. Essay Creating the Future: When Conservatives Become Socialists | Ceasefire Magazine

Essay Creating the Future: When Conservatives Become Socialists

After gaining political power the progressives gradually began to lose it. In the second part of his 'Creating the Future' series on the left, Paul Schloss looks at the reasons why.

Features, New in Ceasefire - Posted on Monday, June 27, 2011 10:00 - 5 Comments

This showdown at the Orgreave Coking Works near Sheffield, a pivotal moment in the 1984-85 miners’ strike.

By Paul Schloss

After 1918 Britain experienced a vast transformation. Between the wars, the country’s economy was massively restructured; moving away from the old export industries of coal, steel and textiles to the lighter industries of consumer production; mostly for the home market.

During this period some members of the Conservative Party were recommending “Socialist theory, namely, the production of essential commodities for use rather than profit.”[1] For, with capitalism breaking down and key British industries in structural decline, efforts were made to resist these changes, which led to calls for greater rationality and planning in the distribution and use of resources.

State intervention, albeit mostly indirect, followed, administering the economy but not running it. This created both the organisational infrastructure, and a climate of opinion, hugely strengthened during the Second World War, that allowed a more radical Labour Party to be elected; its 1945-51 government providing the framework for the post-war settlement that lasted until the mid-1970s.

Radical solutions – whether in the 1830s and 1840s, when the full impact of the Industrial Revolution hit Britain, or in Wales and Scotland in the last decades of the 20th century, when another restructuring of the economy took place, this time allied to a particular form of English nationalism (which reinvigorated the calls for self-rule), all came from resistance to social dislocation, and the perceived injustice of those who benefited excessively from it[2].

This suggests a way forward for the left, but also highlights its failure: it has been too defensive in nature. This has provided the human resources to make radical change; but it has also meant being too satisfied with too little; in Labour’s case accepting the fundamental nature of the British economy and its political institutions. This complacency eventually undermined the party, and the progressive movement generally[3].

The last forty years has been a time of reaction. Four decades where the social gains of a hundred years and more have been rolled back; to a point where the income distribution today is similar to that of just before the First World War, with excessive wealth concentrated within a tiny fraction of the population.

A distribution we must accept, we are told; for determined by the inevitable progress of globalisation it is a natural phenomena outside human control; or so the high priests in the economic and sociology departments would have us believe. It is instructive to remember that every Zeitgeist has its teleological determinism.

In the 1930s some influential Conservatives thought socialism was the way forward. Today the Labour Party thinks laissez-faire economics is the solution to all our ills; the Blair-Brown regime perpetuating, and in large part extending, the existing inequalities, trying only to ameliorate their effects.

New Labour are the temperance campaigners of old who the Chartists so perceptively criticised for avoiding the causes of social injustice. Instead, it embraced them. Peter Mandelson, criticised unduly (we should welcome people who are indiscreet), the most eloquent of its leaders. Blair and his cohort represent the decline of the Labour Party; a decline that is the result of changes to the economy and the culture, and which have many causes; only some are due to politics, defined narrowly by elections and the political establishment.

Chartism extended the political class, bringing it out of the Houses of Parliament and onto the streets; from Manchester to Newport and beyond. They saw politics as something that happened outside the halls of Westminster, though its immediate goals were the latter’s reform. Sixty years later the radicalism of sectors of the British working classes, reacting to the increased competition in world trade, and the pressure on hours and wages, extended the political class even further – into the firms and down the mines. Political manoeuvring in Westminster became less important than political control of the workplace; and is reflected in the ideologies of the time: Syndicalism and Guild Socialism, and workers’ control of the means of production.

This radicalism reached its apogee just after the Great War, a period many regard as the most revolutionary in Britain in the 20th century. It was beaten back by a number of factors, including piecemeal reform. However, its existence helped shape a culture, developed during the interwar years to deal with the decline of the old industries, that after 1945 was ready for social democracy; with its greater equality and social justice.

Yet another example of a short term “failure” – there was the inevitable reaction in the early 1920s – leading to success a generation later, when the society had changed sufficiently to accept at least some of the radicals’ main demands; though enacted in different forms; a persistent pattern.

