There are a lot of calls for people on the left in Britain to get involved in a lot of things.
They include English, anti-alarm clock, populism, dislike of trans people, and the “very real concerns” ordinary people have about (insert item on the right of your choice).
Some people still argue that we should look to the right so that Labor can win the election. Others seem to cling to what used to be called Eurocommunism. Writing in his heyday in the 1980s in Britain, Alex Callinicos defined this as,
“1: the trade union movement is in serious crisis because of its decline
“2: on the contrary, capital is on the offensive and has succeeded in establishing a new form of class government,“ authoritarian populism ”, involving both a direct ideological appeal to the masses and an increased recourse to coercion.
“3: the left’s only hope to recover from its current difficulties lies in building a broad democratic alliance against Thatcherism, which is the political expression of authoritarian populism. “
Replace Margaret Thatcher with Boris Johnson and you have what now passes for this kind of thinking coming from part of the British left.
There is a dubious, somewhat desperate thirst for hegemony. The Conservatives are waging a culture war. So the thinking is, how can we be as popular as we have decided?
These kinds of ideas come from the belief that the working class cannot or does not want to fight.
Today as then, people say that the working class is not so dead, but its consciousness has changed so much that the left must be transformed. The most intelligent of Eurocommunists, Stuart Hall, affirmed: “The left must be able, with its own project, to engage society as a whole, to generalize itself throughout society, to bring in strategic popular majorities on the issues. keys, to earn converts.
During the Falklands War, historian Eric Hobsbawm, who initiated this a lot, warned the left: “It is dangerous to leave patriotism exclusively on the right.
The long struggle to get something back for the left has gone from finding People’s Music to wearing an English football shirt.
But Socialist Worker argues that Labor’s failure demonstrates the need for an independent revolutionary party.
This party openly relates to the workers when they are involved in the struggle and therefore more ready to listen to socialist ideas.
It’s possible to draw the opposite conclusion and think that all we need is a few moves to where people’s ideas are now.
Theorists Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe complained of “classism, that is, of the idea that the working class represents the privileged agent in which resides the fundamental impetus for social change”.
Socialist Worker on this definition remains a class act.
Laclau and Mouffe had the decency to plead for a break with class politics.
That the noise today is coming from people grumpy about the hobgoblin of “identity politics” is admittedly a little strange.
It is vital and necessary to gain broad support for socialist ideas.
But this can only be achieved through active participation and support for workers’ struggles.
A battle of ideas is opposed to the class struggle. If you think the class struggle is improbable at best, then only a war of cultures – so to speak – is possible.
The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci called this “political criticism of a minor and everyday character, which is about political leaders and prominent personalities”.
He added that it was a “cyclical phenomenon of little lasting importance”.
The smart people around Eurocommunism provided theoretical support to then Labor leader Neil Kinnock. This time around, there is a willingness to do the same for Keir Starmer or sections of the union bureaucracy.
As Marx said: “As Hegel said somewhere, history repeats itself. What he failed to mention was the first time as a tragedy, the second as a farce.