Theory and Strategy

Reformist tactics within a revolutionary strategy

E. P. Thompson

The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question

Karl Marx

The project and nascent movement associated with Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has often been absorbed in the day-to-day business of politics, besieged both inside and outside the party. This is understandable, but it has also proved limiting. In our “Theory and Strategy” section New Socialist aims to provide a horizon beyond the day-to-day struggles in parliament or the party in order to grasp longer-term, strategic possibilities.

Aims

To provide a horizon which goes beyond the day to day business of parliament, opinion polling and elections but remains linked to the Corbyn project and to possible policies.

To provide theoretical perspectives which both draw upon the struggles and experiences of the “movement”, such as it is, especially the struggles of people from marginalised groups, and offer strategic direction to our struggles.

To interact with and support the rest of New Socialist, providing a theoretical and strategic foundation for the tactical side of the project and being nourished itself by being linked to the making of policy whether by left MPs or through the mechanisms of the party.

To challenge the intellectual basis of the positions being articulated by the Labour Right and Soft Left, especially those that make use of our language and concepts.

But also, to be open to what other tendencies both within Labour and outside Labour on the left can offer both in terms of useful criticism and their own theoretical and strategic perspectives.

On Theory

New Socialist understands theory as a step back from the day to day in order to grasp the relations between things as part of a whole, within a longer-term horizon, both in terms of the past and future. We do not, however, understand theory as unworldly; for us, any useful theory will be grounded in a practical view of the world that is dedicated towards changing it. Theory helps show reality as dynamic and contradictory and aids our capacity to understand and work on those contradictions towards collective ends. We aim to clarify how far (and what) theory can help guide positions we take now as well as exploring what is the proper task and form of left intellectualism in our current situation. These considerations will always be rooted in addressing how theory relates to practice, not only in the possibility that theory may guide practice but also, and more importantly, how theory emerges from and clarifies practical struggles.

New Socialist seeks essays of any length in order to grasp our present situation in its contradictions and fluidity to locate and develop strategic openings for the left. As well as essays we are interested in other forms of writing as part of our efforts to nurture and cultivate a new intellectualism of our movement, these may include discussions between various participants or shorter contributions detailing experiences, particularly the experiences of the marginalised, to form part of a general analysis including and organising various perspectives and experiences. These accounts of experiences would be particularly welcome for our series.

Series

We aim to run a number of series featuring connected essays and responses as well collecting experiences relevant to the subjects under consideration. We will begin with two series, “Starting as we mean to go on?”, jointly with the “Beyond Westminster” section of New Socialist, and “The Politics of Contemporary Motherhood”. “Starting as We mean to go on?” will collect and explore experiences of the everyday practices and culture of the movement, addressing how far these reflect and reinforce dominant social practices and values and how far they do and could transcend them, prefiguring new forms of social organisation. “The Politics of Contemporary Motherhood” will draw on a wide and diverse range of experiences in order to grasp the unique and contradictory position of mothers and motherhood in contemporary capitalist society and the political, organisational and strategic consequences of this.

Send us an pitch at theory@newsocialist.org.uk or learn more about how to get involved. You can find previous posts in this section here.


Photo: Laura Blankenship


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