(Original post by Arran90)
There is very good article in the Guardian titled Does the left have a future? It makes references to the impacts of technology on society and how the socialists have struggled to adapt in the face of it.
The left may call themselves radicals but they are a group which is wary, and quite conservative, when it comes to new technology whereas the 'conservative' right embraces new technology with open arms.
Economists and sociologists talk about “the precariat”, a growing part of the population for whom work is not the basis of personal identity, but an on-off part of life from which they often need protection. Some of this, of course, is down to the venality and greed of businesses. But the central momentum behind it is rooted in technology, and what Marxists would call the “mode of production”.
If the left’s predicament comes down to a single fault, it is this. It is very good at demanding change, but pretty hopeless at understanding it. Supposedly radical elements too often regard deep technological shifts as the work of greedy capitalists and rightwing politicians, and demand that they are rolled back. Meanwhile, the self-styled moderates tend to advocate large-scale surrender, instead of recognising that technological and economic changes can create new openings for left ideas. A growing estrangement from the left’s traditional supporters makes these problems worse, and one side tends to cancel out the other. The result: as people experience dramatic change in their everyday lives, they form the impression that half of politics has precious little to say to them.
On a different subject, something that hasn't been given sufficient attention to was that the Miner's Strike back in the 1980s had a distinctively British flavour to it. The coal miners were almost exclusively white British people living and working in almost exclusively white British areas who were trying to defend their livelihood and their families. Most were socially conservative folk who had no interest in issues like feminism, gay rights, multiculturalism, and neither did they want ethnics or foreign immigrants moving into their neighbourhoods. Arthur Scargill might have been their hero but only a tiny number of miners were members or supporters of the Trotskyist groups like the SWP.
In the mid 1980s a visible rift formed between the far left in provincial urban and industrial areas which was dominated by white British blue collar workers (who were interested in traditional economic issues like jobs, worker's rights, the collapse of heavy industry, and trade unions), and the far left in London and other trendy cities dominated by Marxists and Trotskyists who were financially comfortable in non-manual jobs (who were interested in issues like feminism, gay rights, multiculturalism, race relations, and immigration). The provincial economic left declined along with the heavy industry although fragments lived on after 2000 in both the BNP and UKIP. The Marxists and the Trotskyists dominate far left movements outside of Labour although public support for them is negligible as they are minority cult movements.
It's interesting to note how the miners in the mid 1980s fought for Coal not Dole for themselves and their sons and grandsons. The question now is whether the kids of the iPad generation – no matter how bleak their economic future is – even want to spend their working lives down a coal mine?
I think after the failure of big beauracratic government of the 70s a d the neo-liberal surge under Thatcher many of the more comfortable, metropolitan left completely ceded the economic argument to Thatcher, Reagen, etc. They devoted themselves to gay rights, feminism and racial equality. No doubt admirable goals but they way they want about it meant alienating the working class.
This meant that when the likes of B. Clinton and Blair turned up they were able to co opt the social-justice liberalism of this part of the left and then tack it on to the neo-liberal economic plan which, to be fair has shown itself to be very good a rebranding and adopting opposing positions as it's own. This meant the socialist left was left with no economic argument and now no social argument.
Since then the left as a whole has resolutely failed to come up with strong narratives about the downsides of capitalism and the inherent exploitation of the working class therein, even when given the 2008 financial crisis and the following decade of mixed financial performances the left has failed to come up with even a strong anti-capitalist message (this is getting better) and what has been proposed as better as basically been nothing more than 'the same but a bit less capitalisty'.
This is why, as a 'far left' person I am not a fan of Corbyn and why I resent hearing either him or his ideas described as revolutionary or even progressive, because they aren't. In fa t I think Corbyn, in his hardening back with rose tinted glasses to the age of big beauracratic government and state owned industry represents a failure, nor a success of the left.
If the left is going to build a new image then it needs to abandon the reliance on big government and state-capitalism (which really is what Corbyn is proposing). A new narrative needs to be built around getting power back into the hands of people directly, not just in a political sense but also at work, at home and in our communities.
Luckily enough we already have the ideological basis for this Libertarian-Socialis aka Anarchism.