The deeply embedded discontentment in the collective unconscious of British culture is plainly palpable in all aspects of life in this country. While this may be indicative of a latent desire among its people to escape the miserable existence this state engenders, it also appears commonly accepted that all potential exit routes are littered with multitudes of insurmountable barricades. Such a political paralysis is compounded by the failures and defeats of leftist organising of all kinds in the past half-decade or so.
While the Tories pursue an unceasing project of centralising authoritarianism, extant vehicles of progressive change – the Labour Party, Plaid Cymru and ‘IndyWales’ all included – have each succumbed to their own internal power struggles that have invariably resulted in the concerted diminishment of any meaningful politicisation, and with it the shunning of socialist ideas from public life. With this, the last remaining chance for state-wide transgression appears to have elapsed. Despite 2016–2021 representing a brief – and possibly illusory – reinvigoration, leftist politics appears resigned to retreat to the fragments whence it came.
In such circumstances activists find themselves with no unified guiding principles, nor any mass organisations through to which to express them were they to emerge. Much like society at large, liberals and ‘leftists’ may be cognizant of society’s ills, yet remain utterly incapable of doing anything about it, instead condemning themselves to politically-ineffective ‘subcultures’ that, as Owen Hatherley writes, ‘can at first be invigorating and freeing things to experience, but for the most part they are clubs, not movements.’
Despite the undeniable presence of this discontent permeating society, the capitalist state retains the monopoly on the processes of massing and individuation so crucial for meaningful political mobilisation. People are availed of the means of coming together only when their labour is required: they are doomed to atomisation when it is not.
During the lockdown phases of the pandemic the necessity and value of workers partaking in a ‘common cause’ was readily apparent, yet ultimately this was only to ensure that private profit could be sustained – or, in the case of public sector ‘essential workers’, to ensure that capital’s enabling infrastructure could continue to function.
Even when the pseudo-fellowship of work is not required, people are scattered by the winds of capital so profit can be wrought out of the very basic needs of life, which is devastating for the building of meaningful social connections. Humanity, whose everyday existence and survival is totalised by capital, has little remaining to humanise itself, to bond with peers, and coalesce into true communities through which it can fight to rid itself of all forms of domination.