12 Days Remaining

Tuesday 5th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

PURISTS might query whether the support of Russell Brand is likely to propel Ed Miliband to Downing Street. The comedian has had a mixed response from the left since deciding to make the anti-austerity cause his own.

Some have made justifiable criticisms of his past behaviour. Others questions whether a rich man like Brand can be a legitimate voice of the dispossessed. 

Politically, his previous "don't vote, they're all the same" stance was attacked as self-indulgent and naive. 

Wariness of celebrity endorsement is natural.

John Lennon imaginging a world with no possessions did not spark a socialist revolution. Change comes through ordinary working people organising themselves to struggle for a better world day in, day out.

There is no shortcut, and "sod the system" disengagement has seriously hampered efforts to mobilise young working people, many of whom have not experienced the class solidarity that comes with a unionised workforce. 

Nonetheless, the left should welcome voices such as Brand's when they speak out against the yawning inequality that disfigures late capitalist society. 

Too often we are simply preaching to the converted, making the same arguments to the same core of campaigners. This is not a criticism of any left group - the charge could be laid against this newspaper too.

If we are to build the democratic anti-monopoly alliance we need to take on neoliberalism, we need to challenge ruling class ideology.

The first step in that challenge is the recognition that there is something wrong with capitalism.

Not just something wrong with Thatcherism, or something wrong with the Conservative Party.

Liberal papers such as the Guardian or Independent periodically argue that inequality has gone too far, that we need regulation to curb the worst excesses of the financial elite.

Where such approaches fall down is their failure to understand the class division in our society - with a ruling class that sustains itself through the exploitation of the working class - and the nature of capitalism itself.

An ever-greater concentration of wealth at the top and an ever-smaller share for the people whose labour produces it are not anomalies caused by wrong-headed government policy.

They are, as Marx demonstrated nearly 150 years ago in Capital, inevitable consequences of capitalist development.

This is why the Establishment is so panicked by the prospect of a Labour victory, even when what Labour is offering falls far short of socialism.

For 40 years the direction of travel has not been questioned. Socialism has been dismissed as a failed experiment and the market exalted as the repository of all wisdom, personified with desires of its own - "the markets won't like it" - or invoked as a god to overrule the democratic wishes of the people ("the stock market won't tolerate that.")

Even the limited checks on market fundamentalism proposed by Ed Miliband stick in the throat of the ruling class because, like Tony Blair, it "doesn't have a reverse gear."

The accumulation of more and more riches at our expense is what the ruling class does. It can't change course, even when faced with global threats such as climate change.

So it responds to challenges, whether from Miliband or Brand, with hysteria. Brand dares to imagine a society run differently - so he is a fantasist, a childish moron. He must be mocked into irrelevance.

His refusal to let this happen does him credit, as does his recognition that the priority for all working people this Thursday is the defeat of the Conservative Party. 

Brand's own comments show he is no Labour convert, any more than the Star is. The fight against austerity will continue after May 7.

But we will be better placed to wage that war with the Tories out of the way.