Thursday, 9 March 2017

What is the Problem on the Left - A Very Brief Analysis

"Brexit is a destruction derby's worth of car crashes waiting to happen". This is an almost standard quotation from a rant on Left Futures. Yet the evidence for this is slight, especially after the failed pre-Brexit vote analyses of economic prospects - the expected disaster gets pushed ever further forwards and has now reduced itself to a bout of moderate inflation that is matched by the export opportunities arising and being taken.

The better analysis is that adaptive capitalist entrepreneurialism offers a greater threat to socialism - apparent success through not-so-hidden exploitation. Observers are often letting an 'ought' get in the way of an 'is' as is the way with ideologues.

Corbyn has things partly right by hammering on about those who are going to lose from adaptive capitalism - the public sector workers, cultural workers and the near-marginalised (those between the truly marginalised which adaptive capitalism will care for and the private sector working class which may well benefit or rather appear to benefit sufficiently to continue voting for it rather than higher taxes) - and those 'hidden costs' that the weakening of welfare causes to the wider population even in times of economic growth (social care, lack of housing stock on which he could say more and so on).

The problem is that the analysis stops there. A bloc is mobilised but not one sufficient to take power democratically. Meanwhile middle class ideologues engage in constant misdirection by predicting (or hoping for?) some economic meltdown in a one-off gamble that is as likely to help the populist Right as the Left depending on the circumstances of the time.

Since the Tories under May are almost certainly 'in' for up to four years, they have considerable room for manouevre. Even the strike at their own base with self-employed NI (which Corbyn cannot exploit for ideological reasons) is happening early with deliberation in order to store up giveways later.

Their internal contradiction is their new-found interest in ‘strengthening the state’ for security reasons and their need to contain radical populism that wants either lower taxes or more expenditure and it is in thrusting a pole into that hole that their model can be wedged apart.

But that is not what we get. Beyond the social mobilisation strategy to get the existing bloc in line, all we get is short term ranting and obsessions with ‘done deals’ like Brexit from the ‘intellectuals’ while the old base of the Party drifts into the other camp.

What is required, on the back of the bloc mobilisation strategy, is a second level of national economic strategy that deals in a non-Luddite fashion with techno-innovation, especially techno-innovation in the key areas of social care and the NHS where one suspects it is the public sector unions who are in danger of being the block to changes that could considerably improve lives of citizens and workers.

I have seen robotics used safely for patient-lifting to end or limit back injuries for NHS workers – Labour should be engaged fully in the socially responsible process of assessing, analysing, regulating, promoting and state support for technologies that would make the UK a global leader in the new cost-effective mass welfarism. The People’s State should be the intermediary between capitalist innovation (which, I am afraid, works in its clumsy wasteful way) and the condition of the people.

By engaging in a national debate about the future rather than the past, the middle ground no longer has to be secured on Blairism (minimal taxes, foreign adventurism, cultural manipulation and adaptive neo-liberalism) but on something very different – a neo-socialist commitment to life cycle welfare, lifetime education and retraining to adapt to new innovation, application of innovation to social needs and increasing income security for all citizens within a national sovereign state.

Worrying about who will succeed May is almost certainly idle. She has control of the levers of power until she loses an election and that is at least four years away – if then, at this rate.

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