Saturday, May 08, 2010

The left, the right, and local democracy (my last election post I promise)


I think this is the last I have to say about the election. Three things, first on the left, then the far right, and at the bottom on the situation in my local area, Lewisham, and what it means. (In fact, nothing to do with the picture which I took from here.)

The BNP
I was wrong to say that the BNP performed abysmally. Half a million votes in the General Elections alone. They may have lost deposits in a fair few places, and been kicked off Barking council,.but they have become a significant force in the political scene. Nick Griffin is now treated by the media as more or less a regular, mainstream figure, despite his increasingly obvious wackiness. This is a real cause for concern. The struggle continues.


The left
As I wrote last night, the far left have performed terribly, far worse than the fash. The Greens got half the vote of the BNP, and the socialist parties didn't even get close to that. I suggested last night that the low vote is for two reasons. First, the reason I voted Labour: the tribal instinct when the chips are really down brought a lot of socialist voters back to the fold. Second, because the hard left is totally and utterly out of touch with its original core constituency, ordinary working class people.

The left desperately needs major surgery. For example, it needs to learn to articulate the arguments on immigration, not assume that the Gillian Duffies are bigots, but clearly argue exactly why they are wrong, and what we need to do about it. And, again just for example, it needs to abandon identity politics and the perverse obsession with the national liberation of particular faraway peoples to the exclusion of the issues that affect people like Gillian Duffy here. There's lots more examples I could give, but those will do for now.

A few postson this issue worth reading: Chris Dillow - Cameron's failure: the left's problem; Harry Barnes - The Future For Socialists; David Osler - Gillian Duffy: welcome to the core vote, Mr Brown; David Osler - The far left and the general election.

Lewisham 
Labour have done extraordinarily well in the local and mayoral elections in Lewisham. Despite the national swing away from Labour. Despite the utter disregard of Mayor Steve Bullock's new Labour administration for local democracy and its disasterous policy on key issues like schools.

The Liberal Democrats put up an extremely impressive fight here. They were extemely visible on the streets, and their placards dominated the landscape. While I was very un-impressed by mayoral candidate Chris Maines and by yummy mummy parliamentary candidate Tamara Langley, they had some other strong and credible candidates, such as Lewisham East's Pete Pattison in the Generals and Max Calo in the locals - popular local figures of known integrity.

Similarly, the Greens have been excellent councillors in Brockley and Ladywell. The Greens put up a strong fight in Crofton Park, where I voted for Jim Jepps and his colleagues. The Socialists in Telegraph Hill have also been great councillors, both for their local areas and for the borough as a whole (personally, I think the Greens should not have stood against them). I think the picture was fairly similar in Greenwich, and in some other inner London boroughs. For what it is worth, I offer my commiserations to Jim, Sue, Max, Jess Leech and Ian Page in particular, as well as my appreciation of Andrew Milton who did not stand for re-election.

I think that the Labour domination of Lewisham and Greenwich has been increasingly unhealthy in recent years, and have no explanation for why Labour did so well this year, despite doing not so well in the General elections, where the stakes are surely higher.

(More local results analysis at Brockley Central. Added: and more.)

38 comments:

James Bloodworth said...

"And, again just for example, it needs to abandon identity politics and the perverse obsession with the national liberation of particular faraway peoples to the exclusion of the issues that affect people like Gillian Duffy here."

Surely these two points are related to opposing political positions - those most keen to play up identity based politics are the very people who say that Iraqis and Afghanis are "unsuitable for democracy". That same group of the left plays identity politics in the UK by putting ethnic and religious groups into comfortable little boxes because they are fundamentally "different" from us; and they have fundamentally "different" traditions and cultures etc.

Is not the faction of the left who play identity politics completely at odds with those advocating liberal interventionism?

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ James

No, liberal interventionists and anti-imps are two sides of the same coin. Both have been caused by a) the abandonment of class politics (the very fact you are happy to describe yourself as a liberal bears that out) and b) a wholehearted surrender to nationalism. Both groups support reactionary anti working class movements, they just happen to support different ones.

