DONATE NOW TO HELP UPGRADE LIBCOM.ORG

Thoughts on the movement, or why we still don't even Corbyn - Joseph Kay and Ed Goddard

Registering to vote in the 2016 Labour leadership election raised £4,588,525.

It’s a lonely world these days for an anti-parliamentary socialist with all politics seeming to have taken a back seat to the current Labour Party shenanigans. While the deluge of establishment groupthink currently arrayed on Corbyn is as disgusting as it is cynical, we're still not pinning any hopes on him in the (now quite likely) event he comes out on top in the next leadership election.

Look, it could well happen that the left may, against all odds, take control of the Labour Party NEC and make the party more member-led. That’s something I would have given very long odds on a year or so ago (but then again, the same is true of Leicester City winning the Prem so maybe 2016 is the year for long odds!).

That said, if you think the Labour Right play dirty, wait til you see the CBI, the City of London and the IMF join in while the media dial up the smears to 11. As sneaky and disingenuous as individuals like Tristram Hunt, Angela Eagle and Owen Smith are, they’re all also largely inept and charmless, as their botched coup and embarrassing public appearances demonstrate. They’re like The Orphans in The Warriors, easily rolled over at the start but not nearly as fearsome as the other opponents on the journey back to Coney Island.

The same will not be true as we draw up to General Election time, and even less so if Corbyn were to win; the likelihood he'd be able to pass reforms that harmed the interests of big business, without massive pressure from a disruptive extra-parliamentary social movement, is very slim… all the slimmer for the fact it won’t be Tom Watson playing ‘Good Cop’ to Chuka Umunna’s ‘Bad Cop’; it will be the Murdochs and other ‘captains of industry’ hamstringing even mild social democratic reform through non-cooperation, sabotage and public smears.

Without such a movement, a Corbyn (or any other social democratic) government would not have a leg to stand on. Yet with such a social movement, the role of such a government becomes different: the role will be to mediate and to limit; to separate ‘responsible’ representatives from ‘unruly’ elements and give carrots to the first while doling out sticks to the latter.

Ultimately, extra-parliamentary forces largely determine parliamentary possibilities so even if you want parliamentary reform, it necessitates building grassroots power and a capacity to take disruptive action - strikes, occupations, demonstrations that block transport hubs etc - that such reform will become realisable. And, of course, when such extra-parliamentary forces are forcing reforms, parliamentarism ceases to appear as a ray of hope and becomes an obstacle.

It’s at this point that the usual response is “can’t we do both?”. “Can’t we build an autonomous grassroots working-class direct action movement AND fight to reform the Labour Party into a left-wing electable vote-winning machine?” And the answer to this is: theoretically, yes. But practically there are only 24 hours in a day, two-thirds of which are usually spent either sleeping or working. What has become clear with the recent coup (if it wasn’t already) is that reforming the Labour Party won’t be as easy as paying £3 to vote Corbyn as leader. It means getting involved in your Constituency Labour Party, pressuring your MP, possibly deselecting them, which, as Novara’s recent guide to deselection makes clear, could potentially involve “years of hard work in branches and constituencies across the country”. Which is fine; as the old cliché goes, ‘they wouldn’t call it a struggle if it was easy’. The point is whether the Labour Party is the best place to expend all that energy in struggle.

From our point of view, there can be no ‘UKIP of the left’; pro- and anti-systemic politics just don’t work in the same way like that. But it is worth thinking about how the extra-parliamentary left in Britain could use similar resources to what's currently being chucked into the Labour Party and, in that sense, it's oddly useful looking at the US extra-parliamentary right, with its vast media infrastructure of talk shows, blogs and ecology of organisations. Sure, they’re financed by millionaire/billionaire capitalists and we’re not (nor should we be). But working-class people collectively pay millions into unions, £4.6 million into the Labour Party in 48 hours and donate thousands of hours of voluntary labour into similar organisations. So the resources are there and it’s worth thinking about how an extra-parliamentary social movement could make use of them.

Money isn’t always a limiting factor but it often helps, certainly with media infrastructure, training, equipment and organising events.

