Red Ken outrage

Chris Kromm ckromm at
Fri May 12 07:57:29 MDT 2000

You Brits have no idea how funny you sound arguing about whether Red Ken is
a sellout. What would we give to have anything even resembling a "red" mayor
in ANY U.S. city!

----- Original Message -----
From: M A Jones <jones118 at>
To: Marxism at Lists.Panix.Com <marxism at>
Sent: Friday, May 12, 2000 3:01 AM
Subject: Re: Red Ken outrage

> Russell wrote:
> > I have absolutely no sympathy with what you term the "the
> > 0.0006% (s+t) faction".  But what kind of gain for local democracy is
> > represented by Livingstone turning the London Assembly into another
> Northern
> > Ireland Assembly-style all-party circus with almost every party given a
> > portfolio?  Surely you don't go along with the current vogue for
> > non-confrontational consensus politics?  In short, what's the point of a
> > Livingstone variant of the third way
> Russell, do you think that confrontational politics, Westminster-style, is
> better, less bourgeois etc than continental-style consensus-seeking
> democracy?
> I'm sure you don't. But are you then opposed to all forms of bourgeois
> democracy,
> bourgeois renewal? So this must mean  that in Ireland, Sinn
> Fein should abandon their present politics, leave the Assembly and
> presumably resume armed struggle. And in London (Scotland? Wales?)
> Livingstone and others should leave the Assembly and, what, join the SWP
> the LSA or some other (t+s) alfabetti-spaghetti? Take up arms themselves?
> What should Livingstone be doing?
> What we must surely be doing is to find points of contact with people
> entering
> struggle and help solidify and massify struggles and give them focus and
> politically educate the participants, and be educated BY them (at the
> they are educating us, mostly). History is full of contradiction.
> Bourgeois renewal in Ireland has made a modern (postmodern) secular
> out of what even 30 years ago was still an obscurantist backwater, the
> Catholic province in Europe apart from Poland, run by the Church
> and full of clerical reaction.
> Irish young people I meet are mostly very glad of the
> modernisation process that has swept over Ireland since its immersion in
> Euroland. Their per capita incomes exceed Ulster's. I think they exceed
> Britain's Nowadays the obscurantism is all north of the border, and the
> Unionists themselves know it and bitterly rue their fate; meanwhile a
> IRA Chief of Staff is Education Minister in the Ulster Assembly and a
> regular visitor both in Washington and at No 10. In 1975 such things would
> have seemed science fiction; but you dismiss it as a 'vogue' etc. It is
> than that. The entire terms of the struggle have completely changed. The
> struggle over the Six Counties has to be seen in the larger context of the
> dissolution of national forms and the subordination of the national
> enterprise, histporically speaking, into larger global process, in the
> courses of which nation-states are subsumed into larger regional wholes
> state power overdetermined by the very supranational institutes of power
> (WTO etc) which HAVE become the locus of oposition and struggle. Is it
> anything other than INEVITABLE that the 'peace process' should have taken
> the form it has, and given that is the case, why should bourgeois renewal
> Ireland go the route of (18th century) Westminster-style parliamentary
> democracy and not of more 'modern' European states, with their
> consensus-speaking, PR-based governments and roundhouse assemblies? What
> kind of Canute like act of defiance of historical processes did you expect
> from Sinn Fein, for example?
> We have to start from where we are. I know of certain fools who miss the
> 'Ra and blather fondly on about the 'Real IRA', 'Continuity IRA' etc. They
> long for bombs. They are the obscurantists. They yearn for the
> vicarious excitement of harbouring Irish folks
> and daubing graffiti and posing as Irish nationalists at one remove (not
> 'Dining for Ireland' but 'Drinking for Ireland', while listening to the
> Dubliners at North London socials).Marxists above all must have no truck
> with that kind of nonsense;
> we are not terrorists. It would be simply to mock  both contemporary,
> hopeful, Irish realities, and of the horrific events and desperate
> of the past, not to acknowledge and base ourselves on the given facts of
> bourgeois renewal.
> Anyway, there is no connection whatever between Irish realities and the
> accession to power of a new London mayor. If I lived in Ireland and had to
> raise a family there, then I would support Adams, Blair, the process of
> 'conflict-resolution' and consensus seeking. What would you do? This has
> nothing whatever to do with World Revolution, and Ireland will never be
> Paris Commune, let alone the USSR. But struggling against WTO, against
> terminator-seed technology, against the Narmada dams, against the
> order, and doing so right here in London, and getting elected to high
> in the process: that is important. Whether or not Ken is an opportunist,
> rat, chauvinist etc, is less important than how he got where he is. He got
> where he is because around a million mostly young people and
> more workers, women and blacks, believe passionately in something
> and are even surprised to find their oh-so-cynical selves believing
> beyond everyday solipsism. And what they, inchoately, but sincerely,
> in, (if you talk to them)
> are the kinds of things that in disparate, inarticulate, fudged and
> sometimes scary ways, Ken also believes in: that capitalism is bad, that
> kills more people than Hitler; that brotherly love must be inculcated in
> police, and other impossible dreams; that life can be better if we walk
> streets together and reclaim them together; that London is beautiful
> of its 7 million mostly proletarian people, not despite them, and because
> its storied, colourful history which is the history of those people (the
> first black communities in England were in London in the 17th century
> (Africans) and Liverpool 200 years later (Polynesians)).
> Ken is a populist, not a revolutionary. A Father Gapon, not a Stalin. We
> must work with him and breathe a strong wind into his sails because
> us he is completely isolated; this is his strength, and ours.
> Mark Jones

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