Success brought sclerosis. The trade unions and the Labour Party having helped create the postwar world were happy to manage it. They were not prepared to change it fundamentally. Both its practices and ideology – and that old defensive mentality of protecting what we have gained – made it conservative, until eventually it appeared old and inflexible. It was ripe for a revolt, which came from both the Far Left and the Radical Right during the 1970s. The latter won, its ideology in absolute dominion two decades later, when the Labour Party surrendered completely; accepting there was no alternative to neo-liberalism and the Washington Consensus.

The strains on the political structures that existed in the 1970s have not gone away. Indeed, the tensions have heightened as a series of minority governments restructured the economy against the wishes of most of the country. New Labour, managing the fallout by spending more on public services, while continuing to support big business and the City, implemented constitutional reform to maintain the political status quo.

We are at the end of an epoch without it being clear what will replace it. A thirty year reform movement reliant on party leaderships to change Britain and make it a constitutional democracy has come to an end. But its legacy is a disintegrating polity that is releasing energy in novel ways (such as the London mayorship, the Human Rights Act, Freedom of Information and, above all, Scotland)

[We need] a new kind of politics. It will include the fight for proportional representation…

The new politics will be driven by networks rather than decided by leaders; has an economics that is motivated by egalitarianism and the quality of life and happiness not maximisation, and is principled and passionate about the human rights of everyone, not least those who seek asylum on our shores. (Anthony Barnett)

This is an excellent diagnosis. Too much faith has been put in the political establishment; its progressive wing too weak to achieve its own very limited ends; in this case a change to the voting system. It also illustrates a problem.

The Liberal Democrats, the main hope of reform (that reference to “thirty years”), arose out of a severe conflict within the Labour Party and the latter’s conversion, after the defeat of the radical left, into a respectable, and thus conformist, institution – by the early 1990s it had ceased to become a movement. The Liberal Democrats may have been intellectually more progressive, but its influence has been limited: none of the most powerful sectors of the society support it; a weakness so clearly exposed in the recent referendum on AV.

This goes against the history of the last two centuries, where political programmes have been allied to strong and influential constituencies, and whose lesson is quite clear: major reform to parliament, while it may be proposed and discussed within the House of Commons, cannot be implemented without outside pressure; whose proposals are often more radical and far reaching than those suggested by the insiders and party intellectuals.

This quotation reflects an illusion, shared by many: the independent power of politicians. It also overlooks something fundamental, and which seems to have been forgotten. The success of the Labour Party in “returning to the centre” meant the purging of radicalism from its ranks. The tensions that had existed within the party, between its competing elements when it was still a “popular front”, had finally been resolved in favour of its elite and election victories.

This made parliament safe for the establishment. Given the trajectory, why expect this same collection of attitudes and individuals to bring in new constitutional arrangements; a prelude to progressive changes in the culture and economy? It is too narrow a focus on politicians and their rhetoric; finally exposed as an illusion after a dismal defeat.

After the illumination, the insight: a new solution has been found! Note how Barnett echoes the old Chartists I quoted previously. The surprise is that it has taken so long for this obvious truth to be recognised. Why?

Jeremy Paxman, in his book on politicians, supplies part of the answer: the parties inhabit a closed world, where the MPs, administrators and the policy advisors all come from the same milieu – politics has become a profession, starting for many in their late teens when they enter university. This doesn’t just apply to the politicians, but also to the commentators and intellectuals who report and analyse the political in-fighting and the media games. They are professionals too. And like all professionals they have become a guild, with its own codes and language, which separates them from the rest of the population, which they don’t, or do not wish, to understand.

That popular front, the merging of industrial and political strategies that was so important to progressive action in the first decades of the 20th century, has been replaced by a small group of specialists. Who are little more than technicians, trying to repair the faults to a system they do not want to overthrow. Activists and critical thinkers have been replaced by policy wonks and academics; people who do not wish to transform society, merely fine-tune it.

This has isolated the political class, moving them closer to corporate power; on whom they increasingly rely. In the process they have been co-opted and corrupted. Popular attitudes reflect these realities, though they might come as a shock to the politicians and the commentariat. The indifference of a majority of the population to voting reform surely reflects a justified cynicism in the motives and effectiveness of our main political parties, too tied to big business and the financial institutions for the good of the country; and where Labour acts like the Conservatives, and the Liberals follow their example, when in office. Why spend resources on changing the technical details to the voting system, just playing with the form of politics, when the content remains the same? It is a hard question to answer; and the electorate’s choice was a rational one.