James Bloodworth said...

First, where have I described myself as a liberal??

Secondly, how can it be then that the Iraqi Communist Party supported the intervention in Iraq?, as an example. Regardless of the merits or not of the intervention, are you saying then that the Iraqi Communist Party therefore is automatically a "reactionary anti-working class movement"?

Also, I fail to see how identity politics is a "surrender to nationalism", considering it is most often based in religious differences which supercede the nation state; and almost seek to create a state within a state - autonomous communities operating with Sharia (whatever other religious, cultural practice takes the fancy.)

ModernityBlog said...

Bob,

Lucas is going to earn a pretty penny with an MEP and MP's salary..hard life eh?

BenSix said...

Secondly, how can it be then that the Iraqi Communist Party supported the intervention in Iraq?

Really?

In his televised speech last night, President Bush has put our country and our people closer than ever to the catastrophe of war, something we have always feared and done all we could to avert. For months the US administration had been mobilising its huge military forces and gear, and now its president has declared that they are about to attack within the coming few days.

The Iraqi people have already suffered two wars, repression after their uprising in March 1991, the 12-year sanctions ordeal, and the horrors wrought on them by the regime. This war will add further to the devastation of the country and the loss of life among its people.

Brockley Kate said...

Two points:
1) It's Tamora, not Tamsin;
2) Caroline Lucas will have to resign as an MEP, thus she won't receive two salaries. If (as seems at least reasonably likely) there's another election in the next couple of years, and (as again seems reasonably likely) she's out, then she loses the whole shebang. Not the most secure of income streams, being a Green MP, I'd venture to suggest.

James Bloodworth said...

"Having said that, we neither ignore nor deny that present tyrannical regime is the principal culprit for dragging Iraq towards a new war,"

BenSix said...

Doesn't quite fit the notion that they "supported the intervention", which they apparently "feared and d[id] all [they] could to avert". On your wider point, of course identity is relevant with regards to intervention: unless the Sunni and Shiite Iraqis, far from warring, as I've heard, greeted Saddam's overthrowal with harmony and universalism.

Michael said...

Bob,
I think your description of Tasmin as 'yummy mummy' is unfair on a good candidate and quite frankly, sexist and descriminatory against working mothers.

ModernityBlog said...

Four points:

1) There have been a number of MEPs who were also MPs, so unless the law was changed, it is certainly possible that Lucas will or could remain an MEP.

2) The **minimum** combined salary of an MP/MEP is about 150,000+ pounds.

3) Presumably when resigning the position of MEP, the holde receives a payoff ? (I hunted around without finding much on that.)

4) ALL politicians should be subject to scrutiny, not only the ones we dislike :)

bob said...

a. "And, again just for example, it needs to abandon identity politics and the perverse obsession with the national liberation of particular faraway peoples to the exclusion of the issues that affect people like Gillian Duffy here."

Surely these two points are related to opposing political positions


By the national liberation of particular faraway peoples, I did not mean "liberation" in the neo-con/liberal interventionist sense, but in the classic Leninist sense, although it is interesting to think of them as too sides of a Leninist/Wilsonian agenda left over from the First World War.

I did not mean to say the left needs to abandon national self-determination as a value (although I think it is vastly overrated). I meant that it needs to abandon its skewed obsession with particular national liberation struggles which have taken on a shibboleth or fetish quality for sections of the left - a "cultural code" as Shulamit Volkov puts it.

Why is it that Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan occupy so much screen and column inches in the left media? This is bad for genuine internationalism - why don't the Central African Republic or Moluccas feature? And it is bad for local engagement, as it puts off people who are dealing with shit in their own lives.

b. Tamara. Oops: thanks Kate, will amend.

c. Any thoughts about why inner London council elections bucked the national trend? The resurgance of class? (Or, indeed, why Crofton Park bucked the micro-trend? Gentrification?)

