We are betrayed by what is false within. (George Meredith, bless his little cotton socks.)
So the Creator was sitting next to a tremendously clever chap, intellectual, something of a leftie, long-standing ANC hanger-on, and this chap just back from the UK where he now abides mentioned Boris Johnson.
Boris who? said the Creator innocently, and the Creator’s guts were nearly garters.
Boris Johnson, the new Mayor of London.
It seems that you just neglect the planet in favour of more celestial duties for a week or so, and there goes the neighbourhood. The Creator had no idea that Satan had ensnared the people of the Wen, although when you look at their grey sick onanistic faces in the Tube you can guess they would probably vote Tory if they had a chance. How the hell did nuLabour manage to lose? That means they’re going to lose the next General Election, no doubt about it.
Well, said the clever chap, Boris Johnson is a very brilliant man, an astute politician. He used to edit the Spectator, the most influential and, frankly, the most intelligent political magazine in the United Kingdom.
All right, perhaps this is true. The Creator knows the Spectator as the sick-bucket into which wannabe fascists like R W Johnson (no relative of Boris except in ideology), Mark Steyn and Rian Malan spew their bile-curdled poison. But that, alas, doesn’t mean that it isn’t more intelligent than other political magazines. For they are really, really, really dumb.
And, said the clever chap, you know the Tories are much better than Labour. Labour are so far right they’re practically fascist. No, the Tories are a much better choice than Labour. Not that I vote for them. I vote Liberal Democrat. They aren’t going to get in, of course. Ha, ha.
Well, at least by this small sample we know what British lefties think. No, actually if you look in John Pilger’s Freedom Next Time and glance carefully at the bit on Afghanistan you can get a similar perspective. Pilger went into the Pentagon and spoke to the psychopathic Israeli agent, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, only to discover that Feith had a Pentagon minder to make sure that Feith didn’t (as he always does) run off at the mouth and give away any dangerous truth. This minder broke up the meeting and wanted to know if Pilger was a dangerous radical. Was he now, or had he ever been, a member of the British Labour Party?
No, said Pilger, Labour are the conservative party now.
OK, let’s leave aside the Creator’s dinner companion and the movie-maker from kangaroo-land. Let’s ask what a nuLabour defeat means. France is under the Sarkomic thumb of big business. Italy has been franchised to Berlusconi’s monopoly without a squeak of protest. Germania has her own little corporate angel, the Merkel who is Thatchering the newly-privatised roof of the state. When Britain becomes a Cameron low-land, that means that the only remotely leftie or even historically once-leftie power in Western Europe is Spain, and that’s not exactly a big or stable prospect. In the last three years the Right has swept across Neue Europa like the Nazis, only more destructively.
Of course you can look across the Atlantic and see signs of hope, indeed HOPE, shout it from the rooftops, comrades, we’re free at last, unless that bitch Hillary spoils everything. Don’t believe da hype, dudes. You have a choice between a reactionary business-besotted Republican primed for repression at home and aggression abroad, but who says you should vote for her because she has a vulva, and then you have John McCain, who’s essentially the same but also batshit crazy, and then you have Barack Obama, who is a slightly more conservative and considerably less sexy variant of William Jefferson Clinton. In short, the best that Americans have to hope for, the big left-wing promise of the planet at the moment, is a sharp lurch to the right from the 1990s, which might possibly be a baby step to the left from Dubya’s Greater North American Reich.
The Creator speaks for the overwhelming majority of sane people of the planet in saying, in response to this, “oh, shit”.
What the hell happened?
Both Pilger and the clever munching chap have a point. You look at nuLabour and you instantly feel gorge at the back of your throat. Almost everything they stand for seems to fling down and dance on almost everything that even Harold Wilson held sacred — and until Blair took over it was assumed that Wilson held nothing at all sacred, but now we know that compared with Blair, Wilson was the reincarnation of Keir Hardie. Throw the bastards out!
Er, but then you have to throw somebody in, don’t you? So you look around, and obviously the teeny-tiny leftie parties aren’t going to win (and since you know they’ve never held power you can’t tell how they would respond to getting it — probably they’d sell out, that’s what politicians do, not so?). So you vote for the Tories, because at least they’re a safe pair of hands. And then, Homer Simpson sits back in his armchair munching a Tory-flavoured doughnut, going “Mmmmm — Tories.”
