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LQD: Labour's Civil War Is Due To A Paradigm Shift

by ARGeezer Fri Jul 22nd, 2016 at 06:32:29 PM EST

Why Corbyn so terrifies the Guardian  Jonathan Cook

The parliamentary Labour party is in open revolt against a leader recently elected with the biggest mandate in the party's history. Most Labour MPs call Jeremy Corbyn "unelectable", even though they have worked tirelessly to undermine him from the moment he became leader, never giving him a chance to prove whether he could win over the wider British public.
....
Meanwhile, the Guardian, the house paper of the British left - long the preferred choice of teachers, social workers and Labour activists - has been savaging Corbyn too, all while it haemorrhages readers and sales revenue. Online, the Guardian's reports and commentaries about the Labour leader - usually little more than character assassination or the reheating of gossip and innuendo - are ridiculed below the line by its own readers. And yet it ploughs on regardless.

The Labour party ignores its members' views, just as the Guardian ignores its readers' views. What is going on?


 

Strangely, a way to understand these developments may have been provided by a scientific philosopher named Thomas Kuhn. Back in the 1960s he wrote an influential book called the Structure of Scientific Revolutions. His argument was that scientific thought did not evolve in a linear fashion, as scientific knowledge increased. Rather, modern human history had been marked by a series of forceful disruptions in scientific thought that he termed "paradigm shifts". One minute a paradigm like Newtonian mechanics dominated, the next an entirely different model, like quantum mechanics, took its place - seemingly arriving as if out of nowhere.

Importantly, a shift, or revolution, was not related to the moment when the previous scientific theory was discredited by the mounting evidence against it. There was a lag, usually a long delay, between the evidence showing the new theory was a better "fit" and the old theory being discarded.

The reason, Kuhn concluded, was because of an emotional and intellectual inertia in the scientific community. Too many people - academics, research institutions, funding bodies, pundits - were invested in the established theory. As students, it was what they had grown up "knowing". Leading professors in the field had made their reputations advancing and "proving" the theory. Vast sums had been expended in trying to confirm the theory. University departments were set up on the basis that the theory was correct. Too many people had too much to lose to admit they were wrong.

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Jonathan Cook makes perfect sense to me. I don't know if there will be many comments, but the piece is perfect for an LQD and addressed subjects currently being discussed.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jul 22nd, 2016 at 06:36:42 PM EST
Guardian - Steve Richards - Labour's rebels, unable to get their act together, are part of the problem

They are in the painfully contorted position of being both passionately sincere and disingenuous in pointing out that the Corbyn leadership "isn't working". For sure they mean it, but one of the many reasons it is not working is that they constantly attack him.

Labour MPs point to their party's dire poll rating as proof that Corbyn must go. But it is a minor miracle that Labour's poll rating is not even lower, given the number of MPs who have been arguing in public that their leader is useless.

These public declarations of dissent partly explain the apparently deranged behaviour of Corbyn's office, contemplating contacting an MP's parents to put pressure on him, dropping a planned campaign on rail fares to conduct a reshuffle, appointing and sacking an MP recovering from cancer. The people in Corbyn's office behave like paranoid neurotics partly because they have lots to be paranoid about. After decades as a backbench rebel Corbyn cannot and does not know about the arts of leadership, including how to manage a team. But part of the explanation for his behaviour is a justifiable fear that the team is out to get him.



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jul 23rd, 2016 at 10:42:55 AM EST
Although it is interesting to note that the people now telling us that Corbyn is unelectable are largely the same people who told us that invading Iraq would bring peace and prosperity to the Middle East

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jul 23rd, 2016 at 10:45:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just as leaders are often given undue credit for events which merely coincidentally happened under their watch, they can sometimes cop all the blame for things that might well have been worse without them.

Corbyn is presiding over the collapse of Blairite, neo-liberal, pro-business, globalist, and war-mongering "third wayism" which only had a nodding acquaintance with the working class and their concerns - the gradually chipping away at old Labour's socialist achievements of the NHS, public education, public housing, workers rights, living wages, unemployment benefits and a focus on community relations.

Thatcher famously said "there is no such thing as Society". Ever since the NHS has been run down, public schools have been replaced by private or charter schools, public housing has been sold off, secure jobs have been replaced by zero hours contracts, unemployment benefits have been reduced below survival levels and communities have been set against each other to deflect blame from the establishment.

Where it has not actually led this process - under Blair - Labour has, at the very least been complicit.  Corbyn is now copping the flack for 37 years of neglect of labour voters by the party establishment which is aghast that he is not carrying forward their little game: all the while pretending to be socially progressive and caring while at the same time continuing the rape of the working classes.