Waterloo Sunset said...

James-

First, where have I described myself as a liberal??

I stand corrected. If you support liberal interventionism as a policy, it's far to say you're a fellow traveller of liberalism, surely?

Secondly, how can it be then that the Iraqi Communist Party supported the intervention in Iraq?, as an example. Regardless of the merits or not of the intervention, are you saying then that the Iraqi Communist Party therefore is automatically a "reactionary anti-working class movement"?

BenSix seems to have refuted that effectively. But that's not quite what I'm saying. I'm saying the liberal interventionists are, as an ideological development, part of the problem. I don't necessarily state that any person who supported the intervention is automatically anti working class in all their politics. However, they are at the least prepared to ally themselves with people like George Bush, who I think you'd have trouble arguing doesn't fit that description.

And it's a perfect example of "the peverse obsession with the national liberation of particular faraway peoples to the exclusion of the issues that affect people like Gillian Duffy here". The liberal interventionists are not exactly prominent in supporting class struggle in the UK, or in Europe generally. (The silence on Greece is telling).

Also, I fail to see how identity politics is a "surrender to nationalism", considering it is most often based in religious differences which supercede the nation state; and almost seek to create a state within a state - autonomous communities operating with Sharia (whatever other religious, cultural practice takes the fancy.)

That's overly narrow for me. Identity politics, at its heart, isn't about religion. It's about seperating groups based on identity, whether that's racial, sexuality or religion. So, to take the religious example, it leads to members of the left treating working class Muslims as Muslims first and foremost.

But, abroad, it leads to supporting nationalists in the name of 'national liberation', which is where the ideological similarities between anti-imps and liberal interventionists come into play.

Both take a top down vanguardist approach to liberation.

Both see the question as being one of national liberation as opposed to class.

Both get into bed with reactionary groups to achieve their goals.

Flesh said...

Bob is right - my own Labour PPC fell for these strange obsessions. She is all over the Middle East - wants sanctions against Israel but is very understanding about Iran. And I had to give this unserious person my vote. My second choice would have been Green, but they are somewhat worse in this respect.

The BNP - they did increase their national vote share. But at the same time, they ran many more candidates. Not sure what to make of that.

In 2005 they polled 192,746 over 117 seats - that averages 1647 votes for each candidate.

In 2010 they polled 563,743 over 339 seats - more than double. That averages 1663 for each candidate.

That's an increase of only 16 per seat - no real gain in concentration of support.

I dare say averages aren't the most sophisticated way of coming at this - they did save a few extra deposits this year and it would be good to see a breakdown (anybody know of one?) But still.

Under a pure PR system with the current number of seats, their 1.9% share means 12 seats. But there wouldn't be that number nor that system. I don't really have a sense of what is going on with PR - the stoopid mainstream media are no better than Hello mag. Time to visit Indymedia (just kidding - I mean the Electoral Reform Society).

But at any rate, I'm prepared to give some weight to how many racists the various systems would bring to power. How much weight I'm not sure.

Ross said...

the point is that this was the last election the BNP will have contested as a big small party, they have now, in a matter of a few years, made the successful transition to being a small big party, one which has embedded and normalised what was always previously seen as one off protest/soft type votes, and also spread this level of support further geographically than any other far right party in the UK has ever done without imploding/collapsing

this will be further magnified under whatever form of PR ultimately gets adopted, and if (or when) UKIP collapse/implode it's likely an ever increasing share of their vote (compared to previouslY) will go to the BNP also

ModernityBlog said...

I think we can all agree that these right-wing groupings are fractious and prone to division, it is partly that and their inability to gain a critical mass which is holding them back.

Under the right circumstances, they could grow to be a sizeable presence on the British political landscape.

Taking the figures,

"In 2010 they polled 563,743 over 339 seats - more than double. That averages 1663 for each candidate."

