Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

As Bastani Quits Labour Corbyn Left’s Fragmentation Accelerates.

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Image result for aaron bastani fully automated luxury communism

“Those with the least character to spare, can the least afford to part with their good word to others: a losing cause is always most divided against itself.”

William Hazlitt. On Jealousy and Spleen of Party. 1826

People join, the Labour Party, for many reasons, to get reforms done, to do a good job in local government, for specific policies, out of a commitment to social democracy, to the broad labour movement, to a variety of forms of socialism, and no doubt, for some, to make a career out of politics. Activism goes from delivering leaflets, attending meetings, holding street stalls, canvassing, to standing in elections, and working in elected positions.

Recent years have seen a newer form of activism, social media. Anybody can tweet, go on Facebook, or other networks. We  can even Blog…

Some have set up sites with more ambitious claims. Like the Canary and Skwawkbox Novara Media had its days of glory during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. From 2015 onwards it played a part in millions of people’s on-line clicking and flicking. Some at least considered them political players. They were all identified with one cause, Jeremy Corbyn and with the leader himself.

During the 2017 General Election, left-wing alternative media sites such as The Canary, The Skwawkbox, and Novara Media, well-known for their support for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership, were described in the Guardian as a “new force shaping the election debate”. By alternative media, we mean online news and commentary outlets that set intentionally themselves out as alternatives to a mainstream media that they consider to be biased and dishonest.

The reasons why will be debated for years, but that cause did not win…..

Fast forward to 2020, and to Labour’s 2019 General Election review, and these alternative media sites are now barely mentionedIn fact, they feature just briefly on page 96, buried in the final section of the chapter that dissects the Labour’s online campaign. Notable, too, is the lack of attention the sites received in post-election analysis. This is striking, since it is only in October of last year that Ash Sarkar was interviewing Corbyn on Novara Media, in a clear sign of their influence. In contrast to 2017, the narrative taking shape around left-wing alternative media is now one of decline.

Declan McDowell-Naylor. (1.7.2020.)

Are alternative media still relevant to the Labour Party?

The post-election and post Corbyn leadership decline has accelerated. The Canary’s founder, Kerry-Anne Mendoza quit Labour and has been embroiled in accusations concerning anti-Semitism, and her support for expelled Labour MP Chris Williamson. The site is studded with anti-Labour ‘stories’, Black Labour members are set to boycott campaigning for the party  Skwawkbox spends its time attacking Keir Starmer, its comments section dominated by abuse of the the “slimy knight”  “dry bumming” the membership. It has now pinned its hopes on the unlikely figure of Northern Labour MP Jon Trickett to become party chief this year. Novara Media, ploughs the same furrow, “Starmer’s Worst Week“….

This week a leaked presentation sparked ridicule for Labour, just as Starmer was caught lying in parliament.

The constant drip drip of attacks on Starmer and Labour may fortify the undoubted pleasure of hating. But many people will think that those who spend their time hurling abuse at their party enemies have not got over their rancœur at losing.

Yesterday this story was published in the Jewish Chronicle.

Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘attack dog’ quits Labour – allegedly ahead of an investigation into his conduct

 

The founder of the pro-Jeremy Corbyn website Novara Media has left the Labour Party, allegedly ahead of an investigation into his conduct.

Labour sources told the JC that the broadcaster Aaron Bastani, who was once dubbed Jeremy Corbyn’s “attack dog”, had quit his local Labour Party in Hampshire after being alerted to a probe into allegations made against him.

Asked to comment, Mr Bastani told the JC on Friday: “The idea that a journalist and member of the Labour Party would be suspended at the drop of a hat suggests deep seated problems inside the party in bringing together the kind of coalition that won Joe Biden the presidency last year.”

The strange final sentence apart (in what sense would Biden fit into Bastani’s ultimate goal of total luxury communism), this is the Novara Media’s own statement:

 

 

The weakening of alt-news sites reflects a wider fragmentation of the Corbyn ‘ultras’.