It is doubtful whether he can turn things around.  He has so few natural allies in positions of power.  But at least he has shouted stop.  The cries that he lacks leadership ability are simply code for the fact that he actually says what he means and means what he says - in itself a revolutionary change in recent Labour party practice.  If he can survive long enough. he could become a pillar of strength in a UK increasingly at sea in the midst of Brexit negotiations which will be one clusterfuck after another.

More likely he will be swept away in a tide of national hysteria when people finally discover that the British Empire isn't what it used to be and that few people outside Britain actually care for their political ambitions one way or another.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 23rd, 2016 at 11:28:28 AM EST
I hope you are wrong about being swept away. It seems to me if he can just keep the pro-Corbynite base rallied in his support he can survive at least until the next General Election. During that election most, if not all of the New Labour PLP will be swept away. At that point Labour would at least be a viable opposition party if it didn't win. I think the demographic tide is moving in his direction.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 23rd, 2016 at 01:12:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To really understand the emnity, you have to go back to 1983 and the "longest suicide note in history"

Red Pepper - Alex Nunns - 1983: the biggest myth in Labour Party history

Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable. We know this because the ideas he espouses were emphatically rejected in the 1983 general election. His youthful supporters are ignorant of history. Labour will be obliterated if it moves left, just like 1983. It will be an act of political suicide, just like 1983. It will be an apocalypse, there will be fire and brimstone, humans will be wiped out and the world itself will explode - just like 1983.

That's a précis of every anti-Corbyn op-ed and every has-been politician's warning, repeated over and over again from the moment opinion polls signalled that something was going on in the Labour leadership contest.

MYTH: Labour lost the 1983 election because it was too left wing
...



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jul 23rd, 2016 at 11:47:08 AM EST
The problem with Corbyn is that the socialist ideas he represents really are a throwback, they are no paradigm shift at all. His is very much the old tankie dream of centrally-organised cadres working dutifully to create a workers paradise, probably based on 5 year plans and the nationalisation of everything that moves.

This idea had already been shown to fail by the 70s, the naitonalised industries were bywords for inefficiecy, the ossification, indeed deification, of out-dated work practices and a failure to adapt and move forward to embrace new ideas.

All of which came crashing down in the "Winter of Discontent" in 1978/9. Something had to change and the struggles of the 80 within Labour were between those who wanted to throw this off, the people who became Blairites, and those who wanted to double down, the Bennites among whom Corbyn was numbered.

However, I suspect that, in the last 30 years, JC has had something of a learning curve. His adherence to democratic decision making is far more pronounced than that of the Bennites. Which means that the accusation that Neil kinnock threw at him of being a "syndicalist" is probably correct

Syndicalism had been a prominent ideology amongst some workers in the period before World War One. Analogous movements existed in countries across the world (especially Europe and the Americas) and were often inspired by anarchist and communist ideas, as well as drawing on the radical democratic practices of some 19th Century trade unionism.

The idea, at its core, was a relatively simple one. Industry should be directly owned and controlled by the working class without intermediaries, and the state and parliament inherently stood in opposition to this happening.

The Labour party has, as the article explains, always been opposed to co-ops and bottom-up organisations, preferring the more traditional Leninist top-down imposition of state ownership "in the name of the people". So, although the Labour party took over the Co-op party, I believe the rule book of the party somewhere specifically prohibits their promotion.

This new syndicalist movement that corbyn leads is very much of the Occupy podemos m5* generation. Whether Corbyn himself is the best person to lead it is something I doubt, as he still harks back instinctively to his Bennite past. But he's better than any of the alternatives on offer, he recognises that neo-liberalist conservativism is a busted flush and that'll do for now

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jul 23rd, 2016 at 12:04:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just support for the NHS and improved social welfare policies will do a world of good, and the government can always subsidize home energy efficiency upgrades which would be very helpful to homeowners and the economy, as it would reduce energy imports. And he could push for affordable housing in London and in areas suitable for retirement living.

Does he or is he likely to support wind and solar? And does he have a policy on land use reform? Encouraging land based wind and solar for homeowners would create more decent jobs, as would better funding for NHS and social welfare. He could work to replace 'efficiency' with equality and effectiveness as a metric for social welfare efforts. That, if successful, would constitute a revolution.

The paradigm shift here need not involve totally new ideas. The problem is not what is known but what has been 'socially forgotten' - like the analysis of Keynes and his followers and of Kalecki, etc. Just bringing those ideas back into the public square would be paradigm shift enough!