In terms of action, it’s all about finding points of leverage:

  • Sisters Uncut have been doing fantastic work around domestic violence and housing. Their recent occupation of an empty council house in Hackney has highlighted cuts to both and created a base for organisation far more quickly than involvement in the Labour Party ever could.
  • Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth have been doing excellent work around housing and building their eviction phone tree. Similar could be said of the recent UCL rent strikers
  • IWW, Solfed and IWGB have all had some decent industrial organising, particularly Solfed amongst hospitality workers in Brighton and the IWGB amongst cleaners and couriers in London (the IWGB have also organised a London Courier Emergency Fund to help ‘self-employed’ couriers when they have accidents and can’t work)
  • There’s also a Black Lives Matter UK group in the works which promises to be very exciting

So what is to be done?

The fact is that outside of a lot of major cities, there isn’t a whole lot of extra-parliamentary direct action organising going on and often it’s the Labour Party/Momentum or nothing. And it’s also obviously a lot easier to get involved or support existing groups than start one from scratch. Given all that, a potential strategy to help isolated groups could look something like this:

1) Build alt-media and social networks; Novara are doing very well at this (despite becoming a bit too Labour-centric for our tastes) as are Media Diversified. The Occupied Times also produce a very high quality print publication. And, er, obviously us at Libcom.org..

2) Utilise contacts built through alt-media networks to organise a loose tour of direct action groups around the country aiming not merely to hold meetings but to seed new direct action groups. Would require organisations to put up a few people willing to travel and talk within a given area, pool resources etc.

3) Focus shouldn’t be on building particular organisations but supporting people to organise in a locally appropriate model: if they want to form an IWW branch/Solfed local/Sisters Uncut chapter, then fine. If they want to organise a non-affiliated Solidarity Network or housing action group, also fine

The same concerted effort over years that would go into the Labour Party could instead be used to grow direct action groups in localities across the country.

Obviously, there aren’t 180,000 people itching to get involved in extra-parliamentary direct action; what’s being sketched out here is how a few million quid and thousands of activist hours could help develop a movement separate from the Labour Party, and lamenting all that’s gone into that party (and scepticism over Corbyn more generally) does not mean passively accepting Tory rule. It just means we prefer barking up the right (tall and difficult to climb) tree than the wrong (accessible, appealing) one.

For more tips on how to get involved/start different kinds of organisation, check out:

But more importantly, check out some of the great groups mentioned in this blog post!

This blog post is a padded out version of a thread on Joseph Kay's twitter.

Posted By

libcom
Jul 22 2016 21:18

Share

Attached files

Comments

Auld-bod
Jul 27 2016 18:38

Didn’t know about hot pennies. When I was wee and there was a wedding coming up, dozens of children would gather near the house of the bride. When she left for the wedding, a brother or dad would throw out a great shower of coppers known as ‘the scramble’ and all the children would go mad shouting and trying to gather up as much dosh as they could find. We loved it.

Noah Fence
Jul 27 2016 18:54
Quote:
No doubt, but let's not forget the obvious, namely that the rich are very well aware that this is a war and that they're winning, even if most of our class is sleepwalking. So hating them isn't at all illogical or counter-revolutionary, only part of the indispensable ethical outrage required to eventually win.

This I can't be sure of, it mostly doesn't seem that way to me in most cases. Maybe I'm naive but I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. I have worked closely with many of these people. I think(?) I know their mindset and mostly I think they are just indoctrinated fools. I repeat though, I know what they are to my position in society and as their position must be destroyed and if they get in the way of that then they must be destroyed, nice guy or not.

As for your second paragraph I obviously agree. It's my whole point almost. I think it's understandable to have prejudices but we need to be aware of them and try not to act on them. For instance, I have within me prejudices of race, sex and orientation. Intellectually I know they are bullshit but for brief moments as I go about my day I make snap judgements based on this things. Rarely, if ever do I act on them. That would make me at best a fucking idiot. I think a similar thing can happen with toffs etc. Of course I'm not comparing the two in levels of importance, that would be pretty fucked up.

Red Marriott
Jul 27 2016 18:59
Noah wrote:
I don't deny what you have said about the posh can be true. Of course it is. It's equally true that many of my co-workers think that this is their country by entitlement and nature and look down upon my non British co-workers as less than them. Both attitudes make me fucking sick. The arguments I hear from anarchists and leftists are always one sided, including yours. How about if we had been born to wealth and privilege? Would we be debating this on a communist website? I doubt it but we'd still be the same essential person, just crafted into another shape by our circumstances. Or are they a different species from us like David Ickes shape shifting fucking lizards?
If we're gonna generalise, I mean why not, it seems a pretty popular sport around here, who do you think by far are the biggest asshole clients I ever get to meet? By a long fucking stretch its working class people that have somehow or another found a way to get rich. They ignore, ridicule, demand and generally throw their weight around and make it clear that they think they own you. Explain that if you will.