Labour Heartlands

This, and we would welcome more information, as if the ghost of 1930s Communist Party entryism into Labour has risen from the tomb.

The Weekly Worker reports on this event. Labour Left Alliance Conference.

If you want to understand the confused politics and contradictory strategy of the Labour left, the January 30 online discussion conference organised by the Labour Left Alliance was a good place to start. James Harvey.

The majority of comrades who attended and spoke clearly regard themselves as the real, militant left in the Labour Party – in contrast to the tame official left, represented by groups such as the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs and Momentum.

Roger Silverman of the Workers’ International Network (WIN) and the LLA organising group set the tone in his political opening by suggesting that the one-sided civil war unleashed by the Labour right had finally reached boiling point

For those not up to speed here is Cde Silverman’s groupuscule, the site On the Brink.

WIN evolved out of an international online socialist forum, members of which had been corresponding and meeting over the years. In 2009 a draft document setting out our common consensus was published under the title Preparing for Revolution, and in 2012 another: The Future International: socialists and the movement against capitalism. (For these and related documents, see introducingWIN.pdf)

The meeting saw resolutions from Socialist Appeal (the faction created by Ted Grant after the split in Militant), and the Weekly Worker’s own Labour Party Marxists. If you still have the will to live after scanning a few paragraphs go to the link above…

There are, in contrast to the old ‘alt-news sites’ and these warring factionalists, left wing groups and sites offering serious articles about the future of the UK Left,  such as Labour Hub, (see: Focus on Organising  Michael Calderbank), The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty ( Scotland, separation and socialism. Dale Street.) , Anti-Capitalist Resistance (England and Labour: Nation or Class? Simon Pearson ). There is also Chartist, Radical federalism  Sam Tarry).

These are some sites identified with the broader cause of socialism. Perhaps this is why they are important reading, rather than ‘alt-media’ based on one leader.

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j

9 Responses

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  1. There are some strange currents of thought swirling around in the “Labour Heartlands” Group / blog. Their head honcho, Paul Knaggs (of whom I know nowt) penned a piece the other day (https://labourheartlands.com/starmers-vote-losing-brexit-policy-crashed-the-red-wall-not-flag-wavers/?fbclid=IwAR3WwLQgC0pbHoMPts1ARffY_T7rsVdgmJ3UqTn6UXnEXBRoFpYIuXRTvDY )
    which after slagging off the liberal cosmopolitans who wanted Labour to actually campaign against Brexit, came up with a stance on the “flag” issue troubling the Labour left in recent days; “Patriotism has always been a characteristic of socialism but it never meant waving a flag. Socialist patriotism is a form of patriotism promoted by Marxist Leninist movements. Socialist patriotism promotes people to adopt a “boundless love for the socialist homeland, a commitment to the revolutionary transformation of society [and] the cause of communism”

    (Such) patriotism is not connected with nationalism, as Marxists and Marxist-Leninists denounce nationalism as a bourgeois ideology developed under capitalism that sets workers against each other. Socialist patriotism is commonly advocated directly alongside proletarian internationalism, with communist parties regarding the two concepts as compatible with each other. The concept has been attributed by Soviet writers[who?] to Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.”

    I wait on Cde Brough to pronounce on this in his own unique fashion….

    david walsh

    February 6, 2021 at 1:17 pm

  2. What exactly is the story? Someone quits labour for, if he is to be believed and I see no reason why not, he wants his professional position to be objective. Fair enough?

    G. Whistler

    February 6, 2021 at 2:33 pm

  3. Good to see the back of this poseur and careerist.

    Jim Denham

    February 6, 2021 at 6:27 pm

    • Sorry: by “poseur and careerist” I really meant “wanker”.

      Jim Denham

      February 6, 2021 at 7:49 pm

      • Why is he a wanker (or a poser/careerist, if you like)?

