Back in the 1980s, when Thee Faction last toured and the last time Socialism was high on the agenda as a replacement for self-serving Conservatism, there was lots of bickering amongst the left. Thatcher was able to win the war of position as the left ripped itself apart in the UK into social democrats and Militants, into north and south, into Old and New, into optimists and pessimists.
Social democracy was the compromise; The New Labour project made a pact with capitalism. (Unsurprisingly as British history is currently in a period of “self” – if the immediate post-war period from 1945 to 1979 was essentially about “us”.). Capital has decisively globalised and rules the western world, leaving Governments incapable of regulation; and sadly the trade union movement has been weakened as a countervailing force. The Labour Party (which is the political wing of the Labour Movement) lost the 2010 election and has been relatively quiet since the leadership election. Thee Faction are concerned the Movement has lost its way.
But we do not want to go back to the days of bickering in the Movement. Thee Faction are not suggesting a “fourth way”. We suggest the first way. Route One. Plan A.
Allow us to elucidate…
Since the last Thee Faction tour much has changed. Our culture has become all about commodity. The Cold war has thawed, Communism is no longer the propagandists’ bete noir- “terrorism” is. The “top-down” politics of old has been replaced by social networking which gives new opportunities to foster action. Those on the left who clung to the old model of centralised statism have found themselves marginalised by the New Labour project who bullshitted us all in to a belief that capitalism would help bring stability to our economy and provide us with resources. It didn’t. The financial collapse proved social democracy had simply papered over the cracks. The markets were strong, the Tories were a shambles so the project held on for 13 years – but the poor got poorer and new wars began. This is a Conservative country and despite some amelioration the New Labour project offered no alternative to unrestrained markets – a world in in which the sphere of non-economic life is squeezed by more production and pointless consumption of crap. The only plan was to cream off some tax from the above to fund social programmes. New Labour never talked up the morality of redistribution. Goodwill was squandered. Old Labour gave up, New Labour embraced the new world uncritically and now the movement is in danger of coming to a standstill.
The light at the end of the tunnel is behind us. Turn around and there it is. It’s where we came in.
We call it the Deft Left. Ed Milliband has used the ‘S word’ recently, and encouragingly seems to understand this burgeoning branch of new Old-Fashioned Socialism The Deft Left is rooted in the idea of the GOOD society and therefore the necessity of reform of state and market. Keep going Ed. Folks are angry, tired and alienated. Folks understand they should not have to repair the symptoms of recession, but the causes.
1) The Deft Left focuses on the non-material things that foster contentment. Steady, stay with us, this ain’t no Nylons hippy shit. We’re talking dignity of labour, quality of time, placing more value on co-operation to build a culture deeper than conspicuous consumption. The Deft Left redfines “aspiration” to mean an ambition to live in a society which is safe, caring and neighbourly where everyone can reach their potential. Where ‘status anxiety’ is recherché.
2) The Deft Left understands that capitalism is as destructive as it is creative. Unless it’s shaped it undermines society and community. Capitalism will eat itself: the trailblazing entrepreneur is currently sidelined by the monopoly; the town-centre is overshadowed by the out-of-town shopping complex. Currently we regulate people. Let’s regulate markets. The bond market pools its sovereignty and can destroy economies, so let’s beat them at their own game by pooling Economies (For starters (i) control speculative capital, (ii) co-ordinate corporation tax, and (iii) a Europe wide-minimum wage).
3) The Deft Left recognises the state and finds its bureaucratic system in crisis. Its scope therefore must be radically democratised, made accountable, made responsive. The state must be reinvented through the principles of co-production. Heath, Education, Transport and Social Care MUST be immediately freed from the outsourced for-profit organisations and reshaped collectively.
The Labour Movement now has to recognise that sharing the proceeds of ever-increasing material wealth is a sham. The notion in Spain, Britain, Ireland, Greece etc that property prices and speculative markets would rise ad infinitum has been exposed as a crock of shit. The Deft Left suggests The Labour Movement properly engages in a war of position – offering a redistribution of time, power, esteem and well-being as the only alternative to the treadmill of consumerism.
The Tory Government has been given an opportunity to make things worse for us, to divide us further, to protect their interests in a world of ever-decreasing returns. They are, however inept cunts and the country has got wise to them very quickly. This is, comrade, OUR glorious opportunity. No compromise.
Thee Faction are opportunists yes. And we are optimists. We can see the future. And the future is YOU.