I’ll have a go. Having experienced similar attitudes working for wealthy employers my take is that those born into money are more relaxed and secure about it with their inbred sense of entitlement. While those self-made new money types, having come from nowhere - often by exceptionally ruthless competitive methods - are often unsurprisingly paranoid that those they left behind down there are as greedy as them and obviously out to rip them off (judging everyone by their own miserable standards). If they backstabbed, exploited and walked over us to get to the top then the rest of us must surely be envious and resentful. So the nouveau riche will never be quite as secure in their status and will need to throw their weight around and pull rank on you – sometimes you get the impression that’s the main reason they’re really employing people is to play the boss and get that status buzz.

They’re also paranoid that those born into money, with their education and breeding, will never really accept such upstarts. So they send their kids to elite private schools to cultivate that image and sense of entitlement. Almost a bourgeoisie-merging-with-aristocracy kind of process. As their brats ascend to management & expansion of daddy's capital they may well adopt the more easygoing, disarming well-bred attitudes of the old rich.

More generally; in understanding the continued appeal of Labourism and its ever-dashed hopes the emotional pull has to be taken into account. Growing up in a Labour voting household was to be a bit conditioned to see them as the ‘natural’ party of fairness, the defence of the exploited from the excesses of the exploiters etc. Or it was just a vague habitual loyalty, a bit like which church you'd get married, in C of E or Catholic etc, even though you weren't really religious. However illusory (and it hasn’t always been totally illusory, if only so the Party can use minor concessions to keep its natural constituency onside and also institute check & balances for better social stability) that emotional relation is still a real part of how it functions. So its no surprise if many people who genuinely want a ‘fairer society’ and who generally support some forms of class struggle are more likely to be found thereabouts. Far more so than in the Tory Party. (Even though arguably every govt of the past 40 years, Labour or Tory, has been further to the right than their predecessors.)

But that appeal is part of the value to capitalism of Labour and the left generally – that it is the repository of those hopes and ideals where they’re disappointed, realised in diluted ambiguous forms or endlessly deferred etc, but still giving the illusion of progressive possibilities in the most ‘realistic’ way. (While of course for the non-leninist radicals their hopes and desires are constantly being fulfilled...) It defines the ideological and practical limits of what the ruling class will tolerate in social reform or concession.

In today’s climate that is very little indeed. And that’s why, despite their good intentions, those who insist parliamentary democracy is the only realistic way, can be at their worst so annoying; despite the procession of false hopes soon exposed – Podemos, Syriza, and Labour govts generally (many of those lefties now condemning Blair as a ‘war criminal’ would’ve touted his 90s election victory as progressive) they never reach the logical conclusion. For some it's eventual activist burnout and/or resignation. For others it’s a comfortable cop-out; vote once every few years, click on a few online petitions, go on the occasional demo and pat each other on the back on social media about how radical you all are while your radical ‘activity’ rarely leaves the sofa/keyboard. And, as a loyal follower, delegate all agency and responsibility to the latest worthy lefty political figurehead with the right platitudes and buzzwords. And when that one fails, wait for the next hot ‘Cause’ to appear.

Noah Fence
Jul 27 2016 19:48

RM - terrific post.

factvalue
Jul 27 2016 19:51

Good post RM.

Quote:
and it hasn’t always been totally illusory, if only so the Party can use minor concessions to keep its natural constituency onside and also institute check & balances for better social stability

- often this is illusory though in being accompanied by a 'rise in the cost of living'.

S. Artesian
Jul 27 2016 20:55
Quote:
But yeah, hating Tories more than those other fucking creeps who's role is to co-opt resistance by pretending that they can attenuate capitalism through their use of the very state machinery that capitalism itself created to extend its control over society, makes no fucking sense at all.

You can hate both, equally, you know. And in different ways.

