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Panic Attackers: Grass-Roots Challenge Sparks High-Level Hissy Fit

I have of late been much pestered with electronic message from an outfit called the “Centre for Policy Studies.” It styles itself the “leading independent think tank in Britain” — and it probably is as rigorously independent and open-minded as any gaggle of titled lords, Big Money poobahs, reactionary academics, epic tax-dodgers, Murdoch moochers and imperialist cheerleaders gathered in an institution co-founded by Margaret Thatcher can be.

I have actually had occasion to meet one of these ponderous grandees — a one-time Murdoch minion who also served faithfully as a mouthpiece for Moloch at several other ritzy rightwing rags before finding himself translated into the upper reaches of Davosian Valhalla at a global financial firm. It was a work assignment; I was interviewing him about his munificent philanthropy — but upon learning that I was an American, he spent almost the entire session complaining of what a raw deal poor Dick Nixon got: a leader whose greatness Americans were too stupid to see. (In a similar vein, I also interviewed the husband of one of the titled CPS members; he spent most of the interview talking about how much he had loved San Francisco — “before the gays got hold of it.”)

This gives you some flavor and measure of the “minds” behind the most top leading independent tank of leading top thinkers that there ever was in Blighty.

Now you would think these well-tanked thinkers would be feeling pretty chill nowadays, as their eager dogsbodies in the new Tory government proceed fiercely and furiously to impose the CPS vision of despoliation and repression — sorry, “freedom and responsibility” — on the worthless rabble whose bestial needs must be contained and exploited — for their own good, of course! — by their betters. Hayek’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.

But no; like the rest of the bipartisan British Establishment, the Thatcher-Tankers have been thrown into a towering tizzy by the distinct and increasing possibility that someone outside the cozy club of crony capitalism might actually ascend to the leadership of the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn – a long-serving MP who has been frequently, and at times vociferously, at odds with the sad sacks of warmongering, corporate-coddling shinola that have constituted the party’s leadership for many years — now holds a huge lead in polls for the top post. Although he is a man of “radical” views — radical, that is, to the pro-biz, pro-war, austerity-embracing centre-right technocrats who run Labour — Corbyn has surged ahead by using a sneaky, sinister tactic virtually unheard of in our day: democracy.

To a Labour Party left moribund by Blair’s war crimes, Brown’s floundering and the boundless ineptitude of Miliband, Corbyn has brought thousands of enthusiastic new members. More than 400,000 people have joined Labour since Corbyn’s campaign began. This is in marked contrast to the tenure of Tony Blair at the top of the party — a period that saw 200,000 members exit Labour, most of them stage left.

Here too you might think Labour would be pretty chuffed by this remarkable turn of events. A party more invigorated than it has been in almost 20 years, bringing a wider circle of people into the ranks, including the young and the long disaffected; what’s not to like? But the Clinton-style “triangulation” technocrats who dominate the party structure — and have turned “New Labour’s” pro-business tilt into a lucrative revolving door for themselves as they leave political life for cushy corporate jobs — have thrown a hissy fit of historic proportions at Corbyn’s unexpected rise. Not to mention the ghastly thought that the party’s ordinary members might actually elect a leader who actually advocates policies they actually support. For as we well know, such things are not supposed to happen in the “managed democracies” of our modern era.

That’s why Labour and its media mouthpieces have been in a full-blown, five-alarm freak-out for the entire summer. The lip service they long paid to Labour ideas have been canker’d o’er with the pustular panic they’ve displayed so brazenly. Instead of genuinely debating Corbyn’s policies and principles— and lacking any of their own, beyond the promise of maybe hopefully perhaps being two percent less evil than the Tories (the supine stance so beloved by America’s savvy “progressives,” bless their hearts) — the Establishment candidates and party leaders have denounced Corbyn with red-baiting rhetoric taken straight from Tory tabloids, while also wailing about his “unelectability”.

One by one, the “big beasts” of Labour have lumbered out of hibernation to denounce the Corbyn “threat.” Even Tony Blair emerged from his intimate embraces with dictators and other assorted sleazebags to declare that Corbyn’s election would “annihilate” the party. (Er, see membership figures above.) Blair’s plea was so panicky that it was actually headlined: “Even if you hate me, please don’t take Labour over the cliff edge.” Well, a man who bears a deep, direct moral and legal responsibility for the deaths of upwards of a million innocent people (according to the measurement techniques used by his own government) in a war of pure aggression that has led to even more murderous chaos, ruin and extremism, surely knows a thing or two about going over the edge and “annihilating” support for his own party.

