With all the lamenting of Britain leaving the European Union, the EU is portrayed as a sanctuary of sanity and decency in a mad and bigoted world. There were some elements of truth in this, but increasingly the EU was a powerful force for neo-liberalism.
Given the EU's comprehensive regulations embedding capitalism into its structure and forbidding State intervention, it is quite likely that the introduction of Socialism into Britain would have required leaving the EU.
Yet imagine a newly formed Socialist government trying to leave the EU. There would have been uproar and opposition from all sides (including the liberal left and many left-leaning social democrats) and vested interests that could easily destroy the government.
This critical step of leaving the EU has now been taken, for the wrong reasons certainly, but it does make the introduction of Socialism that little bit easier.
In abandoning socialism, even social democracy, you have cut yourselves adrift from your heritage, values and language. As parliamentary politics lurches further right into the darkness of neoliberalism you find have no vocabulary and no ideals of your own. The Tories define the linguistic, philosophical and political ground on which you will fight or, more accurately, from which you will retreat. Your words, your priorities and even your policies are borrowed from them and reused on their terms.
Surely, at some point even you have got to decide it's time to fight, that you can shift no further to the right, that it's better to be risk defeat with integrity than to risk victory with your opponent's policies. When will that be? Where is that point at which you decide you can demean yourselves no further? What aspect of the rubble that used to be our society will induce you to rally?
Why do you found a political party? Is it simply to get power? No, if that was the reason you'd join an existing party to use as a platform. At best you'd try to influence it 'from within'.
No, you found a political party to campaign and argue for ideals in which you believe that aren't being represented by existing parties. The idea that public opinion is unchanging and unchangeable, and political parties have to manoeuvre round it, is bizarre. It's worth noting that the Tories certainly don't believe this - but it suits them that so much of Labour does.
'In the real world', four little words that have long been the comfort of the powerful in the protection of their established corruptions and vested interests.
It's 19 February 2014. Leaving the train a headline from a discarded copy of today's Daily Telegraph caught my eye. 'Benefit Cuts Give People Hope'. I was surprised; even by neo-liberal standards of double-speak this took some nerve. Glancing at the top of the article I noted that Cameron, irritated by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols's denunciation of his Government's policies, claimed he had a moral duty to end the cycle of dependency, whatever that is. Well, I thought, the man has no shame, but we knew that.
In passing one might observe that Archbishop Nichols's words represent another example of the mainstream Church effectively taking on the mantle of opposition, a role abjectly abandoned by the heirs of New Labour.
But it's grimly ironic that Cameron should bring up the spectre of dependency because there is indeed a growing dependency culture, one being nurtured by this Government.
The Coalition - let's remember the Lib Dems, including that old hypocrite Vince Cable, are implicated up to their yellow necks in this - are creating the real culture of dependency. A culture of insecurity, short-term contracts, increasing costs, falling wages and even slave labour. A grotesque culture in which we, the people, are increasingly reduced to dependence on the whims and competence of the capitalist class, a class including the bankers, the corporate multi-nationals, the spivs, the dodgy oligarchs, the friends of Cabinet ministers, and, of course, the current and former multimillionaire Cabinet ministers themselves.
A capitalist class who share a vested interest in reducing the wages, the rights and the job security of those who work for them. A capitalist class that has a vested interest in creating private monopolies and the destruction of small business. A capitalist class that has a vested interest in seeing social security slashed to create a pool of vulnerable and dependent workers who know that any sign of independence will see them returned to the scrap-heap until they have learnt servility.
And the State, represented by the Coalition, not only fails to protect the people, it not only acquiesces in the degradation of working people, but actually carries out its business in order to further the interests of the capitalist class. It actually collaborates in increasing our dependency on these parasites.
The State is not an alien entity to be destroyed. It is us organising to improve our lives. The State should be us choosing from among ourselves people to administer our collective interests. It should be us employing some to undertake the essential, useful and enriching tasks that improve life for all. The State should be us ensuring no-one has to live in poverty or in fear. It should be us protecting the vulnerable. It should be us paying for all this according to our ability.
The Coalition are working to end this idea of the State. Despite their neo-liberal rhetoric of liberty, the Coalition vision is not one of a free and independent people living in a flourishing democracy within the rule of law. The freedom they offer, stripped of the hysterical populism, is of a free-for-all in which the rich prosper at our expense. Their State is an authoritarian oligarchy in which working people know their place and are kept in it.
So, for the past decades we've been told the private sector has the answers. That public provision of services is wasteful and inefficient. And it's taken sustained flooding to nail this lie with the smug Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail reading so and sos. If you cut expenditure on providing social services, bad things happen. Not just to the poor, the disabled, the vulnerable, who they don't give a toss about, but to them.
Revolution or Reform? Should we aim to win through to a new society by reforms, or is this futile at best and a betrayal of the working class at worst? Is the goal of revolution the only way to rid ourselves of capitalism, or is this implausible nonsense at best and a betrayal of the working class at worst?
The longevity of the battle, and the acrimony with which it is sometimes conducted, is astonishing. The same arguments trundled out. The same counter-arguments deployed. Neither side convinces the other and the status quo remains.
At least Left Unity is trying - again - to get the Left to overcome this temptation to fight each other rather than capitalism.
It all springs from the notion of Revolution as a means instead of an end.
Though they are much to blame, Marx and Engels did not (always) believe the Proletarian Revolution was a single moment in history when the world would be turned upside down. They realised reforms were part of the process, the change from capitalism being achieved in part through changes in the tax system.
'Of any economic system we must ask: Does it enhance human dignity? Does it create self respect? Does it encourage creativity? Does it allow everyone to participate in the material blessings of this created world? Does it sustain a climate of equal regard - for employees as well as employers, the poor no less than the rich? Does it protect the vulnerable and help those in need to escape the trap of need? Does it ensure that no one lacks the means for a dignified existence? Do those who succeed share their blessings with those who have less? Does the economic system strengthen the bonds of human solidarity? And does it know its own limits - does it recognize that its values are not the only values, that there is more to life than a perpetual striving after wealth, that the market is not the only mechanism of distribution, and that an economic system is a means not an end?'
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Cameron's announcement that he wants to scrap 'green' regulations in order to mitigate the rise in energy bills is a perfect illustration of the elevation of short-term expediency that characterises pure Capitalism. It makes the argument for central planning of key parts of the economy (as well as that for returning utilities to democratic ownership) better than any socialist theorising.
'Socialism postulates that an altogether different economic system will in due course come to replace capitalism, and that this economic system will be based on the principle that no person should work for the private enrichment of another and under conditions of enforced subordination; and wage labour … will be taken to be as morally repugnant as slavery or serfdom are now viewed as being'. (Ralph Miliband, Socialism for a Sceptical age, 1994, p.29)dit