Gratitude is not a very left wing sentiment. It implies benevolence and a kind of subservience. It engenders acquiescence to the status quo and a complacency about inequality of power. And yet, for all that, I like gratitude. It brings with it a certain grace and the right kind of love based on gift, generosity and loyalty. It is what I feel towards faithful friends and a reminder of the wonder that human beings can generate by resisting the unilateral lures of money and power and assert instead the reciprocity that is the basis of socialism. The give and take that lasts over a lifetime and speaks to something more durable and important than a project.
I am grateful to the Labour Tradition for giving an ethical and practical framework for our politics. Through building relationships and institutions based upon mutual responsibility, our forebears, who were kicked off the land by enclosures and deprived of any status at work, retrieved a home in the world and preserved the humane possibility of love from the dehumanisation of the free market and the poor law state. All of that by building democratic institutions with power in the world working within the inherited framework of the Ancient Constitution. They organised around the idea that human beings and nature were not commodities and that remains the starting point for all Blue Labour politics.
We are living through an interregnum; the new is dead and the old is yet to be born. While the Conservatives retreat to the market, Labour is incapable of generating a vision or a practice of a national renewal of our democracy based on the dignity of labour and the preservation of a home. Brexit opens a massive space for the re-imagining of our politics and we must ensure that it is based upon resistance to commodification through democratic association. Gramsci wrote that during an interregnum, ‘all manner of morbid symptoms pertain’, and we see them all the time with virtual spasms of viral hate and moral panic. This is underwritten by a trans-human modernism that surrenders the idea of a home to the thrall of an eternal technological dominion. Family, place and work play no role in futurism but they will play a fundamental role in our political future and it is our responsibility over the year ahead to articulate a political position that is fully human and in which common goods are shared as objects of affection.
It is also necessary to organise around it. I am grateful to John Clarke for the work he has done in establishing a Blue Labour organisation, to Jack for the work on Twitter and to the growing number of organisers who are putting on events throughout the country. Arnie Graf is coming over in the second half of March and that gives us the chance to get together and learn how to organise and strengthen our leadership.
This year I am also grateful for the incredible success of the YPJ and YPG in Eastern Syria who have defeated ISIS, not in the name of tribe or nation but on the basis of democracy, equality and participation. There is a great deal we can learn from their politics.
Today is the 9th anniversary of my Mum’s death. I am beginning to lose a sense of her immediate presence. I have lost a loved one and she cannot be retrieved. My heart is full of wonder and mystery but I find the resurrection of the dead a bit of a difficulty. The inspiration of the dead is a different matter. If we are to overcome the polarities of the Interregnum it is vital that we bring our parents with us and re-assert our mutual love and obligation. There are many reasons why the first rule of Blue Labour is to be nice to your Mum, not least at Christmas.
Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and year ahead,