Alf
Jul 27 2016 22:08

Basic agreement with Noah Fence, Artesian, and Red. Artesian took things back to the starting point: the Labour Party as "an institution of capital". We can argue about how it got there, but we have to understand all the implications of accepting that its essential function today is to protect capital from anyone who begins to put it into question. Taking over the machinery of Labour and the Trade Unions can't work for us not because we just don't have the time to convert it to our needs, but because it is already part of that wider state machine which we can't "lay hold of", and which we are compelled to destroy.

Reading this thread makes me think that I have underestimated the influence of the new corbynismo in the anarchist movement; that it can't be limited to an obvious expression such as the Anarchist Momentum group.

I think that's the key issue for this thread. The question of reactions to "the posh" raises an intriguing question: the personalisation of capital, which we can meet in various guises. But perhaps it should be discussed elsewhere.

factvalue
Jul 27 2016 23:18
S. Artesian wrote:
You can hate both, equally, you know. And in different ways.

Yeah I agree, that's what I was saying, although I think I hate the resistance-hoovering Statists a little more at the moment, partly for aesthetic reasons, there being something disgusting, drab, calculating and narrowly mechanical (just take one look at Corbyn ffs) about unimaginatively persuading people to cut themselves off from the intensity that comes from imagining any category of the seemingly unattainable, which tends to unleash our full energies in the attempt; I mean over and above the repugnant lies that this particular, unethical and vicious 'worldliness' entails.

Serge Forward
Jul 27 2016 23:20

Following on from Alf's comment...

And this personalisation of capital and despising of the posh accents goes hand in hand with notions of class as an identity. Wankity wank, that is.

As for yer "Momentum anarchists" joining the Labour Party, I really fucking despair. It shows serious shortcomings in the movement of today. Add that to the ongoing anarchist support for Rojava and it makes you wonder just how often we're destined to repeat our historic errors over and over since that infamous manifesto of the sixteen.

Alf
Jul 28 2016 00:03

....and greetings to Serge for his concern over what looks like a spreading erosion of principles. But with regard to the "momentum anarchists", the most significant thing, it seems to me, is the fact that someone who actually claims to be part of this trend (Bambuľka kvantová, 23 July, page one) feels that Joseph and Ed's original article is on the same wavelength. What was it in the article that gave Bambul'ka this impression?
For me, the passage that seemed most permeable to the allures of corbynista activism was this one:
It’s at this point that the usual response is “can’t we do both?”. “Can’t we build an autonomous grassroots working-class direct action movement AND fight to reform the Labour Party into a left-wing electable vote-winning machine?” And the answer to this is: theoretically, yes. But practically there are only 24 hours in a day, two-thirds of which are usually spent either sleeping or working. What has become clear with the recent coup (if it wasn’t already) is that reforming the Labour Party won’t be as easy as paying £3 to vote Corbyn as leader. It means getting involved in your Constituency Labour Party, pressuring your MP, possibly deselecting them, which, as Novara’s recent guide to deselection makes clear, could potentially involve “years of hard work in branches and constituencies across the country”. Which is fine; as the old cliché goes, ‘they wouldn’t call it a struggle if it was easy’. The point is whether the Labour Party is the best place to expend all that energy in struggle”.

I think this reduces the scope of the problem of the Labour party to the amount of ‘organising hours’ in the day, and does not really explain why this and related institutions are by their very nature hostile to the “autonomous” movement of the working class.

the button
Jul 28 2016 00:05
Serge Forward wrote:
Following on from Alf's comment...

And this personalisation of capital and despising of the posh accents goes hand in hand with notions of class as an identity. Wankity wank, that is.

As for yer "Momentum anarchists" joining the Labour Party, I really fucking despair. It shows serious shortcomings in the movement of today. Add that to the ongoing anarchist support for Rojava and it makes you wonder just how often we're destined to repeat our historic errors over and over since that infamous manifesto of the sixteen.

There is no anarchist movement in the UK, just a number of semi-detached subcultures. While that might sound depressing, better no movement at all than a shit one, imo. Not that there aren't isolated groups fighting the good fight (Brighton SolFed, Sisters Uncut, Deptford AntiRaids, London AFed, Bristol AFed, various bits of the IWW, more groups I don't know about) but we need a long hard look at ourselves before we can start attempting to spread our (pretty dysfunctional) models of organising to a wider audience.

jesuithitsquad
Jul 28 2016 01:51
Alf wrote:
I think this reduces the scope of the problem of the Labour party to the amount of ‘organising hours’ in the day, and does not really explain why this and related institutions are by their very nature hostile to the “autonomous” movement of the working class.

