The election of Donald Trump, in which the man himself stated “good people don’t go into Government”, indicates the mere farce of the political system. For this many have attacked the Left for a focus on identity politics, ranging from issues of racism, feminism and equal rights for the LGBT communities.
Middle America and the ‘white vote’ is said to have won Trump the election, showing the mind-set of many Americans that if politicians and activists are not fighting for the causes of the person who is not a female, black, queer or transgender, many in the electorate do not care. If these people feel the agenda should be a return to focusing on the lives they believe matter, they are entirely mistaken on the role of politics in fighting for change.
This is a sad state of affairs for those in the left who wish to campaign on issues of all kinds in order to rid our world of injustices. We must not fight against the dominance of politics backed by corporations and a focus on keeping the status quo. Through the years, the left has been known to split into different factions with the right, being able to stick to a clear message, which is often not truthful.
2016 has been a momentous year, and the growth of intersectionality is something that we as a society should be proud of; we are fighting the injustices on many different cases. Rather than be discouraged by the attempt of the right to bash the left for preaching views seen as unorthodox, we should continue this activism and call for more social justice campaigners, as this is a fight that will be won together not separately.
The major scale of political events has not had the revolutionary uprisings I expected, but instead has garnered a small amount of people to make a change – whether it is activism online, joining political parties or even becoming full time activist. The problem is that these changes are not being showed to the on-looking public.
The left unfortunately does not have an effective media channel; we have to realise that media is changing the way we see news. We view news in small doses – this can be viewed as a positive, but many news publications are unfortunately pushing an agenda.
People look at politics like a game show or reality TV show, and unfortunately nowadays as a politician, you have to entertain to get ahead. This means a media image, the right style of dressing and even the statements you make controlled. In this technological age, on the cusp of the growth of robotics, even our politicians are becoming well-oiled machines.
In a world in which slogans and viral marketing campaigns are used to appeal to a certain demographic such as Hilary Clinton demonstrating her attempt at the Dab and the Mannequin Challenge, the division of the left makes it difficult to have particular marketing plan. To be honest, this type of planning and thought is needed to win elections; socialist rhetoric will not win everyone over.
The failures of the capitalist system should play in to the hands of many on the left. The left unfortunately have not come up with a solution to the economic problems of many countries in the West. Instead, those fighting for the injustice in this system make tweaks which improve the lives of a handful of individuals but fail to change the structural inequalities.
Even, in the aftermath of Brexit, many anti-Corbynites used the result to attack him for not campaigning strongly enough for the Remain vote, when in reality many of his socialist-leaning friends felt that leaving the EU was a positive decision and one that favoured the voice of the working class people. This is a relevant argument – the dominance of Labour as a middle class elitist party does not encourage other members from different sides of society to join together and create a viable alternative to the existing structures of government we have in the world today.
This division in the left brought to light this issue in my mind, with the working class not wanting to be ruled by bureaucrats in the EU. Instead of exploring this view, the liberal middle class of the Labour Party merely dismissed the ideas as racist. If Labour is to stand a chance in the next election, the Party and Corbyn must find a solution that aligns these groups back together.
This problem of division is one that is in particular hurting the Labour Party, as without a strong enough media machine, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are struggling to put across their message and credibility in becoming a Parliamentary Party with a chance at the next election. This division is directly the fault of Tony Blair, who steered the Party away from its left-wing ideas. I
t is plausible that many of the general public do not realise that the origins of the Labour Party lie within socialist ideals, which is the cornerstone of Jeremy’s leadership. This struggle with identity is leading to an existential crisis for the Labour Party.
The mass movement that Corbyn seems to have behind him must be used to the greatest of effect. I believe that in order for this to be effective, instead of focusing on demonstrations, the left must once again turn to community politics whereby the problems in communities are tackled as well as the structural problems that exist in our societies today. The political struggle should focus on day-to-day issues, which will develop a relationship between the government and its people. Only then will the real motives and relationships of many in government be revealed.
The use of community politics argues against the common perception of the left being purely happy protesting and talking about their many values rather than governing. This is the problem Corbyn faces; his mantra is being based on tackling the economic problems by taxing the rich and using these funds for the public services. However, we must question whether these services are doing an adequate job. As people of the left, we must continue to address the problems of oppression, but rather than to continue the rhetoric of victim-hood, we must find solutions to the problems that we bring to light.
This focus on community politics will help steer the stereotype away from middle class people using activism as a chance to get likes on a Facebook post. It will allow for politicians to develop new ideas in the community, making a difference in the electoral ballot as well as the general national agenda.
The political process must not become one in which we as a people believe we have no power, as the starting point for the political struggle is the willingness to confront the state.
words by Ayo Fagbemi