Phil Profile picture
14 Oct, 16 tweets, 3 min read
He's going full Italian Communist Party. You never go full Italian Communist Party.

I mean, did it work for them? It did not. [gestures at last 40 years of Italian politics]
The PCI, bless their Togliattian hearts, spent decades wagging a stern finger at the Christian Democrats and warning them that they had better shape up and get a grip, or somebody more responsible - with more of a "sense of the state" - would have to take over.

Did it work? No.
It didn't work, for three reasons. Firstly, Italy had PR, meaning that no party would ever get an electoral majority alone. This wasn't a major problem for the Christian Democrats, who surrounded themselves with more or less likeminded satellite parties
...but it was a huge problem for any party running on a platform of "kick the bums out (and let someone more responsible take over, such as e.g. us)". At first they hoped to take power through an alliance with the Socialists, but the PSI fell into the DC orbit and that was that.
Admittedly we don't have PR here and a Labour majority is a(n increasingly theoretical) possibility, but we do have the worst media in the world; any party that wants to kick the govt out will need to build up a good head of oppositional steam (and *not* just wag a stern finger).
The second lesson from Italy is this nasty little open secret, summed up for the ages by Leonardo Sciascia in his book on Aldo Moro's assassination (strongly recommended btw).
People voted for DC - and people voted for Trump's Republican Party, and people vote for the Tories now - not *despite* the fact that those parties evidently didn't give a shit about good government, but *because* of it. Good government's worthy and boring, plus it costs money.
So there are two reasons why the current leadership of my party is on a hiding to nothing: the waggy finger of responsible government basically isn't all that popular, and even if it were it would never raise a big enough movement to overcome the UK's many obstacles to democracy.
The third lesson from Italy is more speculative but even more baleful. The very worst thing that could happen to Starmer's strategy is what happened to Enrico Berlinguer's strategy: it started to work.
The Christian Democrats weren't moral - in their prime they could give the emperor Tiberius a run for his money on the corrupt self-indulgence front - but neither were they stupid. They saw that they could prop up their government, in bad economic times, by calling on the PCI.
You won't have heard about that time when a Christian Democrat-Communist coalition gradually gave way to the irreversible and historically inevitable hegemony of Italian workers organically led by the PCI, for the simple reason that it never happened.
But Berlinguer and his advisors thought it was happening - or that it was about to start happening - or that they were on course to reach a stage where it would eventually start happening - and the Christian Democrats (led by Aldo Moro!) were only too happy to string them along.
Semi-detached Communist support got the DC government through the recession of the late 70s - and, more to the point, through an extremely frisky period in working-class self-activity, industrial and otherwise.
The PCI eventually decided they'd been had and returned to full opposition, but by that time they'd served their purpose. The PCI vote peaked in 1976 - before the period of collaboration - and never recovered.
If you think the Conservative Party is too principled, or too firmly attached to a particular ideological agenda, to pull a similar stunt on Labour if the need arose, all I can say is "Welcome to Earth. I hope you enjoy your stay."
As for what Starmer (and his advisors) are up to, I'm a bit puzzled. It has to be convergent evolution, surely. I mean, the strategy really is straight out of the PCI playbook, but they can't have looked at that history and thought "aah, but it'll work for *us*!". Can they?

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More from @DrSchwitters

13 Oct
Bog knows how Twitter does its thing, but I'm guessing that Muh Followers don't see every pearl of wisdom I deposit* on here in reply threads, even where the people I'm replying to aren't locked.

*alternative verbs I tried were even worse
So here's a thing I just said.

Many different solidarity / protest campaigns are focused on one country in particular, and that doesn't make them any less legitimate. The answer to "why campaign against Israel in particular?" is "why not?".
People opposing BDS start from the assumption that campaigning against Israel *needs justification* - which in practice means they can declare it unjustified if you don't pass whatever test they impose.

Meanwhile the BDS campaign continues to exist and deserve support.
Read 4 tweets
12 Oct
If advocating a boycott of the world's only Jewish state is a bad thing - or "looks bad" or "raises embarrassing questions" or "puts you in an awkward position" or whatever - where does that leave us?
I'm not an expert in the history of Zionism, but I'm not aware that anyone's ever advocated the establishment of more than one Jewish state. So Israel is going to remain "the world's only Jewish state" for the foreseeable future.
If that makes it problematic with regard to boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaigns, we're left with three possible positions.
Read 12 tweets
14 Jun
The leaked report was very good on this. People at Head Office were furious that he'd said it, but also genuinely convinced it was the wrong thing to say *tactically*, & that it would send our polling into reverse.
Then, rather than revising their conviction that Corbyn's anti-imperialism was an electoral liability, they spent the next two years making sure that it was - mostly, of course, by turning it into something that it wasn't.
(Specifically, turning a position of open solidarity with a group of people a long way away into one of concealed hostility towards some British citizens.)
Read 4 tweets
14 Jun
Just punted this out in another context & thought it might be worth running past my legions of followers...

Three rules of liberal individualism.

1. Freely chosen actions that don't hurt anyone else cannot be criticised.

(Obviously! Who's to say what's a 'bad' choice?)
2: A free choice is any choice which someone claims to have made freely.

(Obviously! What other evidence can you possibly have? Are you saying people don't know what they're doing? Or does this only apply to *those* people, hmm?)
3: Any free choice is assumed to be a free choice for everyone.

(Obviously! If A and B are working side by side, and A says they took the job freely, that establishes that the job *could* be taken freely - regardless of what B says.)
Read 9 tweets
13 Jun
Me, I knew exactly what I wanted to do in life when I was 16. Unfortunately, by the time I got through university I was convinced I wasn't good enough to do it (or possibly that it wasn't good enough for me and I should get a Proper Job), so I only started doing it when I was 44.
Kids! Don't do that.
All's well, sort of - I mean, I'm doing it now; it is the job that I do - but I do wonder how much more comfortably & effectively & successfully I'd be doing it if I'd set about it a few years earlier.
Read 5 tweets
13 Jun
If you take this seriously (i.e. with pedantic literalism) it becomes more coherent rather than less so, & for that matter more alarming rather than less so.
"Values and why people hold them", not just "facts".

But this means that the "why" part in turn can't (entirely) be based on "facts" - in other words, he's implicitly calling for "values" plus *value-based* explanations of why people hold them.
In other words, Blond sees "values" rather than "facts" as the currency of the Rortyan "final explanation", the place where justifications run out.
Read 4 tweets

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