Current comedy of ideas

The abandonment of socialism by the Labour Party has led to a general poverty of political debate. The level of discussion is often comical. It is vital that the grassroots now develops its own ideas without being distracted by the media. Even previously respected media outlets, such as the BBC and the Guardian, should be treated with extreme caution.

The Guardian currently showcases a hopelessly confusing array of writers, including some very right-wing ones. Julian Glover recently lectured the left being “tough” enough to recognise the “undesirability of inequality”. Like Blair, when putting a very poor argument, Glover resorts to the need to be macho.

Robert Skidelsky recently told the paper’s readers that Marx’s theory of value has apparently been replaced by the idea of “subjective preference”. By this he apparently means that employers freely choose how much they pay their workers. I suppose he thinks that British manufacturers can completely ignore the low wages being paid by their Asian competitors.

The most comical piece was by Martin Kettle who asked “why with so much wealth in Britain, there continues to be so much poverty?” This was not a rhetorical question. All of Kettle’s output suggests that he is baffled by the question. The thought that the rich hold on to their massive wealth by whatever means they can, seems not to have occurred to him.

The BBC is not much better. James Naughtie once prefaced a question with the thought that nobody would argue that selling off couuncil houses was a bad idea. The present political editor, Nick Robinson, apparently thinks we live in a “post-ideological era”. He seems unable to distinguish the complete domination of the main political parties by one ideology – ie free market capitalist economic orthodoxy – from the absence of ideology.

A few months ago the admirable George Mombiot called for those on the left to settle their differences and unite behind an agreed programme. He rightly regretted that for many politicians, writers and pundits, their main object is to achieve recognition of their individual ideas. His article in the Guardian produced no response. This suggests to me, and may have done to George, that the Guardian is of limited relevance to the struggle which is needed.

It is vital that those of us who believe in equality and putting a break on the accumulation of massive wealth by a few individuals, should now rally behind a party committed to socialist ideas. This probably needs to be a new party, as it is unlikely that the Labour party can now be changed. This is vital not just for equality itself but to save the planet and its resources.