Specialisation is also reflected in the universities where political thought tends to be separated from its practical implementation. For the most part the academic left live in a different country to the one occupied by the population they wish to represent; speaking a language that is alien and alienating to the working man and woman.

In one world, of the practical politician, we have the technical officers, accepting the general framework of society, only adjusting its details. In the university we have the dreamers and utopians, whose visions have little if no connection with that practical world of politics. This divide is the tragedy of the left; the life and character of Keir Hardie exposes it:

… his ethic was that of… practical action on behalf of specific objectives… At the same time… socialism… was not just a matter of pragmatic calculation, technical planning, or managerial techniques. It meant a different kind of society[4]. (Kenneth O. Morgan, Labour People)

Anthony Barnett’s last paragraph is revealing in another way: it is the idealism of the detached progressive. Although I agree with the sentiments, and would support all the goals that he mentions, I do not think this programme has much chance of appealing to most of the country.

Contemporary culture is too skewed to the right, while people’s own instincts, generally conservative, although often social democratic, would resist, and quite rightly, the utopian strains in the argument. For it doesn’t seem to have any connection with the lives of most people. It is the ideas of a specialist and a professional, and thus odd, and often irritating, to those who do not belong to that profession.

Historically the trade unions, and much of their working class constituency, were sceptical and critical of the middle class intellectuals and socialists who provided the leaders and ideas for the Labour Party. In the 1880s the middle class socialists were actually opposed to the trade unions, seen as too traditional and too closely connected to the Liberals[5].

In most of the 20th century there was an uneasy alliance between them, with the progressives looking forward to the future, while the trade unionists looked back to the past. When it was alive and vigorous, and supplying the solutions to its supporters’ needs, that tension was hard and demanding, but also creative and progressive. It was also effective.

At some point in the mid 1970s that tension broke down as the different parts of the Labour Party began to separate. After an internal civil war, the MPs and the conservative union leadership won. The radical intelligentsia were marginalised, and excluded from the conference floor and the television studio. This exacerbated a trend that had been taking place since the 1960s; as new movements emerged based on anti-imperialism, and on lifestyle and environmental issues; and which could not be easily accommodated within the existing political arrangements.

A large part of that radicalism, from the universities in the 1960s, and the white-collar unions in the 1970s, opposed both state capitalism and the conservative cultural attitudes of the working and lower middle classes. Inevitably it was isolated from the traditional sources of power.

Nevertheless its ideas did influence the culture, and it had far ranging effects – the improvements in gender and race rights are two examples -, but at the cost of being accommodating to the state and the corporations; accepting their worldview. One consequence is that for many of Britain’s poor, radicals are seen as members of a liberal conspiracy.

The intellectuals who supplied the ideas to the New Labour government suffered from a different problem. No longer the practical utopians in the Hardie mould they were technicians who provided technical fixes within an aggressive market economy. In practice this meant supporting the contemporary establishment for, like a mechanic, the type of car is irrelevant – Ford Cortina or a Bentley it doesn’t matter providing you repair it. In both cases the progressives are decoupled from the general population, which they often alienate; recognised as a different class, and part of the ruling elite.

Historically the most radical solutions come out of a period of crisis – which takes many different forms, such as state intervention and rationalisation in the Great War, or the decline of the old exporting industries after it – where people accept new solutions to problems that can no longer be ignored because they have become too acute.

Crises force people and societies to change habits; the latter an under-estimated political factor. However, those solutions have to offer something concrete and meaningful to the life as people live it. The problem with Anthony Barnett’s formulation is that it is too abstract and yet too detailed; and therefore likely to alienate the majority who are not intellectuals. It is too progressive, too intent on changing the future; and thus very far indeed for the daily concerns, the realities of most people’s lives. Not understanding or interested in such a project, they will be rightly suspicious; and either abstain or act against it.

A responsive culture has first to be created, providing an environment where such a programme will be successful. Thus the liberal reforms of the 1960s, with their vast impact on British lives, were only possible because there was enough support in the culture to make their enactment seem just, and natural. This was the result of decades of subtle shifts in the ideas and feelings, both of the establishment and the general population; the latter more conservative on many of these questions; and reflected in the backlash of the 1980s, when the Thatcher government partly succeeded in overturning them – the introduction of section 28 of the Local Government Act is an example. Twenty years later the culture has become so liberal on these matters that it seems unlikely they will ever be rescinded.

