During his leader’s speech, Ed Miliband didn’t fall over or vomit on live television and that’s more than some of us expected. So he can talk without an autocue? This changes what exactly? Apparently quite a lot. In many respects, what happened at Labour’s conference is pretty bad for socialists; in others, not so much. The Labour left surrendered to Ed Miliband’s One Nation Toryism, and that is a big problem. But why is it a problem, and who exactly is it a problem for? How can all socialists fix the damage that’s been done? Here are a few ideas.
On the Friday before Ed Miliband’s speech, Owen Jones made a one minute video for Andrew Neil’s Daily Politics. I like this video. I like it a lot. That’s why I’m promoting it. I have uploaded it to youtube. Here it is:
Every single argument in Owen Jones’s five point plan on ‘How to be a socialist’ is a dagger in the heart of Tony Blair’s New Labour and Ed Miliband’s One Nation Toryism. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It hardly matters if TUSC promotes Owen’s arguments because he stole them from us in the first place, or TUSC gives him credit for these arguments. These are all core socialist beliefs. They are the reasons why Owen Jones should have exposed the bullshit of Ed Miliband at Labour conference, alongside John McDonnell and co. The capitulation of the Labour left to One Nation Toryism keeps the lid on electorally damaging splits which, in turn, exacerbates David Cameron’s woes. Unity at Labour’s conference passes the parcel to Tories, who are falling to pieces. The next few days are going to see the Tories rip themselves a new arsehole. As if they needed any more of those.
Owen Jones knows we do not live in ‘One Nation’. He knows why that is impossible in a society divided into antagonistic classes. Owen invites all socialists to remember that our enemy is capitalism, not each other. He reminds us all that our goal is a society run by working people, for working people, not private profit. This is true. So what the hell are Owen Jones and other socialists in the Labour Party doing raising the White Flag high as Ed Miliband marches his troops down into the valley of capitalist austerity and despair?
When I uploaded Owen’s video to my youtube account I invited all Labour Party socialists to fraternally debate with TUSC members about why they will vote against TUSC in the forthcoming by-elections. As I tap these keys I have had one response. Voting TUSC is to waste one’s vote, apparently. The comrade goes on to express less than one hundred percent confidence in his prediction. He concedes we may in fact win council seats, but uses this fact to blame us for the loss of Labour councillors. But if we stand on Owen Jones principles when the Labour candidate tosses away votes due to becoming indistinguishable from other Tories, that surely is a good thing.
Votes for TUSC may split the anti-Tory vote. But the same criticism can be made of Ed Miliband’s One Nation Tory Party. Socialists – real socialists – mean to re-enfranchise the wage slaves, the exploited, the victims of surplus value stolen by those who own the means of production to which the overwhelming majority of us are tools to be used, not human beings with needs to be met. Profit derives from exploitation. This exploitation is responsible for wealth cascading down the generations, making a mockery of economic and political democracy. Ed Miliband’s One Nation Toryism is a lie and Owen Jones knows it.
TUSC means to educate, agitate and organise. We need to educate the masses about the role of private profit in utterly distorting democracy. This is key to making class struggle effective, effective from the point of view of the exploited. Class struggle did not lie dormant before Karl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto. They merely explained it, justified it. By doing this, they made it more conscious of itself and more effective. That at any rate was the plan. Class struggle goes on regardless of how buried Marxist ideas are. Our ideas have not been part of the national conversation thanks to a pathetic broadcast and print media that is in the pocket of the richest 1%. Even in totalitarian societies it surfaces, if for years, decades even, as little more than millions of individual acts of sabotage masquerading as innocent incompetence. Even when the theory of class struggle (Marxism) is tippexed out of history due to the maliciousness of the official media, or becomes discredited (as it was for a long time in the Stalinist regimes), it nevertheless breaks out in an avalanche or two. And class struggle is coming home. It’s coming to Britain.
This class struggle is needed to resist the capitalist austerity of David Cameron’s Tories, Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems and Ed Miliband’s One Nation Toryism. The state of Britain’s economy, the mountain of debt, makes this inevitable. Socialists can surrender in advance to a class struggle waged by our class enemies, which is precisely what Ed Miliband is now offering us. Or we can fight back. That will mean preparing our class for the battles to come. And that means explaining ASAP the illegitimacy of capitalism. It means, as Owen Jones pointed out, socialists uniting our class against our common enemy: capitalism. And this requires we turn all the weapons of our enemies against them. It means re-enfranchising our class. We stand in the forthcoming by-elections to help expose just how out of touch Ed Miliband is, how out of touch the BBC is, SKY News, Channel Four News, etc., etc., etc. Let’s wipe the disgusting smiles off their faces, comrades. Let’s gives heart to hundreds of thousands, to the millions of ordinary working people and their families who would otherwise be fooled by the mass media into thinking they are unique in wanting a fight back.
TUSC exists to prove to the vanguard of our class that they are not atomised, or that they don’t need to be atomised. And every opportunity we get to appear on Question Time, Any Questions, Sky Papers, Channel Four News, and Daily Politics will be one more opportunity to examine every question from the perspective of the exploited and oppressed.