Red Pepper has always been about more than radical journalism. Our origins lie in the extraordinary movement that converged across parties, movements, identities and geography to support the mining communities. The Chesterfield Socialist Conferences, and then the Socialist Movement, attempted to realise the potential of this convergence. As its limits became apparent, we created Red Pepper as a fexible, open and modest contribution
towards the same goal.
This movement of the 1980s, with its roots in industrial trade unions and the
Labour left, can never be recreated. Mrs Thatcher and Neil Kinnock saw to that. But an equivalent movement of resistance and alternatives has to be built, able to stand up to the consequences of both global depression and the environmental crisis with convincing alternatives – but in the context of a fragmented working class, and in the absence of any adequate political voice.
People are recognising the urgency of this challenge – see the Green New Deal, the People’s Charter launched last month, the No Going Back debate initiated by Compass and the continuing work of the Convention of the Left, to name just a few.
It has become clear that, apart from bringing forward a few infrastructural
projects, government policy is focused ruthlessly on strengthening and
rationalising the private banking system and sitting out the social
consequences of the recession, as if it is some natural disaster for which trauma therapy and advice is all that politicians can provide (see David Harvey).
The kinds of policies we need – an expansion of public services, turning the
banks into public utilities and a radical green conversion programme – require a radical shift in the balance of social and economic power towards working people, constraining capitalist elites and requiring governments to respond to the needs of the majority. !is was the condition for the Keynesianism of the postwar years.
The problem now is to build a new sources of power for egalitarian and
democratic politics in the wake of the destruction of so many of the traditional – and emerging – sources of collective leverage for such values. !e fundamental question, then, is what are the social forces and configuration of social forces on which a new left politics can be based?
Thus the issue for the left at this moment is not only one of political
representation. There is a crisis of political representation. The gulf between the political class and public opinion has grown dramatically. But to be an effective instrument of social change, a political organisation of the left – whether a part of the Labour Party, the Green Party, nationalist parties or some new hybrid political organisation – needs to be connected to social forces rooted in the struggles of daily life against oppression and injustice. To illustrate the point: the Labour Party was founded as a party of
the trade unions, and the Workers Party of Brazil emerged from an alliance of
industrial unions, the landless movement and urban social movements.
Trade unions will clearly be central to any new configuration of social forces
underpinning a new politics. But they will play a different, more intrinsically political role, requiring a wider range of allies. This is partly a result of the transformation of labour, as the mobility of capital and deregulation has enabled employers to break up union organisation, casualise the labour market and use new technologies to intensify exploitation. This process
has led people to create new, including global, forms of organisation, new allies beyond the workplace and new strategic thinking.
It’s also a matter of a different approach to society-wide policies – on
public services, international issues, industrial strategy and so on. Historically,
on all but employment issues, unions delegated matters to the parliamentary
Labour Party, via conference resolutions and ‘beer and sandwiches’. As this
relationship is reduced to ritual, activists engaged in real change are building alliances through which trade unions themselves take responsibility, with others, for alternative policies and seek out new, direct sources of political leverage.
These kinds of social foundations for a new politics are beneath the mainstream radar – and too often the radar of the left. A focus on bringing together those already politically active is therefore not enough. We need rather to be engaged with the day-to-day disaffection in working class communities and with the ways in which activists not even born at the time of the miners’ strike are experimenting with a radical and egalitarian politics, whether or not they call it socialism.
It is here that Red Pepper, as means of communication and inquiry, should
be useful. But we need your help: first your reports on experiences of resistance and alternatives (e-mail resistance[at]redpepper.org.uk); secondly your becoming a supporting subscriber and helping us promote the magazine and thereby the new politics that you, our readership, are trying to create.
Yasmin Gunaratnam reflects on John Berger’s gut solidarity with the stranger
Charlie Clarke and Heather Mendick discuss how to work through the tensions within Momentum
As man-made global warming gets closer to the tipping point, Andrew Simms finds reasons to be positive about averting catastrophic climate change
In this extract from his new book The Candidate, Alex Nunns tells the inside story of how Jeremy Corbyn scraped onto the Labour leadership ballot in 2015
Graham Jones proposes a framework for a diverse movement to flourish
Bryony Moore profiles Stitched Up, a non-profit group reimagining the future of fashion
Musician Eliane Correa reflects on the fading revolution
Trump's victory is another sign of the failure of the centre-left's narrative on climate change. A new message is needed, and new politicians to deliver it, writes Alex Randall
Siobhán McGuirk says the question we are too afraid to ask is simple - what kind of society leads to Donald Trump as President?
The battle lines are clear. Democracy is in peril and the left must take itself seriously electorally and politically. Ruth Potts speaks to Gary Younge, who was based in Muncie, Indiana, for the US election, about the implications of Donald Trump’s victory
Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen
Short story: Syrenka
A short story by Kirsten Irving
Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant
Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’
Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue
Utopia: Room for all
Nadhira Halim and Andy Edwards report on the range of creative responses to the housing crisis that are providing secure, affordable housing across the UK
A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank
News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions
Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release
Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts
‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette
The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.
How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op
Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU
Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson
Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release
University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.
Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.
Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History
Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.
A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas
Book Review: Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
'In spite of the odds Corbyn is still standing' - Alex Doherty reviews Seymour's analysis of the rise of Corbyn
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
'A small manifesto for black liberation through socialist revolution' - Graham Campbell reviews Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's 'From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation'
The abolition of Art History A-Level will exacerbate social inequality
This is a massive blow to the rights of ordinary kids to have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. Danielle Child reports.
Mass civil disobedience in Sudan
A three-day general strike has brought Sudan to a stand still as people mobilise against the government and inequality. Jenny Nelson writes.
Mustang film review: Three fingers to Erdogan
Laura Nicholson reviews Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s unashamedly feminist film critique of Turkey’s creeping conservatism
What if the workers were in control?
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry
Airport expansion is a racist policy
Climate change is a colonial crisis, writes Jo Ram
Momentum Kids: the parental is political
Momentum Kids is not about indoctrinating children, but rather the more radical idea that children have an important role to play in shaping the future, writes Kristen Hope