by Jonathan Lee
It’s a dirty word for many who don’t really understand what it means. People often broadly sweep Socialism into a single ideology, which is much maligned as an unworkable and authoritarian regime, seemingly unsuitable for the modern day, and unpopular amongst the electorate.
I’ll start out being optimistic, and assume that this ignorance of what Socialism is explains why some people discount it out of hand. Because the premise of Socialism is generally one that I have to believe most people should aspire to in some way. “Every human being should be a moderate Socialist,” Thomas Mann said.
Why? Because Socialism is a general set of social, political, and economic views that places people first. And what’s the point of having a democratic society, in which we the people place power in the hands of a select few to manage our lives, if not to make things generally better for people as a whole?Continue Reading
by Justin Reynolds
It was too beautiful to last. The fragile truce established between Labour’s dueling factions after the party’s unexpectedly strong 2017 general election performance disintegrated just in time for this year’s local election campaign.
Despite everything, Labour still made gains, indicating that its simple anti-austerity message continues to have the capacity to cut through the interference generated by chronic internal feuding. But the result was hardly good enough to foster a new outbreak of peace.Continue Reading
by Justin Reynolds
Overshadowed by the perennial pain of Brexit negotiations and fresh flurries of speculation over her leadership, Theresa May’s trip to China earlier this month passed with little comment.
Democratic freedoms in Britain’s former colony Hong Kong were briefly discussed. A few business contracts were confirmed. And the shimmering outline of some future post-Brexit trade deal could at times be briefly discerned.
What was remarkable about the visit was scarcely noted:Continue Reading
by Lewis Martin
In the midst of right-wing confusion about Jeremy Corbyn’s continuing support amongst the young, following a supposed u-turn on his flagship policy to scrap student debt, Tom Welsh of the Telegraph has unveiled a new thesis: the left will continue its resurgence so long as too many go to university*. His argument is as ridiculous as the title makes it sound, and his article is full of claims that are absurd, patronising and completely unsupported.
by Chris Jarvis
CW: torture, rape, political violence
Less than a decade ago, left-wingers across the globe turned towards Latin America as something of a road map towards a more progressive and socialist politics. Many a left tradition could be identified in the range of regimes, leaders and parties that had come to power throughout the region. Evo Morales in Bolivia, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva in Brazil, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Ollanta Humala in Perù, Jose Mujica in Uruguay, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, the ever present Castros in Cuba, and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. The “Pink Tide”, as this phenomena became loosely known, was high, and international awe developed among the left.
Breaking out of the 1990s, in which the global institutions of neoliberalism, from the IMF and the World Bank to the US state and multinational corporations drove an agenda of austerity, privatisation of services and market liberalisation, Governments of the “Pink Tide” brought promise of a better deal for the various Latin American nations which elected them. To greater or lesser degrees, these Governments sought to recentre economies away from international capital and towards the needs of people, increase spending on and provision of welfare and public services – whether through anti-hunger initiatives, healthcare programmes or education projects, and deepen democracy. Across the region, the Pink Tide brought with it decreasing levels of economic inequality, higher literacy rates, reduced poverty and greater levels of health.
In 2017, the legacy of these leftist Governments lies tarnished – and perhaps the most emblematic of this turn is Venezuela.Continue Reading
by Gunnar Eigener and Rowan Gavin
CW: mentions misogyny, anti-feminism, neo-nazism
Earlier this month, a writer and an editor from the Radical took part in the Amiel & Melburn Trust’s annual residential seminar. The Trust’s aims are “to advance public education, learning and knowledge in all aspects of the philosophy of Marxism, the history of socialism, and the working-class movement’. This year, the topic of the seminar was ‘Politics & Culture’, and the various intertwinings and intersections thereof. What follows are thoughts and reactions about the seminar from our contributors.
