Old routine

Around the left

It is virtually impossible not to notice that all the ‘mainstream’ leftwing papers, apart from the occasional outburst of r-r-revolutionary rhetoric, are devoid of any revolutionary vision. Instead, dull routinism dominates. A truly revolutionary paper is constantly engaged in a process of self-criticism, while at the same time every advancement or analysis is subordinated to its wider vision of communism.

For anybody seeking such inspiration, reading those papers which are enmeshed in the ‘here and now’ mentality can be a slightly depressing experience. Every week Socialist Worker, quite correctly of course, reminds us that, ‘The present system cannot be patched up or reformed ... It has to be overthrown’. However, nobody appears to have told this to the front-page writer this week, who enlightens us to the fact that there is “plenty of money to pay for the welfare state” - ifonly “we” (what happened to the revolution then?) taxed the rich “at the rate they paid for the first nine years of Margaret Thatcher’s rule” (May 18).

It appears that the path to ‘socialism’ is frustratingly simple, as the article also suggests that “cutting defence spending to the average levels of the European countries” would make everything OK. In the good old days the above remedies “were once Labour Party policies”, but new Labour has betrayed them.

The old revolutionary slogan of ‘not a single man, not a single penny’ to the bourgeois standing army would definitely look out of place in Socialist Worker ...

The picture of ‘socialism’ outlined in Militant hardly excites either, as it seems confined to the council meeting room. Its editorial, commenting on the ‘homes-for-votes’ scandal in Westminster, states that we need a “party that will fight like the Liverpool councillors fought in the 1980s” (May 17). The comrades seem possessed of the belief that Derek Hatton-style bureaucratic manoeuvres will produce the first stage of communism.

The Morning Star has a similar scenario, enthusing recently about ten councillors from South Africa who have started to work in local authorities across Britain. It described this as “town hall solidarity” (May 21). At least this will take its mind off the “Labour leadership’s failure to develop substantially different policies from the Tories” (my italics) and the haunting possibility that a Blair government will “stumble into a disaster” (May 20).

If this is ‘socialism’, no thanks.

Don Preston