Monday 11 March 2019

1917 optimism

I read a Tweet today that said, “I have not been this optimistic since 1917'. Although I doubt the truth of this person's longevity I understand the sentiment. I can say in truth I haven't been this optimistic since I was 17! That year I joined the Easter 1962, annual 'Ban the Bomb' march from Aldermaston to London. It was the largest to date, with over 100,000 arriving in central London from the atomic weapons research establishment and with contingents from India and Pakistan, Italy, Canada, Spain and Algeria. That country won its independence from France that year and in Spain the Asturias miners were leading the first successful strike against the Franco regime since the Civil War. With the double dose of youth and rebellion it seemed to me the world was changing for the better. But perhaps Zhou Enlai was right when asked about the impact of the French Revolution, “Too early to say.” I think we are in a similar situation today. In the USA, and for the first time since the Industrial Workers of the World ('The Wobblies') in the 1920s, socialists such as Alexandia Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are working with increasingly large support. Here we have in place the first openly socialist leader for 70 years. I have never been a joiner of political parties, believing with Ralph Milliband, that the Labour Party has historically played a 'major role in the management of discontent.' But the Corbyn-led Party with its slogan of “For The Many Not the Few” is game-changing and gives us the possibility of a 1917 optimism. That is why I am now a member. JC4PM

Left Field: my memoir on special offer

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