Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mr Corbyn comes to town

The new leader of the Labour Party
In his acceptance speech at the Labour Party special conference today, Jeremy Corbyn laid out his Weltanschauung. British society, he suggested, comprises a constellation of the oppressed: those on welfare, the low-paid, trades-unionists (mostly public-sector), women, the homeless, and so on. This coalition of the dispossessed camps like a shanty town around the wealthy citadel of political-economic-military power politically identified with the Tories - a British version of Le Pouvoir: warmongering, selfish, contemptuous of the huddled masses and in essence morally evil. The job of the socialist left is to take them on, break their power and redistribute their resources.

I think that is a fair and non-biased summary of Jeremy's views. It is a slightly less nuanced version of a Manichean world view you can read any day of the week in The Guardian.

A Marxist analysis would go further and ask which social forces find such an ideology appealing. It's a good question and the answer suggests itself immediately:
  • public sector workers, 

  • activist intellectuals who feel excluded from the actual reins of power, 

  • liberal ('nice') individuals who are not in any immediate danger of deprivation themselves, but whose empathic faculties are fully engaged by those they take to be so much worse off than themselves. 

None of these groups have any problem with spending other people's money.

So now we come to the outer limits of Corbynism. Our Corbynistas make a fine and vehement moral case - there are always problems in the world which break your heart - but they mistakenly believe that they have a monopoly of such concerns. In the end it's economic and technological development which makes the money to pay for social progress. As this is of little interest to Jeremy and his fellow-thinkers, being strategically substituted by their confiscatory tendencies, it follows that those who invest, invent, develop, create value and pay taxes are always going to be somewhat less impressed with the new Labour leadership and its shining city upon a hill.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Jeremy's honesty, forthrightness and rather strident moral fervour doesn't play rather well on TV and in Parliament. Ed Miliband, after all, frequently had the better of his opponents in verbal jousts though his economics was rubbish. We may as a consequence be in for a repeat of the late sixties when demonstrations, often violent, were common as the disenfranchised youth and unions of the period showed their alienation from majority society.

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