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Meet the next Tory leader

Let’s leave behind the argy-bargy and speculations surrounding Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership, and turn our attention to the Conservatives and who will succeed Theresa May. It’s not exciting anyone at the moment because the issue is beyond settled. May convincingly took the farce of the Tory party leadership contest and now rides high in the polls. And yet, as everyone obsesses about Labour’s difficulties we have a tendency to forget that May possesses a sliver of a majority, and adding Copeland to her tally does nothing to change that. Brexit is a destruction derby’s worth of car crashes waiting to happen, little of which is going to reflect positively on her. The backbenchers might start getting restless, especially if sense is imbibed and a hard Brexit avoided. And there are those pesky events – the economy, NHS, schools, disability cuts – threatening to throw a spanner in the works. Oh, and lest we forget, the Tory electoral fraud story is menacing the outer edges of the problems piling into the PM’s in tray.

Okay, assume May is going and the Tory benches are jostling and jockeying. Who will it be? The big beasts are set to pile in. Bottler Boris will be itching for another try. Disgraced serving minister Liam Fox and David Davis are sure to have a punt. Anna Soubry and the unlamented George Osborne are odds on to pitch in, and don’t be surprised if the likes of “Handbags” Fallon, the dread Leadsom and Jake Rees-Mogg chuck in too. Yet I don’t think any of these will win.

Long-time readers know I have a soft spot for Ruth Davidson. And seriously, who doesn’t. From the distance of 200 miles and mediated by telly and Twitter, she comes across as smart, warm, funny, genuine. You could almost forget that as the leader of the Scottish Tories she stands implacably opposed to the interests of our movement. Now, the Tories are doing well but their historic problems haven’t gone away. Secular decline in membership and vote share is temporarily offset by the exigencies of the moment, but in the long-term demographic change still favours Labour, hence the boundary review. To solve their problem, the Tories need to intersect with the rising generation: their bank of “mature voters” is paying negative interest, after all.

Someone like Ruth Davidson is what they need, someone not too obviously tainted with Tory baggage like cruel politics and comic batshittery. Someone who appears to take the one-nationism seriously, cares about working class people and their aspirations, comes across well and hails from a relatively normal background. And someone with a bit of drive too.

Unfortunately, the Tories have such a woman who isn’t safely penned away at Holyrood. Apart from Johnson, who was a national political figure already, she’s the stand out from the party’s 2015 intake. I’m making a long range forecast now. She’s charismatic, media friendly, has a few maverick tendencies but, from the standpoint of copy, for the right reasons. Ambitious, she put in for the Cambs and Peterboro’ mayoralty and didn’t get it, but that speaks of someone chafing at the relative powerlessness of the backbenches. That local role had real decision-making teeth to it, which no doubt proved quite tempting. So, if she has an opportunity to go for the top job, she will. And mark my words, she’ll probably get it. Dear reader, I give you our movement’s future nemesis: Heidi Allen MP.


  1. Stephen Bellamy says:

    Jezuz wept. Just who is this PBC guy ?

    1. Richard MacKinnon says:

      This article tells you all you need to know about The Labour Party at present. Labour are in such a bad state voters and supporters are walking away, Labour’s shadow front bench look like it was picked by The Bullingdon Club on drugs, the rest of us are just shaking our heads in disbelief. The Tory government is all powerful with no effective opposition and a new leader that could call a general election at any time (and probably will), whenever it happens it will wipe Labour out.
      And what does Leftfutures put up for a topic of conversation? Carry on PBC you dont realise how much pleasure you bring to so many.

  2. Stephen Bellamy says:

    Anyway moving on from PBC drivel, Pete’s report from the NEC meeting should be more than a little interesting.

    1. Stephen Bellamy says:

      Shouldn’t it Rhea ?

  3. Tim Pendry says:

    Another rant based on a fundamentally false analysis – “Brexit is a destruction derby’s worth of car crashes waiting to happen”. The evidence for this is slight, especially after the failed pre-Brexit vote analyses of economic prospects – disaster gets pushed ever further forwards and has now reduced itself to a bout of moderate inflation that is matched by the export opportunities arising and being taken.

