But Corbyn is such a nice man…..
In contrast to most hard and soft left people’s elation and enthusiasm for Corbyn, I can’t shake both scepticism and cynicism at Corbyn and co’s chances of ‘reclaiming’ the Labour Party. And I feel immense relief that it’s not just me.
Corbyn’s motives are genuine, yes. But good intentions are not enough. We need nothing less than total cynicism about the machinations of the ring-wing of the Labour Party; you know the Machiavellian spin doctors types which ‘The Thick of it’ parodies so well?
Unity with the Labour right?
The working class need a strategy that can actually deliver for our class. We’ve got no chance of getting an actual mass socialist party of the working class unless we are at least honest, clear and realistic about what is required to transform the Labour Party into this. We also need to ask whether this is possible without a major split between the ‘socialists’ and the right-wing? At the moment it looks like neither Corbyn and the Labour left or the Blairites want this. How nice for them all! For me there is no question that there must be a fundamental break from the pro-capitalists in the Labour Party if Labour is really to become a workers’ party again – which means the Blairites being asked to leave. But that isn’t going to happen is it, judging by our great leader’s record so far.
And my problem with the ‘entryist’ tactic is that my long term memory won’t let me forget that Labour has blood on its hands and what this party has done and is doing at an international, national, regional and local level are totally incompatible with my basic political beliefs and values. I hate war. I reject capitalism. Nuclear bombs scare me. Evictions and homelessness mess up my day. The cover up of paedophilia and rape go against my principles, sorry. And selling out workers to the bosses really pisses me off.
All of which Labour shadow ministers (Burnham and Abbot for a start); MPs and councillors have voted for and carried out. The fact that Corbyn says he opposes these things doesn’t change that reality.
Unfortunately, even Corbyn’s victory speech provides plenty of not so subtle flags that he is desperate to keep his beloved party together by compromising on what for an ‘extreme’ socialist such as myself sees as principles. Take this choice quote from Corbyn’s victory speech after getting elected which demonstrates his total commitment to party unity on the blandest, emptiest basis possible:
“It shows our party and our movement [is] passionate, democratic, diverse, united, and absolutely determined in our quest for a decent and better society that is possible for all.”
Who exactly owns and controls the wealth and productive forces of this ‘decent’ and ‘better’ society, Jeremy? Is it an economy based on private ownership and production for profit or not? Even the Tories could claim to support a ‘decent’ and ‘better’ society. Such as Liz Kendall, for example….
So why would any socialist actually want to even be in the same party as Red Tories such as Liz Kendall and Ed Miliband (considering their total embrace of capitalism and imperialism e.g. cuts, austerity, war, corporations ruling the world), let alone attempt to work together and praise such characters’ ‘contributions’ to Labour as Jeremy did in that victory speech? I’d rather eat a concoction of my own shit, piss and vomit than butter myself up to such careerist corporate robots camouflaged as human beings in their Murdoch approved politician uniforms, but then I’m not looking for a career in politics myself. Corbyn instead tries to get these loathsome beings into his shadow cabinet. Excuse me whilst I vomit.
Is the Labour Party a workers’ party or a bosses’ party? It can’t be both. And what is the strategy to reclaim Labour exactly?
I’m currently reading Eric Hobsbawm’s ‘Age of Revolution’ and came across this great quote from Frederick Engels below.
One day I walked with one these middle-class gentlemen into Manchester. I spoke to him about the disgraceful unhealthy slums and drew his attention to the disgusting condition of that part of town in which the factory workers lived. I declared that I had never seen so badly built a town in my life. He listened patiently and at the corner of the street at which we parted company, he remarked: ‘And yet there is a great deal of money made here. Good morning, Sir’
F. Engels, Condition of the Working Class in England Cited in ‘Eric Hobsbawm ‘Age of Revolution’ Chapter 10, ‘The Career Open to Talent’
The New Labourites are fond of claiming that they are ‘modernisers’ whereas we hard lefties are stuck in the 19th century with our old fashioned concepts of class struggle. The joke is that the right wing modernisers are the real Victorians in their contemptuous indifference to the suffering of the working class and their worship of ‘business’. How many of the Labour Party present ministers, MPs and councillors are happy to share this middle class 19th century gentleman’s attitude towards the profit made at the expense of the working class?
Errrr, most of them! Labour politicians who implement the bedroom tax and cut services whilst bending over backwards to give planning permission to multinationals like Tesco’s are the modern day equivalents of Engels’ gentleman! When are Labour going to start refusing to pass on Tory cuts and instead fight for jobs, homes and services for all? How do Corbyn and the socialist left intend to overturn Labour conference policy and change the party constitution? Remember Clause 4?
I can only infer that Corbyn and co have no serious, well thought out long-term strategy. At the recent Labour Party 2015 Conference, they were compromising on pretty basic points like opposing Trident (the GMB’s position on this is scandalous), so what do we actually expect to happen? Yes, Corbyn says he won’t press the button but do we really think the ruling class are just going to accept Corbyn with this kind of attitude is going to become Prime Minister in 2020? I don’t think so. The chances of betrayal of workers’ hopes and aspirations in Corbyn are sky high. Corbyn leads the working class to the parliamentary socialism never yet attained either in the so called UK or anywhere else for that matter? Really, fellow ‘revolutionaries’? Like Syriza?
Political amnesia on the left? What actually happened in the last two decades since Blair? Labour have blood on their hands.
Nearly 15 years ago this November I joined the Socialist Party because I perceived them as socialist, internationalist, working class and they were NOT the Labour Party. I had a lot to learn back then about the Socialist Party and whilst I left that particular party two years ago, I have even less reasons to join the Labour Party now than even then! I hated the Labour Party from aged 17 onwards precisely because what they did in power. Blair is a mass murderer and there will be no justice whilst this warlord is at large. Yet somehow I’m meant to forget that joining Labour would mean being in the same party as Tony Blair.
But Corbyn is fighting to change the party bleat, bleat….
The very fact that Corbyn’s newly ruling left faction are actually proud to be for the workers and not the bosses and that this basic left-wing position is actually popular amongst the country’s disenfranchised (i.e. most of us) is both horrifying and utterly incomprehensible to the ‘new’ Labourites. They are determined to soften up Corbyn and make his programme as weak as possible for acceptable potential power (God save the queen and all that), now that they realise that launching a witch hunt and splitting their party is not immediately in their best interests.
But this is just real-politiking, short term tactical manoeuvring on their part, responding as best they can to what for them has been and still is a total and unexpected nightmare – a galloping leap to the left in Labour, which reflects a typically desperate and short sighted response from some of the most politically progressive sections of the British (particularly the Welsh and English) working class, sick of all this endless austerity and recession and general misery pouring out of seemingly every pore of our enslaved and indebted lives.
This is a sad state of affairs but this is where ‘we’ (the class, the movement, the struggle etc.) are at. If anyone can point to any contrary evidence, please do enlighten me, as funnily enough I take no pleasure from this withering appraisal both I and many others have made. Mass change has to come. Class revolt and confrontation are inevitable, although when is the crucial question none of us can answer.
What I stand for: socialist revolution
We need a large, democratically run workers’ party with a clear commitment to abolish capitalism that is for working class liberation, internationalism and democratic socialism is the goal many of us on the left say we want but until the whole class i.e. millions of people – and not the usual band of ‘activists’ – actually move into action then we are stuck here.
And out of total frustration, now some of the most hardened Marxists (you know, fellow geeks, the ones who really have read, studied and understood all three volumes of Capital, plus the unfinished parts of VOL 4) are caught up in Corbyn mania and have actually joined the Labour Party! Others are half advocating it, whilst the other half of these confused political Jekyll and Hydes pretend to oppose it (see certain leaders of the Socialist Party and Left Unity as cases in point).
What I actually want – and I concede that in the immediate future it looks unlikely – is well, revolution. Yes, you read that right – REVOLUTION. A genuine, mass uprising of the workers and oppressed everywhere to overthrow the bosses and warlords and ladies, oh yes. Most socialists, including myself if I’m honest, usually shy away from talking about what we actually mean when we talk about the ‘socialist transformation of society’ or other such clichéd phrases, because we know only too well that this is well ‘ahead’ of most people. Walk into your local Wetherspoons and try initiating such a discussion and you’ll get the bewildered ‘what the fuck are you talking about, you pretentious ****’ type response that you’d actually deserve, if you really were that daft. That acknowledged, revolution is nevertheless what I want, I’ll be honest and its enduring appeal is almost certainly going to increase because the social and economic conditions of mass war, recession/ depression and environmental destruction are not going to go away with a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government in 2020 – which is five years too long to wait anyway. We need mass action now. And until then, as the Sleaford Mods tend to snarl in righteous disgust ‘It’s all a load of bollocks!’ But I’m not an anarchist now, honest (wink, wink).
I know I haven’t even touched on why Corbyn and McDonnell’s’ Keynesian economics is a fantasy in 2015 with the world economy no longer in an era of growth. Keynes, another nice man natch, was a supporter of capitalism and what is more, It’s not 1945 where capitalism had the opportunity to expand following the destruction of ‘dead capital’ of WW2. Instead world capitalism is facing a massive profit crisis and it’s pure fantasy for leftists to imagine that any form of capitalist economy and not just an austerity based one is in a position to fund a new welfare state. China doesn’t have austerity and that economy is slowing down, isn’t it? Furthermore, there’s no way the banks and private industry are going to let Corbyn try and recover their unpaid and evaded corporate taxes and take democratic control of the economy.
Only the working class moving into mass action internationally can even begin to take on these multinational monopolies and it’s a delusion to imagine that bourgeois politicians of the soft left kind can destroy the ruling class through us lot voting for them every 5 years. The way ahead is harder than we can even begin to imagine but let’s not slow the struggle down even further by encouraging the class to believe that politicians will solve things for us. No they won’t, they never have and never will. Socialism is for the international working class and oppressed to fight for – let’s get off our knees and begin to realise our collective power. Or something.