RWY

Well-known member
Aaron Bastani, Ash Sarkar etc.

There is something that does not sit right with this lot.

New Era, New Media: Support Our Work

I first noticed them interacting with all the usual Verso intellectual brigade on twitter around four years ago, and since then their online following has soared. They are now in a position where they are appearing with regularity on the BBC, ITV, Sky, whilst Sarkar's twitter account has nearly as many followers as the official Momentum account. Bastani on the other hand has a book setting out his "Fully Automated Luxury Communism" idea forthcoming with Verso.

I'm Literally a Communist You Idiot

What is their agenda within the broader spectrum of the left?
What do those of you on here with socialist sympathies think of them?
Why are they so sus?

Maybe someone with a better grasp of the history of marxist groups in the UK can help shed some light on where they fit within the history of the left in this country.
 
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thirdform

Well-known member
they are just dumb historical reenactment society with absolutely fuck all relevance to the conditions of the w/c today.

but if you can actually be bothered to take them seriously: they are communists in the pre-marxist sense, aka pre-capitalist communists. read up on babeuf and the conspiracy of equals and you'll see that that was the idealised form of the USSR.

As for fully automated luxury communism, it's just spectacle and nothing else. drive capitalism to its inevitable contradictions and revolution will naturally result. again absolutely nothing marxist in this.
 

thirdform

Well-known member
bastani just needs to stop plastering his spunk all over the verso offices and study the agrarian question in depth.

of course this will mean he will not make any money (like me) and he probably won't become an MP, which is his aim, apparently.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Every generation of young activists produces a new set of media pundits / columnists / authors / MPs.

Novara came out of the student protests and the trajectory has been predictable but I've been surprised by its velocity.

Bastani has gone from Black Bloc Anarcho to the Greens to Corbyn in about 8 years, which is remarkable.

Novara's output has increased in technical quality with the funding they are getting but it's about 90% Labour party material now.

The Lockdown podcast about prisons is good.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
I think in terms of where they fit into the left, there is a bit of having your cake and eating it going on.

They want to attract Momentum types and people to its left - so they can simultaneously talk about communism, autonomism, base unions, UK Uncut and other radical/revolutionary bits whilst also droning on about social democracy and the internal machinations of the labour party.

It's deliberately broad/inclusive and non-ideological so the point isn't about seeing what left tradition they come from - they don't. It's about developing an alternative left media (which is much needed) whilst promoting themselves as personalities and increasing their social (and actual) capital.
 

martin

----
Serious Q: can anyone give me a quick, 'guide for dummies' breakdown of what's sus about Novara?

I haven't paid them much attention, assumed it was just lefty commentators - seem more self-aware and less laughable than Laurie " I'm going back to my hotel" Penny. What makes them different from other paid lefties like, I dunno, Mark Steel or George Monbiot, who I presume would get a thumbs-up? (or would they?)

And what would an acceptable 'left media' look like?
 

thirdform

Well-known member
I think in terms of where they fit into the left, there is a bit of having your cake and eating it going on.

They want to attract Momentum types and people to its left - so they can simultaneously talk about communism, autonomism, base unions, UK Uncut and other radical/revolutionary bits whilst also droning on about social democracy and the internal machinations of the labour party.

It's deliberately broad/inclusive and non-ideological so the point isn't about seeing what left tradition they come from - they don't. It's about developing an alternative left media (which is much needed) whilst promoting themselves as personalities and increasing their social (and actual) capital.

I can't see many people bouncing off them tho.

When I was being radicalised the big guys in the game were AWL and SWP. neither of them dressed up their labour party/social democracy entryism in ultra-left language. so it was quite easy to tell em why i thought Lenin was wrong and Pankhurst was right, for instance.

But with NM there's a whole streak of narcissistic 'you're not worth anything unless you're an activist' thing going on. the left has ignored nationalism, endorsement on one of their talks for Nasser, getting the IPPR involved and it just goes on. But they still advertise themselves as 'anarchists.' So it's pretty Stalinoid in that regard.
 

RWY

Well-known member
Serious Q: can anyone give me a quick, 'guide for dummies' breakdown of what's sus about Novara?

