The last time?

This is intended as no more than a footnote to what I wrote in 2015. I sincerely hope it will be the last time I have to write about party politics.

And yet, the left gather around the remains of the Labour Party, like an unexploded firework, peering into it and poking at it. Already there is talk of the next ‘leader’, of re-branding Corbynism for the North, and so on. There are recriminations – a storm in a mug. This inability to grasp reality and adapt to new circumstances is evidence enough of the toxicity of representative politics. It can take half a lifetime to escape cultural hegemony, see how easily it drags you back!

I’m genuinely sorry for all those who expected a different result, there’s no satisfaction to be had in being proved right, which is no more or less than we should expect if we cultivate the habit of rigorous analysis. Many kind and thoughtful people, backing optimism over experience, pinned their hopes on a Corbyn regime* – and notwithstanding the contradictions inherent in that idea, it would have been nice to have some respite from the vicious neoliberal onslaught we’ve weathered for all my adult life. Space to regroup, as it were, and relieve pressure on the most vulnerable – but that’s a cop out, there are social duties on us as a class and we can’t just devolve them to a theoretical bureaucracy that is not of us or for us.

* Their “last hope” according to some of their T shirts.

Never mind that the motley coalition of Marxists, Leninists, left social democrats, remainers, environmentalists, TUC bureaucrats and disillusioned anarchists behind Corbyn could never come up with a coherent programme and were destined to spend the next five years fighting like dogs in a sack even if they won. Trident was only the biggest elephant in the room. Our left comrades exhorted us to hold our noses and vote Labour; the situation is too serious they protested, for anarchist principles and moral high ground, because people are dying, every day.

Have they stopped dying? Because on Tuesday your hero congratulated the smug toff on winning the election, that’s how fucking serious he is. He isn’t fighting a war, he’s playing a silly game in a gentlemen’s club that still feels the need to congratulate itself on letting a few women and ethic minorities through the door – part of Pfeffle’s rambling gloat. Whose fault was it? It was the bourgeoisie’s fault of course. They’ve made it perfectly clear they will not allow a socialist economy to operate in a capitalist world, and will do whatever it takes to defeat any administration that challenges its power. Have we forgotten that Camus said: “that one can be right and yet be beaten, that force can vanquish spirit”?

I understand comrades feeling sore about it, I’m trying not to be sore about the five years we wasted waiting patiently for this thing to run its course. If you can, I’d like you to cast your minds back to the insurrectionary spirit we felt in the first half of this decade, when the ruling class started to fear us again. 1811, 1911, 2011, maybe it’s something to do with the turn of a century, then you get ten years into it and there’s a sense of incredulity that things haven’t changed, so you set about changing them – no, you set about smashing them!

Had that ever been the agenda of Corbyn and McDonnell, they would not have spent three decades sat in that place with all those wankers. The personality cult turned into a mass hysteria of straw-clutching. People are desperate, yes, but this wasn’t an act of desperation, it was driven mainly by folk who had a fair bit to lose, especially from ‘brexit’ – who the fuck told Hugh Grant he could get the Working Class vote out? He’s more toffy than Pfeffle and Rees mogg put together. You can see acts of desperation all over the world right now, workers burning barricades and dodging live ammunition, Corbynism I argue was an act of resignation, of fatalistic capitulation to the status quo.

Parliamentary rule is a cross-class alliance and you can’t pin class politics onto it. An accommodation between the landed aristocracy and wealthy merchants, the adversarial two-party system derives from archaic court proceedings. The Working Class stands before it as plaintiff, allowed to have a bleat then told to run along. Both parties swear allegiance to the crown and claim to represent the nation – the reification of class antagonisms. Even if you postulate a workers’ state you just create another set of power relations that look a lot like the old ones, you’re still trading time for money, your own better judgement for deference to a boss. Vertical socialism is a really horrible idea and requires a fair amount of coercion to get it off the ground let alone maintain it. For a hundred years, since the inception of parliamentary democracy in its modern form, anarchist thinkers and doers have warned against the futility of engaging with these structures.

But a great many activists held their noses and cast themselves as social democrats. Perhaps nationalisation and a progressive tax regime might lead to workers’ control after all? Green jobs! Maybe a new government would change the culture and all the racists would pack up and go home. They pretended to believe in national interest and care about security, economy, jobs, trade deals, investment, law and order, police numbers. Those who stood for prison abolition were reduced to bemoaning “overcrowding” – in a prison!

Suppose you had held your nose and voted for, say Stephen Kinnock or Margaret Hodge, these bastards aren’t the solution to anything, they’re central to the problem, part of the cohort of Labour Party insiders who would rather have 1000 years of fascism than a ‘socialist government’ and pulled every trick in the book to ensure it didn’t happen, so in opposition they could wrest their hobby-horse back from Momentum and carry on playing their stupid game. Corbyn, who has never been anti-Semitic, proved utterly clueless in tackling the anti-Semitism smear, or actual anti-Semitism, head on. Chris Williamson and Ephraim Mirvis are both apologists for genocide and deserve each other.

Party membership doubled under Corbyn, to nearly half a million. That intake included Trots, tankies, TERFs, guy-fawkes mask and tinfoil hat wearers, with some very dodgy opinions. That’s the difference between a mass movement and a party, we saw it in Occupy. No surprise, then, that a complaints procedure intended to deal with a small number of time-serving party hacks couldn’t cope with the influx of weirdoes, or with the relentless barrage of complaints emanating from the Israeli state and its proxies. Keep in mind the long established ties between labour M.P.s and the arms industry.

In the run up to the vote, like a row of green bottles, pro-Israel labourites lined up awaiting their turn to flounce, any time something positive came up in the campaign, a tory said something stupid, another scandal broke or it was just a slack day for news, another one received the call to jump. It’s Working Class Jews who will be paying the price for this, not Sacks, Arkush and their bourgeois ilk. I believe what finished Corbyn was his failure to get the better of that pile of sludge Andrew Neil. ‘Traditional labour voters’ would have more respect for him if he’d punched the twat.

So it was the wrong game on the wrong field with the wrong team. With the fifth column grinding away inexorably, a fatal flaw in the coalition opened up via the ‘People’s Vote’ campaign. Lifelong eurosceptic Corbyn said he wanted a second referendum and he got one, his principled neutrality widely interpreted as he didn’t care. The government couldn’t believe its luck – a de-facto referendum on ‘brexit’ without the need for an overall majority, just 45% of a 67% turnout – slightly less than the proportion that didn’t vote. The Brexit Party took a bite of the Labour majority in the leave areas and safe seats changed hands for a few hundred votes. That isn’t the North ‘turning blue’, those voters are going to be very disappointed very soon, and their towns may burn yet.

The only thing that’s changed is the composition of that gent’s club, and those who care about it are lost to us anyway. In the 80’s, when thatcher was unassailable at the polls, we defeated the Poll Tax through a combination of refusal and civil disorder. Left unity? The lefty groups were all in there at the start, but it was unity in direct action not supplication, and they were quickly outnumbered by pissed-off Working Class people, of the same type who remained unmoved by Corbyn.

“If only we hadn’t asked for so much” do me a favour. Time to burn the bridges, make your minds up. I’ve finally learned that the gulf between authoritarians and libertarians is unfathomable. Those of us who are opposed to power in all its forms must say so, clearly, and act to undermine it in every way possible. Let’s see how many we’ve got left.