UK Election result: The ruling class tries to cope with the damage to its political apparatus

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UK Election result: The ruling class tries to cope with the damage to its political apparatus
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: UK Election result: The ruling class tries to cope with the damage to its political apparatus. The discussion was initiated by baboon.
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 I was going to post this on

 I was going to post this on the "illusions in the Labour Party" thread but it seems to have gone off the point. I don't disagree with anything in this article and here are a few elements.

The strengthening of the Labour Party under Corbyn corresponds in some ways to the needs of the bourgeoisie. That's not to say it's been planned as such, and it takes place within very difficult conditions for the bourgeoisie, but it now looks like it's an attempt by the British ruling class to make the best of a bad job. Historically, the British bourgeoisie has called on the Labour Party in times of crisis and it's always stepped up to the mark of the defence of the national interest.

The article points out the importance of the mobilisation of youth into the democratic and "socialist" programme and that's certainly true and noteworthy but it also put up a dynamic of "togetherness and solidarity" between races, religions and generations - and it has more to offer.

The Brexit result was achieved and underwritten by elite of financiers, "entrepreneurs", the right-wing press, adventurers, racists and the reactionary little Englanders who cohered around the populist movement of UKIP. The result was more like a coup than what was supposed to be a democratic process and it arose on the back of a political system that was more concerned with its internal divisions rather than the national interest. The decision to leave the EU is a disaster for British capital and for Britain's national interest. Before anything has happened the pound has fallen about ten per-cent against the dollar and the euro so the "pound in your pocket" is worth decidedly less. If this was a major exporting country that might be positive but it's not and the effect on price rises will be disproportionate on the working class and further deepen the crisis and its discontent.

I think it probable that the EU (Germany and France) would have liked the Tories to have got a large majority and got out pronto, seeing an opportunity to be rid of a useful but troublesome relative. On every level Britain has been further diminished by the decision; economic, political, diplomatic, imperialist and contrary to the dreams of the little Englanders, Britain (or what's left of it) would be cast into the shark-infested waters of rivalry and competition alone.  Like other elements of the British bourgeoisie the "Mid-Atlantic" option has strong links within the Labour Party and these have been assiduously nurtured by the CIA and US "foreign aid", but these have been undermined by Trump's election. The strength of the "special relationship" and what can be expected from the US under Trump was made clear by the latter's Saudi arms deal which, as far as I can see, restricts or totally excludes, further British arms sales to the "Kingdom".

This weakening of the British state and its prospects through a "hard brexit" (what the DUP want also) is becoming critical for the bourgeoisie and the Labour Party could well offer some political attenuation to this position in relation to "Europe" along with others. It's been called on before in times of serious crisis to defend the national interest and many elements of the British state and the British bourgeoisie are aware of the dangers facing their own privileges through a "hard Brexit".

A close economic alignment with the Trump administration would be suicidal but a strategic imperialist alignment also becomes more problematic. Today the ex-boss of MI6, John Sawyer, said that Donald Trump was "the biggest threat to world security".  Increased Labour Party strengthening would strengthen that view of the US as an "imperialist aggressor" that's always existed within wider elemnts of the British bourgeoisie.

"In this situation, while the

"In this situation, while the ruling class has suffered the disruption caused by populism, the working class faces the danger of being caught up in the conflict between populism and anti-populism. And the greatest danger is from the anti-populists, especially those on the left such as Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, who appear to give an answer to xenophobia and hatred, and offer hope for the future within this decaying capitalist system, rather than a perspective for its destruction."

Labelling Corbyn an "anti-populist" seems problematic. But this probably comes from not understanding what we are trying to do with the concept of populism in the first place. It seems like we want to make an equivalence between populism and xenophobia/racism, as if there couldn't be an anti-racist populism (and therefore not a left populism). I'll concede that this election does seem to have restored something of a traditional Left-Right balance in UK politics for the time being, but even this is questionable with Corbyn and Labour coming under attack for a form of racism in anti-Semitism; and its also clear that Corbyn and the wing of Labour he represents are not necessarily huge fans of the EU themselves.

However, I think that part of what makes this era "populist," is the calling into question of the traditional division of labor between left and right. In the last US Presidential election, it wasn't always possible to decide who was the left and who was the right candidate. Trump may have clearly been the racist and the xenophobe (although many of his voters would reject this characterization), but he was also the candidate who ran against free trade, against austerity and who championed working class identity (or a particular construction of it). Meanwhile, Clinton  campaigned as a committed anti-racist and pro-immigrant figure, but she couldn't even feign to hide her disdain for the working class and told young people they couldn't have free college. Even in the Democratic primary, while Sanders ran hard to the left on economic issues, he was roundly attacked by the establishment for not getting racial justice issues and the sometimes cringe-worthy things he has said about immigration in the past. (Cringe-worthy from the political stand point of "neo-liberal progressivism," but not necessarily for old-school Social Democrats).

While nobody paying attention to what Corbyn/Sanders says on such issues should mistake them for Trump or Nigel Farage, somehow this still happens. This I think highlights what may be the most important feature of the populist era--it might not be the split between left and right that is most important anymore, but between insider and outsider--between neo-liberal consensus figures and dangerous, unrealisitic boat rockers from either the right or left--that forms the main fracture lines of bourgeois political life. Or this could be all wrong, the ICT could be right and populism was just a flash in the pan and we are back to a "normal" left/right politics soon. But this would require us to rethink our investment in the concept of populism itself.


baboon wrote:

A cToday the ex-boss of MI6, John Sawyer, said that Donald Trump was "the biggest threat to world security". 

Funny, I have heard that kind of langauge about Corbyn too.

Not from an ex-boss of MI6

Not from an ex-boss of MI6 you haven't and put it in the context of the statement which is the potential distancing of Britain away from the US and towards Europe because of the instability of a Trump presidency.

I think that you are getting the dictionary definition of popular mixed up with what the ICC has clearly defined as populism.

Not really

baboon wrote:

I think that you are getting the dictionary definition of popular mixed up with what the ICC has clearly defined as populism.

I don't think so. The ICC's defintion of populism is open to question as is whether or not Corbyn is a populist under that definition. Neither are particularly clear.

After the election: what now?

A very perceptive article on this can be seen on the website Lalkar, as per issue July/August 2017, which I recommend irrespective of readers' views.  It emphasises that the wide extent of overproduction in capitalist countries causes the crisis to grow worldwide.