Against Socialist Illusion: A Radical Argument by David Selbourne

By David Selbourne

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Relations between Capital and Labour'/' which Tory policy is allegedly designed to effect. Elsewhere, the profound long-term historical discomfiture of socialist values expressed in local form by, say, the unpopularity of the trade unions with very large numbers of trade unionists and Labour voters - is offset by the (relatively) trivial notice of 'ideological disarray' in the Tory Party. The range of left misjudgement about 'Thatcherism', moreover, could not be wider. A reductionist misnomer, as I suggested earlier, for a cross-class politics with the deepest roots in the world oflabour, it becomes a 'despairing last throw by the right, a final attempt to hold the Tory electoral coalition together'.

Yet it is in this very promise that Western socialists are most vulnerable, particularly in an epoch when socialist forms ofliberation, above all as they affect the individual, have fallen into such discredit. Hence it is increasingly simple, even in the teeth of the memory, say, ofVietnam, for the cause of individual emancipation- whatever it may be said to mean- to be given a 'right-wing' as well as a 'left-wing' gloss. Furthermore, to The Appeal ofthe Right 41 express this promise of self-determination in absolutist and utopian terms is to emphasize not socialist strengths, but socialist frailties.

To transfer to unemployment and all its consequences, however socially serious, the main burden of responsibility for the disablement of socialist purpose simply permits the resumed pursuit of old chimeras at the earliest economic provocation. Instead, the scale of socialist re-evaluation of orthodoxy (of all kinds) which is required to understand what I shall broadly call the 'appeal of the right' is very wide and deep indeed. The historically advanced nature of the British experience itself- first in its industrial revolution, first in its industrial decline - ought to have enabled us to see this before others.

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