by Hannah Rose
This is a missive from the past (June 3rd) to the future (June 10th). Futures are shady places where the detail is rubbed out; they nearly always keep us in darkness, because we saturate them in too much hope. Perhaps that’s where it all went wrong: we should have shone a finer light between hope and cynicism. In Back To The Future, Marty McFly asks his girlfriend:“What happens to us in the future? Do we become assholes or something?”Continue Reading
by Laura Potts
On Saturday March 11th, I attended the launch of a fascinating new book from Theory and Practice publishing: ‘The Alternative to Capitalism’ by Adam Buick and John Crump. Many of us feel hostile towards capitalist structures. Being properly informed is vital to structuring our opposition effectively. I can heartily recommend this book as an addition to the education of anyone interested in the possibility of bringing capitalism down. Its content is manageable, it is inclusive not alienating, and most importantly it inspires hope in an alternative society.
by Chris Jarvis
Last Thursday, failed London Mayoral candidate and prominent racist Zac Goldsmith became the first incumbent MP since 1986 to lose their seat in a by-election, having triggered the vote in the constituency by resigning in protest at the decision of the Government led by his own party to commit to building a third runway at Heathrow airport. Overturning a 23,000 majority, the Liberal Democrats’ Sarah Olney won the seat of Richmond Park and will now become the ninth MP for the party.
The constituency is a strange one. Mostly highly affluent and nestled in the blur between London and Surrey, its electorate voted overwhelmingly to continue Britain’s membership of the European Union. The seat has swung between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in multiple elections. Election turnout is frequently substantially higher than average. Falling under the flightpath of the airport, it’s one of the few constituencies where a single local issue dominates much of the political debate.Continue Reading
by Tara Debra G
“Flags don’t build houses”, said Jeremy Corbyn last year, criticizing Scottish nationalism and the SNP. Well, no, they don’t, but neither does an unelectable party, so swings and roundabouts really. But he does have a point: nationalism as a political framework doesn’t inherently support leftist values, or the working class, or is particularly anti-capitalist.
In fact, the strongest argument I hear against Celtic nationalism from the English left is that it doesn’t solve the foundational economic equality at the heart of class oppression in the UK. I’m a Welsh nationalist and I agree. But the left shouldn’t care about Celtic independence because it’s intrinsically anti-capitalist, because it’s not that – the left should care because leftist ideals should encapsulate anti-imperialism.
By Chris Jarvis
Content warnings: mentions execution, torture
Throughout the twentieth century, as ‘socialist’ regimes sprung up across the world, their leaders and key figures were consistently deified in the west. Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Guevara, Chavez, Allende; all were adopted as icons of the revolutionary left, with posters of them adorning walls across the world, and their words taken as gospel. For a time, much of the left in Europe and the USA endorsed Stalinism, even as the true horrors of the gulags, the famines, the mass executions, the anti-semitism began to be revealed. The unbelievable death toll of Mao’s ‘great leap forward’ was brushed aside by apologists. Colonel Gaddafi was revered by many as a valued comrade, even as he ordered mass executions and dismantled trade unions.
by Zoe Harding
Well folks, these last few weeks your humble correspondent has been travelling around Eastern Europe on a hastily-booked last chance tour. I’m four cities in and thought I’d share a little of the mood on the street from Warsaw, Vienna, Prague and Budapest. Part one of this article looks at Warsaw and Prague.
by Elliot Folan
Six years ago, as a baby-faced 16-year old, I remember sitting in two different meetings within a few months of one another. In one of them, a youth magazine I was working on was told that its funding was being cancelled because of the incoming government’s spending cuts. In the other, I sat in my first local Green Party meeting as activists, fresh from losing overwhelmingly in their target ward, talked about traffic lights and solar panels. The contrast between the two meetings — one a reminder of the impact of politics on everyday life, the other a completely oblivious talking shop — strikes me to this day. Though the party initially struck me as directionless, I stayed until 2014 regardless: I believed in the Green Party’s vision, and I hopped around my city (and the country) looking for ways I could help. I explained away inefficiency, poor practice and a frustrating lack of strategy because I believed in the cause. But at the end of it all, the Green Party ended up gaining no seats in 2015.
