A long lost communique from the Situationist Tendency of the Labour Party, 1990

The following communique was sent in the post to London anarchist freesheet Autognome in mid-1990. Autognome was a provocative rag, the halfblood child of some of the rowdy London end of the free festival-oriented Free Information Network, with refugees from Brixton squatters mag Crowbar, based around publishing dates of upcoming radical events, news of demos and campaigns, and potshots at the left, the right and pretty much everyone…

The Autognome collective intended to publish the STLP communique in the next issue… We’ll never know if this would have drastically changed the course of the UK history, as Autognome folded before another issue could emerge (with some of the collective going off on their Hajj and others getting wrapped up in taxing the Poles).

Having then got lost for a few years, the communique was re-discovered in a box of archive material rescued from the old 121 Centre, lost again, and recently unearthed by an anarcheological expedition. We’re finally publishing it here, 31 years later (after some debate as to whether this was too soon for it to see the light of day.)
NB: it arrived typed in all capitals, always a worrying sign…

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To Constituency Parties and Other Organisations

“We are not amused!

Greetings from your new comrades (although for some of us our paths
have no doubt crossed before).

We are contacting you to make our intentions clear. In short we have tired of the continual failure of the proletariat to bring about the radical transformation of society. We believe this failure is due to misguided tactics on the part of the left, and the increasing apathy and passivity of the working class – the mere fact that we have to mention the ‘left’ and the ‘working class’ separately is an indication of this failure for both terms should be interchangeable.

The left’s greatest mistake has been its failure to fully understand the conscious and unconscious workings and tactics of the enemy. Capitalism and bureaucratic communism have reduced the purpose of existence to the satisfaction of ever expanding false desires as embodied by consumer society. In general, modern society can satisfy these false desires, which in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but when such vacuous demands are all that the working class expects from life then those in power have an excellent way of controlling people.

However, there is one desire that capitalism cannot satisfy and that is the desire to control our everyday lives as individuals and as communities, for capitalism relies on people surrendering their independence to the dependence of the market. It is this impossible demand that the left has too often failed to make. If we can communicate such ideas to the working class, and offer a vision of a more satisfying, creative, richer life, to ‘expand their minds’!, then they are unlikely to be satisfied as passive observers of the world around them. This has been the failing of the working class, to fatalistically accept their alienation and the servile role they are allotted in life – and how can one respect willing victims?

Most of the working class deserves to be criticised, not just for its shallowness but also for the way it has too often ignored and/or scabbed on workers in struggle (the prime example being the miners’ strike of 84/85). Much of the left still seems to regard the working class as something sacred and glorious though, and patiently continues to try and convince it of this or that ideology without offering any inspiration for the passionate reconstruction of this world into a playground where life can be lived to the full.

In short we need to challenge the working class over its passivity instead of apologising for it, and in the process expose the unnecessary mediocrity of its existence and thus make our class aware of its ability to emancipate itself. It will be quite a party, quite an adventure, it will be fun.

An obvious question is: “why should we choose to practise our politics
in a decaying labour party?’. Well, during the 60s we situationists wrote
that the revolutionary struggle should take place within the banal events
of everyday life. It seems to us that the present labour party is more
banal than ever before, all image and no substance. It is also imperative
that we involve more and more people in political activity and we see the
party as the easiest way of contacting the working class who for
to constituency parties + other organisations choose it as our theatre for struggle – so far we have people in 42 constituency parties. We look forward to meeting many of you.

– The Situationist Tendency of the Labour Party.

 

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Postscript

As far as we know, the Labour Party Situationist fraction issued no further Communiques. Whether they continued their deep-level entrism into Labour is unclear… though reading between the lines of the following, we’d guess that the subsequent career of New Labour under Blair constitutes their finest work, a paragon of Society consumed by the Spectacle of itself. Evidence suggests the situs only went from strength to strength, as Labour ate itself from the inside and evolved into a hollow shell, a hologram of ‘voter appeal’ with all the substance of melting ice.

Some might suggest the Corbyn years show the Situationists finally achieving the goal of taking over the decaying edifice and seeking to transform it into a radical vehicle. We’d disagree: the SItuationist entrists would never have sought to re-create the turgid leftism of Corbynism. On the contrary, it’s obvious that it is the New labour tradition – Blair, and his natural heir, Starmer – who represent the triumphant project at its peak. Starmer’s posturing, especially, shows that he has rightly realised that he needs to completely eliminate substance and transform himself into just a vague collection of gestures. It’s clear that the three decades of pretentious entrism the situationist tendency embarked on inside the labour party are rapidly approaching a climax…

PPS: Don’t get in touch with us trying to join the Tendency – we don’t know who they are. 

 

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