I couldn't disagree more.

I can't speak to things in the UK, but the anarchist/radical scene in the US is absolutely lousy with people who have always been nothing more than left-of-center liberals with some manner of non-mainstream lifestyle choices. This has been obvious for years to anyone with even a half-assed class analysis.

That they turn out to be Sanders supporters or want to work to change the Democratic Party into a 'progressive party' should be a surprise to exactly no one. That someone like this would feel an affinity towards the OP piece is no different to the fact they call themselves anarchists or marxists or whatever in the first place.

As I said earlier in the thread, I don't want to speak for jk/ed but the thing is--the above piece is outward looking and isn't written for the communist community. Would it be better if it included a sentence or two with a caveat about the role of capitalist parties and the state? Maybe but again I don't think the purpose is to create communist babies born with immaculately libcom politics. It's to give directionless people an idea of how they can go about collectively making a difference in their every day lives. And when this happens, hopefully we'll be there, working in solidarity, proving through practice that parliamentary politics are a dead-end, but that direct action gets the goods.

Chilli Sauce
Jul 28 2016 03:59
Auld-bod wrote:
Didn’t know about hot pennies. When I was wee and there was a wedding coming up, dozens of children would gather near the house of the bride. When she left for the wedding, a brother or dad would throw out a great shower of coppers known as ‘the scramble’ and all the children would go mad shouting and trying to gather up as much dosh as they could find. We loved it.

Auld-bod, you needa write a book man.

The Memoirs of Auld-bod: From the Scramble to the Picket Line. Full of folksy expressions and class anger, I'd buy that. wink

jef costello
Jul 28 2016 07:06
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Auld-bod, you needa write a book man.

I agree, every thread he's got an anecdote, a reference to w/c history or culture.

factvalue
Jul 28 2016 07:23
Auld-bod wrote:
Didn’t know about hot pennies. When I was wee and there was a wedding coming up, dozens of children would gather near the house of the bride. When she left for the wedding, a brother or dad would throw out a great shower of coppers known as ‘the scramble’ and all the children would go mad shouting and trying to gather up as much dosh as they could find. We loved it.

It was the same in Belfast. I remember as a nine-year-old my mates mercilessly taking the piss out of me for enthusiastically scrambling having recently lectured them on the evils of money. I don't think it's a working class phenomenon though, after all Colonel Brandon does the same thing at the end of Jane Austen's 'Sense and Sensibility'.

But the sheer slavishness expressed by the 'hot pennies' isn't in the same category. It's reminiscent of Plato's Thrasymachus defining justice as the interest of the strong, in that turning such a thing as the cruelty of the rich into a celebration is pure slave morality, in which the prudence of obeying the master blossoms into respect for brute power. There's a lot of this around these days. That's not to say that people don't distinguish between what they see around them and what ought to be, and successful 'organising' should also be about bringing the hidden injustices of the system out into the open, so that the bitterness and in turn the outcry can no longer be ignored.

Noah Fence
Jul 28 2016 07:28

Well FV, I never had you down as a Jane Austen reader but come to think of it you do have the look of an anarcho Mr Darcy so maybe I shouldn't be surprised!

factvalue
Jul 28 2016 07:42

It was only that one time and I've never gone back, promise! But you don't think I'm arrogant, proud and conceited like..Darcy is said to be .. by those who've, you know, read that other book.. do you?

Noah Fence
Jul 28 2016 07:48

Nope, I meant dashing and somewhat misunderstood! Mr Darcy turns out to be a real good guy in the end and looks rather splended in a flouncy white shirt. You oughta buy one.

factvalue
Jul 28 2016 08:23

Thank you comrade, that completely solves my bookfair cozy dilemma.

- Mark

Auld-bod
Jul 28 2016 19:05

I think factvalue July 28 2016 is correct that ‘the scramble’ is not peculiar to the working class, though I’ve no recollection of Colonel Brandon doing it in Jane Austin’s novel.

A few days ago in an entertaining program on Caligula, Mary Breard stated that he was known to shower the Roman crowd with coins (for propaganda reasons - 19:40).

