We are living in revolutionary times. This is a time when our rulers have a vision of bringing about a new society by creating new governing elites, norms and ways of doing things. How do we recognise it? Well history can guide us. In Parlamentary democracies it is well-nigh impossible to gain a majority at the polls for revolutionary change. However, determined minorities can get their own way. A disaster of some kind is a necessary pre-condition, a long and costly foreign war, an economic slump, a long rule by some other party or faction. Parties with revolutionary intent rarely achieve a majority: neither the Bolsheviks or the Nazi party could secure one. The secret here is to discredit your opponents with half-truths and lies, tell the electorate everything they wish to hear without regard to the consequences, and to gain the support of a quiescent or supporting media. It helps if you have ‘foreign cash’. And above all you need to be ruthless. But not even all that will get you to the starting grid. You need the support of minority parties and interests and you must buy it with promises and positions. Then you are ready to go.
I can hear the voices of disagreement Come off it, it might be said. A Revolution , yes, but isn’t it time for one? Well is it ever the time for one in a mature democracy, so to speak? Do we not expect to inch towards greater equality of outcome; must not every age define social justice for itself. Is the process not continuous? If it comes to history, it has to be admitted that we social democrats cannot record many successes in opposition to revolutionary movements. Who remembers the Mensheviks, or the German and Austrian Social Democrats who gallantly fought Nazism to the end – their own demise and incarceration? And add to this the opposition of Labour under Michael Foot and the images of Scargill on NUM pickets and we have a sorry record of failure.
We must rely on the Labour Party. Will Labour have the insight to elect a leadership, divine an alternative vision of the future and find the guts to oppose – the first duty of a Parliamentary Opposition. Don’t lose your breath. We don’t know, we can’t say and some time will pass before Labour can be expected to put together an alternative social democratic platform. History has things to tell us about successful opposition to determined minorites and hopefully the new leader, whoever he is, knows something of it. For the opponents of right-wing reactionary movements this is a bad moment . But we musn’t hesitate. This is not a time to acquiesce. What did you do in the great war Daddy. Well son, I…Please fill in the gaps.