    The better analysis is that adaptive capitalist entrepreneurialism offers a greater threat to socialism – apparent success through not-so-hidden exploitation. Observers are often letting an ‘ought’ get in the way of an ‘is’ as is the way with ideologues.

    Corbyn has things partly right by hammering on about those who are going to lose from adaptive capitalism – the public sector workers, cultural workers and the near-marginalised (those between the truly marginalised which adaptive capitalism will care for and the private sector working class which may well benefit or rather appear to benefit sufficiently to continue voting for it rather than higher taxes) – and those ‘hidden costs’ that the weakening of welfare causes to the wider population even in times of economic growth (social care, lack of housing stock on which he could say more and so on).

    The problem is that the analysis stops there. A bloc is mobilised but not one sufficient to take power democratically. Meanwhile middle class ideologues engage in constant misdirection by predicting (or hoping for?) some economic meltdown in a one-off gamble that is as likely to help the populist Right as the Left depending on the circumstances of the time.

    Since the Tories under May are almost certainly ‘in’ for up to four years, they have considerable room for manouevre. Even the strike at their own base with self-employed NI (which Corbyn cannot exploit for ideological reasons) is happening early with deliberation in order to store up giveways later.

    Their internal contradiction is their new-found interest in ‘strengthening the state’ for security reasons and their need to contain radical populism that wants either lower taxes or more expenditure and it is in thrusting a pole into that hole that their model can be wedged apart.

    But that is not what we get. Beyond the social mobilisation strategy to get the existing bloc in line, all we get is short term ranting and obsessions with ‘done deals’ like Brexit from the ‘intellectuals’ while the old base of the Party drifts into the other camp.

    What is required, on the back of the bloc mobilisation strategy, is a second level of national economic strategy that deals in a non-Luddite fashion with techno-innovation, especially techno-innovation in the key areas of social care and the NHS where one suspects it is the public sector unions who are in danger of being the block to changes that could considerably improve lives of citizens and workers.

    I have seen robotics used safely for patient-lifting to end or limit back injuries for NHS workers – Labour should be engaged fully in the socially responsible process of assessing, analysing, regulating, promoting and state support for technologies that would make the UK a global leader in the new cost-effective mass welfarism. The People’s state should be the intermediary between capitalist innovation (which, I am afraid, works in its clumsy wasteful way) and the condition of the people.

    By engaging in a national debate about the future rather than the past, the middle ground no longer has to be secured on Blairism (minimal taxes, foreign adventurism, cultural manipulation and adaptive neo-liberalism) but on something very different – a neo-socialist commitment to life cycle welfare, lifetime education and retraining to adapt to new innovation, application of innovation to social needs and increasing income security for all citizens within a national sovereign state.

    Worrying about who will succeed May is almost certainly idle. She has control of the levers of power until she loses an election and that is at least four years away – if then, at this rate.

    1. Tim,
      Greetings! Excellent points. My perspective, for what it’s worth, is that contemporary capitalism is dominated by intangible capital and that any long-term approach to addressing the issues you raise starts with an understanding of what intangible capital is; how it’s created; who owns it and the implications (which includes not so hidden exploitation).
      There’s a fuller explanation here:

      Best wishes
      Eddie O’Sullivan

      1. Imran Khan says:

        My real capital is what I have got. Tell us about this intangible stuff.

        1. Goodwill, brands, IPR etc.
          Economists have never defined capital; they just assume something essential for production in future time periods exists and put it in their models.This made sense when capital comprised factories machiner, equipment physical inputs and outputs. But more than 80 per cent of output in advanced economies is intangible and the world’s changed.
          Corporations use accounting rules to define capital and these have been extended to allow them to treat things without physical chracteristics as if they there tangibles.

          1. John Penney says:

            You are fundamentally confused about what these “intangibles” actually are in a globalised capitalist economy, Edmund. The apparent production of “value” by the financial component of globalised capitalism, which , for historic imperialist, reasons is mainly located in the old imperialist heartland states, is in fact an illusion of the capitalist division of labour and distribution of the global “pot of surplus value”. The banking/financial system in fact produces no new “value” , it just steals it from the globally produced surplus value of the entire system, via the operations of the financial system.

            You are mistaking the appearance from the deeper reality of globalised capitalism. The huge “earnings” accrued by the essentially parasitic service industries and particularly the financial sector are , in some ways historically “functional” systemically, but today, have outgrown useful functionality and function increasingly as a cancerous , destructive, organ in this “mature” , declining, phase of this particular economic cycle of capitalism.

            There is no genuine, value-producing function from most of the non productive activities of businesses in the “coupon clipping” Western economies. We live in an almost entirely parasitic part of global imperialist capitalism, and are fortunate to do so. The “earnings” of our financialised and advertising sectors actually derive their share of global surplus value from the child miners and super exploited workers sweating their guts out for starvation wages across the globe.

            Forget your gibberish about “intangible capital” , it is a capitalist illusion , a balance sheet whitewash for the super exploitation by the global capitalist market of the real surplus surplus value production of the mainly now Third World, by the imperialist capitalist heartland states which control and structure this globalised market mainly to their superrich bougeoisie’s benefit

          2. Imran Khan says:

            I see. Do those intangibles include things like the dot com revolution? My father as a young insurance broker newly arrived from Pakistan in the sixties worked for a firm that had just installed a computer that he said was the size of a small van. The average mobile phone can perform the same functions only faster and it doesn’t break down as often.

            I would say things like credibility and the rule of law were tangible/intangibles that make it worthwhile to do business and live in a European environment as opposed to a non European one. I can define that if required to do so.

        2. Tim Pendry says:

          Surely intangible refers to something that derives from the material but is not in itself material. It is potential as well as inheritance. So, the person can add learned skills and personal networks to his or her body and property and society can add accumulated cultural knowledge and social organisation to its material infrastructure and resource assets. In economics, intangibles must refer to the value that can be placed on ‘things that are more than things’ – intellectual property, education, culture, status, information and so forth.

      2. Tim Pendry says:

        Without accepting or rejecting your own analysis, it is true that the Left often has a difficulty with intangibles. Often the notion is rejected altogether because of an over-insistence on materialism. Analysis of intangibles does not reject materialism but simply sees the emergence of things from things, from matter, that are constructions of minds that are material but have evolved into a consciousness that is creative in using language, concepts, the creation of new formations of matter and relationships as tools and weapons in the struggle for power, resources and status.

        On the other hand, the Left often collapses this analysis into a po-faced Frankfurt School vision of intangibles which is riddled with inappropriate moral judgments that derive ultimately from Judaeo-Christian habits – hence the often trotted out garbage about commodification and objectification as if the concepts meant much more than the sort of moral disapproval that Jeremiah would have warmed to.

        The correct approach to intangibles is detached and neutral about the fact of intangibles and concentrates on their actual use in ‘really existing’ human relationships as instruments of power – in effect as weapons and tools.

        For example, it may well be (I think it is) true that so-called commodification and objectification are progressive insofar as they are expressions of actual human being and it is the interpretation and use to which they are put by power that is problematic and not their use in themselves. The issue is not the fact of intangibles or even their analysis but the ownership of the use of them and the right to choices about use value.

        I think i agree with you that the Left has not quite come to terms with late liberal capitalism’s ability to create and control economic and power relationships based on these intangible weapons and tools rather than on iron, steel and rail.

        The political case study is the violent struggle in America going on at the moment between liberals trying to define their own fake news as truth and conservatives discovering that they can create their own truth with impunity as fake news.

        The struggle sometimes seems trivial but it is a war as important as the mid-twentieth century ones conducted with bullets and bombs because ultimately it is about control of the levers of informational power and so economic choices affecting the material lives of millions. Both sides are basically lying liars who have got into the habit of lying but this complex eco-system of lies is a good example of the power of intangibles.

        As we write, the US stock market rises and employment levels are increasing and yet an entirely different vision of reality is presented as truth because it is necessary for some people to believe it is true – the same applies to the persistant apocalypticism about the British economy under Brexit which we discuss frequently here. These are examples of political intangibility distracting us from reality that are as absurd as our uncritical acceptance of brands and the claims of corporate social responsibility going on within capitalism.

        There is a total system of intangibility overlaying materiality and derived from materiality for which there is no serious Left critique that is not mired in a priori theory. This critique should encompass our acceptance of value lying in intangibles in economics, in culture, in social relations and in politics and then explore how to vest the value in the people in general rather than in self-interested classes – including the intellectual class which is highly manipulative of intangibles in its own class interest. In short, the Left has no serious philosophy of the human condition that is not already moribund.

