Friday, January 23, 2015

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Socialism Far From Being on the Wane is on the Rise ...

Mick Hall argues that Socialism far from being on the wane is on the rise throughout Europe and the Americas, its becoming the common sense of the age. Mick Hall is a veteran Marxist activist and trade unionist who blogs at Organized Rage.

Humanity will soon reach a historic fork in the road, as happened in the 1930s, we will have two choices, democratic socialism or barbarism, and when future generations look back they will ask only one question of  us. "Which side were you on?"

Most Marxist agree that capitalism is a system of booms and slumps, yet some comrades in the first decade of this century seemed to have lost the faith and got themselves into one hell of a slump when they fell for the end of history bullshit which was manufactured and widely propagated by the reactionary right's think tanks in the USA and then the UK. 

Looking back over the history of capitalism there have been long historical periods when our socialist forbearers could have claimed socialism had been defeated as its immediate prospects on the national and international stage looked extremely bleak. Of course they didn't do so because they understood political struggle, like the capitalism we oppose is about highs and lows, or dare I say booms and slumps. 

We win some we loose some and move on to the next stage. In the process we do not spread gloom and demoralisation by claiming the last phase of the struggle was pointless and doomed from the start, we see it in the historical epoch in which it took place, carefully analyse our own shortcomings and the over all strategy of our opponents, and learn the lessons and if we can, devise a strategy and the tactics which are necessary to move our struggle forward.

Today we are faced with much the same choices socialists have always faced, a form of socialism or barbarism, whether it be at home or abroad. But has this not always been so?

Like many Irish republicans who are our kith and kin, we are in the struggle for the long haul, when one door closes another opens and nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the world today.

It's true the organised labour movement in the UK has had a tough time over the last three decades when hard won rights were dismissed from the Statute book at a stroke of the law maker's pen, but it is far from defeated. The British trade union movement is still the largest membership organisation in the UK and the European Union with over six million members, and left socialist parties are bubbling to the surface throughout the EU although sadly not yet in England. 

Indeed in Greece, Syriza may well become the government after the soon to be held general election and in a number of other EU countries emerging parties of the left are gradually and in some cases spectacularly gaining mass support. 

In Ireland large sections of the electorate are not only willing to listen to socialist ideas but are increasingly turning to socialists to represent them in the parliamentary chambers, whether local or national. There is no better weather vane of this left turn than Sinn Féin and the Scottish National Party, which like all nationalist parties have a tendency to swing with the prevailing political wind. Today Sinn Féin has placed itself firmly on the socialist left and the SNP has introduced policies which would be acceptable to Labour Party left reformists if they were not draped in the Saltire.

In Germany the Left Party recently won control of a Länder (State) administration, and in Spain Podemos, led by Pablo Iglesias, which did not exist this time last year, according to the latest opinion poll would win over 28% of the vote if a General election was held today. The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), once the bastion of the Spanish left would receive only 25.5% of the vote and the governing Popular Party slumps to just 20%. 

The most important fact about both Syriza and Podemos is they are both led by charismatic leaders as indeed is Sinn Féin, and all of these left populist parties are attracting younger voters, many of whom have never voted before. Indeed a recent opinion poll published in the Observer found only a small percentage of young people in the UK would vote for parties of the right, whether they be the Tories, UKip or Liberal Democrats. I have no data for the rest of Europe but I would expect it to be little different there.

In South and central America left wing governments have been elected which have a form of socialism at their core. In nations like Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay and Brazil, as far as the masses are concerned socialism has become the common sense of the age.

It is hard to believe the fall of the USSR and its satellite states only happened in 1991, a mere 24 yeas ago, when many including some who should have known better claimed capitalism was invincible. If you consider the amount of excreta which was poured over the very idea of socialism in the years that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall, what is truly remarkable is how the idea of socialism has bounced back into the world's political consciousness. Rather than the end of history as some intellectual louts predicted we may well be on the verge of a new socialist epoch.

