Friday, 29 April 2016


Last week I did an interview with Aaron Bastani of Novara Media discussing my new book and issues arising from it. The link is here and I believe the next broadcast will be on Resonance radio at 104.4 FM on Monday 2 May.

Topics covered in this wide-ranging interview include British imperialism today, militarism, Iraq, the US, technology and commercial monopoly, the origins of the welfare state, the historical evolution of finance and Brexit. The recording lasts 58 minutes, and it should be available to download at some point.

Tony Norfield, 29 April 2016


Anonymous said...

I thought the interview was very informative. I have yet to read your book.

There seem to be two schools of thought in the Marxist tradition about the nature of capitalist finance: that finance is parasitic and its growth should be tamed and/or reversed; that the growth in finance since the 1970s is a historical-logical result of capitalism as primarily a system of value expansion via monetary means.

The politics of the former suggest a politics of left-wing national Keynesianism. The latter means abolishing the value form of labour.

It appears to me that much of the Labour left endorse the former. The latter is largely the view of a small number of Marxist intellectuals (to the best of my knowledge).

Which leads to the discussion of the Labour Party in the interview.

You argue there is no point in voting or joining Labour. In one sense I agree. But if a future radicalisation takes place partly or largely through Labour then it seems to make sense to have a Marxist presence within Labour that can argue against Keynesian strategies. The history of organisations outside Labour being able to exert any significant political influence is patchy at best.


SteveH said...

"You argue there is no point in voting or joining Labour. In one sense I agree."

I actually interpret Tony's view as not only should we not vote Labour but we should not vote anyone because voting for a political party is in itself a nationalist act. I presume Tony wants class internationalism.

And I guess this is my problem with tony;s view, it as the whiff pf anarchism about it.

Tony Norfield said...

SteveH: My simple point is that you should vote for a programme with which you agree. If Labour's programme is national-welfarist and laden with its usual hypocrisy and betrayals, not to mention that it adapts to the worst features of popular culture (remember the Immigration controls mug?!), then refusing to vote for that is common sense, not anarchism.

Question for Anonymous: Why do you think, against all the historical evidence that shows how Labour's role is to be the graveyard of radicalism and to snuff out any inkling of socialist sentiment, that there can be any sense in wanting a 'Marxist' presence in the Labour Party?

I had rejected this view many years ago, with the intention of building something else. But my view now is based upon an assessment of the politics of the British electorate/working class, etc, which in the past century and more has unfailingly sided with British imperialism. I do not see any grounds on which there is the 'raw material' to build a revolutionary party in the UK. This is a sad fact, but one that also accounts for my perspective of analysing imperialism and explaining what is going on in the world, rather than endorsing what I think are delusions that often end up being reactionary, rather than just simply foolish. If there were a 'good' policy promoted by anyone, I would support it.

Anonymous said...

I read the review of your book in the FT. The reviewer clearly is no fan of Lenin, but seemed to reluctantly acknowledge the power of the evidence-based arguments you make. Good stuff.

Re: my comments on the Labour Party. I agree about the history of the Party. My argument is not that the Labour Party is a potential vehicle for socialist advance. There is no evidence that it can or will be.

However, that does not mean that activism within the LP cannot be used to make socialist arguments - which may lead other activists to take an interest in Marxist theory etc.

I suspect that if there is a future radicalisation in the UK, at least part of that radicalisation may take place via the membership of the LP. It seems to make sense to be part of that - even if that means a growing socialist left within the LP has to leave in order to overcome resistance from the right.

I suspect that any path to the growth of socialist politics in the UK will likely involve LP members and structures - to some degree. It will be a learning process in which the need for an alternative to Labour has to be proven in practice - and that may require Marxist activists inside the Party to lead an exit and join with other political forces outside.


SteveH said...

Until Corbyn became leader of Labour I could not really see any hope in them but he now is leader so my point is that we should support him. He went to the refugee camp in Calais to show solidarity with the refugees. he is not your typical racist Blairite.

When Labour ditch him that is the time to put the final nails into the Labour coffin and not before then.

"If Labour's programme is national-welfarist"

Which do you have the problem with, National or Welfare?

Anonymous said...

I think he has a problem with Labours programme being national-welfarist. Still split a combined meaning into two separate meanings if you want. Well done you.

SteveH said...

Anon, I wasn't trying to be a smart arse or anything.

If Tony for Welfarism but not at the expense of another nation. And how to transfer payments between states relate to this. E.g. EU regeneration funding.

Is Tony against using the tax system to reduce poverty, e.g. Denmark reduce poverty rates by national welfare tax policies. Does Tony argue that we scrap these transfer payments?

Is he against Welfare on principal or only when it is in the national context?

Are all national policies to be rejected on the grounds they are national. Or is there some national policy he can support?

And many more questions besides.

I fundamentally disagree with his idea that the meagre rations of the bottom quartile are a burden.