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 23rd, 2016 at 01:31:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great comment, Helen.
A client was somewhat vituperatively dismissive of Jez yesterday, for his 'unelectability'.
This counting on the electorate to be able only to elect mediagenic puppets is disproved by the astonishing recent increase in party registration.
It also reeks of age-ist condescension.
It's a blind spot a mile wide.
Yes there are a lot of easily swayed idiot voters, as Brexit proved, but Corbyn is not promising the moon or using any base tactics to garner voters.  

By just serenely holding firm under the slings and arrows he lets his opponents reveal their mean-spiritedness.
QED

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jul 23rd, 2016 at 06:21:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This idea had already been shown to fail by the 70s, the naitonalised industries were bywords for inefficiecy, the ossification, indeed deification, of out-dated work practices and a failure to adapt and move forward to embrace new ideas.

No less so than privatised industries today. I think it's hard to argue that privatised rail is doing a better, cheaper job than BR used to - or would have been able to with equivalent funding.

The idea that nationalisation never works was part of the Thatcherite mythology. Privatisation never works either, and large corporations are at least as incoherent and sclerotic - with the difference that some, like the UK's arms trade (the one that can't design an aircraft carrier that works in warm weather), are also corrupt.

All of which came crashing down in the "Winter of Discontent" in 1978/9.

Which is another legendary moment in the Thatcherite retelling of history. What really happened was that the UK - like most countries - had been through severe inflation caused by oil price shocks.

Unions attempted to protect their workers by pushing up wages. Callaghan was Labour in Name Only, and was effectively just a neoliberal stooge. Of course he took on the unions, and of course he lost.

Which led to the next part of received Thatcherite mythology - the idea that wage increases cause runaway inflation, and that the unions somehow run the country, and will run it into the ground if not castrated.

In fact import costs have far more influence on inflation than wages do. And viable companies always have the option to trim profits to pay a higher wage bill.

If they choose not, that's a choice, not an economic inevitability.

As for the rest - these are also standard Tory talking points. Here's Boris laying them out back in October:

Boris on Corbyn

That's certainly Corbyn's heritage, but it's not so clear what Corbyn has turned into today. I don't think we'd see a Trot being quite as cool about the abuse that Corbyn has received, or being quite so good at getting members to join the party.

Corbyn isn't business as usual. Nor is he necessarily just a throwback. But even if all he wants is to roll back the Thatcherite consensus a lot of Labour voters, old and new, are just fine with that.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jul 23rd, 2016 at 10:40:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'Trots' I get, though not the particular flavors that might be under discussion. Trotsky opposed Stalin and it got him killed. But what is a 'tankie' in this context?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 23rd, 2016 at 11:28:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Militants?

Trotskyists refer to a tendency of small, disciplined groups trying to infiltrate and take over larger labour parties. Or at least dreaming of it and giving larger Labour parties the perfect excuse to throw out people who were to far left, whether or not they actually belonged to a Trotskyist group.

by fjallstrom on Sun Jul 24th, 2016 at 06:33:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
tankie definition

A hardline Stalinist. A tankie is a member of a communist group or a "fellow traveller" (sympathiser) who believes fully in the political system of the Soviet Union and defends/defended the actions of the Soviet Union and other accredited states (China, Serbia, etc.) to the hilt, even in cases where other communists criticise their policies or actions. For instance, such a person favours overseas interventions by Soviet-style states, defends these regimes when they engage in human rights violations, and wishes to establish a similar system in other countries such as Britain and America.
[....]
The term derives from the fact that the divisions within the communist movement first arose when the Soviet Union sent tanks into communist Hungary in 1956, to crush an attempt to establish an alternative version of communism which was not embraced by the Russians. Most communists outside the eastern bloc opposed this action and criticised the Soviet Union. The "tankies" were those who said "send the tanks in".


keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jul 24th, 2016 at 09:30:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks. Memo to self: "Don't forget about the Urban Dictionary."

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 24th, 2016 at 01:22:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would appear that the split in Labour is due to an ongoing contest for the narrative between the elites, who own the newspapers and the labour base, which has stopped believing the self-serving stories spewed forth by the press as to what Labour supporters want. The base has decisively rejected the story the elites concocted and elected Corbyn because he was the honest Labour leader who was available. Now the ownership of the Guardian is in a quandry.

Perhaps there is an opportunity here for the Morning Star. But they had best take care to see that some City billionaire doesn't buy enough shares to take control. But, if enough of Labour's base has caught on to have elected Corbyn by huge majorities this ongoing disinformation and FUD attack by the press, including much of the Guardian's coverage looks likely to fail.

