Reinventing Democratic Socialism

And the end of class based politics

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Robert Corfe
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About The Book

The second of four ground-breaking books on the philosophy of New Socialism by Robert Corfe, the most significant contemporary writer on the problems of Socialism and the way ahead for its future.

The catastrophic membership collapse of the Labour Party is symptomatic of deep-seated ills which go far beyond the trite explanation putting blame on the apathy of the electorate. Old Socialism was morally and intellectually bankrupt far before the dawn of the new millennium – carrying seeds of authoritarianism which were unacceptable to the new middle-middle majorities in the industrialized economies. Socialism can only be reconstructed by appreciating the consequences of the immense changes in society over the past 60 years, and not (as is too often attempted) by naval gazing at the successes of the distant past and regurgitating discredited policies and thinking. The incestuous inward-looking approach of the left establishment is not only condemning Socialism to further decline but is actually undermining democracy in the process. In these books Corfe calls on the need to engage the minds of the so-called silent majority, who have virtually been excluded from the field of party politics through disillusion, and what they see as the irrelevance of the issues of most interest to elected politicians. Corfe argues against the idea that the ordinary men and women of today are intrinsically politically “apathetic” – a contention which is strongly contradicted by the success of single issue causes. But single issues causes are no proper alternative for a democratic political system which embraces the whole community and attempts to integrate problems in their totality. Politics should be primarily concerned with the resolution of problems from a constructive viewpoint. The failure of Old Socialism stemmed from its emphasis on class struggle and its blind spot with regard to business or social wealth creation – described in these books as the missing “gene” of Socialism. Blairism, as indeed with earlier forms of parliamentary Socialism, meant nothing more nor less than entering into a compact with the worst aspects of rentier and international capitalism, by those with little understanding of its consequences. New Socialism is based on a much sounder understanding of society as we find it today. On the one hand, the mixed-class middle-middle majority, in our tolerant and individualistic society, is just not prepared to entertain any political creed which promotes division or underline class differences. On the other hand, 90% of the population are confronted equally – irrespective of their status in the community – by threats from a malign form of capitalism taking away their jobs, welfare rights, pension prospects, and financial assets. But this problem cannot be resolved through class struggle, since there are no longer (as in a former era) clear economic and cultural class divides useful for political differentiation. New Socialism is therefore reliant on fighting an economic system managed by those who defy any clear definition. In such a scenario Corfe demonstrates that New Socialism can be no less effective in its fight for justice and equity than in any earlier epoch.

If a single thread may be said to run through this book, then it is the call for people power within the framework of a well-informed and responsible society. The breadth of the author’s vision in looking towards the future, and in grasping the realities of the present together with the essential tenets of Socialism, mark this as probably one of the most significant studies of its kind for over a hundred years.

The author not only has the candour to pin-point the theoretical and practical faults of Socialism in the past, but he identifies the basic values of Socialism as these may be incorporated and accepted within the individualistic and consumerist society of today. Perhaps of most interest are those chapters on the missing “gene” of Socialism, i.e. its inability to nurture successfully a business culture. This omission is corrected through an in-depth study of contemporary capitalism resulting in the formulation of Socialist business values which at the same time promote industrial efficiency and greater social justice. The wide-ranging knowledge of the author, and the passion of the writing, make this truly a book for the New Millennium.