How The Establishment Lost Control
by Chris Nineham
(Zero Books, £9.99)
THIS is an accurate, succinct and timely analysis of the extraordinary contemporary opportunities for, and threats to, the British working class.
Chris Nineham, a longstanding activist on the front line of the class struggle, has written a useful manual for those who, hard-pressed, are involved in the parliamentary, industrial and mass movement conflicts against the capitalist class.
In his exploration of the origins in the 1970s of what we now term neoliberalism, he outlines the advances made since then by the capitalist class, achieved through the unequal battle between the state, big business and corporate media on the one hand and the lack of ideological and practical solidarity shown by most Labour and trade union leaders on the other, until now.
Nineham’s only significant omission is to ignore the devastating impact on workers’ movements around the globe by the betrayal and destruction of the Soviet Union in 1991.
By contrast, he provides a thorough demonstration of how the majority of the British people have always been more collectivist and egalitarian than whichever party has formed our governments.
From this etiolated but still living heritage, Nineham documents the growing protest movements against unbridled capitalist exploitation, growing income disparities and environmental degradation from the Occupy movement onwards.
He makes the utterly vital and correct point that, although each of these campaigns may have not always ended in victory, those participating in such mass resistance have both learnt from and been emboldened by such experiences in readiness for the next struggle.
Socialist theory is being rebuilt on recent working-class struggles and Nineham shows that the sum of these reactive encounters have now agglomerated and reached a tipping point.
“Once the cycle of resistance has begun, the experience of mass struggle can clarify more quickly and comprehensively than anything else the hostile nature of the institutions of capitalist society,” he writes.
Effectively employing texts from, among others, Chomsky, Gramsci and Marx, this book shows that the mass movement building around and through the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn is far from an aberration. It is the inevitable consequence of the contradictions being worked out in a system that creates unprecedented wealth and power for the few and fear and insecurity for the many.
In spite of the questionably over-optimistic title — the deep establishment of big business and the financial markets haven’t yet lifted their palsied hands from our throats — Nineham shows that socialists must fully align themselves with all opposition to the capitalist class and must be at its heart.
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