I read the blogs of a lot of Americans. The majority of my followers are from America, and they account for around 60% of the views on my main blog.
Some of them even follow this blog, and for that I thank them.
Since 2016, many of those bloggers have become very political, for obvious reasons. The election of Mr Trump has managed to divide opinion there in a way I have never seen previously.
Much like how Brexit has affected the UK, being for or against the Trump presidency has become a badge of honour for either side.
I tend to stay out of it, as I have little faith in the Democrat opposition to put forward a candidate that will interest me, or even manage to defeat the current President.
I confess that I do laugh at Mr Trump’s hair, every time I see him. I also think his outbursts are childish, and have caused many outside America to lose respect for that country. But my opinion doesn’t matter a jot, as around 40% of Americans support him, and want him to win in 2020.
But do the Democrats offer a real solution for the problems that beset the most powerful nation on Earth? I doubt it.
The Republicans and Democrats are both right-wing parties, with one slightly less ‘lukewarm’ than the other. Both support big business, and both receive funds from big business. Both support the continuation of private health care, whatever nice name they give it. Both support the rich getting obscenely richer too.
Over the past year, I have read a lot of accusations that the Democrats are ‘Socialists’, ‘Left-wing’, even (laughably) ‘Communists’.
Yes, there are people in the US who belong to a Communist Party. Here’s a link.
But the chances of any of their members ever being elected into a position of real influence or power is non-existent.
And honestly, the Democrats are nothing like these people, nothing at all.
Take it from me, America. You do not have a single (actual) Socialist or Communist in any position of power over there, however minor that position might be. At the risk of appearing to seem patronising, here is a list of some of what Socialists and Communists believe in, at least as far as the official policies are concerned.
State ownership of all Utilities.
State ownership of manufacturing and distribution.
Stare ownership of Transport Infrastructure.
State controlled education, fair and equal for all.
State provision of free healthcare, on an equal basis.
Before you all get on your high horses, I know full well that all that hasn’t always happened, even in those countries ruled by that political system. Humans are corrupt by nature, and will take opportunities where they present themselves. But you REALLY do not have anyone in the Democratic Party who would advocate such reforms, believe me.
I speak from experience, as I am from Europe, and have had a lifetime of being involved in the politics of what is known here as ‘The Extreme Left’.
So, please calm down.
If the Democrats win in 2020, you will wake up the next morning to find that the only thing that has changed is the hairstyle of whoever became President.
Despite predictions of a moderate winning the election to become leader of the Labour Party, an outsider has confounded expectations, by becoming the front runner. Jeremy Corbyn has been the M.P. for Islington North in London, since 1983. Before that, he was prominent in Haringey Council. He has always been regarded as a rebel, and to the Left of the party line. He lives in his constituency, takes little money for expenses, and espouses causes, both domestic, and international.
During his political career, he has campaigned in favour of nuclear disarmament, and the dissolution of The House of Lords. He supports re-nationalisation of the railways, equal rights and pay for workers, and the return of the six counties to Ireland. He has a long association with the Trade Union movement in the UK and abroad, and once worked for the National Union of Public Employees. On the international stage, he has been outspoken against Israel, and fought for fair treatment of the people in Chile. He is also a well-known for his support of the government in Venezuela, and for his views on animal rights and welfare.
So, his Socialist credentials are fairly sound, it would appear.
If this is the case, why do so many people think that his becoming the leader of the Labour Party would be a disaster? Well for one thing, times have changed. We live in an acquisitive society, overwhelmed by avarice, where selfishness has replaced selflessness. Huge multi-national companies control almost every job, and international financiers control our economy. The politics of the so-called ‘man in the street’ has moved further to the right than ever before, with immigration and terrorism replacing health and education as the main concerns. If this is the case, then the mild-mannered Corbyn is certainly not electable as a leader of the nation. The doomsday scenario is that Labour would return to being a party of the far Left, with an agenda unpopular with almost everyone, save for those who voted for Corbyn.
His opponents claim that Labour would become a minority party; a party of protest, a party that would never again see itself in power. Of course, they are lamenting their own demise, their own inability to achieve that power, whatever the cost to their principles or background. They claim that the opposing parties are delighted, that they want Corbyn to win, so that Labour will lose whatever vestige of power it still clings to. But is politics really only just about winning? Perhaps most people see it that way. I do not.
