Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Absurdity of The Kilburn Manifesto

Elites are using the crisis of global capital to reassert power. But this is no time for retreat. Our manifesto outlines the alternative

When i read that I though-at last a Kilburn Manifesto, a positive programme of point by point proposals for a workable and pragmatic alternative to the social and economic mess Britain is in. That short lived optimism did not survive the useless article itself which simply harks back to "Red Ken" and whole load of obsolete trend Marxoid nostrums.

Then it should be  realised it was written by Stuart Hall.

Britain needs a credible opposition. Not just carp about what has gone wrong. Increasing numbers of Britons know that. So what positive reforms did the "Kilburn Manifesto" outline ? The answer is absolutely nothing. It's the dead husks of the 1980s left, stimulated into action by the death of Margaret Thatcher.
Yet there has been no rupture in the system or its governing ideology. Indeed, elites have used the crisis in Europe and north America to advance the neoliberal project, as unrelenting attacks on living standards, the NHS and the welfare state in Britain show.
No mention of alternatives. No mention of what could be done. Every reasonably educated individual knows something is wrong. They know what "shock therapy means". Where is the potential alternative. What was even mentioned on the Kilburn Manifesto?Nothing but sociological waffle about neoliberalism far better understood by conservatives such as John Gray.
Outside party politics new social movements, including environmental, anti-cuts and feminist groups, have not come together sufficiently with the old, defensive organisations of the working class to produce the coalition that might make them an effective political force
True enough. Identity politics is divisive and narcissistic.Yet the GLC and "Red Ken" , supported by Stuart Hall, thrives on identity politics.
Yet there are indications of how such a compromise might work, for example in the short era of Ken Livingstone's GLC and the radical experiments under way in Latin America.
On the contrary, it was the lunatic left under "Red Ken" in the 1980s that put on a plate millions of votes to the Thatcher government. The sooner the anti-neoliberal groups realise one reason Thatcher won was the appalling nature of the opposition parties,it might be the better. Even better would be these relicts to simply be reduced to irrelevance.

Thatcher has gone. Thatcherism remains. Unless sane and workable alternatives are thought out the opposition is quite simply doomed no less than Britain has a nasty future ahead of it.If any manifesto is to be outlined it must be brave enough to outline concrete proposals and not the embittered guff of the losers of the 1980s.
This is no time for simple retreat. What is required is a renewed sense of being on the side of the future, not stuck in the dugouts of the past. We must admit that the old forms of the welfare state proved insufficient. But we must stubbornly defend the principles on which it was founded
Fine. What are the reform proposals then? From the Diggers, to the Levellers and the Chartists, English radicalism put along side its criticism of the iniquity of the present system, real reform idea, debated and discussed. There is no evidence of any of that here.Just a promise of a working towards a manifesto. If the puff piece is as wretched as the manifesto, it will amount to nothing.

In fact the Kilburn Manifesto isn't even a manifesto.

From the Soundings website. It's all the 1980s lunatic left trying to get back in on the act again. They failed the first time. They have learnt nothing and will fail again. Can we just clear the stables of these relicts of the 1980s hard left from positions of influence. The rest is simply hilarious ! It has nothing constructive nor is any of it's analysis unique
Although the neoliberal economic settlement is unravelling, its political underpinning remains largely unchallenged. Our manifesto calls into question the neoliberal order itself, and argues that we need radical alternatives to its foundational assumptions.
No, a manifesto outlines new policies, viable potential policies. That is what a manifesto is for beyond spouting ideological cliche opinions.
After Neoliberalism: The Kilburn Manifesto
The manifesto will be published in instalments over the next 12 months.
Chapter 1 Framing statement
After neoliberalism: analysing the present
Stuart Hall, Doreen Massey, Michael Rustin
Next instalments
Doreen Massey Vocabularies of the economy (May)
Michael Rustin Relational welfare (June)
Stuart Hall and Alan O'Shea Neoliberal common sense (July)
Beatrix Campbell Feminism and the new patriarchy (August)
Ben Little Generational politics (September)
Few would support such former GLC relicts. They lack any sort of appeal. If good people ignore the very serious situation of wrought by unrestrained greed, the dominance of the City and neoliberal dogma, then then the cranks are going to slip into potential prominence again. And nothing could be better for the current doctrinaire fanatics in power in 2013 pushing austerity.

If you have a manifesto is must be launched not over the next 12 months. Hall should have stated "we are working on a manifesto". But he didn't say that did he? He just pompously declared he had one.
And nobody is going to take a blind bit of notice of somebody such as Beatrix Campbell warbling on about patriarchy ( she supported the IRA ).

They just won't.


  1. Actually I think Stuart Hall is a brilliant thinker and was very excited to hear about the manifesto. I too thought it was a bit odd that it is being launched in instalments but wondered if this might be a tactic to maintain interest and prompt more debate than if it were launched all it one go.
    Its being launched tonight -I dont know whats in it yet so its a bit early to judge it and I wouldn't like to do this on the back of a short report in the Guardian

  2. Thanks for the response Paul. I'm not so impressed by Stuart Hall ( as is evident ). I think ,maybe, the initiative lauched by Mr Whittam Smith will be far more appealing. I'm just concerned that out PR savvy spinmeisters in the narrow political and media circles that dominate British politics will be able to portray ALL those wanting reform of the political and economic system are just a bunch of "loony left losers". And the GLC is no model. The other is Chavez's populist socialism in Venezuela.Espousing that outside Kilburn or Islangton will not gain popular support.