Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Socialists, Blogging and the election

It was noticeable that when Labour launched their election manifesto, Gordon Brown was introduced by a young blogger who apparently runs a blog called 'the stilettoed socialist'.

She told the gathering how the election would be fought not just through traditional mediums like posters and TV, but via blogs, YouTube and Twitter. "We are asking our supporters not just to have a look at our manifesto but to share it with their friends and we're making it easier than ever to do so."

Quite what the 2010 Labour Party Manifesto (which begins with a foreword from the Great Leader praising a criminal and disastrous illegal military occupation of an impoverished country before declaring 'I love Britain') has to do with socialism remains rather unclear. Indeed, the last time Gordon Brown wrote or said anything about or to do with socialism was probably before 'the stilettoed socialist' or myself were even born - and to be honest, if you ask me Brown's 'socialism' began to go downhill after this early piece from 1975.

I guess maybe one might reconcile one's commitment to socialism with the Labour Party Manifesto of 2010, if by socialism one actually means 'saving capitalism from itself'. In which case it is possible that what is exciting about the Labour Manifesto 2010 is less the Manifesto itself but simply the act of 'sharing' the manifesto with friends through social networking sites and blogs simply because sharing is vaguely socialistic in some sense...

But more importantly, the launch of the new 'easy to share online' Manifesto raises the question of how important the internet actually is to political organising and campaigning in the modern world. Some erstwhile socialists have argued that in the 21st century the simple rule should be 'Newspapers out, websites in'. As someone who has been kind of making a vague pretence of running a socialist blog over five years or so, I think it is worth quoting a piece by Jonny Jones in this weeks Socialist Worker, who argues against this.* Jonny notes that 'the internet can be a great tool for activists — but it is worse than useless if people start to believe it can be a replacement for real members and work on the ground'. It's a slightly provocative point, but one that I fully concur with.**

* For the classic defence of 'the revolutionary paper', see The Revolutionary Press by Chris Harman.

**But then again, what do I know? I mean, I hadn't even heard of 'the stilettoed socialist' until earlier this week and her exciting blog has been busy sharing all the tons of good and exciting news about New Labour since as far back as 2008...how on earth could I have missed it before now?

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