Corbyn offers at least a partial return to the roots of Socialism in the UK. Nationalisation, equality in education and in the workplace, fair treatment for the poorest in society, as well as the sick and disabled. Ridding the country of nuclear weapons, and tackling the energy crisis. Reopening the mines, closed by spiteful politicians and businessmen as supposedly unprofitable, as a punishment to the miners after the strike. He offers respect to all, regardless of social position, sexuality, or creed, and a chance to rebuild the economy without reliance on invisible industries, or foreign companies.
This might all seem to be just an unworkable ideal, but it is not. It is all possible, if you are brave enough to take on the gainsayers, and conglomerates. It might well be that the time for this has been missed, and all the stories of the Labour Party becoming an anachronism under his leadership are true.
But at least it would restore its honour, and its self-respect.
It seems to be the general view that the Tories (read Coalition) will lose the next election. The people of the UK are tired of recession, belt-tightening measures, and cuts in social security payments. Apparently. The Liberals are discredited, and consigned to some electoral wasteland, never to reappear as a force in British politics. The job market has been handed over to the employers, and no-hours contracts, no union agreements, and poor hourly rates are driving the popularity of the Tories into the ground. The leaders of that party are Public School has-beens with no integrity, and are simply lining their own pockets, and those of their friends. They are espousing the policies of the far Right, for fear of UKIP, and because of the general popularity of restrictions on immigration.
All of this may be true. Much of it is often quoted by Leftist thinkers and commentators, although the news media seems to have given up attacking the government, and even the BBC are now accused of a distinct, and uncomfortable to watch, Right-Wing bias. UKIP are shooting themselves in the foot, with their members exposed as former National Front and BNP supporters, and their elected officials are being revealed, in some cases, as little more than sexist or homophobic buffoons. The Greens have little significance, outside of some local protests about nuclear power, and as the Scots are unlikely to vote for independence, the SNP may make some noise, but will ultimately lose face.
So, where is the opposition? There is the actual Opposition, in the form of the Labour Party. It may just as well not be there. It has no forward-thinking policies, has completely abandoned Socialism, and even unashamedly admits that it will continue some present Tory policies, if it is lucky enough to be elected. There are no strong people in its shadow cabinet, and the real Left-Wing thinkers left in that party have no influence, and even less power. It is slowly dismantling its lifelong affiliation with the Trade Unions, and distancing itself from the old guard Labour politicians, and the few outspoken characters in its ranks.
Worst of all, it has a completely ineffectual leader. A man who has the presence of an awkward schoolboy, no talent at public speaking, and the charisma of a traffic warden. Miliband is the most ineffectual leader that Labour has ever had, and considering Kinnock, that takes some doing. He never comes across as genuine, whether he feels he is, or not. He has no qualities of a statesman, and even manages to make Cameron look like a man with gravitas and sincerity. His public appearances at photo opportunities look awkward and contrived, and anything he utters on camera sounds insincere, and lacks substance. In the Commons, he comes over like a sixth former in a debating society, smug at what he considers to be his triumphs, embarrassed and awkward when he loses the point of the argument. His ‘team’ sit around behind him and alongside him, looking as if they wished they weren’t there, and as if they must be ruing the day that they elected him as their leader.
If Labour do not shake themselves up before the next election, get back to communicating with the people, and choose a leader capable and worthy of leading the party to victory, then we will all lose. We won’t have a coalition as we do now, but instead we will have a re-energised, far-Right Tory government, elected on a platform of being anti-Europe, anti-immigration, and anti-people on benefits, and the unemployed. They will be pro-business, pro-financiers, and pro-the rich. Working peoples’ rights will be further reduced, and the country will descend into a new Victorian Age, of us and them, rich and poor. Labour owe it to their voters to be a real opposition, and not just one in name only. And they must get rid of Miliband, or face disaster in the polls.
It has been worrying me for some time now, and I feel that it is appropriate to ask the question. Is there any Left-Wing remaining in British politics? We used to have the ‘Loony Left’, the Labour Left, The Workers’ Revolutionary Party, Militant Tendency, The Socialist Workers’ Party, and The Communist Party, with all its various factions. There was the Young Communist League, The Morning Star Group, the Trotsky supporters, and the old-style Marxist-Leninist diehards. Some of these still exist. You can find websites on the Internet, see members selling newspapers and pamphlets, and notice their banners on TV news, waved by marchers, demonstrating against something or another. The Morning Star newspaper is still for sale, and has a modern website. There is even a Stalin Society. I was keen to join, but they didn’t reply to my e mailed request. It seems that it is too much trouble to be a revolutionary these days. Round up all the members and supporters of these various parties, and you would be pushed to fill the terraces of a second division football club with them. They have no impact, no influence, few policies, and no apparent agenda. Their leaders are anonymous, and constantly changing, and most of them have been eaten up by internal arguments, that have diluted them into oblivion. The days when the Establishment feared the wrath of the organised Proletariat, and their strong Trades Unions, are long gone.
