Empire socialism in action in the UK
A typical example from the UK was when Emperor Blair set up Sure Start centres to help poor and disenfranchised children develop, and overcome the massive disadvantages of the start they had in life. These centres did a lot of good for the brief time they operated, before the incoming Cameron government disappeared them with a stroke of a pen. This left a slew of brightly coloured buildings in the poorest parts of the country to go slowly derelict as a fitting epitaph to the Blair project if ever there was one. As an aside, there is an interesting discussion to be had where manic “austerity” cutters of services point to how the efficacy of the interventions wore off over time, when any decent person with a shred of humanity would realise that that points to funding them more for longer rather than abandoning them. In an ironic twist Blair was recognised for this work by the Save the Children fund, to howls of confusion and derision from the internationalists at the back, who couldn’t see how the co-architect of half a million sanction-dead Iraqi children could be recognised for helping children in any way, even before the suffering unleashed by his murderous illegal war is taken into account. Both points of view are true and valid, and in the empire socialist lexicon he deserves the recognition, and the cognitive dissonance from the far away suffering of brown people does not figure in the calculations. This row demonstrates the fundamental cognitive disconnection required by empire socialism in sharp relief. Some people still do not understand why Blair should not have been recognised for his work in this area, or at least they say they don’t.
It’s worth noting that something as objectively positive and useful as Sure Start is useless if it is only available as part of the largesse of the political class and their true masters, a thing that is only a useful distraction from wars they were prosecuting at the time, a narrowing of attention away from the apparently limitless ocean of brown people’s blood. A forceful and belligerent working class movement would not tolerate the removal of these services, or the war their creation was a distraction from. To be blunt, neither would anyone with the slightest bit of human compassion. Empire socialism has disarmed the movement by making it effectively part of the establishment that is its enemy. It then finds itself unable (if already mostly unwilling) to fight for the working class until all the havoc is done, post hoc wringing its hands and crying about the loss and the damage to the disenfranchised children, but doing precisely nothing. The long queue of Labour politicians weeping and moaning about the latest Tory pillaging is a pathetic and irritating sight, do they use their social weight launch campaigns, get people marching and making a noise, make the Tories afraid of their next theft of the commons or attempt to stomp on the poor? Of course not, it would be unparliamentary to give voice to the fury coming from the long list of Tory rapine and social murder. This is why they are terrified by things like Black Lives Matter because they can’t absorb and pacify it, at least not at the moment while it is on the rise. This is also one of the legitimate criticisms of Corbyn: he had (and has) such large support and good will all across the country, why wasn’t he throwing his weight behind the campaigns to keep hospitals and schools open, and constantly kicking the ball through the net when confronting Tory lies over the NHS and the disgusting attacks on the disabled? Why wasn’t he leading huge marches against Universal Credit? Even now, he could make a significant difference because of the good will he has outside the party, and there’s nothing.
This pretence at caring and saying the right things to get elected, including pandering to racism if it appears to be convenient, is quite revolting and not any recognisable socialism, or indeed any principled position, at all. It is the self-interested posturing of a relatively well educated part of the working class and their middle class hangers on to keep their comfortable status quo jobs and privileges, for as long as they can before the Tory cuts throw them on to the scrap heap as well, anyway. It is the modern form of what used to be called the labour aristocracy, the section of the working class that is quite well-served and content with the status quo and wittingly deaf to the cries of the majority. It is the arrogant attitude that lost the “red wall” constituencies in the North of England to the Tory party that is the sworn enemy of the people that live there. There was a TV documentary about the rise of UKIP in these areas, the rabid ultra nationalist party playing on people’s fear of immigrants to build itself a base. There was little challenge from the people in these areas, they have forgotten who they are in the post-Thatcher mess. There is no automatic class-consciousness pointing out the nonsense of blaming someone who lives around the corner for the privations and pain of the system they too suffer under. Compare this with areas like Merseyside and Greater Manchester with a long and more recent tradition of working class leadership and militancy, the people there were generally not taken in by the silver tongued racists, and still have a very clear idea of who their enemy is, even if they do not yet know how to tackle them. In the “red wall” constituencies the safe seat apathetic MPs and their party machines didn’t lead anything, with the honourable exceptions of Laura Piddock and Denis Skinner.
The racist werewolf serves the empire socialists, however. It allows them to push racist policies that they claim to dislike while saying they need to be acceptable to an imaginary working class majority, and that we must be careful not to let that majority see the refugee or immigrant moon that will bring their howling racism to the surface by provoking them. This short-sighted self-serving codswallop lets the establishment off the hook and means the empire socialists don’t have to confront racism because it’s somehow inevitable and can’t be challenged. Challenging it alienates the people they need to vote for them, they say, which makes it something that’s tolerated and actually OK in moderation. It lets them hide their moral cowardice behind a veneer of pragmatism. This is all very convenient, see how Starmer’s happy crew have gone for unconscious bias training when confronted over their apparent unwillingness to support BLM, even calling it a moment rather than a movement. As my mother used to say: all mouth an’ trousers.
If you have no moral compass beyond not liking the more egregious symptoms of capitalism and a starry-eyed keenness to impose your generosity on the deserving poor, then anything will do right now. Later, the lobbyists will help you quietly break all your non-promises and the mass media won’t notice what happened while it reports on the latest transient celebrity madness.
This is why so much energy had to be spent destroying the Corbyn project, even though it was in reality very limited. Even some small success would have given the people of the UK a taste of what systems and services built around their needs, rather than a tight-fisted inadequate budget structured to enrich the already obscenely wealthy, might be able to do. Trying to analyse the arguments against Corbyn from the Blair-loving old guard makes no sense, either. If you watch them on social media, making bald assertions about electability (which it turns out they directly sabotaged), their assertions are almost content free. Jonathan Freedland and his cohort at the Guardian wrote many articles, which seemed to consist solely of the sentiments I don’t like this, and neither should you, but I can’t say why. If you have no principles you can’t argue with a principled position, because every time you shift and dissemble the people who have principles will see you squirm, and notice that what you’re bent on is not discussion, but silencing.