        1. David Pavett says:

          The talk about “intangibles” as opposed to things is, in my view, based on a fundamental confusion. The idea of an intangible is something which cannot be touched or which doesn’t have a physical presence. It it a vague intuitive idea and not an analytical category. It can mean many different things. It can mean spooky, unknowable, elusive, beyond perception and several other things.

          Marx pointed out long ago that even a plain old commodity is a myserious thing until one realises that its properties derive from social relations which are not per se tangible. He emphasised the point by saying that if you want to understand money then it’s no use trying to find its secret with chemical reagents or microscopes. Money, he said, is a social relation expressed in the form of a thing. He even pointed out that its nature a social relation meant that it could be expressed in the flimsiest of material expressions (I.e. a piece of paper, and today we can say a number in a spreadsheet). It follows that capital also is a social relation. There is nothing non-materialist about this analysis (unless you think that relations between material things lack objective exitence). On the contrary Marx’s approach was strictly materialist in excluding the idea that our consciousness of things is some kind of independent form if existence in addition to that if the material world.

          intangibility is often no more than a sign of unfamiliarity. Private property might seem at first to be very tangible. But when you realise that it is entirely dependent on the idea of ownership, law, rights and other social constructions it starts to become far less tangible. But try to mess with private property by let’s say relieving a supermarket of some of its goods without paying for then and you will find the “intangible” nature of private propertt very soon backed up by a very tangible security guard and then by an equally tangible policeman.

          The suggestion that the problem is due to an “over-insistence on materialism” therefore seems to me to be based on pure confusion as is the suggestion that the evolution of consciousness requires a departure from materialism. As, once again, Marx put it, our consciousness is a product of our social being and not a free-floating non-material entity that somehow interacts with our material existence.

          The loss of any sense of the contribution of Marx and Marxists to critical social analysis ends with sone astounding nonsense being confidently asserted in some of the above exchanges of which “Economists have never defined capital” is perhaps the most ridiculous.

          1. Tim Pendry says:

            For the record, I never suggested that consciousness involves a departure from materialism. Without matter, there can be no consciousness.

            However, what evolves out of matter (though dependent on it) can come to exhibit qualities that are pure relation or even pure creative invention. In the latter case, of course, material brain cells are firing but the firing is very materially distant from the creative explosion of new relations.

            Late capitalism exhibits the potential to distance the mind so far from the material substrate that the illusion of being immaterial is sufficient to create a ‘to all intents and purposes’ set of behaviours that present an entirely different form of human existence from any seen in the past.

            The illusion is not the same as the illusion of believing in gods. It is an illusion that believes in itself and then can find confirmatory expression in the actual experience of technology instead of being fooled by priests. It fools itself in the eyes of sum but in fooling itself consciously and by choice, it is no longer fooling itself at all. it is choosing. The illusion displaces ‘reality’ which was an illusion in any case.

            At a certain point, the illusion switches from an act perpetrated on us (and the basis for the sorts of critique that invent such ideas as commodification and objectification) to an act perpetrated by us in order to exist consciously aware of illusion and yet fully accepting it – effectively inventing our own reality and being aware of doing so.

            It is at this point that, so long as there are no illusions that the reality does not die when the material substrate dies, the invention of reality becomes part of the economy and the material reality underpinning things dictates little or nothing of the nature of the experience as it is experienced except as the piston in the steam engine.

            The ultimate form of this would be (though we are nowhere near this) the transfer of consciousness entirely from body to machine and from machine to body. It is still a set of material transformations but the thing being transferred has transformed itself into something that can transform its own material substrate rather than simply make use of matter as the tool-using animal stuck with the substrate they have been granted by biology. Even if this cannot be done, imagining it changes things in ways that defy the claims of society … the mind aligns itself not with the socialised body but with the imagined body (we see this in the transgendeer explosion).

            I think this is a qualitative difference in our relationship to matter and much of our culture seems now to be a preparation for this … I am not sure Marx could have envisaged just how tenuous the relationship might become between matter and thought and how this would raise questions about the degree to which material conditions dictate our form when we can start to dictate our own material conditions.