IF they manage in each constituency to recruit only 10% of their electoral votes, then that means at least 160 neofascists in every constituency, not a good prospect.

We shouldn't underestimate these fascist fuckers.

Will said...

"...not assume that the Gillian Duffies are bigots"

No. Bigots are bigots and the gillian duffy types are bigots and the bigots like Duffy need to be told they are bigots.

Transpontine said...

I take the middle ground on the 'Gillian Duffy' question. Yes, her remarks were bigoted and we need to challenge nonsense about immigrants being to blame rather than start agreeing it with it as parts of the left seem to suggest. On the other hand tactically the way to challenge these views isn't always to go in chanting 'racist' and 'bigot'. Anyway I would hate 'Duffygate' to be the centre of any post-election soul searching, it was a media hype that had no impact on the vote even in Rochdale.

BNP: yes the vote may have increased as they stood in more seats and there was a much highter turn out. No room for complacency but let's celebrate a real success -their previous political gains in terms of seats were wiped out and the Barking result was fantastic. Also a challenge to those who say that an approach of getting out there and talking to people couldn't work without 'acknowledging fears about immigration'.

Lewisham and indeed whole of SE London (very similar position in Southwark where Labour took Council from Lib Dems/Tory: I see this as being a result of a high turn out of the anti-Tory vote in London, i.e. a lot of people were so worried about prospect of Tory government that they turned out to vote Labour despite whatever misgivings they may have had, and while they were at it also voted Labour locally.

Interesting to consider what's specific about inner South East London electorate. I think factors include:

- ethnicity: higher numbers of black and minority ethnic votes, likely to be distrustful of Tory right who have historically harboured racists (Thatcher's 'swamping', Tebbit's 'Cricket Test', Enoch Powell etc.)

- sexuality - lots of LGBT people head to the city to get away from Tory shires, and Cameron couldn't keep the lid on his party's homophobic DNA.

- public sector workers - the Council, NHS and education are more or less the only large employers in SE London - accounting for a high proportion of middle and working class voters alike. For large numbers of these to vote Tory - or even to vote for anything other than the party most likely to prevent a Tory government - would certainly require 'Turkeys voting for early Christmas' syndrome.

Ross said...

@transpontine

BNP: yes the vote may have increased as they stood in more seats and there was a much highter turn out. No room for complacency but let's celebrate a real success -their previous political gains in terms of seats were wiped out and the Barking result was fantastic. Also a challenge to those who say that an approach of getting out there and talking to people couldn't work without 'acknowledging fears about immigration'.

i'm not quite as enamoured by the so called success of this particular brand of mainstream liberal anti-fascism

the bnp lost a few seats locally but broadened their base nationally - and even in barking, did their vote go down? no, did they lose seats to the working class left? no, did they lose seats because of the working class left? no. have the (class based, but racially cloaked) issues that drives people to vote BNP in the first place been addressed? no, is tactical cross class anti-fascism likely to address these issues? no - was BNP representation i nbarking combatted by a technicality? yes - is this likely to prevent their growth/influence? no

the BNP's influence on the political centre is now clearly visible - all three parties clambering over themselves to show how they would control immigration in an appeal to the BNP constituency

BNP vote support in 2001 was something like 30,000 and had the organisational ability and infrastructure of a decrepit trot party

less than a decade later a national supporter pool of close on one and half million and an organisational framework that clearly takes it out of the ranks of being a big small party and into a small big party

meanwhile liberal anti-fascism cheer on their 'victories' and ostrich like covers its eyes and ears in a manner which suggests some form of pre-traumatic stress disorder

bob said...

The BNP:

I think Barking was a small victory; it was a genuine achievement of a coalition of anti-fascists, led by the liberal Hope Not Hate but carried at rank and file level by a diverse group, including many with a strong class analysis. Hope Not Hate's strategy was populist in both a good and a bad way. Populist in a bad way because it exploited patriotism, gave a large role to celebrities, was uncritical of liberal democracy as a way of doing politics, and ultimately backed up mainstream parties. Populist in a good way because it took ordinary people's everyday lives as its starting point, involved trade unions, and worked to build local grassroots coalitions from the bottom up. There is something to be built on here. I'm not sure of the role of the Socialist Party's front YRE/Youth for Jobs or whatever it's called now.

