Reality Checks

Chuck0 chuck at
Fri Mar 9 06:56:05 PST 2001

"Ironically, perhaps, the best organised dissenters in the world today are anarchists, who are busily undermining capitalism while the rest of the left is still trying to form committees."

Guardian 8th March Reality Checks ============== Jeremy Hardy

Whenever those of the left who are outside the Westminster loop are berated by those on the inside, it is tempting to feel special. The fact that impassioned centrists have taken time out from the whirligig of consensus to attack us is a special kind of recognition. And the fact that someone will devote a thousand words to saying that we are barely worth a mention suggests we are a mightier foe than we could ever imagine.

At the moment, it appears to be the turn of the Socialist Alliance to cop the routine abuse meted out to anyone who will not kneel in supplication before the government. At present, it is impossible to know how many votes the alliance will get in the general election. There must be some benchmark figure in the minds of Labour strategists, below which the alliance will be derided as a hopeless coalition of romantics and above which they will be denounced as a highly organised revolutionary cell.

Ironically, perhaps, the best organised dissenters in the world today are anarchists, who are busily undermining capitalism while the rest of the left is still trying to form committees. It is fair to say that the global anti-capitalist movement, which would simply not exist without the hard work of anarchists, took off before most of the left had even reached discussion of the Treasurer's Report, let alone Any Other Business.

This is not to sneer at anyone, just a confession that many of us on the left beat one another with sticks handed to us by the right and centre, instead of engaging with, and learning from, each other. If we can't think of anything to say about our rival philosophies other than the things the right say already, we have no business claiming to think creatively. And if we stop attacking each other for being so bloody sectarian, we might find time to *be* less bloody sectarian. Perhaps the Anarcho-Socialist Alliance is some years off but we all need something to aspire to.

Of course, infighting is one of the things for which we are attacked by the centre. Shouldn't they be pleased, then, that people from many different left factions - and none - have stopped criticising each other to form an alliance? The attacks remind me of the old racist cliches about immigrants, that they are simultaneously coming over here to take our jobs and our unemployment benefit, taking our homes and living 13 to a room.

The Labour loyalist line on those of us who can't stomach their masters' reign seems to be: "Typical internecine lefties, setting aside their differences to work together." I dare say that's the kind of thing the cabinet would say to each other, if they weren't so busy trying to stitch each other up.

Moreover, since many of the best people in the Labour party are leaving, you'd have thought Brown's and Blair's chums would be happy. The battle of egos at the top will continue, but the party will run as smoothly as they could dream without the awkward squad acting as a perpetual conscience. This is not to say people should stay in and fight for the soul of the party; fair play to anyone who does, but if ever there was a lost cause, it is that.

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