A world in crisis and the fractured left

Anti*Capitalist Resistance member Simon Hannah writes on the world crisis, a call for unity and action.

4 October 2020

Our society and our world are in crisis.

The triumph of neoliberalism and globalisation created a dangerously unstable world, unleashing dangerous forms of disaster capitalism which are fuelling global warming and producing differences in wealth and power between rich and poor that would make a 17th-century monarch blush.

The global pandemic has shone a spotlight on the social crisis that is the inevitable result of capitalism. Elon Musk of Tesla made $67billion while Jeff Bezos the CEO of Amazon made $73 billion during the lockdown. Meanwhile, 20,000 Amazon workers in the US caught COVID as they worked through the health crisis.

Globally billionaires got $637 billion richer so far during the pandemic.

But there is little point just reeling off more facts and figures about the inequality and the disgusting accumulation of wealth whilst people queue at the food banks. Many of us are familiar with them already. 

This is about action. About doing something about it. The socialist left needs to get its act together if we are to have any hope of mounting a serious challenge to capitalism in a situation where the far-right and dangerous conspiracy theories are growing more influential at a time when the danger of a 2C increase in global temperature looks like it cannot be stopped.

Yet the left continues in its small sects, networks, and informal alliances. It comes together for a campaign or a demonstration but it cannot achieve a critical mass that builds an organisation that looks impressive, that looks serious.

We now face the problem that after four years of Corbynism the left has suffered a strategic defeat in the form of a left electoralist project that couldn’t win an election. Yes, people will continue to blame ‘sabotage’ and ‘enemies within the movement’ and the horrors of the right wing press, but those things will always be with us. We need to stop blaming other people and focus on how to be better next time. People are clinging onto the life rafts hoping that the ‘legacy of Corbynism’ will live on. It won’t. Or at least it won’t unless the class struggle can pick up and a new generation of workers in struggle can cohere around a socialist plan not just to fight defensive struggles but as a plan to overthrow capitalism and replace it with a democratically planned economy that can reverse the inequality of power and wealth as well as provide the best socio-economic system to fight climate change.

Anything less than this is simply slowing down the inevitable. Billionaires like Elon Musk are already end-gaming the climate change scenario to build colonies off-world for the super-rich. Meanwhile, the left is pleased when it pulls off a modest protest in defence of migrants. The Mercers and the Koch’s are funding the far right to the tune of millions every year whilst the left remains divided and weak.

We have to grapple with a situation in which it used to be commonly understood by workers and the left that the world was heading towards socialism, that it was inevitable as long as the forces aligned properly. Now it looks more likely that a period of barbarism is opening up before us.

But we do not have the luxury of wallowing in negativity or pessimism. We have to fight. We have to turn back the tide. We have to reclaim the future.

The Anti*Capitalist Resistance is a step in the right direction. We are attempting to build a multi-tendency revolutionary organisation which is active in the struggle, democratic, that is a fulcrum for ideas and critical theory and can – importantly – create a critical mass for a socialist movement that looks like it can win. It doesn’t matter if you are still in Labour or not, what matters is the ideas and the actions that we can organise together. 

We need to get organised in the trade unions, in communities and workplaces, we need vibrant interesting theory and good agitators to explain it, we need to support and reinforce every progressive struggle that is out there and boost internationalist causes. We have to fight the growth of right-wing populism, fascism, nationalism and conspiracy theories. We need to take the culture wars seriously and not just assume that talking about housing and wages alone is going to cut it. We need to clearly and unequivocally say that there is a class war being fought and we are on the side of the workers and the poor being ground into dust by the oligarchs and the mega-rich. We are united in rejecting bureaucrats as our natural ‘leaders’, in parliaments as the ‘road to socialism’ and in Stalinism as representing Marxism. 

This isn’t simply unity for its own sake or an approach where we all just split the difference and muddle through. The A*CR is not even necessarily the final shape that any future unity will take but we have to make a start. 

We are running out of time.

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