Two new books published this month ask what sort of society a left wing, Labour government can create—and how it can defeat attempts to bring it down.
A collection of articles by prominent left wing activists, For The Many—Preparing Labour For Power, looks at the sort of changes a Corbyn government could make.
Editor Mike Phipps’ introduction reminds us how Labour’s manifesto marked a break from the pro market, austerity-lite approach of Labour’s past leaders.
Director Ken Loach asks how Labour can manage society in the interests of workers when “capital and labour will always be at each other’s throats”.
And sociologist Hilary Wainwright uses her contribution to try and find a solution. She has more space to explain in her own book, A New Politics from the Left.
Her answer is to transform the economy by nationalising most of Britain’s infrastructure and bring in co-ops, trade unions, community groups and social movements to help run it.
But what happens when this vision of society runs up against the bankers, financiers and capitalists? They would rather sabotage the economy than let their power and wealth be taken off them, as the experience of Syriza in Greece shows.
Wainwright looks to the power of movements outside of parliament to resist this. Previous left governments have failed because movements “have been subordinated to what has all too often become a decidedly old way of managing the political institutions”.
Wainwright wants to transform Labour into a party that puts the needs of the movement before the needs of parliament.
Yet whether this is even possible depends on more than just the attitude of the people in control of the party. Working class people’s ability to transform society is in the power they have together to bring society crashing to a halt.
Through collective action we can take the bosses’ power off them and wield it against them—and build a new society ourselves.
But the Labour Party has tried to manage society through parliament in the interests of both bosses and workers.
Contributors to the book talk of how Corbynism has become the new “common sense”. And it’s true that for millions of ordinary people Corbyn’s ideas make perfect sense.
But they don’t make sense for the bosses—whose biggest fear right now is a Corbyn-led government.
They fear his election would harm their ability to make huge profits at the expense of jobs, wages and public service.
Preparing for the challenges a Corbyn government will face means building the sort of movement that can break with parliament completely.
This means the needs of the working class cannot be subsumed into the needs of the Labour Party. That means the struggle can’t be postponed in an effort to get Corbyn into office.