In the 1960s that responsive culture was an amalgam of liberal and left wing ideas, egalitarian economic growth, an organised labour culture, which had its own national institutions and popular press; and all of which built on the successes of the first post war Labour government, which in turn grew out of the economic changes and political shifts of the 1930s.

The task of the Left is to do this again. Once more it has to create the kind of popular front that came into existence around 1900; which provided the forces and the ideology that helped to create these later conditions, of which future generations could take advantage.

(For the previous essay in the ‘Creating the Future’ series, click here)

Paul Schloss is interested in the interaction between ideas and social forces; and explores this across a number of fields. He calls himself a professional amateur, has worked with housing cooperatives and voluntary groups, and is sceptical of the specialists who cannot get beyond their own, often limited, expertise. He has a blog: serenityscience.blogspot.com


[1] R. Boothby et al quoted in Sidney Pollard’s The Development of the British Economy 1914-1967.

[2] The history is more nuanced than this: in a period of general dislocation there will be a few years of severe depression, which will affect different industries and areas disproportionately. During these years while the intensity of radicalism might increase, with a minority becoming much more active; generally its influence is likely to decline, as fewer people join unions, which in turn become more conservative. Also during these times popular views can become more intolerant; more open to extreme right wing propaganda.

[3] This is one of the themes of David Marquand’s important The Unprincipled Society.

[4] This is only a brief sketch. I deal with it more fully in unpublished paper on the LSE and Libya. For a detailed discussion of what I take to be the typical technician see my Russian Climate. A demolition of two representatives of the post-modern left can be found in my Dropout Boogie.

[5] There is an excellent discussion in Henry Pelling’s The Origins of the Labour Party.


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Jun 27, 2011 17:50

I broadly agree in terms of the need to create a different culture. But it worries me that you attach too much credibility to the widespread conservatism you wish to overcome. You seem to accept that most people are now conservative and pragmatic, but you glorify this, refusing to criticise this kind of subsumption. Instead you seem to want radicals to conform to it in order to appeal to a conservative/pragmatic mass constituency. The assumption you’re operating on here is that valid radical politics should be about appealing to, and not ‘alienating’ or separating from, the ‘general population’. This is a nationalist view: you implicitly assume that people belong to a single population or community, regardless of how this community treats them.

I would argue, in contrast, that radicals are not part of any such national community with bigots, regardless of whether the bigots wear top hats or flat caps figuratively speaking. Britain is not a democracy, it’s an elite-ruled authoritarian system (we saw that with the Iraq war), and even if it were a democracy, this would not give anyone the go-ahead to trample on minority or individual rights. Effective counter-power is always exercised against the system, and sometimes, necessarily, against the majority. The exercise of counter-power comes from whatever marginal groups are able to act against the system. It doesn’t matter whether the majority go along. It matters whether an effective counter-power can be exercised. Gay rights were not won by persuading the majority, they were won at Stonewall. Migrants are carving out a space for themselves by ignoring what the majority thinks and migrating regardless. Squatting was legalised in Holland in the 1980s, not from majority sentiment, but because squatters succeeded in defending themselves from police attack to the point where the state had to concede. It’s these ruptures through effective counter-power which force the system to shift leftwards in order to defuse struggles.

You accuse radicals of failing because intelligent and complex ideas are irrelevant to most people’s lives. Might it not be that people don’t see the relevance to their own lives, because their own lives are immiserated? Or that the ideas aren’t relevant to authoritarian personalities – they’d only become relevant if people’s lives changed? Or that people aren’t educated enough (not only thinking of formal education, but their own culture too), to see the relevance, or truth, of unfamiliar claims? Intellectuals have no monopoly on ‘utopian’ visions or desires for total change. Similar hopes arise in marginal groups when they are conscious and empowered (think of the Black Panthers, the Zapatistas, the anti-colonial movements, the autonomous scene of the 1960s-80s, the tradition of carnival in peasant communities, the history of religious millenarianism). Historically, it would be the ‘people’ providing utopian visions, and the intellectuals being rational and calculative. Utopian visions are only possible, however, for people who actually desire another world – not for people whose horizons are blinkered by naturalisation of the present, or who are convinced that authoritarianism is justified. And this is the problem: there can be no utopian dreams for those who hate themselves, hate everyone else, love their oppressors and love to oppress others.

