharing the costs of education, providing a benefits safety net for unfortunates, protecting worker's rights regarding holidays, safety, fair treatment, fair pay etc. All of these were socialist aspirations and while people can argue how far they should go they have been achieved to a large extent, and by general public agreement.
With regard to ownership of 'production' plenty of people would like to see railways nationalised, important industries like steel works supported and objected to privatising the PO. Now out of the EU competition rules this could well happen (or unhappen).
Further left from that you verge towards communism, paying everyone the same regardless, removal of private property etc and there is little appetite for that in the UK.

Mark Wadsworth said...

W42, good points.

James Higham said...

To me, it's those who would leave us alone - and those who won't.

Lola said...

W42. I'm not one of them. :-)

JohnM said...

> Those who will buy into it are those who are so poor or marginalised...

And yet the working classes have never been particularly socialist. The contrast between the conservative social attitudes of the working classes was being remarked upon by Marx as much as by pundits today. The Labour Party (excepting 1945) has never been electable when it has been most radical.

In contrast the middle class who man the institutions of the state such as teachers and civil servants are disproportionately supportive of Corbyn

Mike W said...

I can agree with the first part of this sketch Lola and agree with the thrust of your previous post.

Labour PLP. CLP was reformed by the unelectable Kinnock. The feeling being that the Labour of the 1970s had run its course and had moved too far left as you know.The party hoped that John Smith would find a middle way. On his death the party celebrated Blair and so did the City of London.Now the grass roots thinks that this historical process went too far and needs to go in reverse. Power at all costs; ie, a so called'conservative one nation' approach of Blair, Milliband and the PLP (and the Tories) is rejected by large sections of the CLP (400,000+). Now we have Corbyn tasked with shaping a new party, that may well mean that a whole raft of Blairite MP's do not get there career in Parliament as the expected and felt they had the natural right to. Feck them.It may mean Labour in the wilderness for the next five years too.

The attempt to paint Momentum (ie, those CLP members above)as 'Hard Left'Marxist is just a another wound created by these entitled Blairites.Who go back each month and ask the same people to deliver leaflets for them!Something I will be doing this Saturday.

As to 'Socialism' it is contestable as suggested. My version used to be Orwell's as it happens.In the tradition of English, Christian Socialism (not Marxist Internationalism). When I was 18 I could point to his, '1984' or 'England, You England' and say, 'This is what I believe':) I'm not sure that would go down well now. I think Blair had it redacted some time ago and it is now called 'Cool Britainnia, Our Cool Britainnia'. It now runs to about 30 words!

In so far as I now consider myself a Georgist, progress along the LVT lines gets us to the same place, but takes into account the complexity of a three way split between returns on Land, Labour and Capital rather that the simple two way split of old. Which I think you are alluding to.

I would add, the death of Neo-Liberalism is the interesting topic at the moment.I wonder what the bankers around the dinner table in your article are making of that?

Lola said...

MW Neo-Liberalism seemed to me to be Toryism by another name. More corporatist than liberal. More authoritarian than liberal.
I think that the problem with 'socialism' of whatever stripe is that it is fundamentally anti-liberty - the ownership of the means of production thing and all the 'fairness' and 'income inequality redistribution' stuff that relies on coercion.
In any event as we all agree it's the bloody rent seeking landlords that is THE problem. Sort that and much of the socialism agenda becomes superfluous.
I am not anti taxpayer funded health and schools per se, but I'd rather see that as a last resort. The UK working classes were pretty good at getting things like friendly societies and mechanics institutes going without any taxpayer help. (I count myself as 'working class' in that I work, as it were.)
I still think we'll trend to a small / big split of some kind, but someone has to challenge the Tories.
(BTW I paid my 25 quid - ouch - so I can go and make a nuisance of myself at the local Conservative Association).

Bayard said...

W42, as I see it, what you have defined as "socialism" is the bit of socialism that works. The bit that doesn't work and is, as Antisthenes says, now advertised constantly, is the attempt to use the power of the state to improve human nature using humans whose nature is yet to be improved, the attempt to separate humanity into the good guys (the regulators) and the not-so-good guys (the regulated) without any form of sieve to sort the one from the other.

I remain unimpressed with the articles, both biased against Corbyn in a typically Blairite way. Rob Marchant also makes the classic mistake of equating attacks on the state of Israel with anti-semitism. The truth of the matter is that Blairite Labour will never win back their lost seats in Scotland and that without those seats, they are doomed to decades in the wilderness.

Lola said...

B. Which is extremely worrying for parliamentary democracy as there is no effective opposition. Which brings me back to my central point - that the next separation will be Big Government / Small Government.

Steven_L said...

I think we are a very socialist country. To me 'socialism' basically means 'bureaucratic rationing'. Our economy has become dependent on this. Most tory voters don't see themselves as 'socialist' but they support bureaucratic rationing of planning permission (but not so much of housing for rent by the state). They also support bureaucratic rationing in the credit markets and the support a perversion of central bank policy that means the aim of the game is now high asset (i.e. house) prices.

We are a nation of socialists.

Lola said...

Steven L Yes. Totally agree.

Mike W said...


'In any event as we all agree it's the bloody rent seeking landlords that is THE problem. Sort that and much of the socialism agenda becomes superfluous.'

Yes, this lies at the center. Bit by bit, Popperian LVT reform and lets see where we are in 20 years. It really would be a changed world. As you have said in the past, we do not have a low pay problem as such, we have a high rent problem. I see the papers lack of critical journalism as the problem. I have never been impressed with PM question time as an expression of Mills we need our ideas questioned.

W42, Yes, I feel the same. The mix of private and state is the issue. As I have posted before, once the Marxists got to the 'transitional measures' in 1848+, and the state here delivered them all(but LVT) by 1945, Marxist socialism was redundent except for academic study.

Bayard, I agree about human nature and the state, as social science can never devise a test to answer it in advance, we live and change as we go. Your second point: fatalities of Cameron's referedum, Camaron, Osborne, Grove sure, but add the Guardian and the BBC to the list!Their made up stuff over Brexit and then Corbyn is vomting inducing.

Steven L above, fantastic challenge to those who see themslves as wholey market actors.

Bayard said...

"but add the Guardian and the BBC to the list! Their made up stuff over Brexit..."

Yes, those who are squealing loudest about "Leavers' lies" are the ones who were busy propagating the falsehoods for the other side and now want to distract people from that.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, I don't think it counts as a lie if nobody believed it anyway.

Surely nobody voted Leave purely on the basis of the "£350 million a week for the NHS" tale? In which case, what are the Remainers complaining about?

Bayard said...

The Remainers would have us believe that everyone who voted leave or at least 1.7 million people who voted Leave voted purely on the basis of the "£350 million a week for the NHS" tale. Pointing out the absurdity of this cuts no ice. It is now an article of Faith. Just like in the C17th, the country is not so much split over what is, but what is believed.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, meanwhile, many of the Remainers' scare stories are turning out to be complete fiction.

Bayard said...

Project Fear was a complete failure. Not only did it have little effect on most Leavers, it also had the opposite effect on some waverers, since most of the bad things it promised were likely to hit the rich, not the poor (shares going down, house prices going up) and those who actually believed the bullshit, i.e. mostly Remainers, are now plunged into gloom at the thought of all the disasters about to strike.

Lola said...

Serendipity strikes - again!
h/t guido