Conspiracy theories are on the rise in politics these days. Traditionally conspiracism has tended to be associated with the right but – increasingly in the UK – it’s coming to characterise sections of the left.
Conspiracists see the world in terms of shadowy groups of individuals controlling finance, the media and institutions. Insofar as they oppose capitalism, it’s not through a critique of basic social relations: no, it’s because sinister forces (often characterised as finance capital or just “the bankers”) are in control. This kind of thinking has nothing to do with Marxism even when it uses some Marxian terminology.
A favourite word of the conspiracists is “elite”. The whole Brexit row is apparently about “elites” (sometimes “oligarchs” or even “plutocrats”) against “the people”(or “working people” or “the voters”). That terminology originated not from the left from that curious mixture of former leftists and outright 1920s fascists, Gaetano Mosca, Vilfredo Pareto, and Robert Michels. To put it simply, they thought elites inevitable and saw the fundamental clash in society not as between classes but between the elite and the people.
So it is strange and disturbing to find the Morning Star, a publication under the control of the ostensibly Marxist Communist Party of Britain, increasingly using such language, and the conspiratorial approach that goes with it, in its coverage of Brexit.
On Friday 25 January the Morning Star went into full conspiratorial mode with an editorial warning: “The danger is clear. Every suggestion, explicit or subliminal, that exit from the EU is an option that can be deferred, either for now or infinitely, threatens Labour’s hard-won credibility with its core electorate of working people.
“The serial undermining of Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to respect the referendum result has many seats of subversion.
“Some can be found in the shadow cabinet, even among those charged with implementing conference policy. Some on the back benches where unfulfilled ambition ends in speculation about forming a new centre party of class collaboration or reconstituting a Blairite tendency to the same ends.
“There are many subterranean channels of communication between elements in Labour and the EU powers that be.”
In addition to this conspiracy theory stuff, something else was finally revealed: the Morning Star is in favour of a no deal Brexit: “One reflection of popular feeling is the rising sense that a no deal Brexit is preferable to the alternatives
“This is fed by the pervasive sense among millions of people that an elite is stealing the popular verdict on Brexit.”
No mistaking the Faragist influence there. But, equally, note the dissembling cowardice: the unwillingness to simply state that no deal is what the Morning Star favours: why not, when it’s so obvious? Could it be that the Morning Star, which has deliberately positioned itself as a Corbyn fanzine, now finds itself in opposition to the one clear policy that Corbyn has on Brexit: opposing no deal?