Thinking Your Way Through a Labyrinth of Contemporary Issues

The Taboo of socialism in England


Socialism is still a dirty word in England. The political establishment (Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem), all continue to shy away from directly associating themselves that word, although much of the Labour Party and Lib Dem members probably originally had some version of socialist ideals in mind when starting their political careers’. Perhaps some of them still do have real socialist ideals in mind but disturbingly find themselves tethered to the Neo Liberal bandwagon which Thatcher kick-started in the late 1970s-80s. This Neo Liberal situation in which we find ourselves means that by openly claiming to be a socialist, you are volunteering yourself to endure the patronizing chuckles of the mainstream media, the sneering and furious torrent of abuse from the Tories and ceaseless tutting from family and friends who perceive you as some sort of outrageous lefty, namby-pamby do-gooder who is not living in the real world. Indeed for all these reasons, a frustrating journey awaits the self-proclaimed ‘socialist’ who dares to reside in our green and pleasant land.


Before mentioning the conservative cultural and ideological baggage of the English for a moment, it is important to note that socialists are increasingly, since the credit-crunch of 2008, finding themselves with an astounding amount of examples and situations where the arguments for socialism could be put to good use: Bank bailout by tax-payers, Credit-Crunches and Crashes (what Marx referred to as systemic crises of the capitalist system), record levels of global inequality, corruption and the democratic-deficit in parliamentary politics around the world, environmental catastrophe due to rampant and cease-less capitalist accumulation of the raw materials so precious to our world. Such events, phrases, concepts and circumstances are ones we have all witnessed more frequently, especially since 2008/09.


The basic argument put forward by the reasonable and internationally minded socialist is for the inclusion of all humanity in a fairer world. Plenty of ammunition to argue for socialism lye all around us, especially in England: one of the most class-divided nations on earth. However, the very fact that we have these deep and enduring class divisions also makes spreading the cause of socialism more difficult. The establishment has a long history of class warfare and has perfected its art of war in England over the centuries.

Many of the working people of England have come to accept their subordinate status, worshipping the old aristocracy has become a common cultural practice and the perpetuating myth of social mobility serves to create a mirage of modernity and democracy, whilst supporting the enduring class divisions. Such an infuriating state of affairs for socialists in England could partly stem from the stubborn and conservative nature of the English people (working class very much included here). Even Marx and Engels in the mid-eighteen hundreds harbored frustrations over the conservative minded-ness of the English working class as opposed to their European counterparts.

Perhaps modern day socialists should heed the propositions of Antonio Gramsci and prepare the social and cultural groundwork for socialism by encroaching over the prerogatives of civil society. This would indeed be a long and hard fought war of attrition in England, but if the ideals of socialism are to ever hold any real popular resonance in England, a detailed and multi-faceted plan of action needs to be initiated. And now would seem an appropriate time to start the project as we witness the gaping wounds of the capitalist system splayed out for all to see.

Blighty has long been an awkward little place for socialists to gain any satisfaction. Marx and Engels encountered this awkwardness in the 1800s but now after the advent of Neo Liberal capitalism with Thatcher, the cultural distinction between the English people and the rest of the world seems to have increased. Are we going backwards? The current millionaire Tory Cabinet reflect the inequality and misrepresentation of bygone eras and the Labour Party after Blair have to a certain extent adopted vague rhetorical gestures of socialism but still refuse to proudly associate themselves with that dreaded word: socialism!

Tom Bone – Editor for Consensus44

About Tom

The power of being subtle..

