Educate, Agitate, Affirm

EDITION: 5th Birthday.

Six important New Socialist pieces.

It is no exaggeration to say that New Socialist has been life-changing for me- as well as enriching my theoretical understanding, my relationship with the journal has seen me go from primary school teacher to trade union studies tutor to my current role as an activist development officer with Momentum. That journey has been navigated with the help of Tom Blackburn’s “Corbynism From Below” and “Waking Up the Giant” pieces in the wake of the 2017 general election. My relationship with the Labour Party and the party form in general has been heavily influenced by Tom Gann- through conversation as well as through written work. His “Open Selection and Socialist Democracy”has remained a fulcrum of my thinking even as the political landscape has changed, and appetites for a party form have diminished. More recently, josie’s “There’s No One Weird Trick” is a wonderful piece, cleverly situating individual agency within collective action, rather than opposing the two (as is too often the case in writing about climate).

Finally, New Socialist is often accused of publishing work that is dense and inaccessible, which is a ludicrous criticism when one considers that we have repeatedly published two of the most polished writers on the British left, namely Owen Hatherley and Joe Kennedy. That Joe’s “Sneering at the English” zips along in such a pleasing rhythm does nothing to detract from the important critiques it offers, particularly in relation to Blue Labour’s glum and grim attempts at realpolitik. Comrade Hatherley, my Sotonian compatriot, has contributed so much over the years, always with elan and often with a gratifying comic mischief, that it’s hard to pick just one piece. Read them all!

Finally, I want to mention “The Spectre of Militant”, written by Stepehn Daker. Like Daker, I am neither Trot nor anti-Trot, and I feel his bullshit-cleansing article achieved something that is common to all of New Socialist’s best work, that is, to educate, but also to affirm.


Tom Williams (@shirleymush)

Tom Williams is tutor in trade union studies and an editor for NS.