            This is why I prefer to think of the new conditions as not one of simple era scientific materialism nor of some form of consciousness independent of materialism but of an existential and continuous re-balancing of the relationship between matter and consciousness so that priority is increasingly given over time to the latter in its ‘power relationship’ with the former. There is no detachment from matter. Matter, especially socialised matter, simply becomes less and less relevant proportionately.

            This is what the Left seem to find difficulty in understanding – that the re-calibration can be an exploitation process if viewed through one set of ideological spectacles but it could also be a liberation if viewed through another.

            Late capitalism is paradoxically both exploitative and liberatory at the same time and this ‘internal contradiction’ is what puzzles the Left – which has become deeply conservative in trying to hold on to an ideological position that tells only half the story.

            The exploitation aspect of the case cannot be dealt with until we face the liberatory aspect of the case – that wasteful innovation-based capitalism remains attractive to those it exploits not because of the nonsense and patronising idea of ‘false consciousness’ but because it does provide ‘things’ (intangibles) that connect to the liberation of the inner being or will of the subject.

            Eventually we will ‘get it’ and, when we do, then we will have a strategy for re-directing capitalism towards socialism, probably without benefit of bureaucracy. Until then po-faced university Marxists will continue to tread the path of medieval scholastics into oblivion – with scientific materialism playing the role of Thomism. There is no God and Matter is not determinative of Society in quite the way we thought.

            It is an ‘too all intents and purposes’ view of humanity that abandons theory as useless in favour of practice and performance. The intellectuals become increasingly surplus to requirements.

          2. John Penney says:

            Yes indeed, David. This rather abstruse discussion arose, lest we forget, from the oft repeated claim by Edmund O’Sullivan that because , in the “Advanced Western Economies” the “intangible assets”, like patents , copyright, etc, in company balance sheets have such high nominal values, that somehow capitalism as a whole has entered a new phase, whereby the physical production of things is no longer the core source of value.

            A variant of this same illusion has been used to argue that somehow the vast profits (in fact “fictitious profits” or “economic rent”) grabbed by the mainly western capitalist heartland banking sector, is a new , higher , form of capitalism.

            This is a mistake based on looking at one segment of a much bigger global system. The point is that capitalism is a single global entity, with trading and ownership patterns and laws which advantage the older capitalist heartland states, as against the periphery, of mainly previously colonial subject states. Much of the superprofits earned by the “coupon clipping” non-productive activities of the service and financial sectors located in the West can be described as forms of “Economic Rent” , ie,

            “In economics, economic rent is any payment to a factor of production in excess of the cost needed to bring that factor into production. In classical economics, economic rent is any payment made (including imputed value) or benefit received for non-produced inputs such as location (land) and for assets formed by creating official privilege over natural opportunities (e.g., patents).”

            In other words the very structure of the capitalist global economy today is the specific historical outcome of the privileged economic position grabbed by the original core capitalist states (with a few late entrants) via imperialism and colonialism. This is even the case for the likes of Microsoft and Apple with their global near global monopoly control of the most widely used software rights – and the economic rent monopoly profit this enables.

            But the fact is that the production of real value , whether that is of IT software, or our entire physical commodity filled world, is still entirely dependent on human mental and physical labour. The control of the global marketplace held by the capitalist classes of the main capitalist states allows their financial sectors and producers of commodities like software, to essentially steal surplus value from other sectors via the market price mechanism disproportionately to any real production of value on their part from the global pot of surplus value. This relates both to currently available surplus value , and , via the ownership of money, to rights to future global production far beyond any contribution these privileged capitalists have made through their businesses to the mass of global value production.

            To look at the apparent ,balance sheet, valuations of “intangibles, or indeed the vast earnings of Western capitalism’s hugely profitable, but mainly globally parasitic, financial sectors, in isolation from the global capitalist system, in which real value is still produced by hard manual graft, is to fall into the trap, as Paul Mason seems to do, in believing that this very small hyper privileged section of globalised capitalism has somehow entered a “new phase of capitalism”. Or , as Mason claims, even somehow “transcended conventional capitalism itself”. It hasn’t. Its the same rapacious, surplus value derived profit driven system it ever was.

