Friday, 1 January 2016

Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and Moderates

As the new year begins two news stories attracted my attention. The first was on-line and involved the resignation of yet another "decent from the Labour Party.

Kate Godfrey wrote on her blog:

I do not want to see Jerusalem builded here, in the shape of Mao’s red book. The grey chill of Corbynism frightens and disturbs me. I have seen Libya and lived in the German East, and I am frightened by the visions held before us. I am frightened by the blindness of those who take the socialism of the 1980’s for their model.

I am frightened by the license offered to the Conservatives so that Labour will fail.

Meanwhile the Independent reports:

Lord Mandelson said the Labour leader was an "intentionally divisive figure" and was "intent on splitting the party between the hard left and its centre ground."

Pursuing his radical agenda and exerting the hard-left's"suffocating grip on our party" was more important to him and his allies than taking on the Tories and seeking power, the Labour grandee claimed.

The battle for the heart and soul of the Labour Party will continue unabated for the next few months.

However all is not well within the Corbynista camp. Those working in Corbyn's "inner circle" are divided into two factions. The first closest to Corbyn himself are people like John Lansman of the long standing Labour Representation Committee. The second is the more "secretive" Socialist Action group, a remnant of the old International Marxist Group who acted as lieutenants for Ken Livingstone during his reign as London Mayor. They have different approaches as Labour Uncut outlines:

Over the years, LRC activists have been disparaging about the Socialist Action coterie around Ken Livingstone. “Plastic socialists” is one insult I’ve heard repeatedly.

For the LRC, the Kennites are too easily seduced by power and preserving their own position....

It’s a divide that has always plagued the hard left.

In 1903, the Russian communists split along similar lines. The Mensheviks sought compromise with the moderate left parties as a route to revolution while the Bolsheviks viewed confrontation and control of these groups as the only route to success.

Ultimately, for many Mensheviks, the outcome of this split was a Bolshevik bullet in the 1920s.

Now, the ghosts of leftist splits past are haunting the Labour leader’s office over the reshuffle.

The Kennite Mensheviks do not want to rock the boat by sacking Hilary Benn, Maria Eagle and clearing out the whips office.

Factionalism is at the heart of the left and is one of the reasons that what these people define as "socialism" has always failed as a movement. The comrades are incapable of utilising the  basic tenet of their faith, that of co-operation.

The two camps are indeed reminiscent of the beginnings of the failure of the Russian experiment. The intolerance that began after Lenin seized power. First the external opposition was extinguished as early as Kropotkin's funeral in 1919 and then under the stewardship of Leon Trotsky all internal opposition was suppressed in including the Workers Opposition (Len McCluskey please note) the Trade Union Opposition as these factions defined themselves. Methods even more brutally refined by Stalin.

And Trotsky himself ended up purged along with his "Left Opposition".

The left have never learnt from history. Neither have the "moderates".

The Labour Party is currently the only vehicle of opposition to the very real attacks of the Tory Government. The Corbynite left are making Labour unelectable and will allow Cameron and his allies to pursue not an "ant-austerity" agenda but one that is ideologically driven agenda that threatens the basic rights of ordinary people. Trade Unions will lose their ability to stand up for their members, tenants  will lose their rights to a secure home, even in council (or social) housing.

And that's just the thin end of the wedge.

Whilst the comrades continue their plans to purge and take over, the necessary broad coalition of the Labour Party that actually wins elections will be dismantle and destroyed. The activists seem hell bent on creating a far-left hegemony regardless of the consequences.

Corbyn will create a new shadow cabinet based on his image, based on the advice of the blinkered ideologues he surrounds himself with. The broad coalition will falter, it will fall, unless the moderates take the plunge and rebuild the much needed connections with the unions who  should be more pragmatic than the so-called activists because their members will demand actual gains rather than bland ideological proclamations.

This can and should take place sooner rather than later.

The survival of social democracy depends on Labour remaining a practical party that seeks to protect the disadvantaged. Society is no longer the world that Marxists pre-occupy themselves with. The "working class" still exists but not only does not constitute a majority in itself but retains a rather large element that will not vote for the kind of banal almost soviet era politics promoted by the left.

Labour needs to appeal beyond it's core base.

Corbyn and his commissars are not up to this task.

The moderates must reclaim Labour and ally themselves with those on the left who actually want to achieve social justice but understand that overthrowing capitalism is not and has never been on the horizon.

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