I relate this story because, as a 22-year old who’s now in the Labour Party, I see numerous people doing exactly the same thing that I did in my teenage years; except rather than doing it with a party, they are doing it with a single man — Jeremy Corbyn.Continue Reading
by Cherry Somersby
Battle lines were drawn and war was declared on Jeremy Corbyn when soft left political heavyweight Hillary Benn kick-started a coup within the Labour Party. Consisting of organised resignations by many Shadow Government Ministers on the hour, every hour, the last fortnight’s developments risk leaving Labour permanently cracked down the middle.
by Robyn Banks
They said he was unelectable. Throughout Corbyn’s rise to labour leader, those of us who supported him were continually told not to. Conservative commentators watched in angst, and told us it would never happen, and the right wing of the labour party begged members to vote for somebody more moderate, more appealing to the wider electorate, more ‘electable’. But, still, he garnered 59.5% of votes in the 2015 Labour leadership election. 87,000 people joined the labour party after his victory, and more than half of labour members this January had joined since the last election, with many signing up in order to vote for him in the leadership race. 13,000 more have joined this week to support him. It’s clear that he offers something that many people want.Continue Reading
by Zoe Harding
You know what? Everyone’s writing about how my racist Gran and 17,000,000 of her mates have screwed the UK over. Instead, let’s talk about something positive.
On June 23rd 2016, while the eyes of the world were decisively elsewhere, the Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos emerged from negotiations in Havana with the left-wing FARC rebel group and announced a ceasefire. This ceasefire is the first major break in a fifty-year conflict which has claimed 200,000 lives and left Colombia a mess of drug trafficking and insurgencies. While the deal is nothing more than a ceasefire, it has been hailed by many Colombians as the first step in a peace process that’s been a long time coming.Continue Reading
by Elliot Folan
So. The referendum is nearly upon us. And the reactionary Leave campaign rolls on, with Farage unveiling his latest piece of racist propaganda and Leave.EU exploiting the homophobic murder of 49 LGBT+ people for political gain. The leaflets that keep dropping through my door from the official Vote Leave campaign, meanwhile, tell me that we must take back ‘control of our borders’ and rid ourselves of EU regulations that protect workers’ rights. The campaign to leave the EU has had no left-wing voices in it, despite the hopes of lapsed Lexiter Aaron Bastani (who has flipped, and will now vote to Remain). Yet some activists, and a handful of Labour MPs, continue to push the narrative that an exit from the EU will be a triumph for progressive politics.
I understand this view. I don’t want to pretend that I find it incomprehensible, or that it’s without any rational basis. The European Union is an institution weighted towards transnational capital, its decisions are made in backroom committees far from public scrutiny or understanding, and the only directly elected institution — the European Parliament — lacks the formal powers of a proper Parliament. The left-wing critiques of the European Union are not without foundation.Continue Reading
by Julian Ignacio Canlas
‘I don’t care if I go to hell as long as the people I serve will live in paradise.’
Disclaimer: mentions rape
Rodrigo Duterte’s personal politics is defined by a confusing blend of liberal and authoritarian beliefs. His politics have certainly elicited a wide variety of reactions, capturing the imagination of even the Western media outlets through racist depictions of international politics — or not. Even more varied and stranger are his supporters, ranging from religious leaders to the LGBT community, to sex workers and farmers. So how exactly did the new president of the Philippines, dubbed ‘The Punisher’, manage to enthrall the masses?
by Tara Debra G
Like many other young, lefty Welsh voters in the recent assembly elections I became completely fed up with Welsh Labour and Carwyn Jones. With rising austerity in Wales, I longed for a much more aggressively socialist program for my nation. In that desire was born my support for Plaid Cymru. I became smitten with their commitment to socialism and environmentalism. I also support Welsh independence as a long-term goal, and of course who can deny Leanne Wood’s enthusiasm and charisma? On the flip-side of Wood’s charm was Jones’ arrogance in thinking he was undefeatable and his implicit support of UK state hegemony.Continue Reading
by John Sillett
Ireland was Britain’s first colony and British imperialism has done all it can to hang on to it. The Easter Rising of April 24th1916 followed a long history of the Irish seeking to be a free nation through armed rebellion. However the 1916 rising, although a failure in itself, had distinct traits that previous rebellions did not have.
