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Is "Survival Socialism" the Solution to Disaster Capitalism?


Writing in The Nation, Laura Flanders explores the model of “survival socialism” being developed by the Labour Party in the UK, which has been reinvigorated and reshaped under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. While the Labour Party in not currently in power at the national level, it has been engaging in extensive grassroots and local political organizing. As Flanders writes, local representatives and party members have been implementing innovative economic initiatives such a cooperative business structures and living wage policies—efforts to fight back against the finance-led economics that have devastated the UK’s working class. The hope is that if Corbyn’s Labour Party continues to build grassroots support, this will translated to national electoral victories and the implementation of these policies on a national level. Here’s an excerpt from Flanders’s piece:

Survival socialism, as in the Preston model, is a way of regenerating a locality, helping it recover from the assaults of the past while preparing for the challenges of the future, such as automation. “Socialism is fundamentally important,” McInroy says, “because if you don’t have that plural ownership of wealth and means of production, we’re absolutely condemning millions of people to low wages [and] poor conditions in perpetuity.”

Yet the Preston model is also just a starting point. While Labour supports cooperatives as the best option in the private sector, its priority is to put more production back into public hands at the regional as well as the national level. “Put [government funds] back into the bottom of the system,” McDonnell explains, “because that’s where real changes all come from.”

Image: Dylan Petrohilos for The Next System Project. Via The Nation.


But what happens when capitalism really crashes - with global banking failures worse than 2008?
And what is this “left-wing” Labour going to do about the cut-throat inter-imperialist competition for markets which historically always leads to shooting wars?
Is Corbynism going to firm up into a revolutionary socialist movement? The idea is ludicrous. Instead, this Corbynism is no better than the Syriza movement of useless “anti-austerity” pipe-dreaming seen in Greece.
In reality, Corbyn sides with British monopoly-capitalist degeneracy, and, alongside all parliamentary-democracy, is one of its key lines of defence.
What happened with the Salvador Allende elected “Marxist” government in Chile in 1973 tells the real story. Instead of socialism, the unarmed “left-led” working class movement got the bloody Pinochet coup, with tens of thousands killed and tortured because the bourgeoisie (and the US Empire) do not want their interests infringed.
All “left” reformism will ever be is a lethal death-trap.
At present, in the UK, far from “helping” slump-ravaged and super-exploited workers, Corbynism is simply spinning reformist nonsense that the capitalist slump is a “political choice” and that “austerity can be reversed” - “when Labour is in power”. All deceptive rubbish because it’s the monopoly-capitalist system that dominates the global economy - and all banks and multinationals NEED slump destruction of decades worth of surplus capital and need their international rivals crushed.
Far from “struggling to make things better for all the UK’s hard-working families”, Corbyn’s lying reformism is just soaping the rope for workers.
“Plural ownership of wealth” is an empty phrase that means NOT fighting for the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is the only thing that can run and defend socialism.
“But Soviet-style socialism failed” all the reformist social-democratic cynics (especially the Trots) will instantly say.
But Soviet socialism didn’t fail; despite building so much, with so much good science and incredible effort by the Soviet working class (and without a capitalist class), its party leadership, the CPSU, lost its way completely under Gorbachev after years of revisionist leadership from Stalin onwards (which made mistakes and then compounded them by trying to pretend all was rosy). And all their mistakes started with their inability to stick to an international Leninist revolutionary perspective, based on Marx’s understanding of capitalism as a system of crisis, which would always eventually collapse into INTER-IMPERIALIST trade war, total breakdown of the system, and war.
What is with Corbyn’s paltry and shame-faced “invest lower down” or “invest in co-ops” (small businesses?) or “public ownership” (under capitalist class rule)? What is that going to do about the tyranny of zero-hours contracts, the horrors of life on benefits, or the danger of world war?
The real working class movement can ONLY ever be the Revolution to overthrow the monopoly-capitalist ruling class.
The callous, greedy and degenerate ruling class that guarantees more Grenfell fires, more Hillsborough disasters, more zero-hours contract super-exploitation, more race riots, more fascist diversions, and most of all a path towards World War 3, needs to be driven from power. Build Leninism.