Tuesday 30 April 2019

Lenin Stirs

Not that I'm obsessed with Lenin - just making sure we keep a sensible eye out for relevant historical precedents.

The story so far: the Brexit vote convinced the semi-dormant UK Marxist-Leninist tendency that perhaps the Revolution was just around the corner.  This is because Marx teaches that the Big R comes when the masses intuitively understand that things are so bad for the 99% that Any Change Whatsoever in the political disposition must be for the better.  The referendum, they think, signalled just such a phenomenon.  (We must of course skate lightly over the complete absence of a whole slew of other preconditions stipulated by Marx.  But that's no problem: they've been doing that for 150 years now.)

By dint of the decay of the People's Party, and boosted by May's criminally crass GE campaign of 2017, it happens that a bunch of actual Marxists rule the roost in Labour.  Corbs himself is an idle bastard but there are several, McDonnell being the most prominent, who would seriously fancy their chances as Leninists, the energetic midwives of Revolution, Paul to Marx's Christ.

What signs are we looking for?  Lenin was a tactician of genius, with Wellington's eye for an accurate assessment of a situation, both overall and as things developed dynamically.  Fortune favours the prepared mind - most specifically, when that mind is allied to the ability to identify the moment, seize the moment and execute decisively.  

Lenin prescribed "the strictest loyalty to the ideas of communism [plus] an ability to make all the necessary practical compromises - to tack, make agreements, zigzags, retreats, and so on".  In the run-up to October 1917, he also insisted that the bolsheviks promise the masses everything they wanted - the big stuff: food, land, peace - however undeliverable.  At that very moment (April 1917) the mensheviks and the 'social revolutionaries' (the peasant party) were involving themselves with the first post-Tsar government and were accordingly much more concerned about the practicalities and responsibilities of actually delivering.  Their promises were modest.  Come October and the bolsheviks swept all before them.

We don't need to stretch the facts too much to draw the parallels.  In their first outing in the 2017 manifesto, the Corbynites tried a Big Promise - tuition fees - with evident success; and even bigger ones are presumably in the pipeline, doubtless including the fatuous "zero carbon by 2025".  No shortage of tacking and zigzagging either, with the government on a piece of string over the "Brexit deal negotiations".  (And what are the Tories doing?  Publishing Damian Green's earnest report on financing old-age care with an "old age tax"!)

If this thesis is correct we can expect some truly boggling broad-brush promises in Labour's euro-manifesto, plus of course what everyone has long predicted for the "negotiations" - i.e. complete bad faith.  There might also be some 'agreements' with various of the other greenish-reddish players, but only of the most limited, short-lived, expedient kind.  I'd also guess, though, that the real Leninists (Milne et al) will continue to fortify Corbyn's refusal to back R2, whether or not this does them any good in other respects.

That's the great thing about Leninists.  Once they lock in on whatever they consider really important, they are unwavering.  For all the zig and zag on the periperals and the trivia, there will be some things on which they won't be moved.  They love a good piece of devious treachery; but they also love a good bit of utter intransigence.  "Strictest loyalty."  For good or ill.  Can be a strength: but not always ... 



Frank said...

"In the run-up to October 2017..."

I'm pretty sure Lenin was around in 1917. ;-)

Nick Drew said...

haha! You're a better historian than I, Frank.

Corrected. Thanks.

Matt said...

Look forward to EU elections:

Labour promise everything (and still lose Northern voters who this time won't fall for it).
Brexit Party wins on one simple message.
Conservatives assume their won't be EU elections, realise at last moment that Labour will not support WA and then come out with dire manifesto (even worse than the last general election). Wiped out everywhere.

Absolutely no sympathy for the Tories - they deserve to be destroyed not because they are the evil party but because they have completely lost touch with what (small c) conservative means.

Anonymous said...

"Marx teaches that the Big R comes when the masses intuitively understand that things are so bad for the 99% that Any Change Whatsoever in the political disposition must be for the better. The referendum, they think, signalled just such phenomenon"

That was true for many working class Brexit voters in former industrial heartlands like Stoke. I'll see if I can dig out the Guardian report where a guy toured the North and Midlands to be given the message "they said things would be shit if we voted Leave, but our lives are already shit".

dearieme said...

In my extended family the thirty-somethings are looking for jobs abroad. They can always return if the commies lose the next General Election. But while May heads the Conservatives I'd reckon that even the burnt corpse of Adolf Hitler would have a sporting chance in that next election. Especially since he could be confident of winning much of the "Asian" vote.

dearieme said...

Though, on second thoughts, perhaps AH would split the Labour vote. What would his slogan be? "I've been anti-semitic for longer than those Reds"?

Anonymous said...

I must say, although Corbyn is politically idiotic, he has shown great resilience/durability - as has the political idiot behind the despatch box, to give them both credit.

May must be under enormous strain (unless she is comforted by the thought of the directorships and EU grants she'll get if she pulls off BINO), while Corbyn has just seen off Wormtongue Watson's bash at a second referendum. Corbyn and McDonnell realise that most of their policies would be impossible to implement inside current EU rules (thanks ironically to the pro-market, anti-state ownership rules the EU brought in at British prompting - British elites being almost a different species from working Brits).

Anonymous said...

dearieme - Jews were pretty prominent (certainly over-represented at high levels) in Soviet Russia right up until 1949, when Golda Meir visited Moscow (Israel got most of her weapons from Eastern Europe/USSR in those early days).

Stalin was shocked when 50,000 ecstatic Jews mobbed her in the street, the kind of spontaneous outburst that just didn't happen in Stalin's USSR. After that, he was a tad suspicious/paranoid - Doctor's Plot and all that.


Charlie said...

O/T, but you have to laugh:

“Labour is the only party which represents both people who supported Leave and Remain,” a party spokesman said.


Who falls for this horseshit?

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile life goes on while we debate our future. From the looks of this, it won't be within the EU.


#2 is interesting as is #9. Both assume free movement.