Radical politics in the UK

On Corbynism and Fuck Parades

Why Corbyn and events such as the Fuck Parade need each other.

Not a lot of time right now but I want to quickly say some things about some of the recent events. My thoughts are somehow really simple and obvious but also seemingly under-reported perhaps because they are also somewhat ridiculous; that they might seem ridiculous is an index of how ridiculous is our current alienation and separation.

It’s interesting to see how Class War’s recent “Fuck Parade” made quite a splash. There is probably a reason why a good old fashioned, lightly riotous march could produce some ripples it wouldn’t have produced last year. Totally surprising, unpredictable election results; the sudden appearance of a proper socialist at the head of Labour, after so many said it wouldn’t happen. Whenever ruling opinion is flatly contradicted by events, it increases our capacity to be moved by events; thus a lightly riotous march might be perceived to mean something now, to indicate something happening, and so more people will actually talk about it, think about it as a live thing that might point to something else, and so on. It can’t be stressed enough how significant are these most minor tears in the fabric of fake status quo tranquility. Honestly I think seeking media attention is one of the worst red herrings in all of activist wisdom, but when it is received in spite of itself–try to think up something less “media friendly” than a “Fuck Parade”–it is hugely valuable as a signal of the status quo’s fractures. It proves there are new openings, new connections, new corridors to rush down–new lines of flight, if you please–in this weird place they call society, which is, of course, nothing more than a weighted average of what it is perceived to be.

This is why it’s so important we don’t split up and divide the events in the world according to the episodic framing provided by the media. Duh–I know–but no, really. We all do this, so badly. When liberals perennially disavow militants, and militants perennially disavow liberals, it is basically a lived sociological version of what the media does when it reports any kind of resistant political behavior as discrete and separated episodes. Even the enlighted refusal to get caught up in these sociological distributions is, obviously, one of many very well-worn ruts in the status quo fabric.

There aren’t all these little events which we either agree or disagree with, identify or disidentify with–the Corbyn surge, Fuck Parade, etc. There are simply lots of people asserting themselves against status quo institutions in all kinds of new ways, and then there is a set of status quo institutions which chop it all up to reduce it to status quo correlates. Even the radical commentariat is about as bad in this regard as the mainstream media. Revolution means all of us becoming events with each other in ways which are not ultimately reduced to current, status quo correlates. It would be a kind of mass departure from what they call reality, finding ourselves in actual reality, pleasantly unrecognizable to them.

In my view, Corbynism and Fuck Parade are the same thing. Events of human beings becoming themselves against status quo institutions, they are just channelled by sociology into different styles, performances, vocabularies, and identifications. To agree with one or the other–I could not think of a less interesting question. The only question is: in what way can I become a Corbyn and a Fuck Parade and a FocusE15 mum and myself, more authentically (yea I said it) and more dangerously than I ever have, in a way that draws from and feeds back to others becoming their own monstrous concoctions? Very many people think this is masturbatory Deleuzian bullshit but it’s not; it’s actually more concrete, practical, and credible than any other model I’m aware of.

I want to see Corbyn and some Corbynites show up to the next Fuck Parade. Walk in the back or middle, don’t have to support anything in particular but refusing to condemn anything. I want to see radicals not putting down Corbyn or Corbynites; not necessarily oozing with confidence but at least not putting out a fire themselves simply because they believe it will be put out eventually. Ridiculous idea, right? But imagine! And why not? It’s not like radicals would lose power or momentum, they have very little of either left to themselves. It’s not like Corbyn would lose elite respect, he doesn’t have any to lose.

The main final point I want to make is that Corbyn and Corbynites actually really really need things like Fuck Parade. This one is not a provocative thought experiment, I mean that very strictly speaking.

Corbyn is smart and honest enough to admit he will not be able to do anything without a mass movement. He is referring to the simple maths of power, but the point is poorly understood and under-reported. The reason no Corbyn has yet to save us is because status quo institutions do not permit a Corbyn to save us. The status quo functions exactly as it should based on the current distribution of power in our society, and the laws and norms of society are precisely those which secure the current distribution of power (duh, that’s why they are there, right?). Ergo, the only possible way Corbyn could ever deliver significant but currently prohibited political and economic change is if the final variable of the equation gets a massive increase: the power of the people must literally force the stakeholders of the status quo to prefer Corbyn’s policies to what the people will do in the absence of Corbyn’s policies. When Corbyn refers to a mass movement—if he is sincere—that “mass” cannot refer to anything other than a wide diversity of folks asserting themselves against the status quo in diverse ways. It means a generalised proliferation of autonomous energies currently blocked by status quo institutions, which implies disruption of that status quo order and therefore dangerous consequences to different degrees at different times, to those invested in status quo institutions.

Thus, even if you are personally opposed to engaging in property destruction and foul language—such as Class War’s Fuck Parade smashing some windows here and there—you can’t sincerely wish for Corbyn to succeed and wish that all other human beings obey all law and etiquette. Anyone with this profile of positions is in bad faith. It is not even that, as the Stalinists would say, you can’t have an omelette without breaking some eggs. You are more than welcome to have an omelette with dairy-free egg substitute. Rooting for Corbyn and condemning Fuck Parade is like asking for an omelette, refusing to cook it, but also asking that nobody else cook it.

Not only is the proliferation of disruptive militancy necessary for Corbyn to make a dent in British politics, the more militant is the mass movement the more successful Corbyn will be. I refer to the well-documented phenomena known as the “radical flank effect.” Currently, mainstream opinion casts Corbyn as a looney-lefty too far on the fringes of respectable “realistic” opinion to be taken seriously. If there were groups of people blasting music and smashing windows in openly declared class war across the UK, suddenly Corbyn’s positions would become only centre-left and realistic by comparison. This would tend to pull currently skeptical centre-left voters toward Corbyn, as he would begin to seem more realistic and reasonable (and just to shut up all those troublemakers). If militant mass movement grew and escalated further, it would be in the rational self-interest of status quo stakeholders to cooperate with Corbyn, even giving him currently unthinkable political concessions, in the attempt to deligitimate and buy-off the unruly bunch.

If you honestly support Corbyn, your only available critique of Fuck Parade is that it remains too rare—and still too polite.

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Murphy, Justin. 2015. "On Corbynism and Fuck Parades," https://jmrphy.net/blog/2015/10/02/why-corbyn-supporters-should-support-events-such-as-fuck-parade/ (December 14, 2018).