Summer Offensive: Frippery

The royal baby reminds Mark Fischer of the reality of the far-left's economism on the state during his SO update

If the whole royal baby media-fest has sparked a republican/proletarian fury in you, what more satisfying way to vent your disgust than by making a donation to this year’s Summer Offensive? The SO is, of course, the annual fund drive of the Communist Party - a consistently militant republican trend in the workers’ movement.

This week, £1,489 was added the SO running total, taking us to £11,309 - a solid achievement, but still some way off our £30k minimum target, due on August 18 (and also, readers may care to reflect, over £1,000 shy of the cost of a two-day stay in the Lindo maternity ward, where Kate has just delivered - £6,265 per night, apparently). Special mention to comrade SK this week, who delivered two whopping £200-plus amounts to party and paper coffers. Thanks also to RE (£110), GD (£100), comrades at the regular London Communist Forum who have also contributed £100 over the past period, and the numerous other supporters of the campaign who have chipped in with smaller amounts.

Readers will be relieved - but not particularly surprised - that this issue of the Weekly Worker does not come with a full-colour six-page pullout souvenir special on the royal birth. No doubt, many republicans - let alone Marxists - will be heartily sick by now of the nauseating stream of pro-monarchy sewage the mainstream media has released into the environment. Consequently, I have no doubt that comrades will have a measure of sympathy with the front page of the current issue of Private Eye (July 26-August 8) - “Woman has baby: inside, some other stuff”.

On the left, the Morning Star has cornered the market in this sort of downbeat reportage of all things royal - ‘Police deal with traffic disruption in central London’ is normally its template for coverage of House of Windsor nuptials, funerals and other monarchical knees-ups. It is hard not to feel a modicum of sympathy for this raspberry to the saturation pro-establishment bilge that mainstream hacks are churning out in such prodigious quantities. However, the truth is that these sorts of responses speak to a key political weakness of the contemporary revolutionary left - its narrow, sometimes sub-political, economism.

In a Welsh Socialist Alliance day school in the early noughties, I recall Charlie Kimber - a Socialist Workers Party luminary who has featured heavily in these pages over the past period - simply dismissing the whole institution of the monarchy as “frippery”: some ostentatious, but ultimately irrelevant adornment at the head of the British state. For most of the left republicanism is regarded at best as a side issue, a diversion from the main job of what is projected as the “class struggle” - strikes and campaigns over issues such as cuts, the NHS, etc. The struggle to abolish the monarchy is left either to ‘Here’s my bum, queen mum’-style anarcho-clowning or the eminently safe bourgeois republicanism of The Guardian.

In fact, the little sprog that has just slid into the world in the aforementioned private Lindo maternity wing is third in line to a throne that is not simply some expensive relic of a former age. It actually wields enormous power at the centre of a monarchical system of government that - at every level of its state apparatus - hollows out democracy and negates control from below. That’s why this paper does cover issues in the realm of high politics - the constitutional arrangements of the state, the monarchy, the act of union, self-determination for Scotland and Wales, etc. This is something that causes some puzzlement amongst comrades on much of the rest of the left - this stuff is ‘bourgeois’, not proper ‘working class’ politics, after all. This type of programmatic philistine is part of what needs to be swept away in the cultural revolution on the revolutionary left that this publication and the website it powers consistently fights for (there were 10,846 readers online last week, by the way).

So, what better way to ‘celebrate’ the birth of a new brand new royal than by pushing our SO total along, comrades?