What the fuck does Momentum actually do?

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Mike Harman
Joined: 7-02-06
May 17 2018 22:59
What the fuck does Momentum actually do?

Split from https://libcom.org/news/12th-may-tuc-demo-14052018

Mike Harman wrote:
So when Momentum started, one thing I thought would happen, but actually does not seem to have really happened at all, would be that local momentum branches would get involved in grassroots (or at least, 'grassroots') activism as a way of consolidating gains and bringing more people in.

So protest outside a private landlord one week, but try to get members to canvas for local councillors and MPs campaigning on rent controls/social housing/landlord regulation the next, and steer clear of attacking councils as landlords themselves if they're Labour controlled, this sort of thing. Closer to the DSA in the US. But instead it looks like there's loads of paper membership, they canvas for elections, and some people get involved in constituency Labour parties, not a lot more. However, I completely agree that in the absence of anything else, even as a hollow and mostly on-paper organisation it's still going to draw people in who want to 'do something'.

R Totale wrote:
Yeah, "what tf do Momentum actually do" is another of those ones that'd be worth a thread in its own right - I guess ACORN maybe seems like a crossover point between Momentum/Labour folks and activisty/organising stuff? I suppose this is where we're missing out by not having more Plan C, or at least the excitable/starry-eyed wing of Plan C, folks posting here to explain how Labour is where there's proper mass movement stuff going on. That sounds sarky, but I do kind of feel that the conversation would be more interesting with someone who actually believes in it making the case for Momentum and giving a view on what the @ movement/ghetto looks like from the outside, instead of us just trying to imagine what Momentum/Labour people think and get up to.

Steven.'s picture
Joined: 27-06-06
May 18 2018 00:37

I'm not aware of any activities they undertake which aren't either manoeuvrings within the Labour Party, or trying to get people to vote Labour.

That said, I have seen people related to Momentum at demonstrations, on picket lines etc, but also these were people who I previously knew as Trots or anarchists and so did stuff like that anyway.

I don't pretend to have a huge amount of knowledge about the group, however

the button's picture
the button
Joined: 7-07-04
May 18 2018 09:39

Momentum is a worked example of one of the most dangerous phrases in the political lexicon -- "We can do both." This was a standard response to any criticism of people getting involved in the Labour Party or Momentum at the expense of other activities, and, unsurprisingly, it's turned out to be bollocks.

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Joined: 15-02-18
May 18 2018 12:54
Steven. wrote:
That said, I have seen people related to Momentum at demonstrations, on picket lines etc, but also these were people who I previously knew as Trots or anarchists and so did stuff like that anyway.

Yeah, that's the other aspect I was curious about, when Momentum folk do stuff how far is it actually new Corbynites getting involved and how far is it just people doing stuff they would do anyway but under a Labour banner instead of a trot or anarcho one. I suppose it's like the old joke about "your writing is both original and good" - Momentum has attracted new members who aren't tired old ex-trots or anarchos, and it has members who do things, BUT...

Steven.'s picture
Joined: 27-06-06
May 18 2018 14:17

Yeah, I know a couple of my non-activist friends have been pulled into the Momentum orbit, but all they do is go canvassing for Labour in marginals.

dark_ether's picture
Joined: 12-09-12
May 29 2018 17:04

I spoke to a fellow traveller who used to do stuff related to anarchism and is now a key player in my local momentum. Their strategy was definitely 'get the left in control of the labour party first, then deal with the rest of the world'.

He said when he joined (back in 2016) they formulated a plan that would take approximately ten years, even though any left wing candidate would almost certainly beat their blairite/progress competitors in internal elections. Apparently the reason for the time was how deeply engrained the blairite/brownite 'party machine' was, and how undemocratic a lot of the internal processes were as a result. Apparently they were able to shave a year or two off that timeline when labour didn't loose the general election as badly as people thought they would.

So yeah, a hell of a lot of organising energy and resources, the result of which is a plan to 'win' a labour party reminiscent of the one in the 70s. Never mind that even the one in the 40s wasn't actually that great, the fact that many of us don't/can't wait for saving at the next election (or the one after that), and despite all this they may not even end up in power.

It's... a little depressing. Though its hard to argue the last ten years of extra-parliamentary politics has achieved a great deal, so I guess thats why some long term revolutionaries threw in the towel and opted for social democracy. But you don't win if you don't fight....

Joined: 6-01-07
May 30 2018 12:29

A lot of worn down/ worn out anarchists that were around in the 70's in North West England really have ended up either in the Labour Party or supporting it this time round and I do think that there are a lot of younger people who might have got involved with anarchist and communist political activity
previously who have been diverted via Momentum but can't prove that.

Joined: 21-06-16
Jul 8 2018 22:57

Momentum mostly functions as a wing of the Labour Party, with occasional radical-sounding rhetoric. It is likely that it absorbs some socialists who find liberal Party politics more engaging. Some of the problems with Labour might not be clear from Momentum's activism.