Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Politics and Hypocrisy: A Socialist View






















Spare me the faux outrage from the Tories over Jared O'Mara and his recently unearthed comments. Minus a positive programme and staring the uneasy prospect of a long decline in the face, seizing on every bigoted comment and every stupid indiscretion uttered by Labour's new generation of MPs long ago is all they have. This is the divide and rule they're used to. In the past, sexism, racism and homophobia did the job, but after Dave's superficial liberal make over they're quite happy to use the legacy of the left - anti-sexism, anti-racism, anti-homophobia - to achieve the same effect. Even if it means ignoring the egregious bigots on their own benches, and the apologists for state terror who support them to achieve their aims.

That O'Mara has been suspended by Labour is the right thing because of alleged comments made prior to his selection earlier this year. However, when do past utterances cease being relevant? Obviously, for anyone whose politics extend beyond point scoring, present records tend to trump what is long passed, no matter how colourful, foolish, or downright backward it might have been. Who but the most odious oaf, for example, would continue holding the young Ricky Tomlinson's membership of the National Front against him after a life time of union militancy, victimisation, and supporting socialist causes? To consider the point from an opposite view, Tory MPs, those leading the charge against O'Mara's sexist idiocy, are ever so squeaky clean in their interpersonal relationships. Some of them might even avoid harassing junior Commons staff as far as I know. And yet their antennae is blunt to the sexist and racist consequences of their policies. Who do they think suffer disproportionately from their Parliamentary votes to cut to social security, their cuts to the NHS, their real terms cuts to public sector wages? Oh yes, the very same people they profess to give a shit about when an idiot gives them a high horse to trot about on (though it is interesting to note no such Tory fuss was forthcoming when the unlamented Simon Danczuk was exposed for harassing a 17-year-old).

We can talk about hypocrisy, we can attack it, but truth be told it's a structural feature of mainstream politics everywhere, especially in the zero-sum game of Westminster and first-past-the-post. Whoever secures an absolute majority of seats can, provided winning is by a healthy margin, more or less do as they please. As Ed Miliband once put it, opposition is crap because there's not a great deal you can do. It is therefore an inherently adversarial system, even when the two main parties are closer in outlook than they are presently. All means are open to undermine the party opposite to sap their morale and cause them disciplinary difficulties. Whatever comes along is more or less useful fodder in the ceaseless struggle, regardless of how petty it might be or whether it makes one look like a ridiculous hypocrite. What matters is the splash made and how that contributes to the narrative you're pushing against the enemy.

Socialists should have a different approach. Attacking sexism, racism and homophobia isn't, or shouldn't be about shaming individuals in the first instance. Doing so accomplishes nothing. We work to defeat these forms of inequality not just because they're morally abhorrent and makes people's lives shit, but because they also imperil our ability to organise, to build the kinds of solidarities capable of challenging the present state of affairs, and of dismantling class and capital and constructing a new society on the foundations of the old. That's the key difference between us and those for whom a sexism/racism revelation is an occasion to burnish one's creds and very little else.

10 comments:

David Timoney said...

It's O'Mara, not O'Hara, but I feel it would be wrong of me to make too much of your youthful mistake.

Phil said...

Ha! I keep saying I'm not cut out for late night blogging and yet I carry on doing it ...

Anonymous said...

Actually I think "being morally abhorrent and making people's lives shit" IS the main issue, but of course I'm not a Marxist.

As regards Tomlinson, I guess I'm a bit of "an odious oaf" because while I don't hold his youthful membership (and council candidate-ship) of the NF against him, I DO despise his much more recent claim in his biography that he didn't realise the NF were racists. I mean come off it, really! As for a "lifetime of victimisation," that's overdoing it, he was victimised as a strike organiser in the building trade, he's hardly been victimised in his later media career, in fact he's been very successful.

Oh and as for Danczuk,I read the transcripts, he wasn't harassing her, she was as up for it as he was. His fault was his stupidity in falling for it. And by the way, Danczuk had spent a lot of time listening to the life histories of people who'd been sexually abused- that does tend to get you down, which is why psychotherapists have training in how to handle their own feelings in these cases, what training or even basic moral support did Danczuk have? I'm not surprised he turned to heavy drinking and other extremely stupid behaviours.

Incidentally in every other respect I detest the man. But not being a Marxist, I'm not obliged to see everything in black and white.

Chris said...

Down with naming and shaming?
Now you tell us!
Now that a Corbyn supporting Labour lout is on the end of it...

Phil said...

"Actually I think "being morally abhorrent and making people's lives shit" IS the main issue, but of course I'm not a Marxist."

I find your naivete almost touching. How do you suppose systematic inequalities be tackled without, um, addressing the problems systematically?

Phil said...

Don't forget Chris you are on the record here defending the abuse of women online, particularly those in the media because they're "middle class". So I don't think I'll be listening to you on this matter.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

'The Sheffield Hallam MP is also accused of calling a a constituent an "ugly bitch" just months before his election.' (from that Tory fascist rag, The Daily Mirror)

But, you know, whatever...

Phil said...

Another fool who doesn't read before commenting.

Chris said...

I can't recall defending such abuse though my memory is going!

Anonymous said...

"Who do they think suffer disproportionately from their Parliamentary votes to cut to social security, their cuts to the NHS, their real terms cuts to public sector wages?"

For your complaint to be true, doesn't this mean that extra spending on social security and the NHS and real terms increases in public sector wages must equally be discriminatory, sexist and racist?