Going Nuclear on Labour: Paul Mason’s Counsel for a Consensual Cataclysm

The decidedly Un-Marxist self-proclaimed Marxist, Paul Mason, is correct that the Labour Party “has to make hard choices”, but Labour’s new leader can at least make such decisions from a position of strength, as Mason recognises: “Corbyn has the firm support of most unions, tens of thousands of new and active members”.

With the Tory party imploding, Labour needs to reinvent itself – fast” continues Mason (March 21, The Guardian). After optimistically observing that Corbyn has the “firm support” of “about a quarter” of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Mason concludes: “His enemies are isolated.”

But if we recognise that the majority of Labour MP’s actually stand firmly opposed to most of Corbyn’s refreshingly socialist ideas, then, if anything, it is Corbyn who is isolated within his own Party.

This is because the majority of Corbyn’s “firm supporters” presently have next to no democratic means of redressing the Blairite domination of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Although Labour’s democratic deficit could be overcome quickly if Corbyn took a principled lead on this matter.

More accurately then, if Corbyn’s enemies are isolated from anything it is from the democratic will of the majority of Labour Party supporters, and this is a major problem.

Having misidentified the issue, Mason’s response is to propose that Corbyn must disown the decidedly anti-Blairite policies he campaigned on during last year’s Labour leadership contest, and “make an explicit offer to the right and centre of his party”. Mason calls this “an obvious solution,” but it is not a new solution as Corbyn is already travelling down this route.

As if this was not enough, Mason is clear that “Corbyn might have to face down resistance” from some of those on Labour’s Left within the Momentum group.

This leads Mason to suggest the need for Corbyn to make an about-turn on “urgent policy issues” like defence. Apparently, Labour “needs to bury its differences on Trident around a solution that involves both wings compromising on their principles.”

Although Mason says no more about Trident in this Guardian article (March 21), he soon put more flesh onto the rotten bones of this argument in a YouTube video nasty, “The left-wing case for nuclear weapons” (April 6, The Guardian), which might alternatively be interpreted as Mason’s debut into the world of satire.

In an accompanying article Mason writes:

“Whatever the military usefulness of Trident it has become a strategic weapon for two forces in British politics: the Conservatives, who will use the issue to attack Corbyn as ‘unfit to rule’; and the Blairite rump currently casting around for any issue to stir up grievance against an increasingly effective Labour leadership.”

Yet Mason does not think that Corbyn should firmly and proudly oppose the Tories/Blairites by making the case for ditching Trident. Instead he says Labour “must listen to those who took to the streets calling for it to scrap Trident. Having listened, it must offer them something more important”… it must ignore them!?

This will enable the development of a “coherent Labour defence doctrine” that is also capable of “ensuring electability.” Hence Mason advises that “Corbyn’s Labour should embrace NATO projects”, keep pumping endless reservoirs of money into the defence industry, and support Trident.

Mason concludes that Corbyn might also take a lead from Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras who “faced down the anti-militarists” in his own party, neglecting the fact that in doing so Tsipras had to ignore the popular will of the very people who elected him on a clear anti-war and anti-austerity platform.

Evidently Mason has no faith in the ability of the mood of the working-class to change, and for the mass of humanity to swing behind the type of socialist politics that are necessary to bring an end to the violence of capitalism. This is a shame.

On the contrary, Mason seems ashamed of the long history of anti-war campaigning that has, and continues to be waged by the grassroots of the Labour movement.

Paul Mason going nuclear on Labour


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