Andy Beckett's contentious Guardian feature on the state of the left, published earlier this week, has triggered some debate about how the British left can shift gear and build in an era of capitalist crisis. I thought I'd just float a few ideas, thinking aloud/allowed as it were...
1. The 'Fight for your right to work' conference in June launched a campaign of sorts: a steering committee elected, plans for another conference in Novemeber, initiating a demo at the Labour Party conference. The demo is very promising (it's on 27 September in Brighton), but where do we go after that? Perhaps the way forward is to develop local groups in every area, to build stronger networks for solidarity with those facing job losses. The next time there's a dispute like Vestas the left will be in a stronger position to campaign and mobilise for victory.
2. With sections of the media ramping up the jingoism to rally support for war in Afghanistan, and the BNP supporters organising street protests targeting Muslims, its urgent that we develop united opposition to Islamophobia. The Kafa/Enough initiatve was launched by Stop the War and Muslim organisations in June. If rolled out across the country, this could channel the strengths of our anti-war movement into combatting the new 'respectable racism'.
3. Anti-capitalism is back on the agenda, with the fury at bankers' bonuses and the whole system visibly in a massive crisis. The anniversary of the great Seattle WTO protests is in three months or so. Hopefully this can be a chance to take stock of the anti-capitalist movement, strengthen connections between activists, and discuss how to renew anti-capitalism in an era crying out for it. To do that we'll need a conference or similar event - from what I gather something is in the pipeline. The G20 protests in Scotland will be another opportunity, with a conter-conference planned as well as demonstrations.
4. Yesterday I posted info about the Mutiny event planned for September. It's a far more creative, imaginative approach to political meetings than we normally get on the left, which is prone to habit and routine. We could surely do with more inventive approaches and, in particular, more cultural events. For example, I'm looking forward to the 'Poetry for Palestine' some of us in Newcastle are organising for December. Music, poetry, art and photography reach people who aren't wild about traditional meeting formats.
5. Let's drag the left's use of the Net into the 21st century, kicking and screaming if necessary! There are quite a few leftie blogs now, and many active socialists use tools like Facebook and Twitter to spread ideas and promote events, but we could do a lot better. Counter Fire demonstrates what's possible with websites - great layout, easy-to-access content and updated every day.
Anyhow, that's more than enough to be getting on with I'd have thought...
Alex Callinicos: response to Andy Beckett article HERE.