Sunday, November 01, 2009

How socialists might engage with the idea of reform rather than revolution

A thoughtful - and engaging - piece from Dave today on the subject of reform.  Well worth reading - and well worth internalising its lessons.  His conclusion - as much a product as a cause of virtualised Web 2.0 tendencies (certainly we could apply them to that part of the Internet which still fiercely resists all attempts at monetisation) - runs as follows:

We’re not approaching organisation right, at the current time. That much is absolutely evident with the rise of parties like the BNP. It is pretty clear that Labour has failed not only to represent the people who elected it across the country but its core constituencies, its members, the people who cause the party to exist in the first place. That needs to change, or else there needs to be a long term replacement for the Labour Party, to represent the interests of millions of working people without the need to resort to the culture wars, racism and anti-immigrationism as catch-all excuses for the failure to solve social problems.

No single issue campaign and no piece of primary legislation will achieve that, which is why when it comes to reform I’m not looking towards our political class, nor the well-meaning (if seemingly narrow) group of people who populate Amnesty International, Liberty, Oxfam, Power 2010 and the rest. I’m looking towards the people whose picket lines I went to visit this morning, or the people whose doors I’m knocking on when out campaigning, or the people I see regularly when I attend local party political branch and student meetings. They are my constituency.

But I’m not asking them to tell me what the problem is, so I can pass it on to the people who will reform it. I’m demanding that they pick a side, get active and reform it themselves.
As I have been half-alluding to for months at 21st Century Fix, Web 2.0's essence is involving people in the very act of creation - whether this be artistic, political or social.  That our communication will be mediated is absolutely inevitable in a massively capitalistic world.  But it would also be mediated in a massively socialistic world.  The question is really whether we trust human beings to hold onto the good and proper things in life despite the machinations of the worst excesses of a money- and property-driven economy.  I think capitalism does hold within its underbelly the ability to sow if not the seeds of its own destruction, then definitely the seeds of its own reform.  And factors of virtualisation, of consumer-producer knowledge, factors which have never really existed before, will lead to a curious process whereby ever greater concentrations of wealth in the provision of online tools will lead to an ever greater disintegration of the ability to pull the wool over what - until now - have been hapless end-user eyes.

A lost decade, they're now calling it.  Lessons, here, for everyone to learn.

Not least that the tendency to use online tools to uncover and tell the truth about human intercourse and exchange is one that will outlast any corporate attempt to entirely monetise and dumb down their (our) socialising technologies and how we use them.

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