There was a time, not so long ago, and certainly within my recent memory, when the Left had a fierce commitment, and a hunger for real change. They had radical ideas and beliefs, and swore to change the status quo, if and when in power. The rhetoric is now about wind farms, nuclear power stations, global warming, third world sweat shops, and the rights of farmers in countries most Britons couldn’t find on a map. What about the re-nationalisation of railways, utilities, banks, and industry? Never mentioned. Getting out of Europe, and abandoning NATO, has become a policy of the extreme Right, after it was discarded by the Left, and found lying around, waiting to be picked up, and re-packaged for general consumption. Wealth taxes on the rich and powerful, the abolition of the House of Lords and the Royal Family, getting American bases off our soil. Where are those policies? Gone; though sometimes partially embraced by powerless splinter groups, and more worryingly, the burgeoning Right.
In Britain, we are seeing a return of Right-Wing politics at a rate unseen since in Italy and Germany in the 1930’s, and driven by much the same fears and reasoning too. Fear of job losses, fear of foreign investment and ownership, and fear of things non-British. Add to this fear of different religions, against a background of ‘Crusader’ involvement in Muslim countries, and the firework has been well and truly lit. An economic slump has opened the back gate to the worst kind of sneaky rightists. UKIP, Old-School Toff Tories, Right-leaning Liberal Democrats, and even most of the (new) Labour Party, are all embracing the politics of the Right. Some are more outgoing and extreme, such as the League of St George, Column 88, and The English Defence League. Others, formerly considered extreme beyond the pale, like National Front supporters, are now merging into parties like UKIP, and The Conservative Party, and melting happily into the background.
The media has all but abandoned any support for the Left, in any form. Despite laughable accusations of Left-wing bias, the BBC continues to tread carefully, fearful of its licence money, and dreading being handed over to commercialisation. All other television provided for mainstream viewing is either cosily neutral, or blatantly conservative, albeit with a small C. The newspapers are virtually all speaking for the Right, and the worst ones are fuelling the fires of xenophobia, as well as religious hatred, and spewing out propaganda against the disadvantaged and poorly educated in our society. The possible exception, The Guardian, speaks for the well-heeled middle-class intelligentsia, salving their consciences during their morning commute. The Morning Star has such a small circulation, it would be pushed to compete with a regional newspaper in a small town. Even that supposed voice of the Left, seems more concerned with the internal struggles of Communist factions, and is preaching to the more-or-less converted anyway.
The Trades Unions are still here, but they are no longer a force to be reckoned with. Years of amalgamation have turned them into unrepresentative monoliths, that have lost sight of their members as individuals, and seem to have forgotten the essence of the trades and skills that they are supposed to defend and protect. Hamstrung by changes in the law, they have played along, having their industrial teeth pulled one by one. Their political affiliations have diminished, and the Labour Party, that they were most associated with, is trying to sever ties with them, fearful of continued association with an organised workforce; embarrassed to stand alongside them and fight for the rights of ordinary people. Their leaders have become powerful and wealthy in their roles, detached and distant from a membership they treat like sheep. The only real alternative to another Conservative government, which would surely move even further to the Right in politics, is, whether I like it or not, the Labour Party. Now far removed from its roots, and unrecognisable to the activists who moulded it during the 1970’s, it is no longer a party of the Left. Its leader is an ineffectual bureaucrat, and its cabinet have no real policies. They have even revealed that many of the policies of the present coalition would be unchanged under a Labour administration, and that some of the cruellest changes, in health provision, and welfare reform, would also be upheld. In that case, the Labour Party is no longer a worthwhile, or even desirable alternative.
