Sunday, May 18, 2008

Organising Resentment

Savonarola, excellent, on the atrophy of the Italian left - put down to their inability to mobilise popular discontent, or respond to drab bread & butter issues like housing, working conditions, etc: limiting its concerns instead to 'the cultural and international' (sound familiar?). Rather, what it has to do if it is to fight a resurgent populist neo-fascism, is 'organise resentment'*. When myself and Mark were advocating resentment as a political category, it was notable how many people got extremely uppity, as if anger, rage, the occasional bit of schadenfreude, were somehow something the other does, but we should know better. It has long been a cliche of rightists and liberals that socialists are all guilty bourgeoises: it's far from the whole truth, and always has been - in fact, what gave the workers' movement its power was always the (precarious) unity of proletarian self-organisation and the totalised conception of society and the economy which only education (autodidactic or otherwise) can provide; but nevertheless - if the left is film festivals, Richard Meier buildings, opposition to war and little else, then it can hardly be surprised if the Right steals its natural constituency. The results of this could be grim indeed.

* Which would not, incidentally, be referring to New Labour in Crewe: anti-immigration rhetoric and inverted snobbery (let's not forget, this is the Party that is 'intensely comfortable with people getting very rich') in place of what was once social democracy.


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