Who Will Oppose Now?
Are we looking at a clear run in the foreseeable future for the party of the landed gentry, as British politics goes into meltdown and nothing continues to be done about the country’s massive disenfranchisement via first-past-the-post?
If Labour were forged in the nineteenth century expansion of the urban working class, and the Greens were forged in the tumultuous changes of the ‘60s (not to mention a super-blip courtesy the late ‘80s), then what social conditions will be the foundation of the next formal political opposition to the Tories? The Liberal Democrats, despite their long history, are weak and may never rise again, while the Greens are stymied by being ahead of their time and by an electoral system that acts against all minority parties. So it seems everyone except the blue meanies will fail. What social conditions in Britain could make a new opposition?
Of course, the system is set up for a right wing party, or vaguely right wing in the case of New Labour, to succeed. The pomp… the history… the passing centuries… kings and queens… no wonder professional human being Jeremy Corbyn is so out of place. Should we then look to youth? Young voters have made a very favourable impression in recent weeks and months, but – as somebody whose professional life is well within their sphere – I can’t help but worry about the mesmeric, bland, commercialised hypno-rays being broadcast by their millions of smart phones. It’s a cliché to worry about this, maybe; but if so a cliché with more than a kernel of truth. Meanwhile, British education continues to implant some kind of Standard Knowledge into young people without worrying much about the consequences.
I can’t help but wonder if there are no social conditions in the foreseeable future that will galvanise a new political opposition to the Tories. What is different now is globalisation, and its technological adjunct the internet. Is it possible that the monochrome hand of polarisation presently hovering over the Western world is due to the internet? It has after all radically transformed society in the way that, say, Marxism did, or Feminism and the Civil Rights movement, or manufacturing industry. It is everywhere, and nobody could deny that our minds are being changed by it; especially young minds.
The internet allows instant response to everything and it allows everyone an opinion. While this latter is a foundation of democracy and entirely to be welcomed, the former may have the unfortunate side effect of causing polarisation. Immediate yes/no, immediate response, immediate rejection or embracing of opinions, the absence of those periods of time in which all human beings do their thinking, as in normal conversation… because of this, and over the years, the internet perhaps brings about a shift to opposed extremes, with no grey in the middle. I think this social condition may be encouraging political deadlock across the West, sucking away the grey, fostering black and white. A perpetual 50-50.
No obvious, emotionally satisfying, intellectually and ethically rigorous political movement will in my view emerge from this social condition. I don’t foresee a Black & White Party, a Return To Grey, a Party Of Immediate Polls, or an Anti-Instant Response movement. I don’t think the world’s anti-Capitalist movement has much momentum. The positive aspects of the internet are not in the main being translated into society, while its negative aspects frequently are. Although another cliché is to parallel the total lack of control over the internet with the American Wild West, I think this obsession with total internet freedom – a fantasy derived from the particulars of American culture – is responsible for a lot of the malaise the West presently suffers from.
Where, then, to go? How to oppose true blue?