Some extremely strong voices coming out of Labour currently. Jon Cruddas’ extensive George Lansbury memorial lecture can be found here:
An excerpt: “What we value in life is taken out of the realm of political economy – of supply and demand, and calculus – and instead relates to the virtue of the labour itself – seen as the ‘joyful and right exertion of perfect life in man’.
Within Ruskin, the notion of wealth and value, and indeed labour, are used to attack 19th Century liberalism for its cold utilitarianism, and instead promote a society governed by ‘what is good for men, raising them and making them happy’. To live a virtuous life; to become wiser, compassionate, righteous, creative. What it is to become a ‘freeborn Englishman’.
What is of value is not the notion of ‘exchange value’. It amounts to a radical critique of political economy; of economic transactions.It is the source of a distinctly English, radical transformative politics. One that is sometimesidentifiable within the Labour Party.
Morris is the critical link, as this form of socialist thought is attached to the political formation of the emerging working class in the late 19th Century.
This turbulent period of class struggle occurs alongside a ‘neo-classical’ economic revolution; removing value away from labour itself into the scientific realm of individual rational preferences. It still dominates today. It is called neo-liberalism
The socialism of Morris is grounded in theemancipatory conception of human labour and creativity. Art constitutes a politics of resistance to life being commodified. This is what constitutes socialism.
This was not – as is often assumed – backward looking or anti-technology. This is a crass misreading of Morris: to pitch him as against civilisation. Rather it is built around the creativity of human labour. It is a continuous struggle, not just against capitalism – given its alienating effects on human creativity – but also left-wing utilitarianism and Fabianism.
Socialist change is not simply political and economic change – the ‘machinery’ of socialism – as he called it – but heightened consciousness that aims to realise a person’s true capacities. Self realisation.
In the cauldron of 1880s England it was a politics built around the search for an authentic human life and growth. The struggle for a society that releases other human virtues.”
Elsewhere Rowenna Davis the candidate for Southampton gives a positive interview here I have no doubt she will easily win a decent majority: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRYOIb758XM&feature=youtu.be)
Meanwhile the Liberal ‘democrats’ in action here: (http://www.leftfootforward.org/2013/11/lib-dem-lords-vote-for-fuel-poverty/) I truly think the next election could see the end of this party.