Modern Movement: an insider view
An interesting post  has appeared on a blog called Necessary Agitation, which gives an insider’s view of the short life of Modern Movement, which was set up in March 2009 as a direct reaction to the success of the Plane Stupid environmentalist direct action group. MM was at best ‘strongly influenced’ by the RCP/LM, at worst another front, as this blog argued in a previous post. The post on Necessary Action is written by a progressive Marxist who supported, and still supports, cheap flying and the expansion of Heathrow airport, and not unreasonably joined MM as he shared their ostensible goals.
The article gives a good insight into how the RCP/LM manages its ‘offshoots’, and to why the MM eventually bit the dust. The poster is not unsympathetic to the Institute of Ideas:
Something which can be said of the new generation of recruits clustered around the Institute of Ideas is that they are on the whole more personable and open minded than the old RCP stalwarts. Indeed, the clique that originally banded together to form the majority of Modern Movement’s members were drawn to do so on the basis of their dissatisfaction with the present line of the continuity RCP’s leading lights—Frank Furedi, Claire Fox, etc.—and a desire for a space to stake out their own unique positions on the new issues thrown up by the 2008/09 financial crisis.
Although he does see the RCP as “a group straddling the fine line between a committed cadre and a middle class cult”, you get the feeling that he supports their general attitude. However, it appears that for all the RCP/LM’s trumpeting of “intellectual ambition and curiosity” and “open and robust debate” , intellectually speaking they operate on a pretty basic level, and in MM actively sought to lower the level of intellectual debate and suppress dissent. Not long after MM’s formation, according to the poster, it split between a “left” faction which was anti-capitalist and supportive of airline workers, and the dominant “right” faction led by the RCP/LM personalities:
In the short space of a month or two a left and a right faction of MM started to appear. Broadly speaking the rightwing leadership clique were closest to the IoI, most reverent for the traditions of the RCP, dismissive of democracy, and pro-capitalist. Conversely, the leftwing faction were more insistent on marking a break from the old formulas of the RCP, operating in a democratic fashion and taking an openly anti-capitalist line.
This split eventually brought about the movement’s dissolution:
Members of the right started to flake away, leaving the rightist leadership clique increasingly isolated. And then, suddenly, they just quit. With the scales having tilted decidedly in favour of the left the democratic decision to take an anti-capitalist message to the G20 was too much for the leadership to stomach.
The impression given fits in with other anecdotal reports of groups and events organised by the RCP/LM: that the sect tightly controls debate, is undemocratic, and is controlled by a cabal of senior figures going back to the RCP days. “Open debate” is not a feature of RCP/LM groups and events, for all Claire “Her Master’s Voice” Fox’s combative rhetoric on the Moral Maze and Question Time.
The closing paragraph of the post is telling and damning:
And so in a microcosm there you have a demonstration of the kind of shenanigans favoured by the post RCP. Secrecy, an aggressive ‘Leninism’ based on no respect for democracy, a tight control over ‘the message’, often at odds with the real aims. It could be added that the IoI itself reflects all these tendencies. Essentially a fringe political party in all but name, but lacking even the faintest trace of internal democracy, debate over fundamental principles or tolerance of dissent from Frank Furedi’s ideology. Evasiveness over core ideology is even promoted amongst new recruits; and as such, for all the endless show debates put on by the organization, there is next to no theoretical exposition or discussion of their central beliefs. The ‘line’ spread both inside and outside is that there is ‘no line’ and, as O’Brien tells Winston in Orwell’s 1984, 2 + 2 does equal 5.
 Institute of Ideas website home page, accessed 6/8/10
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