We are witnessing new generations coming to socialism, young people who have not experienced the defeats and setbacks we older folk witnessed in the last thirty plus years. Today capitalism is passing through one of its most arrogant and ignorant phases, the combination of which is always a recipe for revolutionary change.

Nevertheless all is not going to be plain sailing, one only has to witnessed the way the political, financial, and media elites have responded to the prospect of Syriza coming to power in Greece to understand the lengths they will go to see this does not occur. To maintain their power and wealth they will not hesitate in creating murder and mayhem if it achieves their aims. We need to remember these are the same people who trashed Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and who have over the last 30 years moulded their secret and judicial state into a formidable repressive machine . The left needs to be ever vigilant and above all else resist the temptation at the slightest setback to turn on our own. Now is the time to truly practise the old beards slogan, unity is strength. 

Humanity will soon reach a historic political fork in the road, as in the 1930s we will again have two choices, democratic socialism or barbarism, and when future generations look back they will ask only one question of ours "Which side were you on?"


Henry JoY said...

Good man Mick, true to the last!

The pull between the left and the right is the pull between the 'haves' and 'the have nots'. So its not unrealistic to predict a rise in support for the left during a period of austerity. By its nature there are fewer 'haves', more 'have nots' and certainly a good deal many more of those who 'have less than we used to'.

The tensions between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' is also mirrored in a similar prioritising of values. The liberal left preferring 'freedom' and the conservative right prioritising 'security'. And that 'security' encapsulates essential maintenance of the 'status quo'.

Viewed from such perspectives its not difficult to understand why such small numbers of youthful voters have declared in the Observer poll that they wouldn't opt for parties of the right. Though its important to bear in mind how notoriously hard it is to get that section of the electorate out on polling day too.

Don't want to prick your bubble of hope Mick but the narrative of republican/socialist effectiveness in Government here in Ireland is one of capitulation and betrayal. Think of Tom McGill and Frankie Ross, aka Tomás McGiolla and Prionsias de Rossa.

I know, I know you've said and will repeat again "we ought not spread gloom and demoralisation by claiming the last phase of the struggle was pointless and doomed from the start"

But for me, I'd have to say (that) if it waddles and quacks its more than likely just another duck.

There again there's more than a few on here too who'd try and convince me it was a phoenix!

James said...

Interesting piece. The only issue is, that you quoted

"Today Sinn Féin has placed itself firmly on the socialist left and the SNP has introduced policies which would be acceptable to Labour Party left reformists if they were not draped in the Saltire". Leaving the SNP alone.

S/F have not firmly placed themselves on the socialist left, if this was the case I dread to think what S/F would be like if they firmly placed themselves on the far right.

S/F in the North are conservative right wing pro corporation tax for big businesses and quality of "living standards sanctions" or so called austerity cuts to the most vulnerable groups, normally working class areas, unemployed or disabled.

My imagination cannot comprehend any left wing element in S/F other than pretense politically motivated, deception, lies and propaganda in order to project an image of we are a moralistic, ethically fair and reason party which will represent you in government. They are not.

It is utter deception. They are presenting themselves as on the left down south, whilst implementing pro conservative right wing Corporate Goverance in the north. They are riding two horses, even the blind can see this, in total ideological contradiction to each other.

The problem lays with the electorate that I will refer to as being blind, without being derogatory to the blind due their medical condition. Maybe the s/f supporters need to be blinded by the delusion, maybe they are part of the delusion, or maybe they simply see that being part of the delusion will somehow improve their social mobility chances, which in fairness, if you look at all the MLA's it simply has via jobs for the boys and financial curve ups.

Blinded by the tri colour, blinded by potential isolation in their community, blinded by peer and family pressure or simply blinded by FEAR.

