Wednesday, 4 October 2017

The Moggists are opening the door to Corbyn's Venezuela fantasy

John McDonnell is filmed here and, to my surprise, some of his words carry some considerable weight.
"Parliamentary democracy doesn't work for us, elections aren't working for us. We'll go into this next election, and yes we'll seek to campaign, we'll seek to get people in parliament, who may seek to represent us, but what's happening in elected dictatorships. So we have to actually recognise we've got to bring democracy back into the community and that means democracy of the streets. So when it comes to coordinated industrial action we need coordinated street action as well. And that means as we did a few weeks ago, if we have to close off Parliament Square with thousands of people turning up, closing of Westminster Bridge, getting out into the streets in the form of direct action - and demonstrate there is more to democracy than just a vote every five years. Democracy is about taking control of your own community. And means industrial action combined with direct action. We used to call it insurrection, now we're polite and say it's direct action. Let's get back to calling it what it is. It's insurrection".
While the word insurrection causes the right to gasp in horror, I actually admire the man's frankness. Street level expressions of people power on a massive scale is the truest manifestation of democracy there is, as has been demonstrated in Catalonia.

When you look at the Catalan demonstrations next to the feeble "March for Europe" we can see that British protests are little more than social gatherings. Britain as a rule does not do continental style mass protest. Perhaps the "stop the war" march was the closest we have seen but that was not a constitutional issue.

One does, however, question whether McDonnell is living in the real world. He speaks of mobilising and occupying the streets but I can't help thinking that he thinks this is 1930 and the unions can instruct the dockworkers and ship builders to down tools and bring the country to a grinding halt. It fits with the delusion that Britain is an impoverished huddled mass poised to overthrow their oppressors.

That though is not a fringe perception on the left. It underpinned Ed Miliband's entire election campaign and for a log time now Labour has had a paternalist bent, assuming that the British public are awaiting rescue from their left wing saviours. The inconvenient truth for Labour is that in recent years, notwithstanding "austerity" Britain has done ok and the plebs are not poised to overthrow the imperium.

But this might very well explain why Labour is silent on Brexit. They seem entirely happy to let the Tories make a pig's ear of it so they can sweep to power and rip away at the establishment.

It's not a bad strategy either. The Tories have convinced themselves that the WTO option is viable and they have their heart set on a no deal Brexit. To their minds it means a buccaneering free trade Britain, when in fact it means permanent austerity and potentially a collapse of every complex governance system. If that happens it won't take very long for the Tories to be swept from power and a mandate will be handed to Corbyn to do as he pleases.

And when the UK is functionally broke, with no trade deals, there isn't a justification for Trident. I expect our QE carriers will be sold off to the lowest bidder too. Worst case scenario, we end up a Venezuela style mess. Best case scenario with become a disorganised, corrupt basketcase like Italy. It will be a rough ride either way.

But the the elephant in the room here is that McDonnell is not wrong. Parliamentary democracy doesn't work for us, elections aren't working for us. We get people in parliament "who may seek to represent us, but what's happening in elected dictatorships".

Part of the reason we are leaving the EU is because at every turn the government has shafted us without ever seeking consent. Had freedom of movement been put before the electorate they would have said no. So thy weren't asked. Every major increment in EU integration has been a connivance.

Now that we are leaving the EU we can see for ourselves just how dysfunctional parliament is. Parliament has utterly failed to rise to the challenges of Brexit and the executive has a free hand in doing whatever it pleases. Walking out of the EU without a deal was a fringe idea. No responsible, studied, diligent person would ever consider it - yet what is there to stop them?

We also see how many Tory MPs are on the payroll of private interests pushing us toward this very outcome. We've seen dome clucking from Anna Soubry about it but ultimately she has fallen in behind the leader who is taking us over the cliff. Tory moderates are all but silent. They won't put up much of a fight. They will do as Tories do and follow the leader.

And that is ultimately at the heart of this. Our political system rewards conformity and punishes diligence. Idea becomes identity, identity becomes groupthink, groupthink becomes prophecy, prophecy becomes destiny. The party system is a huge part of the problem.

To become an MP you need to join a party. Independent candidates do not fare well since politics is played out through the media - and sadly, people vote for brands and leaders rather than voting on issues. To join a party means conforming to the party scriptures, to bury one's own personal ideas and instead suspend one's own critical faculties to push the tribal narrative. That is why we are where we are.

It takes a certain sort of mediocre person to do that. A particular kind of narcissistic, ambitious type with few scruples and generally without the intellect to see why this system is a huge part of the problem. As bad as that is, we have a system that puts them all in one room to decide the fate of the nation. Being it a metropolitan London culture, subject to its own traditions, behaviour patterns and groupthinks, it exists in a parallel universe. How can this possibly be representative or even wise?

For as long as this system exists we will forever have a ruling class whose value system is entirely alien to the rest of the country. Not for nothing do we call it the Westminster Bubble. And in this bubble we have these same ambitious nobodies seeking as much exposure as possible, constantly courting the eye of bubble dwelling reporters, seldom ever taking a break to absorb and understand the issues, largely taking their brief from that same ill-informed media or badly researched party literature. Deliberative it is not. More often it is tribal and completely bovine.

Meanwhile, we have so many ministries and committees that there is always scope for an ambitious MP to find a step up the greasy pole. Promotions are offered in exchange for conformity meaning MPs will often quell their personal misgivings in the belief they can use their position of influence to the greater good. It never pans out like that though. The system has ways of muzzling dissent. Consequently we have old timer MPs who came to do good but stayed to do well - where few leave office poorer than they went in.

What we laughingly call British democracy is a sordid den of wastrels and thieves in Westminster. Democracy it is not. And this is what ultimately brings us to Brexit. The EU is what underpins the status quo; a creaking, decaying establishment that is entirely unfit for purpose and desperately in need of renewal.

My view is that evolution better than revolution which is why I favoured a softer Brexit. That would have been the smart move if the Tories had a sense of self-preservation. Instead, they have decided to commit suicide and trash everything. Were it not for the real world harm this will cause for ordinary people I would not be in a hurry to stop them.

But then if honest, I've always been conflicted on this. I have never been under any illusions about Brexit and I do see the potential for great harm - but I have always thought that the Westminster system was too sick to survive and doesn't deserve to. I thought my opinion of the Westminster bubble could not sink any lower. Brexit has proved me wrong on that. The irony now being that the Brexit the brexiteers are unwittingly pushing for is more in line with my political ends than theirs.

The Moggists are pushing for a hard Brexit for a revival of a Thatcherite Conservative Britain. I have no idea what it will be but I am certain it won't be that, and the Tory Brexiters are not going to like it. At this point, since it is not within our power to stop them, I am somewhat sanguine about it.

One way or another we were going to have to put up with a Corbyn government. I think that destiny was sealed when we saw guffawing Toryboys joining Labour for £3 so they could vote for Corbyn. I'm not superstitious at all but one observes that hubris of that nature is often rewarded by karma. And oh boy would they have it coming.

What follows, however, is the undiscovered country. A blank slate for democracy. The only certainty is uncertainty. And that, ultimately, is what I did vote for - because the crushing certainty of an ever diminishing band of Cameron-Blair replicants bickering over the last dregs of power inside a European superstate probably is a worse than a no deal Brexit - and the collapse we seek to avoid could only be inevitable on their watch anyway. If this way means the eradication of the Tory party and the Westminster bubble then it can't be all bad.

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