        G. Whistler

        February 6, 2021 at 9:33 pm

        • “The most ardent advocate for FALC, Aaron Bastani, a London-based media executive and writer, has written a new book on the topic. In it, he advances a curious, passionate argument, with a dire assessment of the present and a messianic vision for the future. Bastani believes that we are already living through a potentially epochal transformation of the economy, as epochal as the establishment of agriculture and the introduction of engines and electricity. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced computing might be about to eliminate the need for human labor in no small part, Bastani claims.”

          https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/give-us-fully-automated-luxury-communism/592099/

          This is what is known as “accelerationism”, but unlike, say Paul Mason, it is not based on any serious political economy, or the analysis of ‘Immaterial labour’ (the theoretical origin of these ideas about capitalism’s new phase in an automated/information based economy) by people like Toni Negri (somebody I note in passing I worked with in the 1980s). His stuff on political economy is gibberish.

          Both Paul Mason (somebody I respect) and Negri (more controversial) have had serious left wing engagement.

          Bastani has played with politics, from his time as a Liberal Democrat onwards.

          “Bastani doesn’t say so explicitly, but he is really an accelerationist, one of a small but influential line of thinkers, active in Britain since the 1990s, first mainly on the right, now increasingly on the left, who believe that the best path for humanity is to go faster, in all senses. “We must grasp the opportunities of the new world,” he writes, “rather than dwell on those … social mores which are quickly moving into the slipstream of history.” It’s easy to snort at, or feel unsettled by, such moments of Lenin-goes-to-Silicon-Valley rhetoric. Bastani’s vast proposals sometimes lack the relatively human scale and rootedness in history of the schemes, similar in optimism and intent, currently being promoted by other leftists as a Green New Deal.”

          https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/may/29/fully-automated-luxury-communism-aaron-bastani-review

          “Accelerationists want to unleash latent productive forces. In this project, the material platform of neoliberalism does not need to be destroyed. It needs to be repurposed towards common ends. The existing infrastructure is not a capitalist stage to be smashed, but a springboard to launch towards post-capitalism.”

          https://criticallegalthinking.com/2013/05/14/accelerate-manifesto-for-an-accelerationist-politics/

          Bastani reminds me, at any rate, of those post-68 writers in France who came out with enormous utopian fantasies, barely intelligible today. Like Économie libidinale, (1974) by Jean-François Lyotard.. Lyotard was a serious geezer, but this kind of posing, as Jim says, was his trademark at the time.

          See The Accelerationist Reader (Lyotard is there… Jean-Fram;ois Lyotard Energumen Capitalism 163
          Jean-Franc;:ois Lyotard Every Political Economy
          is a Libidinal Economy)

          Click to access Accelerate%20-%20Robin%20Mackay.pdf

          Andrew Coates

          February 6, 2021 at 10:23 pm

  4. Novara’s coverage of Covid has been stella reguardless of Bastani’s pesonal shortfalls. I don’t get any sense that they are fragmenting.

    Corbynism has a real popular base, reprsented both by lunatics at Squawkbox and the more sensible Novara. There’s no reason for that to simply dissolve, especially when the Starmerist alternative is failing so badly.

    Eric

    February 6, 2021 at 7:01 pm

  5. It fascinates me that many of those criticising Starmer’s embrace of “patriotism” were fine with Rebecca Long-Bailey advocating exactly that during her leadership campaign and also Ian Lavery proclaiming himself to be a represenative of the “white working class.”

    Jim Denham

    February 6, 2021 at 7:55 pm

  6. It’s high time that Labour got to grips with how they present themselves to the wider electorate. Most non-party voters are completely put off by this sense of the hard-left and their dislike of patriotism. There is nothing wrong, for most British people at least, in supporting their own country. And every time that Labour are seen, rightly or wrongly as unpatriotic, it just acts as a gift to the Conservatives.

    Jeff Smith

    February 7, 2021 at 4:57 pm


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