FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Jeremy Corbyn’s Moment: Can He Salvage the Labour Party?

For far too long we have been accustomed in the West to a political culture shorn of compassion, decency, and solidarity. We’re all familiar with the script: a leader, or prospective leader, is someone who isn’t afraid to ‘make the tough choices’, ‘tell us how it is’, ‘be unpopular’, ‘take the hard rather than the easy decisions’, etc.

We are also by now well acquainted with the real message being delivered in these over-used and cliched soundbites – namely that if elected I will govern in the interests of a tiny economic minority at the expense of the majority and pledge to demonise, attack, hound, and hurt the poor and most vulnerable among us more than my competitors at every opportunity in order to do so.

It is a narrative, a discourse, tantamount to the equating of political power with callous indifference to human suffering, transforming cynicism and cruelty from vice into virtue, while pretending that there is no alternative. In the same inverted morality words such as compassion and decency are equated with weakness and idealism, the last qualities we should expect in a politician who is serious about governing the country or occupying any position of influence within the political mainstream.

Jeremy Corbyn, with his campaign for the leader of the Labour Party in the UK, has rapidly become the antidote to this lie: this Daily Mail/Tory/New Labour/City of London/benefit sanctioning/foodbank proliferating/migrant bashing/minority ‘othering’ conception of what a successful and rational society should look like.

Not that Corbyn is Gandhi in a beige jacket – far from it. In fact what he represents connotes real strength and grit, the sort needed to be able to swim against the prevailing tide to mount a serious challenge to the Thatcherite, neoliberal juggernaut that has decimated the lives and communities of far too many.

Over the past month this man has come to symbolise everything we’ve been missing in our politics, a candidate for leadership who is as unassuming as he is humble, who lacks vanity, ego, and who refuses to be anything other than himself. This, as much as the message he is delivering to packed audiences up and down the country, is why he has shone so brightly and why despite the welter of column inches to the contrary, they fear him.

At a time when we have a government that sends sniffer dogs and policemen to Calais rather than doctors and nurses to deal with desperate human beings fleeing war, persecution, and unimaginable privation in countries we have helped to destabilise and destroy, we need an alternative.

At a time when we have people living in disgusting ostentation while all around us homelessness, destitution, and poverty is growing exponentially, we need an alternative.

And in a country that places a priority on spending billions on replacing weapons of mass destruction in the form of Trident rather than spending it on building affordable homes, investing in the NHS, schools, and on making sure that everyone who works receives a wage commensurate with a decent quality of life, we obviously and desperately need change.

Those, particularly within the Labour Party, who’ve issued warnings over the dangers of ‘lurching to the left’ behind Corbyn are standing on the shoulders of the siren voices who warned Clement Attlee and the men and women who helped transform British society after the Second World War that the creation of a national health service was a utopian pipe dream – unaffordable, unworkable, and delusional.

They are standing in the tradition of those who warned that the goal of full employment as the key objective of economic and social policy was contrary free market doctrine and guaranteed to end in disaster.

Indeed, whether they know it or now, they are the modern incarnation of those who preferred a society divided between the deserving rich and undeserving poor, fueled by the belief that individual wealth is evidence of moral virtue while poverty is due to moral degeneracy, the former rightfully rewarded and the latter justly punished.

We’ve had enough of these Cassandras in our political culture, just as we’ve had enough of being told that the summit of human happiness and fulfillment is a massive salary and the ability to buy anything we want whenever we want it. We’ve had enough of happiness being confused with excitement, of being assured that competition is more compatible with our nature than cooperation, and that the poor man who steals a loaf of bread from a supermarket belongs in jail, while the rich man who closes a supermarket because it is no longer profitable, thereby consigning hundreds of people to poverty, belongs in the House of Lords.

What they don’t get is that Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign is not driven by what ‘can’ be done but by what ‘must’ be done, by the necessity of reintroducing sanity and humanity into a political culture that has become captive to the needs of the rich and big business.

It is this cult of business that has so distorted and perverted our understanding of what constitutes a viable and sustainable economy.

To put it another way, no business or businessman or woman has ever created a job in this country. Not one. It is not businesses that create jobs it is consumers who create jobs, by spending money to create the demand for goods and services to which businesses respond by expanding their existing business or in the form of new businesses being created and with them employment.

And when it comes to this creation of demand, it is an empirical fact that people on lower incomes will spend more of any extra money they receive than people on higher incomes, as their needs are correspondingly greater.

So rather than focusing on cutting benefits and incomes, we should be talking about raising benefits and incomes. And rather than listening to those who tell us that businesses can’t afford to pay their employees a living wage, we should be telling them that any business than cannot afford to pay a living wage is not a viable business and has no business being in business in the first place. We need, in other words, to reassert the primacy of the state and government over the economic forces that are in truth the real government under the status quo, a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.

The ideas and vision that Jeremy Corbyn represents, for so long buried beneath a ton weight of Thatcherite ideology, have risen from their slumber and are now part of the mainstream political discourse again, breathed new life by thousands of young people who demand a real and humane alternative to the thin gruel that passes for reality today.

It is why when they those same siren voices continually shriek that Jeremy cannot possibly win, what they don’t realise is that he already has.

More articles by:

John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Wim Laven
The Annual Whitewashing of Martin Luther King Jr.
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail