WHY IS THERE A NEED FOR AN UPDATED PHILOSOPHY FOR THE ESTABLISHED POLITICAL PARTIES?
• If the enthusiasm and loyalty of members is to be maintained in working for the movement, this is best secured through the sound development of a structured belief system.
• Whilst it is acknowledged that spin-doctoring may sometimes be desirable on the level of Realpolitik, the downside is that it has led to deep cynicism throughout the general population.
• Great numbers of young people are needed as activists by all political parties, but the best will only be attracted by an environment of integrity and commitment, and this is only achievable through a coherent philosophy for any movement.
• Social and technological change has moved ahead at a rate faster than the mind-set of the established parties in adapting to changed circumstances, and this has led to their theoretical and practical failure.
• Exaggerated spin-doctoring, and the ridicule and cynicism stemming from this, is the unhappy result of political parties’ loss of vision and principle.
• Political integrity is only facilitated through a systematic critique of social ills in conjunction with a constructive philosophy for their resolution.
• If the failures of the past are to be avoided, a business philosophy is necessary, if the dynamics of wealth creation are to be appreciated alongside the need for equitable re-distribution.
• The magnitude and urgency of environmental problems, as already perceived by great numbers of thinking people, calls for a transformation in the approach to political thinking and the re-ordering of priorities.
• The worldwide growth of pragmatism without principle, and the widening rift between centralised power and that of elected representatives, is a threat to both democracy and all established parliamentary groups.
• The unaccountable might of financial and global forces can only be countered by the organised strength of an intellectually reinvigorated systematic Social Capitalism.
• The transformation of society over the past 60 years calls also for the transformation of the image and presentation of political doctrines to the new classless individualistic middle-middle majority.
• The principles of Social Capitalism must be sufficiently inclusive to retain the traditional loyalty of members to the established parties, and this is only practicable through demonstrating the logical evolution of parties towards the universal need for Social Capitalism.
• In safeguarding their credibility with the majority, all parties need to repudiate class war in favour of a war against unjust financial systems and the tyranny of rentier capitalism.
• Social Capitalism must appeal to the social conscience of all, irrespective of economic status or function, for the creation of an equitable and just world.
Social Capitalism which repudiates the left/right divide in political life but nonetheless accepts the continuing existence of established parties in the medium term wishes to assist them – irrespective of where they may be placed within the left/right spectrum – in updating their general philosophy in bringing them closer to the electorate.
The following is constructive advice offered to the Labour party, although on many points, it may just as well be applied to any other party –
If disillusion and apathy are to be fought effectively then measures must be looked to from the grass roots rather than from the leadership. The party leadership, which is the government in power, has neither the time nor the inclination to become involved seriously in formulating or adapting those underlying principles which draw and ensure the loyalty of a mass movement. This is because government has its nose pressed too closely to the hard practicalities of day-to-day administration with all its messy compromise and half-truths, to stand back and appreciate the broader picture of ends to be achieved, and how those ends may best be presented to a wider public.
But there is an even greater factor which hinders trust in the party. This is the party leadership’s concentration on the presentation of bare policy bereft of underlying rationale or ethical purpose. Policy presented in such a way becomes inescapably dependent on spin-doctoring in presenting its purpose and this soon generates cynicism and repugnance amongst the more thoughtful and keener members of the party.
The consequence of this approach is that the party expends more on the production of expensively-produced publicity than at any time before. The happy faces and success stories and the glossy paper is just a turn-off to many intelligent or sensitive members of the party, quite simply because it becomes an imposition on the credulity of the better informed and an insult to their considered judgement.
What the party member really wants – and certainly the activist who sits on committees, or knocks on doors at election times, is to feel a participator in a great movement. He or she wants the opportunity to use his judgement and feel appreciated as something more than a mere automaton, and this is only achievable if members are asked to think and form and agree on opinions on underlying issues or values which underpin policy rather than necessarily embodying policy itself.
We must look to a Labour party in the future which is able to attract a constituency very much larger than hitherto. But this is dependent on several factors. Firstly, the party must succeed in changing its image as relevant to the interests of most across the spectrum of society, and eradicate the last vestiges of its being a class-based movement often seeming to exploit an underdog resentment.
Secondly, and of more importance, the party must reformulate its principles – and the only adjective for those must be Social Capitalist principles – in view of the transformation of society and the world of work over the past 60 years. The Labour party and socialism worldwide has become discredited primarily through its failure to update thinking or doctrine in alignment with new realities. That is, the individualistic, heterogeneous, go-getting, classless middle-middle majority, with all the calls on its responsibilities and qualifications, cannot be expected to appreciate the image of the cloth-cap collectivism of the 1950s.
Social Capitalism, as examined in depth in the 4 ground-breaking source books embodying its philosophy, entails an analysis of the following:-
1 – A critique of contemporary Rentier capitalism as to how this adversely affects the interests of majorities everywhere, as contrasted with earlier forms of capitalism entailing a struggle on class lines. The radical struggles of the future will be concentrated on fighting the gigantism of financial-industrial systems which do not easily lend themselves to clear-cut class divisions.
2 – A radical pro-business ethos which differentiates between the malign and benign aspects of capitalism, and promotes the latter. This would attract all grades of business people at plant level into the Social Capitalist movement in a struggle against the short-termism and de-industrialising threats of corporate capitalism – a struggle which already exists but has not yet been politicised. Gordon Brown’s recent call to the 4 big clearing banks would be part of this struggle.
3 – The principles of fairness defined clearly as they apply to the conditions of life as well as to ordinary legislation. This would entail a psychological consideration of humankind as a dialectic, replacing the abstruse and discredited economic theories of socialism, e.g. the dated implications of the labour value theory.
4 – The above would facilitate a Social-ism giving as much weight to liberty as to equality, as well as ensuring minimum levels of standards for the poor and less-abled in the community.
5 – Any political movement, if there is cohesion amongst its members, and if it is to inspire action towards given ends, must be bound by the principles of a belief system, against which truth and the achievement of those ends may be assessed.
6 – Cynics argue that we now live in an age which is so self-centred that joining an association of any kind – political, sporting, cultural or other – no longer has the pull which it once did. This argument may be dismissed on the grounds that many single issue causes maintain huge and intensely felt support. Again, the answer is to be found in the formulation of appropriate principles for renewed parties in conjunction with Social Capitalism.
7 – The current “pragmatic” or “management” approach to political issues is self-defeating – and this is demonstrated on an almost daily basis – since underlying social problems tend to be compounded rather than resolved, and this perhaps is the primary argument on the need for a Social Capitalist philosophy. Note the cut-backs on education and the NHS and how this correlates with conflict between public sector workers and the government.
8 – If a single or primary principle for Social Capitalism is to be identified, it would be the need to maximise the direct as contrasted with the representational power of the individual within the community, in terms of both management and ownership, but such a democratic society can only be achieved through maintaining high educational standards for the majority.
The new activists of all parties must be those who are motivated by a social conscience as well as intellectual conviction, rather than as in the past, by class conflict or resentment. All parties and Social Capitalism can only hope to flourish if they are promoted by the disinterested and sound values of those prepared to apply ethical criteria to political decision-making.