          3. David Pavett says:

            Late capitalism exhibits the potential to distance the mind so far from the material substrate that the illusion of being immaterial is sufficient to create a ‘to all intents and purposes’ set of behaviours that present an entirely different form of human existence from any seen in the past.

            How is the “distance” of mind from its “material substrate” evaluated? What does this even mean?

            There is no detachment from matter. Matter, especially socialised matter, simply becomes less and less relevant proportionately.

            You think that “socialised matter” for example in the organisation of the media, the arrangements of global capital, the education system, political organisations, (even writing in Left Futures) … is becoming “less and less relevant proportionately” to how and what we think. This is pretty much straightforward idealism in which our consciousness determines our social being rather than the other way round.

          4. Tim Pendry says:

            Nope – matter constructs the conditions for consciousness but consciousness reflects on itself and can change itself through reflection. I am determined negatively by matter (especially by aging and death and by lack of material resources) but matter does not determine my possibilities.

            If I have a strong consciousness, I can better interpret my situation and then take advantage of opportunities as they arise, opportunities that may well change my material situation and so the form of my consciousness.

            I am, in short, not the passive creature of materialist determinism but a creative force limited by material determinism but ultimately much more free than I have been told I am.

            The boundaries of freedom are simply my own access to resources, the limitation of my body, social restrictions (or rather the degree to which I am prepared to defy them), my cunning (a better concept here than intelligence), the information I can gather and my willingness to make choices and take responsibility for them.

            Escaping from the trap of pessimistic ‘scientific materialism’ and its Hegelian rigidities may not be easy but it is possible.

          5. John Walsh says:

            Tim Pendry: I hope you can appreciate that it’s not easy keeping up at the back?

            I am trying and am taken by the claim that “in short, the Left has no serious philosophy of the human condition that is not already moribund.”, that “the new conditions [of late capitalism] … [involve] an existential and continuous re-balancing of the relationship between matter and consciousness”, and to get closer to the nub of the matter: “late capitalism is paradoxically both exploitative and liberatory at the same time and this ‘internal contradiction’ is what puzzles the Left – which has become deeply conservative in trying to hold on to an ideological position that tells only half the story.”.

            Intriguing, but then you seem to divert to a focus on the problem with the left. Could you say a little more about the “liberatory aspect” of late capitalism? For example, the “‘things’ (intangibles) that connect to the liberation of the inner being or will of the subject”?

            Pessimistically, I’m kind of seeing what you’re describing as a version of the ‘cultural logic of late capitalism’. In that case the ‘mode of experience’ arising from the ‘intellectual labour’ brought about by the by the late capitalist ‘mode of production’ doesn’t, on the face of it, provide much room for a ‘liberatory’ aspect. Can you provide the intellectual basis for optimism?

          6. Tim Pendry says:

            What is required here is an essay and not a comment but I’ll try …

            First, capitalism is a reification in Left thought. It is actually the accumulation of millions of micro-power advantages for thousands of people operating under conditions of enormous complexity. The system arises from below – from all these actions and their complex relations.

            There is no commanding hand and no plan. Nor can it be viably controlled, probably not even by that magical super AGI much loved of the transhumanists. The failure of the Soviet system arose from little more than its obligation to adopt a defensive planning mentality (because of attacks by those with accumulated power) in relation to complexity – amazing achievements went hand in hand with inevitable sclerosis and collapse as millions of micro-decisions detached the system from human reality, demoralising and ending innovation.

            The fault lies in the German idealist origins of the Marxist Left, specifically the adoption of Hegelianism as the basis because this was a gross simplification of social forces. It imposed an order on a system that was never there but suited the active mind-set of the intellectual who wanted to exercise will in the struggle to accumulate power – whether to build Prussia or the dictatorship of the proletariat.

            Order can be imposed (usually with much necessary brutality) but it breaks down every time because it cannot deal ultimately with the fact that there is always some accumulation of power outside the system that is trying to change reality and that forcing people into a mould of action cannot make people act in ways that are against their nature.

            Again, another false start for the Left was the idea that we are all blank slates at birth that social conditioning can ‘reform’ – on the contrary we are a complex mix of genetic predispositions, resistances, aspirations, desires and so forth that simply adapt to social conditions and not in the ways that the idealists believe or want … hence terror.