It's the religious, preachy, style of presenting and the weird cult of personality that they're trying to cultivate around Bastani and Sarkar that particularly bothers me. They all come across as incredibly narcissistic (which, of course, isn't that odd for media personalities engaged in politics) but there is a feeling that, whether they admit it or not, they see themselves as a Leninist vanguard of the current moment.
 

thirdform

Well-known member
It's the religious, preachy, style of presenting and the weird cult of personality that they're trying to cultivate around Bastani and Sarkar that particularly bothers me. They all come across as incredibly narcissistic (which, of course, isn't that odd for media personalities engaged in politics) but there is a feeling that, whether they admit it or not, they see themselves as a Leninist vanguard of the current moment.


lol they aren't leninists. I'm not the biggest fan of Lenin but Lenin was far more nuanced in his thought than Bastani could ever hope to be.

narcissism is about right tho.
 

RWY

Well-known member
lol they aren't leninists. I'm not the biggest fan of Lenin but Lenin was far more nuanced in his thought than Bastani could ever hope to be.

I wasn't equating their intellectual output with Lenin, merely highlighting that they appear to exhibit traits of vanguardism as it is generally understood within Leninist theory.
 
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john eden

male pale and stale
I wasn't equating their intellectual output with Lenin, merely highlighting that they appear to exhibit traits of vanguardism as it is generally understood within Leninist theory.

I agree that narcissism is a factor but that is probably what you need if you want to attempt a career as a vlogger / youtube star and bust into the mainstream media too.

And I think that defines them more than anything. It's the same as Tommy Robinson and all these alt right dicks with Youtube channels. They don't want to be leaders or need "followers" any more, they want subscribers and patrons. Robinson was getting a 5 figure monthly income from some US youtube channel a while back.

I think Bastani wishes to position himself as a though leader - as the "go to" guy for radical commentary. That way he can sustain his own career and Novara, in that order.

I don't think there is anything suspect about Novara over and above their careerism and over emphasising the radical nature of the Corbyn project. Both of which are unfortunately the zeitgeist now.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Also I suspect one thing that is annoying about them is a lot of them come across as very studenty, still.
 

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
It's the religious, preachy, style of presenting and the weird cult of personality that they're trying to cultivate around Bastani and Sarkar that particularly bothers me. They all come across as incredibly narcissistic

From those of my friends and acquaintances who have met Sarkar, that pretty much seems to be the consensus. I don't mind her as a public figure*, because that kind of narcissism is in a way necessary to stand up to the narcissists of the right (as in that Piers Morgan interview). But equally, I think the inability on the left to interrogate the narcissism of its key figures, in media as in politics, is a big problem in expanding its support. Same with Corbyn - his intransigence is maddening, transforming what was a strength - able not to be browbeaten and broken by the right-wing media - into a weakness.

As my friend said - you wouldn't actually want to be in a revolution/post-capitalist place run by people that annoying on a personal level. i.e. any overturning of the current order has to have a psychological dimension as well as a political one - changing the insides of people as well as the outside conditions.

* Also Bastani, who I'm sure said something recently that I found dodgy (annoyingly can't recall what it was), but I think he comes across well for example, here,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdfxEk5nbds
 
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thirdform

Well-known member
intransigence refers to something totally different in the ultra-left.

It refers to the left wing of the social democracy and revolutionary anarchists who stuck to their principles in WW I and the later bolshevisation and russification of the communist international.

In terms of that Corbyn is anything but an intransigent. He is a very slippery man who is no different from the tories. more cops, no reforms to prisons, no shutting of detention centres, no abolition of prevent. no struggle outside the trade unionsn, continued selling off of social housing.

how is he intransigent?
 

thirdform

Well-known member
I wouldn't even call Bastani a committed Stalinist though. He's a Stalinist only in terms of the clicks it generates. aesthetics. A bit of this and a bit of that.

A bit like that wasteman Paul Mason, actually...
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
'the main enemy is at home' is the precondition for any internationalism. that's not corbyn.

I think this is very much Corbyn's position, if you look at his history, although I think you are putting a particular spin on it I don't fully get. His take on international politics is very much "bash the West" cf. Milne's infamous column "Can the US ever be defeated?"

I know nowt about Novara beyond seeing them argue with people I like - what' their positioning with regard to Russia, Putin etc?
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
I think Baboon was aiming just for the more colloquial meaning of intransigent - try and watch Corbyn answer a difficult question i.e. on Brexit. But maybe your "slippery" is better.
 
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