The method of subjugation of Ireland by the British was Landlordism and the use of planters — the bringing in of English and Scottish Protestant settlers to work the land in what was a Catholic country. Surpluses from the country estates were sent to absentee landlords in Britain. Attempts before 1916 to free the country from foreign rule rested on a leadership by the Irish gentry and middle class traders and farmers. This nascent native ruling class — which also included settlers who had assimilated into Irish culture — proved unable to lead a decisive struggle for national liberty.Continue Reading
By Josiah Mortimer
It’s now three months since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party. For Greens, it’s posed some interesting questions.
For a start, Greens didn’t really know how to respond to the new political context. The party positioned itself as the left party for so long (and rightly), but few had thought about what might happen if the Labour Party actually turned left. Suddenly, the political space for the Greens appeared to shrink dramatically. And for a while, there was silence.Continue Reading
by Natasha Senior
For the conservatives, the civil war waging within Labour is extremely fortuitous. Their borderline majority in the House of Commons was nothing to celebrate especially as they fully inherited the fractured Britain that they’d created in their last government and now the party itself is even starting to buckle under the pressure of growing Euroscepticism. Instead of capitalising on this unrest by raising up arms against them, the left-wing are too distracted by the arms they’ve raised against each other.
In the meantime the Tories have been getting away with murder. We don’t bat an eyelid as they rebrand the living wage, cut tax credits, and extend plans for fracking. This metaphorical war is starting to have very real consequences and if Labour cannot unite beyond the leadership election then without a strong opposition, these sinister policies will grow in size and intensify.Continue Reading
by Matilda Carter
Left-leaning politicians and political commentators tend to only invoke the name of our first woman to be Prime Minister in two ways: with the deafening thunderclap of pure evil or with a conciliatory tone; expressing the validity of many of her arguments. If the left truly want to be in a position to change the country for the better though, we need to begin thinking about Thatcher not just as a towering, transformative ideological figure, but also as an astonishingly talented political strategist.
by Josh Wilson
Whilst the second round of Tory austerity begins to bite, the party of working people is deep into its leadership election, with just under a month to go until the results are announced. In a shock poll last week Jeremy Corbyn, the veteran socialist candidate, came out on top with the pollsters saying he has ignited a grassroots campaign of young Labour activists. But is this softly spoken, unassuming lefty going to be the saviour of the British Left?
There is no doubt that Corbyn is a principled and unwavering politician and campaigner. He famously split from his partner due to a dispute over sending their child to the local comprehensive school in inner city Islington. But is the wider public ready for a party leader that wants to boycott Israel, renationalise the railways, and scrap nuclear weapons?Continue Reading
by Matilda Carter
Before I came to Norwich as a student and became properly involved in party politics, I grew up in Arundel & South Downs: one of the safest Tory majorities in the country. It might have been tempting to have painted my left wing politics as the product of rebelliousness or a rejection of the suffocatingly middle-class surroundings I grew up in, but the reality is something very different. My left wing views are not a rejection of a stale, middle-class, conservative environment, but a product of a very different kind of English socialism that was in abundance where I grew up. It is this countryside socialism which the Green party must tap into if the left are ever to win in Britain again.
by Jack Brindelli
4 years ago, the late, great socialist icon that is Tony Benn addressed the Burston Rally in rural Norfolk. The rally is an annual event to commemorate “the longest strike in history”, where Tom and Annie Higdon defied the local authorities to open a ‘strike school’, after being sacked for agitating for better study and work conditions. They stood alongside 66 of their 72 students and their parents, and hand in hand with the community against their unfair dismissal – and they won. And at that year’s rally, Tony drew one vital lesson from that past struggle for those facing the inhuman austerity cuts of this decade — “Tie your ropes together.”
In the face of an unelected Tory regime, hell-bent on slashing disability benefits, privatising our education system, and in the process of razing our National Health Service to the ground, the multitude must stand united against this bare-faced tyranny. We may be affected differently to the separate cuts within each of our lives, but if we are to overcome them, and to build a society of dignity and freedom for all, we must recognise the common ideology that underpins each austerity measure.
On Sunday night, over one-hundred parents, teachers, students and community activists packed the St Alban’s Church Hall to discuss the plight of another Norfolk School in the here-and-now.