            The way to get back from all this is to see the capitalist system as a total system based on power relations that derive from our choices as much as the choices of alleged capitalists. In fact, as many people have pointed out, capitalists are as enslaved by that system as the workers within it.

            In fact, humans are generally enslaved within any ideological system including an imposed socialist or social democratic one. Late capitalist liberalism enslaves no less than any other – indeed its current bout of ideological hysteria shows what happens when it is threatened much as Stalinism shows what happens when socialism is threatened.

            The total system exploits every one within it but the decision-making of the units within it are rational within the model presented and decisions are taken in a relatively free system (compared quite definitely with a command economy or Himmler’s slave state) able to manipulate power relations in order to get more freedom than hitherto existed.

            Late liberal capitalism is enslaving and exploitative at one level and yet delivers the means for the meeting of wants and desires, including sex, family life, interesting food, communication across the oceans and so forth. It is a trade-off.

            Socialism is about not destroying capitalism (in advanced societies since the analysis about the necessity for capital accumulation is very different in a less advanced society) because there is nothing to destroy. It would be like watching sand go through one’s fingers.

            As soon as one bit is controlled and managed, a new bit would appear – often in the form of underground organised crime which is much more oppressive – while shortages and loss of freedoms and enjoyments follow.

            Capitalism never entirely collapses (though it has crises which are inherent to complex systems) because it is like nature or the human being – it adapts or it dies completely.

            In other words, the only death of capitalism lies in the extinction of humanity or (the dream of super-idealists) humanity’s transformation into something post-human. It derives from individual human struggle for survival and advantage under conditions where there is no simple model of aspirations and fears that fits every human being that creates it.

            The optimism comes from the realisation that we have been flogging a dead horse by trying to change humanity (though most of us have got there already on that one, hence the widespread conservative pessimism amongst Marxists) and that any attempt to control a complex system leads to sclerosis and crisis.

            The alternative model is to return to the analysis of micro-power relations and the human condition and treat socialism, once again, as a positive use of the state machinery, which must be empowered to do this in national units, to redistribute not just income or capital to the lowest common denominator consistent with the actual effective working of the system but, more importantly, redistribute power over life choices and emphasise education about power relations and choices.

            The citizen controls the power system by having multiple means of chipping away at the manipulative claims of those who claim to have more power than they do by some right – birth, inheritance, education (which has been perverted considerably into a liberal social conformity model), access to information.

            Basically those with power should be placed under continuous permanent assault from those without power through their ability to exploit the capitalist system’s own working – a position of permanent and quite enjoyable exploitation of exploitation. That assault should include an assault on the ‘educated’ intelligentsia which purports to know better what a person wants than that person themselves.

  4. Karl Stewart says:

    I like Phil’s articles and I’m embarrassed by the infantile flack he sometimes gets on here.

    I don’t always agree with him, but he writes interesting copy and his ‘breezy’ style makes a refreshing change from some of the ‘worthy-but-dull’ stuff that’s often on here.

    (And way, way better than the dull neo-liberal crap from Tory O’Leary)

    So thanks for the article Phil and please keep it up.

    I must admit I thought Heidi Allen was a Labour MP. But clearly I’m getting her confused with someone else.

    I can’t see Theresa May coming under threat until at least 2020, and only if she loses the 2020 election.

    If she wins in 2020, she’ll be set for a long innings I reckon.

  5. Peter Rowlands says:

    A fairly pointless article , particularly as May does not appear to be under any immediate threat.It might have been more useful to have done a similar exercise for Labour, although to do so would carry implications that many would think should not be explored.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      Agreed she’s not under pressure now – but she could come to regret yesterday’s bizarre, shoulder-shaking laughing fit in the House.

      1. Imran Khan says:

        It will all be forgotten in a month or so as will the tax hikes which are window dressing. The big thing she has is of course Labour and Corbyn and there is no sign of change there any time soon.

    2. John Penney says:

      Surely there should be some sort of editorial “quality and appropriateness” judgement about articles on Left Futures ? This latest one from Phil BC seems to be motivated entirely by his determination to have his byline on the page every day – and any old excuse for an article will apparently do .