I have said before at least the main unionist parties save us the lies, deception and propaganda in their approach to conservative right wing Corporate Governance safe in the knowledge that at the most the protestant working class are snookered by the "God save the queen" obedience to capitalism and at its worst could and more likely will go to the embarrassing Far right which is no stanger to loyalism.

Basic tribalism, governed by flags, symbols, rituals, perceived identity, lead by Narcissistic leaders reinforced by every strand within the socialisation process from birth to death and into one generation after the other.

If you break the last paragragh you are half way to real freedom in my opinion, the freedom of the mind.

Dave said...

Every UK Lab govt has left office with more people out of work than the previous administration bequeathed.
Socialism is about maintaining cushy working conditions for those lucky enough to be employed by the state. ESB/Aer Lingus spring to mind.

Feel te love said...

Mick I agree totally with you that more people have been looking alternatives to a system which does not fit all. But If you think for one second that the designers of the world order,with which we live, will countenance change to that system, is supremely optimistic if not fanciful. They would wreck this world rather than let a socialistic agenda take the levers of control. And Mick we are already well on the road to conflict because of this and because austerity has been ineffective in rebalancing the current system.

Henry JoY said...

"Basic tribalism, governed by flags, symbols, rituals, perceived identity, lead by Narcissistic leaders reinforced by every strand within the socialisation process from birth to death and into one generation after the other."

Sing on Jamesie boy, and sing it loud.

Freedom of the mind, no fixed ideations, no rigid ideologies, meet the world each new day with fresh eyes, only way to go!

James said...

Henry Joy,

Thank you for you kind offering of support and appreciation. Only, I was not singing at the time, but that simply does not matter, I suppose. lol

sean bres said...

I'd certainly second what feel te love alludes to, there is an insidious world order above any notion of left and right. It will tolerate more progressive societies where it has to or where it no longer has the power to dictate otherwise, within the confines of its overarching matrix of control of course where it controls the money supply. If any genuine threat to that system where to emerge however it will respond by instigating massive violent conflict, from which,as ever, it will likely profit by funding both sides. It seems to me this is what's going on around us now, it looks as though the powers that be - not the sock-puppets like Obama and Putin - are trying to engender a world war to wipe the slate clean. The lowering of oil prices is a response to the Sino-Russian attack on the Petrodollar, we are living through an economic war - a currency war that could easily result in a real war, even nuclear annihilation. Who's driving this agenda and why? Imperialism is above everything we think and know about the left the right or the centre. So long as the money supply and global banking system remain in their thrall then nothing, not even this democratic socialism, cert if it includes the like of New Sinn Fein or the SNP, will really change. It's change we need and the only way we can create it at this point is by changing our own relationships to this system which underpins every aspect of society and life as we know it. Buy local and use cash is an easy way to begin

DaithiD said...

I am sure its not the articles aim to go for the basest populism or present some baseless caricature of capitalism, but it was remiss not to include the bank bailouts in your assessment of Socialisms rise. Own that one Mick.

gerard hodgins said...

socialism will have its day and we must remain true to the faith.

good article mick but i would put sinn fein in the fianna fail camp of "left" politics, merely mouthing platitudes to get their elite few to the top table and then fuck the rest of us!

we who once served know! níl saoirse go saoirse na lucht oibre comrades.

marty said...

Mick a cara calling quisling $inn £eind a party of the left is really up the left as we say,its like calling Grenade O Connor a militant revolutionary ffs ,there may be a few in that party with leftish tendencies but just listening to their party president for life espousing all things to all men re the "stormont house deal"and it clearly demonstrates just exactly what the problem is here , no party has the genuine interests of the people in their agenda , its a headlong rush for power and privilege ,I think the same applies at Westminster swapping a cuntservative government for labour will not enhance the well being of the ordinary person, we on the left need a new organisation and a true nailing of our colours to the mast,no fucking wishy washie shit just the plain truth and a promise to keep our promises, every other politician with the exception of a very few on these islands are just carpetbaggers imo.