Much the same seems to have happened elsewhere in Western Europe. The Left were tremendously cross with the Social Democrats in Germany because they were, er, too chummy with the Americans and too nice to big business. So instead everybody voted for the Christian Democrats. You know where you stand with the Christian Democrats — they are in the pockets of the Americans and of big business. Mmmm — Christian Democrats. And the Sarcoma came in, in France, because the Socialists were no longer socialist, they were just really a bunch of capitalists who were bound to sell out, weren’t they? Sarkozy’s a corporate CEO, so he represents a real alternative to the socialists. Besides, he’s pledged to revitalising France by cutting wages, lengthening hours and cutting back on social services. Mmmm — neoliberalism. Berlusconi, well, we know about him, don’t we? He isn’t in jail because he passed laws saying retrospectively that his brand of fraud wasn’t a crime. He’s no longer directly aligned with the Fascists, just with the Liga Nord, who aren’t Fascists, they just want to put subhumans in camps and give the Master Race its just rights while keeping all the money for themselves. Mmmm — il Duce ha sempre ragio.
What this means is something more than just a change of party leadership. It’s part of a general political trend; the social-democratic parties turn to milktoast, then turn to the right, and this so pisses off the voters that they stay home, while the right-wing parties turn ultra-right, but since the same people who own them also own the media, voters don’t mind this so much, so when the votes are counted, the ultra-right gets in. And then the right-wing, formerly social-democratic, parties sit down and think, and say “Guess what! The parties to the right of us won the election! Know something — I bet if we moved even further right, we would pick up some votes!”. And so the cycle begins again. It’s been happening quite steadily, though with increasing velocity and momentum, since the 1970s.
And, of course, the same thing has happened in South Africa. “Boy, that Mbeki, he’s a crook, I read it in the papers! And he’s a neoliberal! I know — why don’t we kick him out and put a crooked neoliberal in his place! Rah, rah, rah!” At least in South Africa the neoliberals masked themselves as Communists and trade unionists, so the voters have a bit of an excuse. South African voters, it would appear, are more sophisticated than Western Europeans or North Americans, and you have to work a bit harder to fool them. But, given enough money and willingness to tell big fat lies, the effect is the same.
But is there any alternative to this? TINA, the Lady’s not for Turnering? (©Thatchbumf 1981).
Yes, there is. What can you do when the principal left-wing or nominally left-wing or liberal party abandons its principles and embraces conservatism? The smart thing to do would be not to permit it to happen in the first place. These things have happened very largely because the overwhelming majority of members of these parties, who did not want their parties to move rightward, failed to act against small minorities who saw profit in the right. The majority were bamboozled, were outmanoeuvred, and were too ashamed, lazy or foolish to acknowledge this or to respond to it. As a result, instead of trying to take their parties back, they decided instead to back the party in its new right-wing guise in the hope that it would win at the next election, after which, of course, they could take it back.
But they never did, and so the party stayed right, and indeed moved further right using the customary excuses of a party in power, and then came the next election and the rightists in the saddle announced that, regrettably, in order to win the next election they would have to move further to the right, and so they did, and the majority who didn’t want this shrugged their shoulders and said, in effect, “Anything, so long as we won the election”, postponing the Great Uprising for another year, and then forever.
And the process was repeated until the party lost the election.
Firstly, those in the party can take it back. They have the numbers. They have the right ideas. All they lack is the will. Oh, and the money. Despite his obvious weakness, and the rigging of some of the provincial elections, Mbeki got two-fifths of the votes at Polokwane; a tenth more and the neoliberals would not have taken over the ANC. A bit more organising, a bit more suss, and someone other than Mbeki willing to stand in his place as the counter-Zuma, and it would have been all right. In most of the left-wing parties of Western Europe, the left just huddle like sick puppies watching the right run the show.
The right’s might, in social-democratic parties, is based on cardboard tanks and broomstick rifles; whenever they’re seriously challenged they collapse. This is why their leadership of social-democratic parties is always disastrous; they never have the guts, or the support, to take on anyone who has the slightest authority or power. Look at the Great Labour Battle Against Militant in the 1980s as an example; the full might of the Party coming down on the heads of a few score people who were, or had once been, supporters of a literal interpretation of the fourth clause printed on the back of their Labour membership cards. This Battle was supposed to reverse the disastrous defeat in 1983, hooray! Strangely, expelling a few dozen principled leftists failed to win them the 1987 election, so they cast about and, with immense difficulty, found a handful more principled leftists to expel.
And then, of course, they went in with confidence to the 1992 election, and lost.
Of course, the fallback option is to found another party. The Creator is not completely averse to this. At the moment it may be the only realistic option for South African politics. But, on the other hand, note that small left-wing parties did remarkably badly in the recent Italian elections. Small left-wing parties have proved depressingly easy to co-opt in Germany and thus go down with the losing side. As for small left-wing parties in Britain, they are truly microscopic animalcules which have the surprising ability to divide by binary fission without being able to grow.
Maybe, instead, someone ought to try campaigning to turn the left-wing parties to the left. It might be amusing. At least, it would make a change.