[Marxism] The age of the ideological struggle is upon us even in OZ

Gary MacLennan gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Tue Oct 4 18:08:24 MDT 2016

Stuart Hall once complained that the Right of the Labour Party were unable
to wage an ideological struggle against Thatcherism.  The only ideological
struggle they could wage, seemingly, was against the Left within the Party.
In the UK, this has been played out around Corbyn. There old time Rightists
like Roy Hattersley and Tom Watson and Old Soft Leftists like Lord Kinnock
have wakened up from their dogmatic slumbers to once more join battle with
the Red Hoards that were infesting "their" party.

The underlying assumption that the Old Right and the Soft Left shared with
the Blairites is that one could only wage an ideological struggle against
the Left.  In every other instance one sat down with a focus group and
found out what the common sense of the day was and tailored one's wares
accordingly. The voter was now no longer a citizen but a customer and
therefore was always right.

That would appear to be at least one dimension of the notion of
unelectability. Focus groups told one what was electable and that was that.
In political terms this could be characterized as appealing to the Centre.

The Corbyn team's approach is to reject this approach and instead to form
the party into a movement which will wage an ideological struggle against
the Right. I cannot recall when such a maneuver was last undertaken
-probably 1945.

Here in Australia. the Labor Party hesitates to go for the ideological
struggle against the Right.  But curiously the Right have no such qualms.
A movement is gathering around the figure of the former Prime Minister Tony
Abbott. It is focused on pushing austerity and uses metaphors like
repairing the Budget.  So it is pure neoliberal orthodoxy.  This is being
combined at the same time with an offensive against social liberals values
around sex education in schools, gay marriage  and welfare. All combined
with a crusade against Islam and immigration. The clash of civilizations is
back on stage with warmed up Hayekian nostrums forming the back drop.

Commentators in the Centre are aghast.   For them the return of Abbott is
unthinkable. Just ask any focus group.  But they are not taking into
account the move onto the terrain of struggle that the Right are taking. As
the economic crisis deepens, the ground is becoming more fertile for right
wing hysteria. And Abbott can do hysteria like no one else.

In the mean time the centrist Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is patently
under siege. He is totally unprepared for the move to the Right that his
party is taking especially in New South Wales. He cannot express, never
mind enact, his progressive views on gay marriage, Australia becoming a
republic or climate change. As Australia polarizes, he is left even more
isolated.  The narrative that he is a disappointment is becoming more and
more accepted and accordingly his popularity is plummeting in the polls.

Meanwhile inside the Labor Party, the leader Bill Shorten, though he is
from the Right of the Labor Party,  has skillfully exposed and taunted
Turnbull as a prisoner of the Far Right on social and environmental issues.
He is also ever so cautiously beginning to move his party away from
neoliberal economics. So the Labor Party would appear to be picking up the
ideological cudgels, or at least thinking of doing so.

But first we will have to watch in horror as the centre right is out
maneuvered and the far Right takes over the Liberal Party.



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