It seems likely that the very definition Left, relating to political affiliations, will soon cease to be used, and not long after, cease to exist. Left-Wing, Leftist, and any similar descriptions, will be consigned to the history books, to be viewed with mild interest as a thing of the past, sometimes with a wry grin of amusement. I like to think of my own politics as those of the extreme Left. Old-school, hard-line Communism, like something that once existed, but no longer does, or ever will again. The only place for this now, is inside my head, as I conclude that there is no Left left.
There was a time, long ago, when Socialist ideals were very similar to my own beliefs. Then the Labour Party started to call themselves Socialists, and before too long, there was the Socialist Workers’ Party to contend with too. Others have jumped onto the socialist bandwagon, notably the Nazis in the1930’s. Adding ‘National’ and ‘Socialist’ together, they tried to combine the ideals of one, with the cachet of the other, keeping a foot in both camps, and to avoid being called Fascists, which of course, is what they actually were.
In Europe, since the 1950’s, we have seen ‘Democratic Socialists’, as well as ‘Social Democrats’. It seems that adding something else to the name, avoids comparison with the extreme left associations from the past. Even the Soviet Union called itself a ‘Socialist Republic’, when it was obviously a hard-line Communist state. In more modern times, we have seen Socialism become watered down, to something it never was, or had intended to become. It now represents a generalised Liberal attitude, and the original ideas of complete state ownership of capital and industry, have been surrendered. There also seems to be an ongoing trend, where a good Socialist is expected to support worthy causes in any country in the world, whatever the reason, and to back any workers’ action anywhere, against anything. They become involved in matters as diverse as Abortion and the Fur Trade, and are for and against regimes and countries in turn, dependent on swings in the political climate.
At home, our few remaining Socialists are good at turning up for any demonstration, whether it be about unemployment, fox-hunting, or student fees. They will sell their newspapers, distribute their banners and placards, and be proudly seen as agitators. The Labour Party has a (claimed) membership in excess of 60,000, but how many of them are Socialists, or even want to be considered to be? They are very different to the SWP, yet both groups claim Socialism as their creed. This is a Socialism that doesn’t understand itself. It has run off with the idea that anything it supports deserves that support. This can be Travellers, the Unemployed, benefit recipients, asylum seekers, and anyone with any grievance against the Police, however unjustified. The things that they support are good, and everything that they oppose is bad. They work from the laughable premise that everyone is equal politically, and that everyone has a right to be heard, however inane their thoughts and ideas.
This unfortunately presumes equal intelligence, something that just does not exist, however desirable it might be to fantasise about it. It is considered to be political sacrilege to state the obvious, that there are many, probably the majority, who have little interest in, or understanding of the political process. They just cannot be trusted to participate in important issues, like running a country, deciding foreign policy, or dealing with International Capitalism. Unpopular as it may be to say so, there are leaders and thinkers, and others who do not think, and must be led. The mainstream Socialist policies seem to centre around a kind of maternal state, where millions do not work, and are spoon fed by those that do. They would be left trying to run a modern country, along the lines of a gigantic nursery, actively supporting those who do not contribute anything to the society that they expect to keep them in comfort. They would tolerate those living here, who actually despised the country that they lived in, and actively worked to kill and injure its citizens.
The so-called Socialists of New Labour even thought it correct to indulge in foreign wars, supporting right-wing countries in their quest for worldwide influence and power. Those who remain firmly on the Left, would seek to help regimes whose avowed intention is to introduce fundamentalist religious doctrines, and remove the rights of women, and other religious beliefs that are not the same as their own. Once established, they vow to wage a religious war on those same countries that helped them achieve power. Friends one day, enemies the next, and that is all OK with the ‘New left’. They revile the Police, yet I am sure would ring them if they had their mobile phone stolen, their house burgled, or their wife was raped. How do they expect society to function, without a Police Force, Border Controls, and a reasonable influence over the activities of its citizens? That would be Anarchy. So, are the Socialists really Anarchists? I doubt that. Do they actually want to live a life like we saw in the street riots in 2011, on a daily basis? This would be the consequence of the multitude of freedoms that they fervently advocate.
No doubt they would disagree. They would trust in the inherent goodness of people, sure in the knowledge that this sort of thing would not happen. The trouble is, most people are not good. They are selfish, aggressive, and avaricious. We may not like to admit it, but this must all be controlled. Things cannot be left to chance, in the Libertarian dream that all will be well, and a barter system will operate; and of course, nobody will steal, assault, or kill.
So, I am not a Socialist, because it just doesn’t work. Life is hard, and you have to be hard to live it.