Chris Mullin is at it again. Having imagined the fate of a radical left-wing Prime Minister way back in 1982 in his novel, ‘A Very British Coup’, Mullin now dares to imagine the first 100 days of a Jeremy Corbyn Government. It’s a clever and imaginative piece that has Corbyn surviving all the usual establishment traps and coming out a respected and even well-loved Prime Minister. Of course, Mullin is only imagining the first 100 days. After that, Mullin choses not to predict. writing, ‘How long the honeymoon would last was anyone’s guess….’ 

Thought-provoking and even humorous in places, Mullin tries to anticipate all the expected flashpoints but what he singularly fails to address is the role of the general population. And to my mind, if JC fails to mobilize huge swathes of the populous, then he will be forced into either endless compromise or will be dethroned by all those forces Mullins so brilliantly described way back in 1982. So the question arises; just how should JC go about promoting a public mobilisation? Before attempting to explore that question, I should state that such a mobilisation should start today and not wait for some magical 2020 victory. There is and can be only one possible bulwark against an establishment coup and that is a public mobilisation. But not as a spectacular ’one-off’ but rather as a permanent, deeply entrenched, political and social mobilisation.

Such a mobilisation should, by definition, seek to organise itself horizontally as opposed to the usual hierarchical structures that dominate our political and social lives. And it seems self-evident that if we ever hope to transcend oppressive top-down structures, be they from the right or even the left, then we better begin to learn the skill of self-organisation. This is no new idea – the anarcho-syndicalists have had this as their core idea for over a century.

What form should these horizontal grass-root structures take? The obvious answer is many and varied. But to have any hope of developing into a real alternative to the status quo I would think it needs to be of practical use by everyone, not just by the ‘left’ but by mainstream Labour and Tory alike. The sort of thing I am imagining is the humble community cooperative. A nationwide network of community co-ops, independent of any political party, might just become strong enough to create an independent pole of activity that could act as a counterbalance to the right-wing back-lash that a Corbyn government would inevitably unleash.

What would this expanded and revamped cooperative movement do? Well, to coin a phrase, it would do exactly what it says on the tin – it would allow us to cooperate. In a capitalist world where we have become increasingly alienated and socially atomised, to learn to co-operate again would be in itself quite revolutionary. We could and should cooperate by sharing resources, sharing skills and sharing knowledge. We have already begun to do these things online; on e-bay, on Wikipedia and in our social net-working sites. But we have lost the knack of doing it in our local communities in real time. Co-operating at this level is not overtly political in the sense of the early Soviets but it would be highly political in essence because it would effectively by-pass the existing top-down capitalist structures both economic and political. And when Corbyn and McDonnell have been consigned to just a fond and distant memory, the revamped co-operative movement would survive as their lasting ‘socialist’ legacy. It might in fact represent the first real shoots of a self-governing society. Pie in the sky stuff perhaps, but self –administration, where the state has begun to wither away, was always at the very heart of Marx’s communist vision.

It’s a pleasingly subversive concept that might, if promoted cleverly, just be able to gather political momentum under the establishment radar. Corbynistas could quietly join, or should I say ‘infiltrate’, these co-ops, lending a light-touch political edge to what would otherwise be an innocuous local initiative.  Whether these co-ops became overtly politicised or not, they could become, as Paul Mason recently described, part of the post-capitalist fabric.

Of course there are many other forms of public mobilisation that could develop, some directly political, others less so. The point is, that without mobilisation from below, the chance of a Corbynista revolutionary change to British society is close to zero. The capitalist establishment is just too entrenched to hope that a radical Labour leadership could dislodge it.

Anyway, we are where we are. Today and tomorrow and the day after it’s all about trench warfare. Corbyn’s leadership will come under relentless attack from the establishment both within and outside the Labour Party. Threats of splits, defections and coups already abound. The Tory media is spitting bile, as we would expect them to do. The intelligence agencies, here and abroad will be busy with their manufactured intrigues and misinformation campaigns. And the dangers of destructive internal differences, demoralisation and sheer exhaustion are ever present. The lessons of the 1980’s miners’ strike are only too obvious. What happens or doesn’t happen at the grassroots level will almost certainly be critical.

End JPK Copyright 18/9/15

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 19 September 2015 06:23 )