I think we’re living in a world where the sociological equivalent of flat-earth claims have come to dominate many fields, and progressive positions (on deviance or migration for example) are dismissed by most people, and by mainstream politicians, because they don’t accord with presuppositions which are fundamentally uninformed, ignorant, uncompassionate and unethical. It isn’t that there’s something ‘real’ in working people’s ‘experience’ which makes them ‘aware’ that drugs can’t be legalised, that criminalisation ‘works’, or that cultural diversity corrodes morality. Nor is it about ‘interests’. The victims of repression come from the same social demographic as the people clamouring for it. Something like attacks on unemployment benefit for example, is against the interests of everyone except the very rich, since greater desperation to find jobs pushes down wages – the people clamouring against ‘scroungers’ aren’t acting on interests, they’re acting on reactionary (and utopian) ethical principles. They’ll link these kinds of absurd views to experiential anecdotes and express them in popular speech-genres of course. But they’re just dogmas, that anyone who isn’t overwhelmed with prejudice can instantly see through. Radical views don’t seem ‘relevant to people’s lives’ because people are distorting their interpretation of their ‘lives’ through reactionary frames (and the very fact that they’re unable to see the role of these frames, and imagine they’re unmediatedly ‘experiencing’ these things, is part of the problem). The left is far too indulgent of this kind of populist nonsense by imagining that ordinary people continue to be ethical, aware of their own realities, and basically expressing their own experiences, needs and voices, even when all the evidence is to the contrary. If a toff came out with the same bollocks, the left would instantly denounce it as the prejudiced, privilege-enhancing nonsense it really is. But when it comes from a working-class mouth, suddenly it’s ‘experience’, it’s a problem of the left’s irrelevance to people’s ‘lives’ and so on.

The other thing missing here is the international dimension. Firstly, British people benefit enormously from colonial inequalities which they have pragmatic interests in – so might actually be being reactionary out of a kind of global aristocratic self-interest. Secondly, British parliament no longer accords with the level at which economic decisions and class struggles occur (now the global level) – and therefore, is not able to re-empower anybody. Thirdly, a lot of the populist nonsense actually articulates national, racial and cultural privilege against (for instance) migrants, other ethnic groups, subcultures, etc. It’s affecting people who are ‘ordinary’ in Britain, but it’s playing to their privilege, not their subordination. And the problem is also whether there is enough left in people’s daily lives that they would actually fight for, or give up their bigotry for. I mean, sure, people who are living on squatted land or short of food or have no income can be drawn into radical movements fighting for these things, because these needs articulate their real demands to a position of exclusion or subordination rather than privilege. But outside of highly marginal groups such as refugees, I just don’t see where these kinds of issues will come from in Britain today. Today’s bigots have plenty of unmet needs of a less pressing kind, but they don’t even recognise most of them to be needs, and they resent others who actually fight for their needs.

Anthony Barnett
Jun 28, 2011 1:16

Thanks for taking this on Paul. I didn’t propose a programme I described a direction. I don’t think that being more egalitarian, against maximisation, etc, is incompatible with people’s lives, needs or desires. But to take this to public, of course you are right it has to be spelt out in a way that is tangible and practical and organised. Where we agree is that we are at a major turning point. But my post was a reaction to the strange combination of the defeat of AV and the victory of the SNP, the main threat to the system turned out not to be a minor tweak to the voting system but a victory ‘over the border’!
Your link to my post is broken, readers can find it here

Paul Schloss
Jul 4, 2011 1:52

The piece is about two types of conservatism; the natural tendency towards habitual thought and behaviour and right wing ideas in politics. The latter is prominent today because of decades of reaction.

Socialism and progressive opinion has always been a minority creed; but there are times when it resonates with the culture. Trying to engender that culture through principled but practical action seems a reasonable position, if one is interested in improving the society. Such action does not mean submitting to the view of the majority; the reason I attack the technicians and policy wonks of New Labour, who do; at least in their rhetoric.

I am accused of giving too much credibility to the idea that the majority are conservative, yet the rest of this comment is a far more extreme expression of this view than mine. Most people are not that interested in politics (there are lots of reasons for this), and they judge the world by their own limited experiences (like us all), and the poor commentary they get on the TV and in the press. This, by its very nature, will tend towards a certain kind of conservatism, of protecting what one has got. If the mainstream culture, which supplies most of people’s political opinions, is overwhelmingly reactionary, it will tend to create popular views that are predominantly Conservative; advertising after all does work. We have to recognise this and act accordingly; in part separating out the good conservatism (of security and continuity, important human attributes) from the bad Conservatism; actually a form of reactionary liberalism. In practice this will often mean separating out people’s values from their ideas, the latter often shop worn and second hand. We should try to do this while maintaining our own principles. It is not about surrendering to contingency or mass man, or choosing between being radical or pragmatic; rather it is about being radical and pragmatic at the same time.