Reform of the media indeed! Does Corbyn have proposals with any specifics. They might be applicable to the USA, where we have similar problems recently revealed by Bernie Sanders' campaign and the response it has drawn.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jul 24th, 2016 at 03:28:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm tending towards a lover-level explanation.

IMHO Labour's conflict is less leader vs. MPs than members vs. MPs, and the members vs. MPs conflict is the ultimate result of party reforms which gave the leadership a strong hand in selecting MP candidates. These reforms started at least under Kinnock, and I read Angela Eagle, the first failed anti-Corbyn candidate, is a prime example: she was made candidate when her local party's first choice was dumped by the leadership for going against the party line, and the leadership ignored more than half of the local party members' protest in the form of blank ballots. But this vetting from above got truly fully developed under Bliar, with the end result that the parliamentary Labour Party and the membership are like two different parties.

The Guardian, although it was critical of Bliarism a decade ago (at least much more so than its Sunday partner The Observer, which was gung-ho on the Iraq War) comes into the picture because its contacts are in the PLP. Also, its ownership structure shifted.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jul 26th, 2016 at 03:35:43 PM EST
yes, that's in in a nutshell. The plp was hollowed out by Blair to represent his own agenda of corporate acquiescence. they're all lovely tory boys and girls without a thoght in their heads for the consequences of their actions on the working classes.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jul 26th, 2016 at 03:54:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guardian - David Wearing - This Labour battle isn't Blairites v Corbynistas. It's over progressive change

For a sense of the division now tearing through the Labour party, consider a moment that occurred during the Fabian Society conference back in January 2010. The day's proceedings finished with a Dragons' Den-style competition for a big idea for the next election manifesto. A pitch for a Green New Deal to provide a Keynesian stimulus, create good jobs, and decarbonise the economy was greeted enthusiastically by delegates but rejected by Gordon Brown's pollster, Deborah Mattinson, who said that while climate change was "the biggest issue facing humanity" this was not an idea she could sell to voters.

There, six years ago, was the essence of Labour's current civil war: on one side a grassroots bursting with ideas, determined to tackle the most urgent issues; on the other a party establishment so deferential to "political reality" that the survival of human civilisation has to take a back seat. This is the real struggle taking place in the party now: not one between "Blairites" and "Corbynistas", but between conservatives and progressives.
[....]
New Labour was primarily about deference to the established order, whether or not public opinion could be used as an alibi.



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jul 26th, 2016 at 07:43:53 PM EST
Labour rebels plan to elect own leader and create `alternative' group if Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected  Torygraph
Senior Labour rebels are so convinced that Jeremy Corbyn will win the leadership contest that they are planning to elect their own leader and launch a legal challenge for the party's name.

Leading moderates have told The Telegraph they are looking at plans to set up their own "alternative Labour" in a "semi-split" of the party if Mr Corbyn remains in post.

The move would see them create their own shadow cabinet and even elect a leader within Parliament to rival Mr Corbyn's front bench and take on the Tories.

Talk about 'agency' problems! Their proposal suggests entertaining the spectacle of a disembodied head speaking as Her Magesties Loyal Opposition. Their actions scream for a mechanism for CLPs to recall MPs who insist on defying the overwhelming opposition of their electorate. Perhaps a petition process calling for a vote with a 75% majority required to effect the recall could be added at a Labour CLP general meeting - soon. Corbyn would have to call the meeting.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 30th, 2016 at 03:52:08 PM EST
But would Parliament have to pass legislation to enable such action?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 30th, 2016 at 03:54:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No. Parliament has no interest in regulating how the elected individuals organise themselves.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 1st, 2016 at 01:58:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But would legislation be required for a party to do that?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 1st, 2016 at 02:01:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
no. Parties are private institutions that are owned by the membership. If a load of people want to resign from a party and form another one, that's entirely a matter for them.

The legal fiction is that it is the individual member of parliament who is elected to represent a constitutency. they are not elected as representatives of a party.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Aug 1st, 2016 at 04:01:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But do the CLPs have any means to replace and elected MP? That is the meat of the issue.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 2nd, 2016 at 03:11:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They cannot remove a stting MP from his seat in the House because that MP was elected by the voters in that constituency and he is their MP, not the pary's.

However, they are entirely within their rights to replace them as their candidate at the next election if they have left the party.

Right now, there is a debate as to whether the local party have the right to remove that endorsement from a sitting MP who hasn't left the party, but whose behaviour or political philosophy the membership deem  no longer acceptable.  

However, the national party do retain that right. Simon Danczuk, MP for Rochdale, will be removed by the national party at the next election

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 3rd, 2016 at 05:36:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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