Britain’s Decade of Crisis
Boris Johnson’s ‘Get Brexit Done’ victory set in the context of the multiple crises that have roiled the UK since its financial bubble burst in 2008—economic, social, regional, national, European—to which the new Tory ascendancy poses as solution.
After decades of hawkish neoliberalism, the British Labour Party has become the stage for an unprecedented experiment. To what extent has Corbyn’s leadership been able to transform Blair’s party into a vehicle for egalitarian renewal? Can his project survive the maelstrom of the UK’s Brexit crisis?
The Portuguese Experiment
The coordinator of Portugal’s Left Bloc traces her trajectory from theatre to the political stage. The prominence of women in the party’s leadership, the social achievements wrested so far from the grip of the Portuguese establishment, and the prospects for extending those gains or seeing them reversed by Brussels and Berlin.
How and why has Portugal differed from Spain since the downfall of their respective dictatorships in the mid 70s? The course of political and economic development since the Revolution of 1974 was contained, and its current discrepant outcome: a conventional social-democratic government obliged to break with Euro-austerity under the pressure of a pact with the radical left.
The electoral watersheds of 2016 signalled a rejection of the global-neoliberal formula of rule, but no viable establishment alternative exists. In its absence, Riley argues, Trump may offer a neo-Bonapartist substitute for a coherent hegemonic project.
After years of economic crisis and social protest, the cartel parties of the extreme centre now face a challenge to their dominance from outside-left forces in a number of Western countries. Contours of the emergent left oppositions, their platforms and figureheads, from Tsipras to Corbyn, Sanders to Mélenchon, Grillo to Iglesias.
Who Is Delhi’s Common Man?
The Aam Aadmi Party emerged from mass anti-corruption protests to sweep the board in regional elections for India’s capital city. Can its rule in Delhi open up space for popular mobilization on the national stage, challenging the rise of communalism, or will the party be sucked into humdrum parliamentary routines?
'What exists cannot be true'
The Argentinian historian of the Mexican Revolution recalls his life as a roving agitator. Worlds of rebel workers, from the barrios of Buenos Aires to the Bolivian altiplano and Guatemalan jungle, Lecumberri Prison to the streets of Paris and Rome.
McKibbin argues that New Labour's constitutional tensions are inherited from the Thatcherite project of centralizing power in order to promote a neoliberal political economy; and Labour's previous commitments to devolution. Tocqueville's view of constitutional inheritance and evolution is cited in opposition to Mair's model of a coherent Blairite strategy.
Corporate Populism and Partyless Democracy
Are there more tensions in New Labour’s constitutional reforms than Peter Mair’s model of a ‘partyless democracy’ allows? Anthony Barnett argues that the style of Blair’s government is actually closer to that of a large media corporation—bound to come to grief on the variegated realities of modern Ukania.
New Labour’s rule in the UK is often held to offer a paradox: devolution of power to regions and cities, concentration of power in the central executive and support structures. Peter Mair suggests there is no contradiction—Blair’s project is a ‘consensual’ system above politics, gutted of traditional parties.
New Labour and its Discontents
“The week before the European Union summit in Amsterdam, Tony Blair delivered a Thatcher-style lecture at the Malmö gathering of European socialist parties. ‘As I said to the Labour Party a few years ago, we must modernize or die,’ he declared; there was no choice for the European . . .” read more
Reflections on Blair’s Velvet Revolution
“The comprehensive defeat of the Conservatives in the General Election must be a source of satisfaction, indeed jubilation, to the Left everywhere since the administrations of Thatcher and Major were global pioneers of the free market blight and particular foes of social progress in Europe. In the politics . . .” read more
Labour Governments: Old Constraints and New Parameters
“It is good to be able to explore again the pattern of constraints likely to beset a Labour Government. For a long time now, such concerns have been definitely off our collective agendas because of the string of heavy electoral defeats for Labour. The bulk of the” read more
Supply Side Socialism: The Political Economy of New Labour
“Over-arching concepts, like the stakeholder economy, have their value both in determining the ground upon which political debate takes place and broadening the basis of support for the party which successfully employs them. There is considerable electoral virtue in a concept open to disparate interpretations and satisfying a . . .” read more
The Disintegration of a Labour Tradition: New Zealand Politics in the 1980s
“On 27 October 1990, New Zealand’s Labour government suffered one of the heaviest defeats in the country’s electoral history. Labour lost twenty-seven of its fifty-six seats, and its share of the vote was the lowest since 1931. It was a humiliating but not inappropriate end for a government . . .” read more
A Reply to Staughton Lynd
“When Staughton Lynd told me that he was writing a review of both my book, An Injury to All, and David Montgomery’s, The Fall of the House of Labor, I quipped that he had put me in some fast company. After all, David Montgomery is not only an . . .” read more
Trade Unionism in the USA
“These are difficult days for the labour movement in the United States, and the situation is even worse for the radical labour movement. Trade-union membership in the non-farm labour force has declined from over 30 per cent in the early 1950s to about 17 per cent today. The . . .” read more