However, clearly, in the long term channelling anti-fascist activity into pro-Labour voting is a recipe for disaster. Instead, the task is to work out how to build an anti-fascist campaign between elections, whose aim is not increasing the vote of non-fascist parties.

The inner London Labour tide and the far left vote:

I think Transpontine's analysis is correct. The Labour core vote - working class people, non-white people, LGBT people, public sector workers - came out in larger than usual numbers in the heartlands, and voted Labour in all the elections.

In Southwark, where people have seen the disaster of a Lib/Con alliance, this was all the more true.

It is also noteworthy that although the Socialist Party lost its councillors in Telegraph Hill, it did so with an increase in the votes (600 more than the last election): it was the large turn-out of the core Labour vote that made the difference, not a redistribution of the existing voting base. I think the same was the case in St Michael's in Coventry, where Rob Windsor increased his vote by 600 but was beaten by Labour.

(By the way, Dave Semple at Tho' Cowards Flinch has some reflections on Telegraph Hill and Barking along similar lines to mine.)

bob said...

P.S. I think Ross' BNP characterisation - from big small party to small big party - is absolutely correct. If the campaign had gone on a bit longer, they might have lost that, with the antics of Bob Bailey and Griffin starting to look more and more psychotic, but as it is the BBC treats them like a normal party now, and their vote way outstripped the Greens.

ModernityBlog said...

"but as it is the BBC treats them like a normal party now..."

Although I've vigorously oppose the normalisation of the BNP, you can see why it happened. The Beeb management, along with media types don't actually understand Neofascism , which was always part of the criticism of liberal bourgeois thinking....but now we've got a prime example of that problem.

bob said...

Duffygate

I didn't mean to participating in elevating "Duffygate" to a defining moment. However, I think that immigration is key to British politics today. The immigration debate has become toxic, and urgently needs de-toxifying. The "no-one is illegal"/"no borders" slogans might be correct but are insufficient for that task. The conceptual leap required to accept them is enormous for people whose horizons are partly shaped by consuming the mainstream media and by experiencing the terrible effects of the scarcity auction that is accessing social welfare rights like housing in neo-liberal Britain. This is especially the case in places like Rochdale or outer London, where opportunities for the settled population to meet the migrant population are so limited. (This relates to Transpontine's explanation for the inner London Labour vote.) Unless we understand that, and start to build strategies to respond to it, we will not move forward in any way.

Calling Mrs Duffy is bigot serves no other purpose than affirming our own moral superiority. It might be correct to say that what she said was or sounded bigoted, but that is different from calling her a bigoted person and dismissing her. The point is the same as one Tony Greenstein makes about the SWP's response to the far right: "For a couple of years a group of pissheads had organised a St. George’s Day parade. It was a family affair and although their politics are not mine they are clearly not fascists. Because some EDLers announced they would come and join it, that was enough to cry ‘Nazi’." Presumably, Will would see why the SWP were wrong there.

The far left vote one more time

As well as Dave S linked to above, I have read a couple of other self-critical responses from the far left worth reading, including Tony Greenstein's, Paul's at TCF and Phil's at AVPS. Key points include the fact that the Trot left's obsession with party-building is utterly disastrous.

Also worth noting is the growth in votes for Labour candidates at the far left of the party, increasing their votes by four-figure numbers while most candidates had a vote decline of some 1500. Not sure what lesson to take from that.

Flesh said...

