Jeremy Corbyn is a decent man, and he’s closer to my viewpoint that just about anybody else in mainstream politics, but he’s still basically just a moderate Social Democrat. The media buzz about him being “hard Left” is ludicrous nonsense. It’s a sign of the media’s extreme Right-wing agenda/viewpoint, a centre-ground shifted to the Right beyond anything known since the early 20th century, and the widespread (and very consciously inculcated) political illiteracy that now pervades the UK like a plague.
I think Corbyn’s usefulness lies almost entirely in the opportunity he presents for us to push the conversation in certain ways. I will push him over the other candidates, and I will support the good stuff he says and does as Labour leader (if elected) because it’d be insane to do anything else. The opportunity for propaganda is itself reason to do this. The subsequent opportunity for anti-reformist, anti-Labour propaganda when Corbyn sells out – because he will, make no mistake… they always do, the structural logic of the situation makes that inevitable – will be worth having too, speaking as a revolutionary.
The Labour Party will be relieved to learn that I have no intention of practicing entryism. I will not be paying them £3 for the chance to vote for Corbyn. I have no illusions about Corbyn, or the Labour Party, or what Corbyn can do with the Labour Party, or Labour’s chances of winning in 2020 whoever’s leading it. The last thing Corbyn needs is people joining, voting for him, getting him elected, and then never getting further involved in activism, or in helping him push the party leftwards (which is what will happen with the new members).
In many ways, Liz Kendall is a much better leadership prospect for the ‘really-existing Labour Party’. Corbyn is the candidate for people like Owen Jones, who have an essentially fantasy-based idea of what the Labour Party is. It’s a machine for controlling and containing the Left and Social Democracy. There’s an idea out there that the Labour leaders are cowed into abandoning Left-wing principles by the media. Bollocks. You don’t climb the Labour Party’s internal greasy pole unless you are, in real terms, very very Right-wing indeed. Labour is a thoroughly – even fanatically – neoliberal, atlanticist party which provides a kind of kennel for those elements who would otherwise be dangerously homeless. Its main purpose it to sidetrack people who want Social Democratic policies, and channel them safely into a reformist project that is, essentially, a neverending roundalay. Moderate the slogans to get elected. Get elected. Play it safe. Get voted out when playing it safe lays you open to the vagaries of an unchallenged capitalist system. Then play it safe to get elected again. ‘Twas ever thus, to an extent, but especially since the Blair revolution, when the Labour Party was essentially remodelled into a slick, larger-membership, higher-profile version of the SDP.
I am so sick of the Labour Left’s delusions about what can be achieved with this rigged game. In many ways I have more contempt for the so-called Labour Left than I do for good honest Blairites or Tories.
And I am so sick of the moral blackmail. “We have to get the Tories out! Get the Tories out at any cost! Do anything to get the Tories out! If you don’t support Labour, and support a moderate [i.e. Right-wing] Labour leader, you’re selling out the vulnerable people who’ll suffer under the Tories!” Firstly, what about the vulnerable people who did suffer – and would suffer again – under Labour? Labour pursued Tory policies, often with greater venom, vindictiveness and efficiency than the Tories. Their specialty, from almost the very beginning. Secondly, is this eternal fucking roundabout really the best we can do? I mean, really?
I’ve been an implacable opponent of reformism since I read Rosa Luxemburg at college. But even this year, at the election, I was saying “for god’s sake, vote against the Coalition, even if it means voting Labour, if you live somewhere where it might make a difference”. I said it with no illusions, but as a stop-gap, a triage measure. I was like someone with no faith in homeopathy, grasping at a homeopathic remedy to treat my cancer, because every other option is closed off and, after all, what harm could it do? But that’s the “We’ve got to do something?” logic of the panicked. That’s the same logic that makes otherwise sensible people think it might be a good idea to support NATO bombing Libya.
I begin to think that, as with what Oscar said about charity, electoral reformism is not only a trap but actually evil. You perpetuate the disease by offering palliatives for the symptoms. Lesser-evilism may be the greatest evil of all, even when practiced in the ‘no illusions’ way that I have sometimes practiced it. It may sound cold, but maybe what we need is a few decades of undiluted Tory rule. Maybe that would be an acceptable price to pay, if it meant stepping off that roundabout. Because that roundabout is kind-of attached to an underground battery, and every time you spin it, you generate more charge that gets stored in the battery, and the battery keeps the whole fucking machine working.
I’ve never believed that suffering is good for you. Never. It’s a pernicious lie our culture tells us. But, y’know… hope isn’t working terribly well lately, is it? Palliatives don’t cure diseases. A vial of homeopathic remedy doesn’t make a dent on the cancer cells… and, in any case, with Labour, a better analogy would probably be a vial of acid.
Suffering may not be good for you, but sometimes desperation can make you strong.
The working class movement is now so decimated that it makes less and less sense to think of Labour and the Unions as weapons in a struggle powered from below by working class activity. The old, standard logic used by people like me to justify engagement with reformists is falling apart, leaving us with some very bleak and stark choices to make.
I’m not sure that unremitting Tory rule might not be the only way to reinvigorate resistance from below. I mean serious resistance by the way, not one-day strikes and marches and clicktivism. I mean blood on the streets resistance – which is now pretty much the only way Austerity can ever be seriously challenged in the rigged game of the neoliberal millenium. Even as it weakens the working class, Tory torture fuels their resentment and rage. Better ten riots than no strikes.
The Tories want to take us back to the 19th century. Maybe we should let them. After all, there was no tradition of working class struggle before the working class invented it – and they did that in response to relentless, unaccountable pumelling from a system that represented them not at all, that gave them no outlet, that had no mercy for them, that locked them up for being destitute and let them die for the want of a bed.
Resistance and organisation came from despair, originally. In the decayed and destroyed ruins of the tradition that used to give Labour any semblance of usefulness, maybe despair is the only thing we have going for us. Let the fuckers burn it all down. Then, maybe, we’ll get it together to burn them down in return. What choice will we have? You got any better ideas? Any ideas that don’t involve keeping on turning that fucking roundabout forever, charging up their batteries, and never getting anywhere?