See it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEhOk102ksk

Chilli Sauce
Jul 28 2016 20:50

Babe Ruth used to do it as well for the kids when they spotted him in the street.

S. Artesian
Jul 28 2016 22:49
Quote:
Maybe but again I don't think the purpose is to create communist babies born with immaculately libcom politics. It's to give directionless people an idea of how they can go about collectively making a difference in their every day lives.

Wait, J, nothing Alf, or I, said is desirous or designed to "create communist babies born with immaculately libcom politics." I'm not that presumptuous.

But there indeed is presumption, and its painfully, almost embarrassingly evident in the portion of your statement I've emphasized. That sounds like a pretty patronizing, demeaning, almost cynical, assessment you have, even though I'm sure you don't mean it to be. But saying: "directionless people" -- "how they can go about collectively making a difference in their every day lives"???? WTF? Are we hawking a religion here? I would expect Labour Party hacks to make that sort of assessment and appeal: "You have no direction, your life is meaningless. Get on board and work with us for realistic change."

factvalue
Jul 28 2016 23:01

It would be difficult to overstate the monumental impact on human feeling and thinking of the cultural revolution undertaken by protestant preachers in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries during the unprecedented program of brainwashing and indoctrination they engaged in to impose their work ethic and (Calvinist) justification of wealth accumulation by the chosen few on the population. You still hear echos of it when you express hatred of the rich. Of course it's the social relations which are at issue but quite a few of the comments I've come across defending these fucks sound like 'He's only doing his job.' I wouldn't accept that from a cop, so why should I accept it from this biped?

jesuithitsquad
Jul 29 2016 06:32
S. Artesian wrote:
Quote:
Maybe but again I don't think the purpose is to create communist babies born with immaculately libcom politics. It's to give directionless people an idea of how they can go about collectively making a difference in their every day lives.

Wait, J, nothing Alf, or I, said is desirous or designed to "create communist babies born with immaculately libcom politics." I'm not that presumptuous.

But there indeed is presumption, and its painfully, almost embarrassingly evident in the portion of your statement I've emphasized. That sounds like a pretty patronizing, demeaning, almost cynical, assessment you have, even though I'm sure you don't mean it to be. But saying: "directionless people" -- "how they can go about collectively making a difference in their every day lives"???? WTF? Are we hawking a religion here? I would expect Labour Party hacks to make that sort of assessment and appeal: "You have no direction, your life is meaningless. Get on board and work with us for realistic change."

Yo SA--

I definitely could've used a better word choice by saying 'misdirected' instead of 'directionless' but it's quite obvious that there is an implied 'politically' before 'directionless' that I'm absolutely certain you know I meant, but whatevs. "Hawking a religion" FFS.

The bottom-line of what I'm getting at is if there exists both a practical and a theoretical argument for or against something, and we are creating outward looking propaganda, 100% of the time the practical argument is going to be more effective.

fingers malone
Jul 29 2016 09:59

Look, the OP isn't about the Labour Party, it's about what effective forms of direct action grassroots organising we already have going on, and how we could spread them into new areas, given access to the necessary resources.

S. Artesian
Jul 29 2016 13:49
fingers malone wrote:
Look, the OP isn't about the Labour Party, it's about what effective forms of direct action grassroots organising we already have going on, and how we could spread them into new areas, given access to the necessary resources.

That's not how I read the OP. The OP is an appeal to those who are attracted to, sympathetic with, tempted by, the Corbyn wing of the Labour Party to not think, feel, act as if that holds the potential for... what? The OP is not exactly clear on that-- making substantial left reforms in the UK? making the Labour Party the vehicle for left reforms in the UK?

So the analysis, of the failure of analysis of Labour Party is relevant, and in truth, critical to the appeal. So the issue of "left reforms" is an issue critical to the discussion.

Quote:
I definitely could've used a better word choice by saying 'misdirected' instead of 'directionless' but it's quite obvious that there is an implied 'politically' before 'directionless' that I'm absolutely certain you know I meant, but whatevs. "Hawking a religion" FFS.

The bottom-line of what I'm getting at is if there exists both a practical and a theoretical argument for or against something, and we are creating outward looking propaganda, 100% of the time the practical argument is going to be more effective.

I know what you wrote. I'm pretty sure you didn't mean what you wrote, and I say that. Doesn't change that what you wrote, with or without the implied "politically" is patronizing to the bone.

