After Ed Miliband’s speech to #lab13, the Daily Mail published an attack on him through his father’s record, headlined “The man who hated Britain”. The ensuing fracas stimulated partly by Ed demanding a right of reply in the Mail is covered well by Tim Fenton at his Zelo Street blog and I point at a couple of articles below in this article’s postscript. The Guardian in its high minded way decides to look at Ralph Miliband’s ideas to see if they could be called hateful. The article was written by Stuart Jeffries and the language is at times both highly colloquial and exceptionally direct. It’s this article that has led me to think about his ideas.
Ralph Miliband sought to answer the question that given that the universal franchise and the foundation of the Labour Party were the political responses to capitalism’s victory in the 19th century, how come it’s still so strong and its opposition is so weak. Why did the oppressed majority not just vote their ruling class oppressors out of power? Why has only one of the Labour Governments actually challenged the ruling order and the status quo?
Throughout his writings he argued that the ruling classes and there obviously is a ruling class, just look at the current Cabinet, have created a common ideology that the state is neutral but based on democratic consent and laws and behind this perceived neutrality there is a guarantee of equal power. Any changes to this political settlement is seen to be against the basic values of fairness and democracy. In the words of Edmund Blackadder, there is just one problem with this theory. It’s complete bollocks.
So in summary, Ralph Miliband’s contributions to understanding late 20th century capitalism and Britain, as interpreted by me and the Guardian,
- The state is not neutral, it acts in the interests of the ruling class.
- The majority of the population are not socialists, and certainly don’t vote that way
- Capitalism has a majority mindshare, symbiotically attached to democracy and the growing managerialism within capitalism strengthens this ideological leadership; as does, I think, the privatisation of middle class’s pensions undertaken by Thatcher as one of her first reforms.
- Labour Party’s lack of leadership and radicalism fails to contend against the State and capitalism’s ideological hegemony; he later came to believe that a new Left party is required.
- According to the Guardian, and this is a tricky one for the Miliband brothers, Ralph identified nepotism as a major tool for ruling class power; it’s a bit obvious really, what’s the point of being a ruling class if you can’t pass it on to your children.
As part of their discussion on nepotism, the Guardian point out the role of the Bullingdon Club in grooming the male children of the ruling class for power and their influence No 10, as an indicator of the escalator that still exists and pervades the political parties, Westminster and Whitehall. Ralph Miliband argued that the middle class attacks on upper class nepotism, such as say, comprehensive education, the Robbins report on Higher Education (HE), the abolition of the HE binary divide and New Labour’s establishment of a Higher Education Access Tsar and the expansion of the number of University places to 45% of the school leaving cadre were and will remain chimeras and Nick Clegg’s attempts to outlaw unpaid internships and Cable’s fixing of the tuition fee repayment schemes are just the latest useless attempts by the privileged to be seen to be doing something, but nothing effective. (It’s almost fascinating how much of the so-called reforms listed above are aimed at Oxbridge entry or on its monopoly of British Politics). Interestingly nepotism and managerialism conflict with each other, but the British ruling class will never give up on the rights of inheritance, and while it starts with wealth, the inheritance of power and influence are an equally important part of their perceived birthright and the basic tools by which they maintain their wealth. They bribe much of the lower orders either by allowing some of us to work in fabulously paid managerial jobs, or to participate in lottery economies such as the entertainment industry, but we still all end up making money for others.
It would seem that Ed’s dad has important insights into why crude economics do not control our politics; it would seem he is truly worth a read.
Tim’s 1st reply on Zelo St is a post called Ralph Miliband – The Reality where he points out that contrary to the Mail’s article‘s allegations Ralph Miliband was an opponent of Stalinism. Tim does not make the point in this article that Ralph Milliband was a refugee fleeing the Nazis, signed up for the Royal Navy and fought fascist Germany during the 2nd world war nor that the Daily Mail had spent much of the previous decade supporting fascism but it does end in a fine piece of abuse directed at Paul Dacre, the well-, some would say over,- paid editor of the Daily Mail.
In a further article Mail Miliband Attack – It’s About Leveson, Tim points out the high stacks politics being played as a result of the Levenson enquiry. This disgraceful piece of journalism, directed at a dead man, so unable to sue for libel and the paper’s uninvited attendance at his uncle’s funeral becomes another piece of evidence in the Levenson Enquiry endgame. It cannot have helped the Levenson resistance that their version of the Royal Charter, entrenching self-regulation was considered at the Privy Council later in the week.
Zelo-Street has a Press and Media category which can be accessed here, he uses blogspot as his blogging platform and so I am unclear how to view this category as XML. (I’d love to present my page view as a Storify page, wonder how easy that is?)
The Shiraz Socialist, someone well equipped to deal with the political theory and the time and talent to speed read some of Ralph Miliband’s work and commentary surrounding it marks the debate around the Mail’s attacks here on his blog. Interestingly tagged as ‘good people’.