uea_windows

Blue Labour, social democracy and modernity

Chuka Umunna writes about ‘the political salience of culture and belonging’. Lisa Nandy urges ‘patriotism’ rather than ‘placards’. David Goodhart defends ‘somewheres’ against ‘anywheres’.

As the left’s working class support in post-Brexit Britain continues to erode Labour’s intelligentsia is increasingly speaking the communitarian language of Blue Labour.

The eloquent advocacy of Maurice Glasman and Jon Cruddas helped the Blue Labour movement win influence after the party’s defeat in 2010, inspiring the One Nation phase of Ed Miliband’s leadership and guiding the policy review that informed significant elements of the 2015 manifesto.

Read More

utopia_2017

2017, the Russian Revolution, and the idea of utopia

Billed as a year of imagination and possibility to mark the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia, 2016 didn’t quite work out that way.

2017 offers another opportunity to consider the meaning and value of the idea of utopia, marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution, the most significant utopian enterprise since the American and French revolutions.

For most, the Soviet experiment, like 2016, will be remembered for its dystopian character: the bloody civil war that followed the Revolution; the swift suffocation of the nascent workers’ democracy by an overbearing bureaucracy; the immense suffering of forced-march collectivisation and industrialisation; the terrors of the 1930s police state; and the chronic misfiring of an economic engine that finally sputtered and died. The hulking edifice of the USSR stands as a ruined dream factory, utopia’s tombstone.

Read More

vintage_sap_poster

Imagining a ‘progressive communitarianism’

The new authoritarianism sweeping through liberal democracies increasingly justifies parallels with the 1930s.

Now, like then, electorates face multiple insecurities: a lack of decent work, crumbling welfare systems, widening inequalities and rapidly changing migration patterns.

And now, like then, there is little faith in the capacity of governments to address those issues, seeing them commonly as ‘elites’ content to trust in the creative destruction of the market or the ability of communities to sustain social solidarities even as their shifting populations wax and wane. This enervation has left a void into which the nationalist right has stepped with crude agendas for economic protectionism and closed borders.

Read More

roch_wind_leaves

Roch Winds and the illusions of Civic Nationalism

Of the many new voices that emerged during the independence referendum one of the most compelling was the Mair Noch A Roch Wind blog run by three young Labour and trade union activists.

The blog takes its name from the gale blowing through Hamish Henderson’s Freedom Come-All-Ye signifying the radical possibilities that open only at times of political crisis.

For the blog’s authors, Cailean Gallagher, Rory Scothorne and Amy Westwell, the storm that shook Scotland during 2014 carried the distant seeds of a transformation more radical even than independence: that of socialist revolution. The trio supported and even worked for the Yes campaign, but only in so far as it might serve to destabilise the current political and social order, to illuminate and widen cracks and fissures that might be exploited at some future revolutionary moment.

Read More