30 years of “there is no alternative” which was so successful it created New Labour, combined with the destruction of over 6 million (TUC, Union Membership), much of the language of collective and collaborative action is has been lost. A left wing parliamentary majority is possible, but it is also almost certain that it will not command 50% support in the country. The danger is that its policies are not grounded in a rigorous alternative narrative and will not be well enough understood to command sufficient support and legitimacy when things get difficult.
The winning alliance will come predominantly from the temporarily less ambivalent and those of the ignored who have the labour habit, but the opposition will be drawn from the 40% who back the status quo – this will include vast power and wealth.
The very nature of political life (confrontation, dirty tricks, whipping) which will become more and more necessary, as a future left labour government comes under fire, will continue to makes hypocrites of those who profess cooperation but behave differently.
The crash of 2008 showed that deregulation and letting the markets rip has failed to deliver, trickledown never happened. For the unthinkable to become thinkable – which can happen in a crisis, the ideas lying around are used.
“There is enormous inertia—a tyranny of the status quo—in private and especially governmental arrangements. Only a crisis—actual or perceived—produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.” (Friedman, Preface) (Note: Big Power and Other Peoples Money)
Just at the time when alternative ideas about how to organise society are needed the left that has no coherent set of alternative policies or vision of how things could be, nothing lying around or kept alive to be used – sure it has pieces, but the total does not add up to more than the sum of its parts. See Section 1 Review, Human Activity System; The weight of Culture, Class & Hierarchy and Caste, and Behaviour as an emergent property.
In developing a realistic approach to change things for the better, limited participation and disengagement is a major issue that needs to combated and reversed. I do not think this can be achieved using our current form of representative democracy and party politics. See Part 3, What Can be Done.
My conclusion is that the case for collective action and collaboration has to be made afresh, from scratch, grounded in science and free from (ideological, left/right) baggage.