Blair’s intervention has been accompanied by similar squeaking of pips from such luminaries as Gordon Brown, the former PM who could not defeat two sad sacks of shinola like David Cameron and Nick Clegg, and by the whole range of party bigwigs who recently presided over an even bigger loss to the Tories’ upper-class twits. The general line goes like this:

“Sure Corbyn’s policies are popular, even among many non-Labourites; sure, he is galvanising the third of the electorate who have stopped voting in the kabuki contests between Tory Tweedledees and Labour Tweedledums; sure, he is bringing back tens of thousands of people who’d stopped voting for us — the very people whose support would have given us victory in the last two elections; sure, he is now one of the most popular and respected politicians in the country. But he can’t get elected!”

Again, this is from party leaders who have lost two straight elections by adopting Tory policies and providing no genuine alternative to a deeply corrupt and dysfunctional status quo. (Sound familiar?) Whatever other skills the current Labour establishment might possess, “electability” is definitely not one of them.

At first, the Tories were happy about the Corbyn surge, glad to see discord in the Labour ranks. (Or rather, in the Labour hierarchy. The “ranks” themselves are the ones who have propelled Corbyn to prominence.) But as the once-distant possibility of his winning the leadership turned more and more into a likelihood, the Conservative elites unlimbered their big guns in the press and political forums, and began frantically firing whatever mud and mendacity they could lay their hands on. (Much of which has since been recycled by “savvy” Labourites in their own attacks. Remarkably, Corbyn has not returned fire, but simply keeps stressing that the campaign is about policies, not personalities. This is, perhaps, his most radical and disruptive notion, and seems to have thrown the entire media-political class into a tailspin.)

So while the Tory tabloids handle the gutter work, the glittery poobahs and pundits of CPS take the high road of “policy,” producing “reports” like they one they had the temerity to send over my electronic transom last evening. Ordinarily such items are relegated swiftly to the trash (if they somehow snake their way through various blocks and filters), but, laid low with an ailment at the time, I – in an idle, perhaps addled moment –  opened the message.

There I found a long, larded piece of handwringing and breast-beating entitled, “Corbynomics: The Road to Penury.” Here was rich and bitter comedy right off the bat. We have indeed been on the “road to penury” for lo these many decades: a road built by the ravaging financial bulldozers of the elite, with the aid of their diligent servants in the political class: two groups well-represented in the CPS ranks. The report goes on to —

No, I won’t do it. Life is too short to go through this kind of excreta at any length. It is not a political or economic argument, but a religious tract, put out by self-deluded moral morons who believe they are shining saints of goodness and reason — even while the rivers of shit and oceans of blood unleashed by their own extremist beliefs rise all around them. These are people who, like that pitiful plutocratic propagandist in Chicago, long for a universal “Katrina” to sweep away the lesser breeds — and all vestiges of genuine community, all efforts at seeking the greater common good — so they can impose their vision of a “clean,” corporatized, strictly managed, data-crunched and digitally controlled system of enrichment for the “right” people, and endless helotry for the rest.

So, from my sick couch, I roused myself long enough to send off this brief reply.

Sad, sad, sad, how very sad you neoliberal cargo cultists are. Waiting for the God of the “market” (i.e., a rigged system of crony capitalism) to create universal prosperity by enriching an ever smaller circle of wealth devourers and war profiteers, while nations, communities, and individual lives continue to deteriorate. We have been on a “path to penury” — your path, the jihad of greed and corruption– for decades. Now we are trying desperately to get off your noxious road and find a different way. Please keep your money-grubbing, extremist bilge out of my inbox. I don’t need, don’t want, don’t believe and cannot endure any more of your witless, cud-dripping spatterings of spam.
Have a nice day.

I’m not saying that Corbyn is a shining knight or saviour, who will magically transform the system and make all things right again. (Although at least his message of “hope and change” is not bankrolled by Wall Street world-wreckers and war profiteers, like that of a former hopey-changey guy who ran for office in America awhile back.) But he is offering a resonant alternative to the cargo cult of austerity and money-worship pushed by the Labour-Tory ruling cliques: an approach clearly supported by a substantial portion, perhaps a majority, of party members. And it’s fascinating to watch the panicked bipartisan ruling clique pull off their masks of concern for good of the country, and show their one true and abiding concern: power for their own sweet selves.

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Chris Floyd is a columnist for CounterPunch Magazine. His blog, Empire Burlesque, can be found at www.chris-floyd.com.

April 23, 2018
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