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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.
Deregulation and tax loopholes are justified by saying that they 'protect growth'. But really, they just protect the wealthy, writes James Fox
Inequality is often treated as a law of nature - but really, it's the result of conscious political choices. It's time to choose equality, writes the IPPR's Carys Roberts.
Tom Palmer, aka Agent Kingfisher, was the 'messiah' of London's squatting scene until his death last year. But who was responsible for his fate? MI5, late capitalism or simply a drug overdose? Matt Broomfield investigates.
'Docs Not Cops' write that we must resist attempts to make our NHS any less universal
Louis Mendee explains the real human costs of climate change for the global south.
From climate change to automation to demographic shifts, Mathew Lawrence explains the challenges our economy will face in the coming decade.
Fifty years after the Abortion Act, women are still dying from being denied basic services, write activists from Feminist Fightback
We need to tackle the patronising ideology that lets Tory think-tanks sneer at social tenants, writes Emma Dent Coad
Acid Corbynism allows people to imagine a future beyond the paltry offerings of capitalism, writes Keir Milburn
'We wanted to use a shared love of the beautiful game to stand in solidarity with those living under occupation', writes Kate Hadley.
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright
Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones