Salvage Perspectives #5: Contractions

    by the Salvage Editorial Collective

    We have said that there has not for decades been so good a moment to be a fascist. We have said that this is an epoch of unprecedented social sadism, that it is too late to ‘save’ the world, particularly in the face of climate catastrophe, and that we struggle instead because even rubble is worth fighting over. We have said we need a strategy for ruination. This we still hold. However, it would be a dereliction not to register the scale of recent shifts, the opening of possibilities. For a long time, if politics was ‘polarising’, as the Left incanted nervously, it seemed to be with only one pole. No more.


    Absolute: On the British General Election

    by The Editors

    ‘Obedience to the force of gravity. The greatest sin.’
    — Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

    ‘Things can only get better. Can only get better, if we see it through.’
    — D:ream

    An uncharacteristically subdued President Trump described the result of Britain’s snap general election of 8 June as ‘surprising’. The Guardian went further, calling it a ‘shock result’. The redoubtable Jon Snow for Channel 4 News was closer to the mark, that this was ‘one of the most remarkable election results in modern British History’. This was astonishing, staggering, extraordinary.


    Salvage Perspectives #4: Order Prevails in Washington

    by The Editors

    Not since 1943 has there been a better time to be a fascist. The ‘liberal order’, the demise of which has been the subject of ruling-class hot takes for some years now, does indeed appear to be in a shabby state. Trump’s election – on which more within this issue – follows on from the vote for Brexit as a body blow to the politics of the ‘extreme centre’ in the very lands in which it was born. Victory for the far-right Freedom party in Austria’s presidential election was very narrowly averted: should Marine Le Pen win the forthcoming French presidential contest, against which no sensible punter would now bet, the resulting scrap of hard-won relief will evaporate. Then the UN security council will be led by the fascist- through hard-right of US, French and British politics, plus the distinct market-Stalinisms of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. In the second rank will be the hard-right Narendra Modi of India, and the Brazilian inheritors of a soft coup for austerity. This is not a world in which it is growing easier for workers to organise economic self-defence, or develop political organisations to achieve class demands.

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    The Struggle for Labour – An Invitation to Comrades

    by the Editors


    The Labour party, the British labour movement, and the radical Left stands – if we may abuse a cliché for the sake of accurate description – at a crossroads. The Parliamentary Labour Party’s attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn, as treacherous as it has been cack-handed, represents an old politics: the politics of triangulation, vacuity and insulation from democracy. In other words, the coup-makers and their media supporters belong to that post-Cold War order, the representative and mediating structures of which are collapsing with bloody alacrity. They are the void made flesh. They have no answers for the coming and extant ruins.

    Corbyn, or the renewed and redoubled movement to keep him as leader of a new type of party-movement, just might. Jeremy Corbyn means more than Jeremy Corbyn.


    Not a Coup But a Blaze

    by the Editors


    In death's dream kingdom …

    There, is a tree swinging

    And voices are

    In the wind's singing

    More distant and more solemn

    Than a fading star.

    – T S Eliot, ‘Hollow Men’.

    In the spectacle of plummeting share prices, currency values, property prices, and trade volumes, we can scry a future.

    The United Kingdom, a dream kingdom, a twilight kingdom, is on the brink of its downfall.


    Salvage Perspectives #3: Or What's a Hell For?

    by The Editors

    ‘An atmosphere of deep unease is building’ in what ‘is likely to remain a bleak landscape’. The words are not those of Salvage – though we concur – but of a report into the British manufacturing sector from Markit Economics and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply. The sector is in contraction for the first time since 2013, falling from a low base to 49.2. This occurs as UK construction sees its weakest expansion since 2013, and the Office for National Statistics reports a fall in UK GDP growth to 0.4 per cent in the first quarter of 2016, from 0.6 per cent in the previous quarter. ‘[T]he outlook’, according to HSBC, ‘is getting worse, not better’.

    The government blames the slump and this baleful vista on Brexit fears, on which even mainstream economists have politely called bullshit: ‘It is hard,’ demurs Pantheon Macroeconomics, ‘... to attribute the decline in consumer goods demand solely to Brexit risk.’ In addition to problems of sterling appreciation and weak foreign demand, is a domestic problem: ‘We think that weaker demand for consumer goods reflects a fundamental slowdown in households’ real income growth. Inflation is slowly picking up, employment growth has faded markedly, and welfare spending cuts intensified in April.’


    Neither Westminster Nor Brussels

    by The Editors

    Photo: PA

    Long before this referendum was called, Salvage made our position on the European Union crystal clear. In the perspectives of Salvage #2: Awaiting the Furies, we wrote ‘If the Greek crisis has reaffirmed the imperial character of power within the EU, the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ has shown its external face.’ Faced with the ‘migrant crisis’, we noted, our rulers debated ‘whether to have a Europe of razor-wire, or a Europe surrounded by razor-wire.’ It would appear they chose not to choose – while fences have been erected along the borders of Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria, Europe has also outsourced its border policing to Turkey, which is set to become an open detention centre for migrants and refugees refused by Europe.


    Lèse-Evilism: On the US Election Season

    by The Editors

    This is an extract from the perspectives that will accompany the forthcoming issue #3: Or What Is a Hell For?.


    1) The Elephants

    The dark carnival of the US election season is upon us. In considering it, we must start by admitting sheer surprise.


    Paris. Daesh.

    by the Editors

    Do you want to know if we condemn the slaughter? We do. Do you want to know if we regard it as horrific, inhuman, unjustifiable? We do. Pick your noun – butchery, massacre, murder – and your adjective – horrendous, heinous, ghastly, barbarous – and we’ll sincerely sign off on it. We lost comrades. We don’t take lessons in grief.

    Where did that get you, though? Any closer to understanding what happened, and where it came from? Any nearer to a world without such monstrosities? Haven’t you heard the shop-worn 1930s references before, and it doesn’t get any better, just metastasises into more and worse? Haven’t you seen the inherent resolve, the Iraqi Freedom, the Prevent come and go without freeing anyone, without preventing anything, resolving nothing? The Islamophobic back-lash that is by now indistinguishable from the front-lash, the calls for unity: do you think that’s going anywhere good? Now, more than ever, we need division.

    We need the right kind of division. Tragedies, as Sam Kriss writes, are always political in their origin and consequences – if you want fewer of them you have to politicise them in the right way. It is political to demand that politics be put on hold. It is political to insist that now is not the time for thought – that if you do not emote, the terrorists have won. And this is a politics we reject. Here are our theses:


    Pessimism after Corbyn

    by The Editors


    Anyone, of any politics, who does not start by acknowledging the profundity of this shock is a bullshitter. For the first time since George Lansbury, the Labour Party has a leader who is both a socialist and an experienced activist. He did not win by the skin of his teeth, nor by fluke: his crushing 59.5% first-round win – coupled with a miserable 4.5% for the hard Blairite Liz Kendall – is a demolition job on the entrenched Labour elite. Nor is his win merely due to support in the unions, or from the influx of registered supporters – though he won 57.6% and 83.8% of these votes respectively – he also gained 49.6% of votes from full members; a full 26.9% ahead of his nearest rival. In a few short months, Corbyn has radically shifted the balance of power that has obtained in the Labour Party since the end of the Miners’ Strike.