Cold comfort: this is not our defeat

Obviously, I’m not feeling great this morning. But I also think I’m feeling better than a lot of my friends, so I wanted to take a moment to think about why that is. Some of it is just that I was never that invested in the possibility of a Labour win in the first place – over the last few days, great pieces from the excellent Johnny Void and Kate Belgrave have summed up a lot of the reasons why I didn’t hope for much from Labour.

But I think there’s something more than that: ultimately, I don’t think that our defeat is something that happened last night. Looking at the big picture, our defeat, our lack of power over our own lives, is something that’s been happening for centuries, something that’s recreated every time we get up and go to work and make money for our bosses, every time we sign on and accept the DWP’s authority over us at the jobcentres. Even in the short-to-medium term, our defeat can only be meaningfully understood as something that’s been going on for decades: the destruction of the old forms of collective organisation, the total inadequacy of the attempts at creating new ones.

I don’t think our defeat lies in the fact that, on the 7th of May 2015, the Labour Party didn’t manage to get enough votes to form a government. I think that it’s more meaningful to understand our defeat as lying in the fact that this election took place in a context where, in large parts of the country, pissed-off ex-Labour voters found that voting UKIP was the most meaningful anti-establishment alternative open to them. We can argue about what form it would be best for an alternative to take, and what its relationship to the electoral process would be, but what’s unarguable is that that alternative does not meaningfully exist right now.

So, yes, we’re fucked this morning, but we were always in a situation where the best we could hope for was to be very very slightly less fucked than we are right now. The fact that we didn’t get the least worst outcome is a shame, but it’s not a tragedy, certainly not when compared to the tragedy of being brought so low that choosing between Tory austerity and Labour austerity feels like a meaningful decision. (By the way, I wonder whether Rachel Reeves is starting to regret telling the millions of British voters who’re on benefits that Labour doesn’t want to represent them yet?)

We’re in trouble. We’ve got a fight on our hands, and it won’t be an easy one. If Labour had won, we’d still be in trouble. We’d still have a fight on our hands, and it still wouldn’t be an easy one. Go back to your everyday lives, and prepare for struggle. Still, having said all that, this is also true:

(edit: fixed the formatting, belatedly, now that the vast majority of people who’ll have seen this have already seen it. No idea where the line breaks went to, but that’s the danger of writing things in rush I suppose.)

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About nothingiseverlost

"The impulse to fight against work and management is immediately collective. As we fight against the conditions of our own lives, we see that other people are doing the same. To get anywhere we have to fight side by side. We begin to break down the divisions between us and prejudices, hierarchies, and nationalisms begin to be undermined. As we build trust and solidarity, we grow more daring and combative. More becomes possible. We get more organized, more confident, more disruptive and more powerful."
This entry was posted in Bit more thinky, Labour, Stuff that I don't think is very useful, The left, Tories and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Cold comfort: this is not our defeat

  1. Clootie says:

    Hindsight is so useful. I would have been impressed if this article had been written as a forecast 3 months ago.

  2. Pingback: Cold comfort: this is not our defeat | Infantile Disorder

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