11 comments on “The Taboo of socialism in England

  1. Suzanne Smith
    July 17, 2015

    What I dislike is how the original socialists were just ordinary people fighting for a more fair society, yet everybody connects it to academics who copied what they were fighting for. In the industrial revolution corporations and the politicians they paid to keep things that way were making massive profits, while workers were trapped into poverty in dangerous conditions with little chance of an education. Engels invited Marx to England to see what people were already fighting for, and then he went back to his office to add his own theories. Isn’t it strange how fighting against exploitation and abuse has to have a label by an academic, but when they few at the top make policies to keep all the power and money with the few at the top, it doesn’t have a label. At the moment we have a PM, chancellor and London Mayor who have all been to the Bullingdon Club, while the Tory propaganda media have managed to get people at the bottom all fighting each other. The Tories are always trying to get things back to the times when only the few at the top had any money and power, while living off the hard work of those at the bottom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • consensus44
      July 17, 2015

      I think the labels we use to refer to specific political movements and groups all have a meaning attached to them, full of cultural and historical baggage. For example, Communism has attached to it all the associations and symbols linked to The Bolshevik Party, Lenin, Stalin and the Russian Revolution, although Marx’s notion of Communism referred to any movement which would eventually arise to overwhelm capitalism.


  2. Suzanne Smith
    July 17, 2015

    It’s also interesting how the few at the top have their own form of socialism where only they live for free off the hard work of those they see as below them. Like I said the PM, chancellor and London Mayor all went to the Bullingdon Club.
    Prince William cut his work hours, yet was given a mansion for free, and they’re looking for a housekeeper to go with their nanny, when his wife has never had a full time job.
    Conservative policies are all ideological to keep the power with the few at the top, than what’s best for most people or the economy. Why else would they have done the worst thing imaginable for the economy in a recession by increasing VAT to make everything more expensive to slow down spending, as well as other tax that affects the poor the most like bedroom tax and making disabled people pay council tax from the minimum amount they can live on. Then do nothing with the extra tax except give millionaires tax cuts, while saying there have to be cuts to vital services?
    It’s like when the Conservatives were in power before in the 80s, when they stole and sold off everything public owned, then added tax that affects the poor the most like constant VAT increases, the first government to add tax to household bills after they privatised the energy companies, and the Poll Tax where an 18 year old in a bed sit had to pay the same as a lord in a manor.
    Then by the late 80s after not spending the money on anything anybody wanted, such as more social housing or the NHS because waiting lists were the longest ever, they said they were broke, giving them an excuse to not put money into what services were left, making them the worst in Europe, still blaming Labour for what the Tories do after 10 years. It was also the Conservatives who turned us into a banking nation with nothing else to fall back on, where people’s credit rating was the most important thing in their life, which all crashes every few years when nobody can pay back the debt they’re encouraged to have. If Labour had put too many controls on all the Tories left us with, the Tories would have been the first to make a fuss, accusing Labour of being too controlling.
    Look at how the Tories tried to vote against Labour’s long awaited House of Lords reform, to reduce the number of hereditary Lords. The Tories wanted their upper class friends to be entitled to be paid for going nothing, with expenses and subsidised bars and restaurants. Then when Labour brought in the first ever minimum wage, the Tories tried to vote against that too. Now they’re saying they’re for a minimum wage. Are they saying they lied before when they said that any form on minimum wage would be bad for the economy?
    That party never seem with it anyway. On the same show that Boris Johnson said Germany never used chemical weapons in wars, he said an even bigger lie that nobody seemed to notice, as said there wasn’t a vote on the 2nd war against Iraq, when more Conservative MPs voted yes to it than other parties.
    They’re managing to convince idiots that getting rid of human rights is about terrorists, when there are already exceptions against national security. That’s why Abu Hamza failed in his case. It’s only about taking away rights from the majority. Look at how the Tories tried to use the police as their personal army against workers fighting to keep their jobs, lying that shipbuilding would go over to third world countries, when it’s now in rich nations such as Japan.
    Then when the future generations in those communities feel they have no hope apart from a job in Tescos, the Tories kick them down even more. At least Labour helped to rebuild those communities ruined by the Tories, by promoting more than ever to go to university, but now even to study with the OU it’s 5,000 a year in student loans.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. consensus44
    July 17, 2015

    You have conservative political groups in most nations who always are about looking after the interests and assets of the wealthy. The big issue is that the public actually don’t think this is true. Most seem to believe that the Tories are harsh socially but good at dealing with the economy, ignoring the damage they are actually doing to our sense of community and not to mention the disgusting myth that they peddle about aspiration, hard work and social mobility.