As for the "bottom-line" -- since when is arguing that "there aren't enough hours in the day" to capture the Labour Party and make it an engine of reform-- a practical argument. It's no argument at all.

Where is there a practical argument for rolling back the attacks of capitalism in the OP? A practical argument for advancing the struggle, locally and internationally, in the OP, when the struggle itself is not even defined. Is it for reforms? Is it to build a network of dual power "stem cell" formations that can challenge a ruling class and its system, its mode of accumulation? Those aren't theoretical questions.

People are attracted to Corbyn because they think he can change the institutions of power, which are the relations of accumulation. It's not "theorizing" to articulate that you can't change those institutions separate and apart from confronting those relations, and building organizations that in fact can replace those relations in their totality. So how do we do that? I don't think the OP proposes anything that will have an practical success.

fingers malone
Jul 29 2016 13:40

Ok, but I would really like it if people would talk a bit more about how we might spread effective forms of direct action grassroots organising as well as talking about the Labour Party then.

S. Artesian
Jul 29 2016 13:50
fingers malone wrote:
Ok, but I would really like it if people would talk a bit more about how we might spread effective forms of direct action grassroots organising as well as talking about the Labour Party then.

No problem with that

Alf
Jul 29 2016 14:02

Just a short response to jesuithitsquad (for now). It seems to me that the logic of the OP was to pose a kind of direct action based reformism instead of a Labour Party (or Democratic Party) reformism - and this is even more explicit in your argument that direct action 'gets the goods'. Without going into the whole history of anarcho-syndicalism and industrial unionism, this also seems consistent with the idea that it's still possible to gradually build up 'revolutionary unions' inside capitalist society. But given that the working class internationally has entered a period of profound difficulties, even at the level of the defensive struggle to hold onto the 'goods' that it has already got, I think we are indeed faced with the need to reflect on past experience - both of the class as a whole and the 'communist community' within it. And this does mean putting more energy into the 'theoretical', even when the 'practical' results are not immediately obvious.

Red Marriott
Jul 29 2016 22:00

It seems in some of the comments about funding the cart is being put before the horse here. As the quote I posted earlier indicates, much of the Corbynist ‘activism’ and fund-raising can be done from a keyboard and via the mutually congratulatory back-slapping of sharing right-on posts on social media. Which, while not totally unrelated, in itself is a very different ‘movement’ from a social struggle capable of challenging anything much.

But if cash would make so much difference, there’s already a ‘genuine Socialist Party’ with plenty of disposable assets; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33478400?SThisFB&fb_ref=Default These Corbynists chose the wrong Party - mass entryism now!

The article seems to define ‘activism’ as an impartial thing that can be transferred from reformist settings to radical ones easily, as if the Corbynist portion can be captured for more radical ends. But they’re not the same beast; as pointed out well on this thread by fingers, button etc the content is different, also often the motive. I don’t think funding creates movements – but movements generate funding; there’s not many very recent relevant examples but relatively recent history of the Miners Strike & Poll Tax movement (which seem so long ago) showed impressive sustained mass active solidarity and financial support. So much has changed for the worse since then - but I don’t think money is the resource most lacking. It’s more that the culture of basic solidarity has become largely as privatised as many people’s social lives; and yes, for all their limits, local solidarity groups have at least a theoretical potential to challenge that. The one rare relevant recent organisational model/example that comes to mind is the many local refugee solidarity groups that have sprung up as often loose affiliations that seem quite effective in delivering their practical goals. But that is a ‘good cause’ that only those with hearts of stone would quibble about - so easy to unite over and little room for political friction and with clear recipients and basic goals to achieve.

On small towns; if you kick up a fuss it’s not so easy to disappear into the crowd again like in cities, eg, with less options of alternative employment locally if you cause problems for the boss. Having to travel further for another job costs more, lengthens working day, informal blacklisting is easier in smaller communities etc. Also smaller workforces tend to make struggle and confidence for it more difficult. Plus a generally more conservative, insular culture. Outside the workplace much of the ‘activism’ is self-interested nimbyism. Eg, often more people will protest against something affecting their house prices than cuts to health services.

But they’re hardly problems only of small towns. Strikes & other struggle have massively dropped everywhere in the West in the last 30 years. That radical groups, formal or informal, haven’t expanded in that climate is hardly surprising.