Lead on, London.
The North East London Fabians are a society of socialists. As individuals, we are committed to the traditions of democracy, equality, and the workers' movement. As an organisation, we are committed to combining the most rigorous policy research with the most wide-ranging activism.
Fabian politics are Labour Party politics, and Labour politics start with the self-leadership of working people. Here in London, we are dedicated to helping create the spaces where that leadership can be exercised. Emancipatory, socialist politics is impossible otherwise.
In the 21st century more than ever, this kind of leadership is necessary, but it also seems further from reach than it has ever been. After a half-century of de-industrialisation, financialisation, and rising job instability, it has become harder and harder to see who or what puts the word "labour" in the Labour Party. Uncertainty about who Labour is meant to represent has made a mess of its ability to form coherent policy. This has kept the Labour movement out of power for almost a decade.
We believe this confusion is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding about who a worker is and what he or she is able to become. This misunderstanding has more to do with politicians than workers themselves. Anyone who lives from paycheck to paycheck, whether they wear a button-up shirt or overalls, can tell you that what they do to survive is work. Certainly their bosses do not dwell overly long on the distinction between manual and intellectual labour; whatever generates surplus value for capital-owners is labour enough. Politics, on the other hand, has let itself become enamoured with the mystique of the "professions" out of which most politicians come, and many elites have a vested interest in exacerbating the divisions between wage workers. Once upon a time, it was said that craft labourers and industrial labourers had nothing in common; such divisions served only to weaken the workers' movement then, and the same is true today.
The Fabian Society, as one of Labour's leading intellectual lights, has always had the responsibility to see clarity where many others see confusion. As the North East London Fabians, we see our task as taking the first practical steps toward this new clarity.
Our focus is on political education. Fabian socialism was born through this timeless, all-important form of praxis. The famous Fabian Tracts introduced generations of British workers to the basic principles of socialism, feminism, and mass political organisation. It is safe to say that the Fabians have never since been as influential then, during the heyday of such mass political communication, when the foundations of the Labour Party itself were laid. It is our goal to recapture that ethos and reframe it for the needs of our age.
In that spirit, we host events, sponsor research and writing, and engage the public directly in order to start much-needed conversations and raise the level of discussion. We believe that if there is going to be a socialism of the 21st century, it will emerge from a consensus formed from the bottom up, in which everyone, not merely a handful of the self-appointed, has a chance to participate.
We believe that socialist politics for today starts with the affirmation that manual labour is no less authentic or worthy of the name than the labour done by nurses, teachers, caregivers, Uber drivers, cleaners, wait staff, checkout operators, computer programmers or the work of anyone else who sells their labour to live.
We need a socialist movement that represents modern work and modern life in all its diversity. This also means recognising the universality of the workers' movement as it applies to people of all racial, ethnic, national and religious backgrounds, all genders, sexual orientations and levels of skill or education. The North East London Fabians are committed to making socialism reflect modern Britain to the fullest. London is the best place to begin work on such a movement, because it is here that modern life under capital presents itself at its most diverse and contradictory.
We insist on rigorous criticism, and do not spare ourselves or our assumptions in the search for serious, critical, evidence-based policy solutions to the pressing problems faced by Londoners in a globalised economy.
We are committed to internal democracy, and take as our basic premise the right of everyone to make their voice heard without fear of being censored or sidelined. Openness, in word and in deed, is how the workers' movement effectively learns from historic experience, which is its only guiding light.
What the Labour movement needs is to move beyond the socialism of the mid-20th century, both in its conception of workers themselves - necessarily seen as white, mostly male, and all industrial - and in its conception of the kind of politics that follows. In an age where long-term prospects for GDP growth look slim according to the best research, it is clear that socialism has to do more than just fight for scraps in a changing economy. Socialism today must live up to its historic vision of looking beyond capital and its ideas of growth.
That means relying, once again, on working people to push themselves forward into the role of social leadership. Facing up to and resolving the challenges of our time - nationalism, isolationism, economic crisis, and a warming planet - will require nothing less.