    Also disastrously, many in The Labour Party are beginning to think that the only way to beat the Tories is to copy them. Personally I couldn’t think of anything more cowardly and spineless than a Labour Party member who throws their lot in with the opposition, mirroring their policies as they think that is the way to win a General Election. Liz Kendall and the like make me sick.

    Socialists such as Jeremy Corbyn are inevitably shouted down (even within their own Party) in our anti-socialist political climate. But ideas which challenge vested interests and the status-quo have always been battered like hell from all sides by the powerful. The Tories with their entourage of mainstream-media backers have and will undoubtedly always attack any challengers to their positions of power. What gets me is how many people actually go along with the line of the Tory press and don’t challenge them.

    Hard-working people aren’t actually acting in their own interest politically. It’s amazing really how The Tories have managed to con the working public into believing their aspiration myths and lessons about slackers and the feckless.

    The mood and atmosphere in Britain has changed since Austerity. Self interest seems to be running out of control. Fear and bitterness seeps from the cracks in our damaged and divided society. People worry about the future. Confusion mixed with disappointment is a stress inducing and deadly mix, all of which fostered through the aspiration myth. After all, what good is aspiration if we don’t have social mobility?


  4. anniepani
    July 19, 2015

    The self-interest thing took off in the eighties (recession), declined in the late nineties (boom) and came back after the 2008 crisis (bust), so I see your point.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. susanpots
    July 19, 2015

    You English should not feel you have a monopoly on the taboos of socialism, we have our share on this side of the ‘pond’, in the US. The ‘Republicrats’ over here have a chokehold on any other party trying to gain a foot-hold in politics. Bernie Sanders, a confirmed socialist, is valiantly running for the Democratic nomination for president, much to the dismay of mainline Democrats.

    I can only imagine that other countries have similar issues, also.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Zack
    July 21, 2015

    It’s a pretty dirty word over here in the States too. But now we have a Socialist who’s making a pretty good run for the presidency. Hopefully things will change, but Americans are a stubborn, bullheaded bunch also.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. consensus44
    July 21, 2015

    I understand the situation in the US guys and thanks for your comments. I know that the US has hugely powerful right-wing bodies and groups running the show over there, and that socialism is hounded on another level in the US. Fox news disgusts me personally but then again it is owned by Murdoch who also has a large hold on our media in the UK too. I do think though, that such an overtly anti-left news station such as Fox news wouldn’t work well in the UK, I just don’t think people would take it seriously, and we would laugh at it. In the UK we have mainly right-wing mainstream newspapers, but our TV is not too bad. The BBC have an aura of respectability still I believe and is pretty much dominant over here. We have Channel 4 News which is more edgy and more willing to go against the grain of acceptable news coverage, yet its becoming less controversial lately.


  8. elmediat
    July 25, 2015

    Here in Canada, the NDP ( New Democratic Party) finally became the official opposition and now have a chance at becoming the governing party in the voters 7 media’s perception as the next election comes ever closer. Interestingly the NDP Leader, Tom Mulcair, pushed to have references to Socialism removed from the party’s constitution.

    The new word touch stone that both The Liberal and NDP went after was “progressive” The current Canadian Conservative party was recently formed out of the Reform Party and the old Progressive Conservative. The rejection of progressive became perceived as a hardening of social conservative stance.

    Constantly stating that the NDP platform was (socially) progressive is a more palatable way of stating socialist objectives.

    Many voters who never considered the NDP in the past are now hoping Mulcair and his crew can reclaim a tarnished Canadian identity, that even the old Conservatives took pride in. Time will tell.


    • consensus44
      July 25, 2015

      It’s very interesting to hear the state of affairs in Canada. It seems that socialism has certain trigger words which people run away from, yet the actual principles would be in fact rather popular and would seem fair. I’m interested to know more about politics across the pond.


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This entry was posted on July 16, 2015 by in British Politics, Global Politics, Philosophy and tagged , , , , .
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