What could a left publication be?

EDITION: 5th Birthday.

Opening a conversation about what left media in 2022 is for, Daniel Eales offers a vision of grassroots analysis and critique.

What tasks arise out of our current situation? How can theoretical work and left media production more widely intervene in political action? What basis does New Socialist have for making the necessary interventions? What would have to change or be developed in order for us—or for left media in general—to be adequate to the current moment?

As we mark our fifth anniversary, we want to open a broad discussion around what New Socialist (or a socialist publication based in Britain more generally) can and should be doing in the Bad New Times. Below, Daniel Eales opens the conversation by considering the work of NS in relation to social movements and grassroots action.

We invite further contributions and critiques from all readers. What are we doing well? What could we do better? What is ‘left media’ even for? Send your thoughts to [email protected]. And remember, subscribers can help actively shape the direction of New Socialist at our open meetings.

As the Labour Left is in a continuous rout and retreat, and the Labour Right’s subsequent “Corbyn-proofing” of the party plays out, new forces on the British Left seem capable of emerging. In such an environment, it can be difficult, perhaps impossible, to stay relevant without moving with the times. The British Left faces the challenge of this new reality of politics at home, whilst also, along with the left across the globe, reckoning with the political pressures of the climate crisis. Such conditions demand the rediscovery of old ways to communicate, the adaptation of those old ways, and the creation of new ways to debate and to express ourselves.

New Socialist has often been a place for this kind of analysis—the dedication to giving a voice to writers who have not been published before, to speak of groups which have little written about them, and which are, moreover, essential to a mission statement which seeks to go beyond Parliamentarianism. As it stands, the most invigorating parts of the British Left are dedicated to such an extension of politics beyond the Parliamentary—the speeding past the consensus way of doing things, including the sort of militant organising which protects the most vulnerable. The rise of CopWatch, the organising of direct action against the continued hostile environment facing immigrants and refugees, the creation of new Marxist organisations like the Welsh Underground Network or Red Fightback, and the new sense of the relevance of older organisations such as the Solidarity Federation, amongst many others, are all elements of this.

New Socialist is in a prime position to offer up a way for these emergent struggles to be debated, for these groups to be discussed, and for these groups to offer up their own analysis of the present state of things to new audiences. Successful attempts at this can already be found in the pages of this magazine, like the recent Transmission on the Community Action Tenants Union in Ireland and the Transmission on the Cambridge Community Kitchen, as well as practical guides to direct action, such as setting up anti-raids groups. Ultimately, analysis of these groups and actions demonstrates not only their individual merits, but their connections with one another. Moreover, New Socialist can act to deconstruct these groups, warts and all, to delve into their strengths but also tackle whatever weaknesses may be present. For many, this kind of analysis is necessary in order to grow as an organisation – necessary to make real change – and that analysis could very well emerge from the pages of New Socialist.

Conditions demand the rediscovery of old ways to communicate, and the creation of new ways to debate and to express ourselves.

Our radical potential is no longer trapped in one place - and this is a reason for hope across the British Left. New Socialist is primed to establish itself as the communicator of our hope and the debating ground of our tactics, and to join the canon of socialist papers that have made a real change to the state of things. On New Socialist’s fifth birthday, it is important to remember this potential and know that such a path is eminently possible.


Daniel Eales (@Maoskyist)

Daniel Eales (they/them) is an activist in the Northwest of England with an interest in ecology, political organising and political education