On Hope Not Hate, how are they 'liberal', and how do you figure they took support from the small parties? Also what would you have done differently - in such a way as you got people like me to actually do the vast amounts of work required - Labour party activists and Conservatives (Greens and for all I know SWP people who think UAF is flakey) setting aside their party-politicking and working together to discredit fascism - and then returning to their own political projects? There are single issue projects, but no*one* is single issue. I think sleb involvement can be bad if it's an attempt to bypass people thinking things out - but isn't it good for morale if Billy Bragg models arguing with a fascist?

Transpontine said...

@Ross

Much as I would like to see the BNP surpassed by a radical socialist movement, I don't think that we can say that unless the BNP are defeated by such a movement it doesn't really count. No the BNP was not defeated by a working class left, but the BNP in Barking were resoundly beaten by the Labour Party, for now that's good enough for me. That's not a technicality, that's tens of thousands of working class people choosing not to vote for the BNP.

Still, plenty more to be done but I wouldn't hold out much hope of far left electoralism as a viable vehicle to defeat BNP. With the possible exception of the Communist Party in some areas in the 1930s, far left candidates have never, as far I know, secured more votes than the far right in elections (the odd council election notwithstanding).

bob said...

Flesh - "liberal" in the sense of "liberal anti-fascism" as opposed to "militant anti-fascism", i.e. predicated on exactly the alliance you mention, of Labourites with Tories and anyone else who defends liberal democracy against far right extremism. Militant anti-fascism, in contrast, is predicated on the idea that fighting fascism is not about preserving the status quo. More later maybe.

Flesh said...

That Wikipedia piece is very interesting and I learnt a lot from it.

With me, it usually boils down to animals and Jews. They are my litmus tests (though under constant review about their validity - Caroline Lucas being a case in point - good about animals, bad about Jews).

Take the animals - in the case of the liberals, I can just about stomach the neglect of the day-to-day suffering and needless deaths of tens of millions of animals, and put it down to norms - it doesn't frighten me so much as make me unhappy and sometimes despairing. But I realise I am actually strongly repelled from (or if it is showing signs of success, frightened of) anything transformative or revolutionary which leaves animals out. I feel that the omission, and what it tolerates, is of great significance and probably amounts to the seeds of violence and repression in the movement. My feeling is it's safer (in the good sense, not the cowardly sense) to work on what we have now.

This is why I think you can be extreme and support the status quo. Or - like some Iranians - you can be liberal and against the status quo.

Ross said...

@transpontine

"the BNP in Barking were resoundly beaten by the Labour Party"

the very party who participated in, and allowed the conditions to flourish which led to that increase in support for the BNP that is now trying to be fought

It is a technical victory, as it does nothing to address the issues that gives rise to BNP support in the first place, it's sticking plaster at best

with victories like these......

ModernityBlog said...

Ross is right, whilst they were defeated we shouldn't get too chuffed about it.

It was a Herculean effort focused on one particular area, aided by a weak and fragmented BNP and an election where the BNP couldn't capitalise on their main issues, as it became a fight off between the two main parties (or at least partially).

I think we have to think how best to rebuild a national (international, would be better) antifascist campaign , for the next election, which won't be that far off.

bob said...

"I think we have to think how best to rebuild a national (international, would be better) antifascist campaign , for the next election, which won't be that far off."

I think we do, but this allows the electoral cycle (and therefore the Labour party) to dominate the way we act.

ModernityBlog said...

Bob,

er, dominate ?

No, but we should, as would-be political activists, take it into account.

The BNP will be preparing and so should we.

Ross said...

it'll be auto-labourism for years now

bob said...

Yes, we need to take the electoral into account, but we have become locked into a cycle of electoral anti-fascism. We need to focus on the between-election times, so we don't need to focus on the elections.

ModernityBlog said...

Bob,

I think we are arguing over nothing, I wouldn't counterpoise elections vs. non-election periods.

But we know that fascists will exploit elections, so we have to be flexible and factor that in.

I think one of the problems of British left politics and anti-fascism is an unnecessary degree of rigidity, which is occasionally found.

