On the mainstream dislike of old-style socialism and the collapse of centrism in the UK


“ The Guardian is a big influence, and it has to be said that both its comment writers and its news editorial stance have been about as pro-Corbyn as the New York Times was pro–Bernie Sanders — that is, not at all. And for the same reasons. These are the liberal elitists. It’s people who don’t like old-style socialism. All the identity politics around Corbyn, they’re different than the ones around Sanders, but they were there. Lots of mainstream feminists don’t like Corbyn. In the end, Corbyn has proved you can run a traditional left campaign and energize young people. The other possibility is so dire — a right-wing Conservative and racist UKIP alliance government. The Guardian, which I write for, has had this hope that some centrist party would emerge, a bit like Emmanuel Macron in Paris, or like the Clintonite Democrats. But that kind of politics has collapsed in Britain, and the Liberal Democrats, who are the small third party here, just have really not done anything ”

Paul Mason, ‘The Movement in Corbyn’s Wake’, Jacobin Magazine

On the neoliberal ideology and how the Left can defeat it


“ Policy in the decades after World War II was rooted in a Keynesian ideology that saw capitalism as the best possible system and markets as generally efficient, but also advocated an active role for the state in shaping the economy. An active state was justified as necessary to prevent depressions, limit income inequality, increase individual economic security, and prevent such ‘market failures’ as environmental pollution. By the late 1970s, however, an extreme version of classical liberal beliefs had replaced Keynesianism as the dominant ideology. The newly ascendant neoliberal ideology held that individual freedom of choice in markets is the fundamental basis of human welfare, while the state is an enemy of individual freedom, a threat to private property, and a parasite living off the hard work of individuals (…)  A third possible direction of change, besides right-wing nationalism and progressive reform of capitalism, is the one every socialist wants: a transition beyond capitalism, to a system in which human wants and needs guide production rather than the profit motive of a small class of owners. We have learned a few things since 1917, among them the need for socialism to empower the people rather than just deliver some goods to them, and that priority must be given to building an economy that is environmentally sustainable. The critical need to move quickly to an environmentally sustainable path might not even be possible with capitalism’s powerful profit and accumulation drive, but it would be possible under socialism. Such a transition would resolve not just the crisis of neoliberal capitalism but the many contradictions of the inhumane system of capitalism itself, which has long since outlived its usefulness ”

David Kotz, ‘The Specter of Right-Wing Nationalism’, Jacobin Magazine

On how understanding human nature allows socialists to reach for other people


“ You believe that the average human being should not be forced to live impoverished, stunted lives because you impute to the average human being certain unshakeable interests — being fed when hungry, quenched when thirsty, free when dominated. Consider the glorious socialist invocation, ‘Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.’ That’s a universal injunction. And why is that compelling? Because we all know that nobody likes being in chains. The slogan is not, ‘Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains. Unless, in some cultures, people like being in chains, in which case, we demand that those people be allowed to keep their chains.’ (…)…a good political answer is one which puts you in the shoes of the person you’re trying to account for. What does it mean to put yourself in their shoes? This is the critical point. It means remembering that a Trump voter is a human being animated by the same kinds of interests that animate you. She cares about her livelihood, her dignity, her autonomy, her family in much the same way that you do. Your explanation and practice, in other words, should last a simple litmus test: could it explain why I would have voted Trump, had I been born her? ”

Adaner Usmani, ‘Why Socialists should Believe in Human Nature’, Jacobin Magazine

On how socialism can give hope to the poor


“ So let us consider an earlier ideal that managed to win the hearts of the people: socialism. It is a vision that inspires hope in the hopeless, and encourages selflessness in the selfish. Democratic socialism – the evolution of society towards that ideal – provided a counter-narrative to fascism from Franco to Hitler ”

Clive Stafford Smith, ‘To build a utopian society, idealism should be what drives politicians’, The Guardian

On the flaws of corporate feminism


” By declining to confront our anti-egalitarian social structure at its roots, an individualistic, corporate feminism will never transform society. It can only offer a select few the entirely insufficient hope of catching up; of taking their turn; of being represented. The patience of the oppressed is rapidly transformed into a strategy of their oppressor (…) Socialism finds itself empty without the concerns and problematics of a feminism of the 99 percent. Feminism, in its corporate form, is unable to act as a strong theoretical and social force against individualism, capitalism, environmental destruction, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and imperialism ”

Francisco Fortuño Bernier & Aaron Jaffe, ‘Supporting a Feminism for the 99%’, Jacobin Magazine