Rob Owen writes on the political context around the launch of our new magazine. Issue 5 will be available on the demonstration outside the Tory party conference in Manchester this Sunday.
When our last issue went to press the English (and Welsh) radical left was still bruised from the Tory election victory, and preparing for a potentially defensive and divisive attempt to influence the EU referendum. The election of Jeremy Corbyn, the same day tens of thousands surged through London in defence of refugees, has opened a world of possibilities. The radical left is no less fragmented and our anti‑austerity movement is no less short of what we need, but many can now sense the chance to advance radical politics and renew attempts to build resistance from below.
The explosive rise of activity in support of migrants in the camp at Calais and refugees from Syria has temporarily opened a discussion that transcends the usual media narrative about “swarms” of refugees – a discussion centring on the viral response to the image of dead Syrian children washed up on European beaches. The collections for Calais and wider horror at our government’s inaction has given an audience to ideas about the role of borders in destroying lives, and the role of solidarity movements, that seemed impossible only months ago. To give a sense of these new movements we are printing experiences from both London2Calais and Manchester2Calais alongside a series of answers to common questions around the migration crisis.At the same time Corbyn’s shock election has broken open the Westminster consensus – widening the crack created by the SNP’s 56 anti-austerity MPs in parliament. To help inform a wider discussion we are carrying three pieces discussing aspects of the “Corbynmania” phenomenon.
These articles are part of a much wider debate the radical left is going to need to have in the coming months. Only in the UK has an establishment party been the point around which the new anti-austerity politics has coalesced. This creates a need to think through old certainties in new ways. Many of those drawn to Corbyn have no more faith that parliament can deliver real change than long in the tooth revolutionaries, yet his leadership offers something we cannot, a credible and high profile platform for advancing principled socialist politics. Discussions about how to relate to Labour, whether revolutionaries should join, what it means for raising revolutionary politics and how we can build the wider movement are all living debates which can be sharpened by past experiences and theory – but only if we are alert to how a new context means lessons must be learnt afresh.
Over the coming months we hope to refresh our magazine to help promote a discursive revolutionary politics within the movement. We hope it can play a modest role in encouraging comradely debate and discussion around the radical left and help draw new voices, and new people, into revolutionary politics. If you would like to write, respond to or join discussions about any of the ideas put forwards please get in touch.
Other features in this issue include:
- Centre spread pull out on the Tory attack on our right to strike. Accompanied by 3 reflections on recent workplace campaigns and an introduction to the attacks on civil liberties in the Bill.
- Melissa Gira Grant, author of Playing the Whore, answers questions on the work of sex work.
- Kim Moody writes on the experience of using Labor Notes to develop the influence of revolutionaries in the rank and file.
- An interview with a former leader of Syriza’s revolutionary left on their experiences in Syriza and why they supported the left breakaway ‘Popular Unity’.
You can order copies through the magazine subscription link at the top of the page.