The Limits of Labourism: 1987 and Beyond
“Labour’s campaign for the next election started on 12 June 1987, the day after the Party’s third successive defeat at the polls. Neil Kinnock said as much, and although many politicians make declarations of this sort Kinnock was for once not indulging in rhetoric. He made a similar . . .” read more
A Strategy for Labour: Four Documents
“The papers reproduced in this issue of nlr were all submitted to, and rejected by, the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party. The arguments contained in them reflect some of the concerns and views of a very substantial body of opinion, not accepted by the leadership . . .” read more
Proportional Representation: A Socialist Concept
“I submit that proportional representation is a fundamental socialist concept. I argue, furthermore, that no socialist seriously committed to democratic, accountable representation can advocate any other electoral system. My argument, however, is completely different from that put by the sdp/Liberal Alliance. When we look back across the . . .” read more
Labour’s Future and the Coalition Debate
“Slightly adapting Dr. Johnson, we can say that the prospect of political execution concentrates the collective mind wonderfully—on the elementary need to survive. This has been the preoccupation of the Labour Party, especially its leadership, in the wake of its catastrophically poor performance in the 1983 general election. . . .” read more
The New Revisionism in Britain
“Since the late seventies, and particularly since the arrival in office of the Thatcher government in May 1979, a vast amount of writing has been produced on the left to account for the troubles which have beset the Labour Party and the labour movement as a whole. The . . .” read more
The Miners' Strike in Easington
“In the summer of 1983 the newspapers were filled with the rumour that the new Chairman of the National Coal Board would be Mr Ian MacGregor. MacGregor had been head of the US mining company Amax which, after its strike-breaking activities at the Belle Ayr open cast mine . . .” read more
Canvassing for Socialism
“Immediately after June 9th I went round in a daze, feeling like an alien, not a citizen of this country at all. I half expected everybody to have turned bright blue, or to hear military music blasting out of unseen amplifiers. Now, oddly enough, after this initial period . . .” read more
Problems of the Coming Period
“The title I was given for this talk was ‘Problems of the Coming Period’! When this was set, some six weeks ago, the coming period that was in mind was the twenty years or so up to and through the millennium; that term which we still have to . . .” read more
Socialists and the Labour Party
“Labour’s defeat in the General Election offers a profound challenge to the Party. It clearly calls for a period of sober reflection in which a serious analysis of the results can be made. We must forge new links with those too often thought of as natural Labour supporters. . . .” read more
Why Labour Lost
“Before discussing the post-electoral situation in Britain and its possible consequences for the Labour Party, I would like to ask you just one ‘personal’ question. Soon after you were elected Leader of the Greater London Council (glc) you spoke at a left-wing rally where you shared . . .” read more
The AFL-CIO’s Second Century
“The American Federation of Labor celebrated its centenary last year. It is one of the world’s great conservative institutions, with a stability of internal rule and ideology that might make even the Bank of England gasp. Although the United States has had nineteen presidents since the founding of . . .” read more
On the Political Economy of the Socialist Transformation
“There are many questions which refuse a reassuring answer. This is no less true within socialist theory. The issue of whether socialists and Marxists should work within the Labour Party has preoccupied the British Left throughout this century. The Social Democratic Federation decided to disaffiliate in the early . . .” read more
Socialists and the Crisis of Labourism
“British politics today no longer lags behind economics. Hitherto, the hundred-year decline of British capitalism’s relative strength in the world economy, so often analysed, so rarely even temporarily checked, has been accompanied by a relative stability of the country’s political system. Of the major imperialist powers, only two . . .” read more
The Choices Before Labour
“Eric Hobsbawm is a distinguished scholar and an original thinker, a historian of the first rank and a Marxist of great eminence. The collection of essays provoked by the Marx Memorial Lecture he gave in 1978 on the state of the labour movement in Britain contains some interesting . . .” read more
Labourism and the Transition to Socialism
“In New Left Review 126 Michael Rustin analysed the constitutional changes currently taking place in the Labour Party and suggested that they contained at least the potential for the transformation of that party into a serious vehicle for socialist advance. Though he was very critical of the narrowness . . .” read more
Solihull: Death of a Car Factory
“Nationally and internationally the motor industry has been catastrophically affected by the present recession. There have been massive layoffs, plant closures and redundancies with little resistance by the workforce. In Britain in the late sixties and early seventies, the workers at British Leyland were considered very militant and . . .” read more
The British Crisis--Can the Left Win?
“We are all learning from the crisis of the British economy, not only about how the economy itself works but also about the links between this and the politics of our society. We certainly need to learn if we are to make an effective political response. For the . . .” read more