There is a tendency for the left to exaggerate degradation. The authorities are always terrible and the working class is always the victim; the passive recipients of ongoing repression. I see it in the comments here: it is the romantic’s view of politics. It is one of the reasons so many ordinary people have disliked progressives. Such condescension is quickly recognised. It also heavily distorts a reality that is more complex, and more interesting; and far more amenable to progressive reform. Apocalyptic thought, only a revolution can save us, demands apocalyptic conditions; and is probably the source of such sentimentality.

I don’t disagree that minority groups should resist. Indeed they should, though it is naïve to think that they can do it on their own; that they don’t need changes in the wider society to give them political and cultural space. Part of their fight is to achieve this. However, we should avoid turning them into metaphysical entities, a new sort of vanguard, to replace the working classes of old; who now disappoint us.

Politics is very close to religion. The select few that are saved against the majority who are eternally damned. The comments here express the fundamentalist arm of left wing politics. A modern day Baptist opposed to the working man and woman; unenlightened bigots who live immiserated lives; only socialism can save them! This is ideology, not analysis, and looks nothing like the world I work and live in, full of intelligent and thinking people, many of whom are socially generous, but who have no interest in ideas or political reform. They are not intellectuals and activists, an odd lot; though vitally important to the society.

I grew up in an area that was almost completely working class and where status was marked by individual streets; the lowest of the low living in the most notorious. One of the problems of intellectuals is that most of them live outside this world, and are unaware of its subtle gradations; thus these comments about people from the “same social demographic” holding different opinions. There will be whole families where this might be true; it may also reflect subtle differences between people who appear superficially to belong to the same group. The success of popular movements has arisen from an understanding of such distinctions; using them to political advantage; acquiring a degree of respect and fear from governments and employers. One of the travesties of the last 30 years has been the ideological demonising of the poor, and the grouping of them all into some kind of underclass; about which, we are told, we can do nothing. The views expressed here seemed to have absorbed this reactionary message.

Unfortunately the history of the left is full of the most terrible arrogance, and a hatred of the ordinary person: they can never live up to our expectations! That old religion again – they have not seen the light. It appears we have not progressed:

“The left is far too indulgent of this kind of populist nonsense by imagining that ordinary people continue to be ethical, aware of their own realities, and basically expressing their own experiences, needs and voices, even when all the evidence is to the contrary.”

We know the truth. But because the ordinary person does not they cannot be human: they are without ethics, a sense of themselves, or a consciousness of their own realities. Little more than beasts, it seems. How often have we seen this before: the people imagined as circus animals the rulers tame with their whips and chains. Of course, if only we were in power we’d treat them more humanely…

To recognise a social phenomenon is not to acquiesce to it (let alone worship it; I’m not sure where that interpretation comes from, as it is nowhere in my piece). This is the fundamental error behind these paragraphs, and seems based on that old story of us against them; and the romantic image of the utopian working class against the bastards who run things. When that illusion was shattered, possibly in the 1960s, the search was on for other utopian groups who could fulfil these fantasies. These search has now reached its apogee: it is the simple worker who is our enemy.

Life is far more complicated than this: principles and values, not personalities, should determine our actions; and we must accept that to change society for the better we sometimes have to engage with its ugliest elements. We should accept that many of the people we work with will hold different views to ourselves. This doesn’t mean submission. Keir Hardie was not Gordon Brown.

Paul Schloss
Jul 4, 2011 1:56

It is difficult to disagree with Anthony Barnett, as our positions are very close. However, I don’t think the distinction made here is correct. The language of progressive opinion can often alienate, in this sense I see little difference between advocating a programme and describing a general direction, as both need to be articulated; as indeed is done in the passage I quoted.

Essay – Creating the Future: Palimpsest – Ceasefire Magazine
Jul 4, 2011 9:01

[…] first requirement of such a movement is convince the country that the opening paragraph of my ‘Victory Begins with Defeat’ is wrong: that we do not have full political rights any longer. Too many such an assertion will […]

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