      And as for the space regularly provided to Mr O’Leary for his neoliberalism saturated articles which surely would be more appropriate for The Economist than a Left Wing site, words fail me ! Why can’t Mr O’Leary grasp that socialist internationalism and monopoly capitalist globalisation are not the same thing ?

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        Agree with you 100 per cent on O’Leary – he’s got to go.

        Disagree with you 100 per cent on Phil – I like his articles.

      2. Imran Khan says:

        Could we have a definition of ” Socialist Internationalism” please? What is this thing?

        1. John Penney says:

          I’ll take that as a serious question , Mr serial Right Wing Troll with the dodgy racist pseudonym. Simply as an opportunity to provide an answer.

          Mr O’Leary seems to think, along with a number of Right wing Labour claimed “internationalists”, that the enhancements to global capitalism’s efficiency and hence , profitability, arising from all the trans national market and globalised production developments of the last 30 years of what the Left calls “neoliberalism” are in some way innately “progressive” and laudable.

          However,the purpose of this globalisation is only to secure ever greater profits for the world’s superrich capitalist class, regardless of the cost to the planet’s sustainability. And the huge widening of capitalism’s effective proletarian labour supply (as against an ever dwindling peasantry – for the first time in history now smaller than the modern waged proletariat) has had the sole aim of reducing the costs , ie, welfare costs and wages of the West’s proletariat – whilst paying much less in wages and social support for the vast new proletariat numbers created through globalisation.

          Socialist Internationalism describes a future worldwide system of advanced production and distribution on a planned , socialist, basis, safeguarding the planet’s biosphere, whilst maximising the living standards of the world’s population – without the great disparities of wealth and power in a capitalist world order – or the threat of wars.

          Well beyond your ability to comprehend Mr dodgy pseudonym, but that aim is what motivates socialists.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            What JohnP said…

        2. Karl Stewart says:

          Read Tory O’Leary and it’s the complete opposite of everything he writes…

          1. Imran Khan says:

            I’d rather you told me what you think it is.

  6. David Pavett says:

    “I’m making a long range forecast now”.


    This is a complete waste of time in such matters. Speculating as to the possible contenders and their relative chances for a contest which is not even on the horizon is pointless. Don’t we have rather more serious problems on our plate?

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      To be honest, I think he just fancies her…

  7. Verity says:

    What an eccentric discussion!

  8. Bazza says:

    Breaking news re Surrey Tory Council Sweetheart Deal – Woking Tory MP in letter says Minister led him to believe he would find an extra £30-£40m for Surrey to help it out! (BBC New Website 9/3/17).
    Opposition on Surrey Council have motion of No Confidence on Tory Leader.

  9. Bazza says:

    Footnote – he also said could cut other Councils instead hmmn!
    Just read a lovely quote (Dante from the Divine Comedy) which is probably pertinent to Labour re bypassing the media and having community conferences on our policy our IDEAS in every community up to the election.
    Perhaps Jeremy should say: “Follow me, and let the people talk.”

  10. Tim Pendry says:

    You read too much into this. Materialism as a description of the world is fine. I have no time for any form of idealism. Materialism as rigid ideological position is not if it refuses to consider that what evolves out of matter develops characteristics that are formally material (everything is material ultimately) but behave with properties that are so different that they have to be considered something else ‘to all intents and purposes’. Otherwise we get stuck in that rigid ideological position. At a certain point, materialism is a fact but an irrelevant fact …. the fact that is relevant lies in the radical development of matter into new forms, of relations but also of imaginings. This is uncomfortable to some but is really only an extension of scientific materialism in opposition to all forms of idealism and essentialism – there is no essence that does not succeed existence.

    1. David Pavett says:

      Materialism is not a description of the world and neither is it a rigid ideological position.

      No you say “everything is material ultimately” but that some of the properties of material development are “so different” that to all intent and purposes they have to be considered as “something else”.

      I don’t see how such a view can be considered to be satisfactory. The world of life is very different to non-living matter. Does that require us to suspend our materialism to some extent. Same for higher forms of life and ultimately society.

      Your response suggests to me that I am not reading too much into this.

      1. Tim Pendry says:

        We’ll agree to disagree … much of this is abstruse ‘dancing on the head of a pin’ and I am far more interested in the way thinking translates into action in the world.

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