The primary object is to defeat the fascists, so antifascist have to be flexible and pragmatic on how we do it.

James Bloodworth said...

"I stand corrected. If you support liberal interventionism as a policy, it's far to say you're a fellow traveller of liberalism, surely?"

Not necessarily. Trotsyism, Stalinism and unilateralism, to name but a few, can adopt positions of interventionism, yet are far from liberal.


"BenSix seems to have refuted that effectively."

I was wrong on that yes. I confused their enthusiasm for elections and opposition to the "insurgency" with support for the invasion. I stand corrected.

"But that's not quite what I'm saying. I'm saying the liberal interventionists are, as an ideological development, part of the problem. I don't necessarily state that any person who supported the intervention is automatically anti working class in all their politics. However, they are at the least prepared to ally themselves with people like George Bush, who I think you'd have trouble arguing doesn't fit that description...And it's a perfect example of "the peverse obsession with the national liberation of particular faraway peoples to the exclusion of the issues that affect people like Gillian Duffy here".

Yes, but then those who are supposedly "anti-war" are prepared to ally themselves with fascist figures such as Saddam Hussain; and even if they don't openly embrace Bathism as the Respect/STWC did, the logical conclusion of their thinking is a continuation of Ba'athist rule. There is almost always some kind of unpleasant alliance - note the left's disdain of the word "evil" but repeated use of the term "lesser evil". The former is bad but the latter is ok? I do not know of any historical revolutionary group that has not "got into bed" with bourgeois factions for at least a part of the revolutionary process.


I also do not think issues like Mrs Duffy's concern about "them all coming in" (a historical grievance of the British working class whether true or not) is comparable in any way to societies where people are tortured in front of their families, excecuted for being gay or forced to dig mass graves for family members etc; and that is not intended to be hyperbole; it's just that complaints that "we should focus on the problems in this country" by these people show a complete ignorance of how lucky they actually are. I've just come back from Cuba; Mrs Duffy should try living there for a week.


"That's overly narrow for me. Identity politics, at its heart, isn't about religion. It's about seperating groups based on identity, whether that's racial, sexuality or religion."

I agree; religion is only one potent example.

"Both get into bed with reactionary groups to achieve their goals."

As I said though, I do not know of any historical revolutionary group that has not "got into bed" with bourgeois factions for at least part of the revolutionary process.

Fraternally, James

bob said...

Mod: I don't think we disagree at all. Flexibility is the key thing. I just think that too much of the "liberal" anti-fascist movement has become so fixed on elections that it cannot do the flexibility any more. (Whereas my own tradition, "militant" anti-fascism, has no real response to how to deal with the election moment, because we can't advocate a vote for Labour, let alone a vote for any other "bourgeois" party.

James: on your final point, revolutionaries allying with bourgeios/reactionary factions. Some revolutionary groups have managed to not be tainted at all by any contact with any bourgeois factions, but they have paid the price for that by being utterly irrelevant to anything. I'm thinking of groups like the International Communist Current.

Actually, I guess Class War have never been contaminated by such contacts either, and have managed to be less irrelevant. However, Class War did support the IRA, a reactionary nationalist organisation...

On the other hand, I can think of lots of revolutionary organisations that have never supported any IRA/Ba'athist/Stalinist/etc reactionary organisations - most anarchists don't, for example. (Although some do.)

James Bloodworth said...

I would agree Bob; but almost all successful revolutionaries have had to compromise with bourgeois tendencies for at least a short wperiod of time. That is in no way intended to excuse vile collaborations of which there have been many.

I was in Cuba recently, and while I hold no truck with Castroism, I was reading a book which quoted Castro as being asked the question once "What would you have done in 1960 if the USSR had not existed?", to which Castro replied, "we would have played ball with our bourgeoisie for 10 years".

Castro is a very very shrewd political operator.

Ross said...

re the BNP's 'failure'

here's the distilled view

bob said...

Thanks Ross. A good analysis I think. I left a comment there.