The Building of a Social Movement Is an Aim Worth Fighting For
There has been much ferment in the past few days and weeks over the character of the Labour Party and its future direction.
Notably, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party and leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, addressing a rally on Saturday, July 23, launching his campaign to be re-elected as leader, said: “We are a social movement – and we will win the next general election only as a social movement. Some people don’t get this yet, they think a movement is something instead of parliamentary politics. It’s not. It’s what will make a Labour government possible.”
Reflecting the support that has been growing massively since he was elected as leader, and especially since a number of MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party decided on a leadership challenge, Jeremy Corbyn said: “I was elected last year because our members, affiliates and supporters wanted change.”
Corbyn’s speech took place at the Lowry Theatre, in Salford. There were “Jeremy for Labour” events taking place at eight other cities around Britain: Hull, Newcastle, Cambridge, Bristol, Nottingham, Stoke, London and Cardiff.
The issue of building a social movement has meaning in the context of building the unity of all sectors of society. The aim must be to safeguard the future of society, and to set its direction and aim which favours the working class and people.
Corbyn has adopted the slogan of “people powered politics”. In conjunction with this, it is said that the social movement being built will give rise to a new kind of Labour Party in parliament. Is this kind of Labour government sufficient for people’s empowerment? And what happens to the social movement that would bring about such a government?
It is necessary to go further. For what does it mean to empower the people? It means that the people actually are sovereign, actually have the power to implement decisions. It means that the working class and people having control over economic affairs, having the power to build sovereign economies of Scotland, Wales and Britain as a whole, and the ending of interference in the affairs of other peoples and nations. It means that the people constitute themselves as an anti-war government. These are crucial social movements.
RCPB(ML) supports the conception that the social movement should have its reflection in parliament. But it also has to be recognised that there are those forces in society, standing for monopoly right, who are intent on constantly depriving the people of that power. In that sense, austerity is not simply a mistaken political decision. It is a programme which has the backing of the state which wants to destroy public authority and criminalise both the right to conscience and pro-social movements which aim to set a new direction for the economy and for society.
Implicit in this is the necessity for democratic renewal. The aim of democratic renewal is the vesting of sovereignty in the people and resolving the crisis of working class representation. The political programme working towards this aim involves funding the political process, not the political parties, it involves the participation of the people in selecting candidates for election, it involves the fostering of worker politicians from the workplace, as well as educational institutions and public services.
The calls to build a social movement challenge the old forces who stand for neo-liberalism and monopoly right. The plots to attempt to derail or behead such a social movement are no light matters, just a question of differences of opinion. We uphold the position of refraining from personal attacks and abuse, which only serve to demean the importance of what is at stake and debase the level of political discussion. What is at stake is the future of society, and this involves an ongoing and serious struggle, a struggle between those vested interests who uphold the right of the monopolies to dictate, and the forces of working people who uphold public well-being and the defence of the rights of human beings.
The response to Jeremy Corbyn, people-powered politics and the calls to build a social movement shows that the working class and people reject neo-liberalism and the austerity agenda, and aspire to be in control of events, in control of society and the economy, in control of their own lives. It shows the readiness of broad sections of the people to participate in politics. What is emerging is the consciousness of the people themselves to be masters of the affairs of state in a human-centered society.
The programme of RCPB(ML) for a series of Political Forums on the Future of Society are of crucial importance in this respect. These Political Forums will address fundamental questions of the aim and direction of society and the economy, of the necessity to work for renewal of the political process and institutions. Crucially they will aim to give coherence to the movements of the working class and people, contribute to building the Workers’ Opposition, and discuss the concrete work and practical politics which are required to ensure the success of the pro-social movements of the people and to remove the blocks to the progress of society.
We invite everyone to participate in the work to make the programm