Wednesday, 13 February 2013

How Far The Left Has Fallen

John writes:

So the French Communist Party has abandoned the hammer and sickle, symbol of industrial workers and peasants, in order to fit in with the trendy Left. This is the same trendy Left that has won virtually no victories for working people in the last thirty to forty years of history, but has instead won plenty of victories for Green Malthusianism, the homosexualist movement, radical feminism and a host of other bourgeois causes.

If anybody is interested in what a real worker's party platform should include, you can readily look up the record of post-war French Communist leader Maurice Thorez, whose policy recommendations included supplemental salaries for the fathers of large families and a pro-life platform that would put many Christian politicians to shame. Here is an excerpt from a May 2, 1956 article by Thorez in L'Humanité, the official French Communist Party newspaper:
While we oppose the repressive bourgeois laws which affect the poor more than anyone else and we demand their abolition, Communists condemn the reactionary notions of those who seek to limit births and seek thereby to turn the working class away from its struggle for bread and socialism. 'Birth control' will not provide young couples with decent accommodation; it will not give a mother means to raise her children . . . .

 We are struggling so that all women may experience the joys of motherhood, in the best possible conditions, and we oppose the regime which condemns them to hunger, which crowds them into slums, which pushes them to abort  . . . .  (quoted in Duchen 1994: 180).  
Thorez's wife Jeannette Vermeersch also took a position against abortion and contraception, calling them bourgeois vices and weapons aimed at the demographic destruction of the working class. Today, Thorez and Vermeersch would not be welcome among trendy Lefties. They would be castigated as prudes, especially Vermeersch, who once said that contraception took the "poetry out of love." How far the Left has fallen.

Quite so. 

However, attendance to what were once the largely ignored and marginalised phenomena of environmentalism, feminism, Third World liberation movements, the influence of tendencies such as Black Power and Black Consciousness, and the use of homosexuality as a mark of individual and collective identity, has opened up the space for attendance to what are largely ignored and marginalised phenomena today.

Those include the Classical, Biblical, Medieval and Early Modern heritages that define the traditions deriving from disaffection with the events of 1688, 1776 and 1789. Those traditions emphasise the indispensable role of the State in protecting against the market everything that conservatives seek to conserve.

They offer perennial critiques of individualism, capitalism, imperialism, militarism, bourgeois triumphalism, and the fallacy of inevitable historical progress. They uphold the full compatibility between, on the one hand, the highest view of human demographic, economic, intellectual and cultural expansion and development, and, on the other hand, the most active concern for the conservation of the natural world and of the treasures bequeathed by such expansion and development in the past.

Among the expressions of those traditions are the trade union, co-operative and mutual, Radical Liberal, Tory populist, Guild Socialist, Christian Socialist, Social Catholic and Distributist, and many other roots of the British, Irish and Commonwealth Labour Movements.

Variously, those roots have been embedded in, have been fed and watered by, and have grown into economic and wider patriotism locally and nationally, proud provincialism, worker-intellectualism, and organic working-class culture and self-organisation in town and country.

“Identity politics”, as if there could ever be any other kind, are being appropriated, deployed, transformed and transcended by heterosexual males, by Christians, by the White British ethnic group, by those who identify specifically as English, and by people of mixed ethnic heritage. It is now possible to listen directly to the voices of all parts of the world.

The old have never been so energetic, their numbers and expectations having increased enormously. The young are as energetic as ever, and politically more so than in at least a generation, technology having made them better-organised than ever before, while other trends have greatly disadvantaged them compared with their recent predecessors.

The mass anti-war movement has also become the mass anti-cuts movement, both of which are anchored on the Left but reach deep into Tory Britain on conservative principles of foreign policy realism and the use of State action to defend organic communities against unbridled capital. 

This list is very far from being exhaustive.

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