Sunday, 10 May 2015

And In Opposing

I have struggled to pull my thoughts together since the Election results were announced on Friday. The nation has chosen but I am not happy with the decision or what the future holds. This article by steven harris puts it better than I ever could...

Being left-wing became demonised during the Thatcher era in Britain, a materialist perspective further skewed by the equally materialist notion that left-wing politics had been proven to have failed with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breaking up of the former Soviet Union.

Wrong. Dictatorial expansionism had failed yet again, hence the death of the Soviet Union. The inherent ridiculousness of oppositional politics had for once been exposed in the case of the Berlin Wall. Lenin may or may not have lived to develop a more left-leaning Soviet Union – Stalin was as terrible a dictator and as big a fascist as Hitler. In attempting to formulate a society which did not use personal capital gain as the measure of status, Lenin was immediately targeted by the over-simplified priorities of capitalist ideology.
Whatever, the myth runs that the market won. Ergo (but spoken less loudly and far less customarily) the people, as such, lost. The market is not the people; the people are not the market. Business is not the people, it is cliques of frequently already powerful individuals acting in their own interests irrespective of whether the effects of acting in their own interests will be detrimental to the lives and livelihoods of other people.

If the market won then the market is god and if the market is god then left-wing political opinion takes on the status of blasphemy. Especially when the media is disproportionately slanted to espouse market principals and capitalist ideology and therefore to unashamedly castigate those attempting dialectical opposition.
It is time to reclaim the left. It is time to reclaim opposition to the inhumanities carried out in the name of yet often concealed by the nature of capitalism. It is time to reformulate resistance to the hegemonic ideology terrorising our lives and stripping us of our freedoms (only a few days into a new five year term as Prime Minister and David Cameron is pushing the agenda of the rich and powerful even further by seeking to overturn the Human Rights Act).

If Ed Miliband could not define what the left should stand for then there seems little sense to me in expecting the answers to be found in the neo-conservative mantras of New Labour, either. Blair and Mandelson can talk all they like about their electoral successes but there is good reason why they rarely talk about the abandonment of traditional, Clause Four Labour values – because they know as well as anybody else that 1995 was the moment New Labour began to drift away from the left and cuddle up to already overcrowded centrist ideals. How can a party represent opposition to the pervading ideology of government when they actively pursue so many similar policies?

For me, left-wing politics should insist on people being put before profit, especially in such institutions as hospitals and schools. If the Labour Party can no longer guarantee to stand for this core ideal then last week’s election defeat should be seen as a mercy killing as well as an opportunity for the left to regroup and reorganise itself. Perhaps then left-wing politics can find a way to stop acting like the shamed younger sibling of ‘real’ politics. Democracy, after all, is about the will of the people, not about the potentially conflicting will of large corporations and those who control mass media.

I am working class and proud of it. I am equally proud of being an intellectual. The latter truth should not automatically rob me of my roots. The personal will always be political. I refuse to accept the rule of capitalism as holy writ. I intend to resist and to oppose in those ways available to me. It is not important whether I win, it is important that I have not forgotten which side I am on.

steven harris is adverse to putting his name in capitals because names aren't that important. Also, lower case is sexy. steven writes all sorts of stuff including fiction, poetry, songs, opinion pieces and shopping lists. He does not write on lavatory doors any more. his blog has writing in it and can be located at He lives in Devon with an imaginary cat called Kafka.

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