Monday, 7 September 2015

In Defence of Comrade Corbyn

& the decline of New Labour 

THIS month the journalist, Nick Cohen, in STANDPOINT magazine, has address the issue of the Labour leadership campaign, and explained the success of Jeremy Corbyn by arguing that 'Tony Blair has discredited Blairism, enabling a far-left ideologue to gain control of the party despite his grotesque world-view'. 

Mr Cohen essay is perceptive in defining the rise of what he calls 'grotesque' Corbynism as a simple reaction to the monstrosities of the Blairites.  His point is that 'Jeremy Corbyn has never pocketed thirty pieces of silver [and that]  He says what he says because he means it, not because he has been paid to say it.'   On the other hand, some leading proponents of New Labour have moved in a world that most Labour people deplore: for example David Blunkett 'has joined the board of Oracle Capital, a group “dedicated to providing personalised services to high-net-worth individuals and their families,” with particular emphasis on offering advice to Russian and Chinese multimillionaires.'   

New Labour fanatic Lord Mandelson, for example, left office in the Labour government to found a lobbying company named Global Counsel, and its clients include Putin's pally oligarchs, including Oleg Deripaska.  Nick Cohen writes: 'Lord Mandelson himself goes to St Petersberg to add what credibility he possesses to the propagandistic conferences Putin stages.'   

Of Blair himself, Mr Cohen writes that 'By hiring himself out to Egypt, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, Blair has destroyed his democratic “legacy” more thoroughly than his enemies ever could.'  After the Western financial crisis, these countries were the big spenders and Cohen writes that 'Blair, Mandelson and dozens of others sucked long and heartily at their teats.'   

To the Labour Party membership generally this kind of thing is appalling, and Mr Cohen insists: 'They will not allow another generation of centrist politicians to use the Labour Party as a stepping-stone to careers helping the rich maximise their fortunes.' 

Hence the rise of Comrade Corbyn in the polls for the Labour leadership.

There is another reason why Corbyn is more acceptable than the other three candidates to many Labour members: he's much clearer about where he stands on most things and at a time of focus groups this is refreshing for most of us. 

Yet, Corbyn is part of what Cohen calls 'the malaise on the modern Left' in that he often tilts to the Russian side of the argument on foreign policy.  In the Autumn of 1947, George Orwell wrote an essay entitled 'The Defence of Comrade Zilliacus' in which he responded to a letter to the Labour weeklyTribune from Mr. K. Zilliacus then a Labour M.P. on foreign policy:

'...I do not believe the mass of the people in this country are anti-American politically, and certainly they are not so culturally,  But politico-literary intellectuals are not usually frightened of mass opinion.  What that are frightened of is the prevailing opinion within there own group.  At any given moment there is always an orthodoxy, a parrot-cry which must be repeated and in the more active section of the Left the orthodoxy of the moment is anti-Americanism.'  

Just as Zilliacus had affection for the Soviet Union in the 1940s, so now Corbyn has told the old Communist daily, the Morning Star, 'the  EU and NATO have now become the tools of US policy in Europe'.  Corbyn says:  'The expansion of NATO into Poland and the Czech Republic has particularly increased tensions with Russia.' 
Wojciech Jaruzelski
 Jaruzelski:  last Communist leader of Poland

In the last century the Poles preferred military rule by their own General Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski (see photo), rather than have another Russian invasion, and many Ukrainians fear Russia more than anything.   But this is Russia of the 21st Century not the Soviet Union of the last century, what Nick Cohen calls 'a dictatorial kleptocracy, whose oligarchs stash their stolen money in Mayfair, Saint-Tropez and Palm Beach, and whose leader sends his armies over Russia's borders to grab territory of neighbouring states.  Putin boasts to the world that he wants to be the leader of its reactionary and illiberal forces.... the repression of minorities, particularly homosexuals.' 

This seems to be a kind of political hangover from the last century which, even though Russia is now clearly a reactionary regime, for some reason the British Left still can't rid itself of. 

The community of political parrots that composed a dominant chunk of the British Left was an anti-American foreign policy position when George Orwell was writing in 1947, but now as Nick Cohen writes 'Opposition to the West is the first, last and only foreign policy priority of many on the Left.'   This is a lazy kind of cookbook politics that requires the participant to sing in chorus with the fashionable in-crowd.  In his day George Orwell call this political in-crowd 'a mob'  in which there is 'an attempt to keep in with fashionable opinion' and to be 'anti-American is to shout with the mob'.  This kind of fashionable interpretive community which so influences much of our thinking on the liberal-Left is in a way reactionary and prevents clear thinking: I often catch it in myself and I notice it others close to me.  It results in a kind of humbug and hypocrisy's, and Nick Cohen captures this when he writes:

'Not just Corbyn and his supporters but much of the liberal Left announce their political correctness and seize on the smallest sexist or racist “gaffe” of their opponents.  Without pausing for breath, they move on to defend radical Islamist movements which believe in the subjugation of women and the murder of homosexuals.' 

Makes you think doesn't it?

1 comment:

Mark Hollinrake. said...

Not true, as far as I am aware JC like I and the Greens, oppose totally the Islamic groups like isil, as well as Russia and other regimes who are anti gay, and oppose anti female acts. We oppose all imperialism whether from Russia, America, China, Israel , Saudi Arabia, Isil etc. We support pulling out of NATO and becoming a neutral country.

We also support free Trade Unions, getting rid of Blacklisting, and re-nationalising the NHS and railways etc.