Wednesday 17 July 2019

Labour Turns Against Social Mobility: Significant

Recently the People's Party (Corbyn incarnation) caused a minor frisson by declaring its intention to ditch Social Mobility as a policy goal. 
Corbyn to drop social mobility as Labour goal in favour of opportunity for all  - Party leader says idea has failed and calls instead for social justice commission ... In a shift being billed by Labour strategists as the rejection of 40 years of political consensus, Corbyn said pursuing social mobility “has failed, even on its own terms”... the party leader vowed to replace the idea that the brightest, most talented young people must have the opportunity to succeed, with a demand that all children be allowed to flourish. “The idea that only a few talented or lucky people deserve to escape the disadvantage they were born into, leaving in place a social hierarchy in which millions are consigned to the scrap heap, results in the talents of millions of children being squandered.”   Labour would replace the social mobility commission with a social justice commission.
Well, he's right about it being consensus.  Search on 'social mobility' in the Graun, and you'll find it's been reiterated explicitly as a policy goal by many a Labour writer ever since Jezza formally signalled its demise.   He never had much traction with the senior figures in his party, after all.

Mention of 'social justice' should cause a shudder.  (I once heard Enoch Powell say that from the Left one will often hear about "Social Security - which is no security; Social Justice - which is no justice; and Social Workers - about which I shall say nothing ...")   But, atavistic reactions aside, something philosophically interesting is going on here, in theory at least - which IMHO should have caused more than just a frisson.  Because in essence he's declaring war on some high-profile sections of the left.

The great bane of our age is 'identitarianism' coupled with 'intersectionality'; the idea that we are all (except solvent straight white males, of course) elements of various minorities (e.g. impoverished / gay / woman of color), and that as minorities we are all oppressed; and that if we could just see this, and proudly define ourselves by our being jointly the victims of oppression - particularly when we may belong to two or more minorities that may be, whisper it softly, in conflict - then we will all rise as one against the straight, solvent ... etc.  

But serious socialist scholars identify this determination to revel in the atomism of mutiple minority personae as no better than rampant, politicised individualism (*spits*).  They, of course, are extremely wedded to a much more sweeping and far less granular taxonomy: the Working Class (good); the Ruling Class (wicked); and the lumpen proletariat (irrelevant).  (Peasants are variously categorised in the second or third classes, or possibly as a kind of working-class lite.)  To dwell on membership of any other category is to miss the point.

They go on to identify the actual workings of identitarianism as this: various self-appointed 'minority voices' push themselves into the public gaze and demand that they be elevated to some position, generally salaried, of their choosing or indeed of their own devising.  There, they press loudly for (e.g.) more black women to get Oscars; and success in this lobbying is greatly feted.  

The upshot of all this is that de facto they take their satisfaction from - and invite everyone else to be satisfied by - the elevation of 1% of their own minority into the "Great Big 1% That Rules the World".  So - provided the G.B.1% is comprised pro rata of the same mix of categories as the populace at large, well, that's OK then.  Job done.

This, for the 'true socialists' is just a new, if colourful, twist on individualistic neoliberalism: effectively, a kind of political show-biz, the 'circuses' bit of 'bread & circuses'.  Multi-ethnic Oscar awards as the new opiate of the masses.  And it completely obscures and distracts from the real task at hand, which is to elevate the entire Working Class / 99%.  

And it rather seems Jezza thinks so too.  (More accurately: one of his trusted advisers with a brain.)

It's going to be interesting to see how far he pushes forward with this one.  A lot of the high-profile minority-voices-on-the-make aren't really interested in the Masses, or subordinating their own causes to the big Workerist cause.  And they do have a lot of profile.



Sackerson said...

Possibly relevant: PMTM has said in her latest speech...

"... if we can recapture the spirit of common purpose – as I believe we must – then we can be optimistic about what together we can achieve."


dearieme said...

Hang 'em all. Sooner the better.

Timbo614 said...

Interesting, but isn't all of this "Reductio ad absurdum"? It leads inevitably to a completely untenable situation...

Nick Drew said...

Timbo, it absolutely is. But as Orwell suggested (and the Russians & Chinese have long agreed), with Doublethink you can sustain the absurdum almost indefinitely.

Stalin even made his scientists parrot easily-demonstrable utter tripe for many years. And science has more concrete & immediate consequences for getting things completely wrong than this social tosh. Who can hold their breath long enough for the light to dawn?

Anonymous said...

Is there an echo in here?

Timbo614 said...

@Anon, Yeah, but I'm not sure whether to blame the Russians or Stalin :)

Nick Drew said...

Echo? What echo?

History has been re-written, and all echoes carefully airbrushed out of the photo. [signed] J Stalin

jim said...

A distinction without a difference.

Perhaps we could initiate a 'CrapTown Voucher' scheme for disadvantaged places. A voucher to aid young people to relocate, fund living accomod and get a job. The crappier the town the more vouchers it can get from HM treasury. Might wake a few bureaucrats up.

E-K said...


I cite London. Jobs capital of Europe. Millions of foreigners welcomed and making a success of it.

Result ?

Knife crime epidemic. Khan says down to austerity. Funny that there isn't a knife crime epidemic in Grimsby, which really is poverty stricken.

A more logical conclusion is that a surfeit of jobs cause knife crime - and free housing in these areas causes knife crime, because nearly all these knife crime criminals have this head start over their newly arrived competitors.

Any excuse not to blame the people doing it. So we can't have the truth.

This is a cancer in society. Not the crime but the lies about the crime.

The best engine for social mobility is selection by ability on hard subjects. Grammar schools.

The elite don't want them. They don't like the competition against their own dim kids. Like all leftists, they pull the ladder up behind them and then shine their beatific faces all over us and spout a golden shower of munificent sounding platitudes.

James Higham said...

Social workers - yes, best not to mention them.

andrew said...

I call it rational.

Lots of social mobility has always been a vote loser.

For every upward movement, there is an equal and opposite down movement.

The ups might vote for you, the downs wont.
The rest (most of us) it makes no difference.

Lord Salisbury said :

"The struggle for power in our day lies not between Crown and people, or between a caste of nobles and a bourgeoisie, but between the classes who have property and the classes who have none."


"It is right to be forward in the defence of the poor; no system that is not just as between rich and poor can hope to survive"

I welcome corbyn's movement towards proper old style conservatism.