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Utopianism and the Reactionary Victory

June 11, 2011

A constant issue at the moment is the increasing tendency towards extreme Right Wing votes among the ‘White Working Class’. Why, we ask ourselves, do those people who are most under threat from the uncertainties of Capitalism continually vote for parties who either represent the very forces which are maintaining this uncertainty, or focus on immigration as the major cause of all society’s ills?

I propose that the answer to this is that these views provide a far safer and more concrete utopian vision than that offered by the left. The real fight is against capitalism, but capitalism has made things so unstable that people are scared of throwing their weight behind revolution (=more change), so in their fight against capitalism, they tend to prefer conservative utopias, because they seem far more solid. This is especially the case when one looks at the increase in support for anti-immigration parties/groups such as the BNP, EDL and UKIP. They thrive on the uncertainty produced by a society based on debt, consumption, and unstable employment, by suggesting that, with less immigration, we, the ‘Native British Population’, could consume enough to become the ideal figure of capitalism – owning all the latest products, not being saddled with debt, having a stable family.

This is a simple solution, and one which conjours up clear images. ‘Soclalism’ is connected in the public mind to images of austere, Soviet-style urban landscapes, Tom Clancy films, and ‘Enemy at the Gates’, and Anarchism brings to mind riot police and violence. Outside those paradigms, there is nothing clear. Engaging someone and getting beyond those stereotypes, what is there to offer? At best, an intellectual utopia of no capitalism.

That kind of instability is frightening when you’re already worried about losing your job and your family and your house. On the other hand conservative utopias (even the less overtly extreme utopias offered by the Conservative Party) in which the White Man is King of His House which is His Castle and criminals are Up and you had a Local Bobby are very solid, because they represent a perfection and consolidation of a recognisable reality.

I don’t offer any solutions to this, but it’s a point that needs raising. The utopian images connected to political ideologies are a large part of their appeal, and at the moment they are sorely lacking on the left, and often negatively rather than positively defined. This is something which must be addressed in order to prevent a reactionary victory.

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