by David Swanson
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Let’s Try Democracy
September 13, 2015
I wonder if people in the United States understand what it means that the Labour Party in London now has a peace activist in charge of it. Jeremy Corbyn does not resemble any U.S. politicians. He doesn’t favor “only the smart wars” or prefer drone murders to massive invasions. Corbyn opposes wars, and he works to end militarism. He was over here in Washington recently trying to get a Brit freed from Guantanamo. He chairs the Stop the War Coalition, one of the biggest peace organizations in Britain. He meets with foreign peace activists, like me, who can’t even enter the same worldview, much less the same room, with any U.S. leaders.
When Corbyn and I both spoke at a peace event in London four years ago, he was introduced by Andrew Murray as working in Parliament with “a pack of war lords.” Corbyn agreed: Parliament is made up of war lords and war criminals, he remarked.
Corbyn at that point credited the Stop the War Coalition with having helped to prevent an attack on Iran in recent years, just as I believed the US peace movement deserved credit, and does so again this year.
Corbyn called the idea that more time was needed to finish a job in Afghanistan a “load of tosh.” He also pointed out that the two sides fighting in Libya could exchange parts for their rifles, because they both had rifles provided by Britain.
Corbyn doesn’t just call war criminals “war criminals.” He intends to see them prosecuted, including Tony Blair, whom Corbyn wants to see face charges for the 2003 attack on Iraq, which Corbyn of course opposed.
Corbyn doesn’t just oppose militarism rhetorically. He wants to shut it down. He opposes the Trident nuclear boondoggle and intends to withdraw the UK from NATO. What other NATO members might follow the UK’s lead?
Corbyn doesn’t just express nice sentiments about a distant future without nuclear weapons. He advocates unilateral disarmament by the UK, in compliance with the non-proliferation treaty.
Corbyn doesn’t just muse about non-military solutions in Syria but seeks to find them and to prevent military action that makes crises worse. He plans to halt British airstrikes from planes or drones in Syria. He also mentions the uncomfortable topic of “some of our supposed allies in the region” providing weapons and funding to ISIS — and proposes to cut that off rather than fueling the fire with more weapons and attacks.
Corbyn is even opposed to the steady buildup of hostility toward Russia, and faults NATO for expanding and the West for creating the crisis in Ukraine. He doesn’t excuse actual misdeeds by Russia, but faults U.S. and European aggression and hypocrisy.
And, though this may be difficult for Americans to imagine, Corbyn opposes the mass slaughter of Palestinians by Israel.
Hours after being elected leader of the Labour Party, Corbyn spoke on Saturday at a huge pro-refugee rally in Parliament Square, and blamed the refugee crisis on its cause, declaring that he would not support the past policy of rushing about the world launching wars.
Stop the War Coalition on Sep 12, 2015
Americans have come to believe that politicians who support, promote, tolerate, or fund wars can be “war critics” by proposing various tweaks to the war machine.
Bernie Sanders focuses on money issues, taxing the rich, spending on the poor, but has thus far been permitted to engage in the general practice of speaking only about the 46% of federal discretionary spending that it not military. Nobody has asked him about the 54% that by the calculation of National Priorities Project is military. Nobody has asked him if Eisenhower was right that military spending produces wars. Here are 25,000 people who want to know whether and how much Sanders would want to cut military spending.
Sanders is silent on the public support for two, not one, great sources of revenue: taxing the rich (which he’s all over) and cutting the military (which he avoids). When he is asked about wars and says Saudi Arabia should pay for and lead them, nobody has followed up by asking whether the wars are themselves good or not or how the theocratic murderous regime in Saudi Arabia which openly seeks to overthrow other governments and is dropping US cluster bombs on Yemen will transform the wars into forces for good. Since when is THAT “socialism”?
If you go to Bernie’s website and click on ISSUES and search for foreign policy it’s just not there. In the United States, candidates for high office are permitted to just be silent on how much they’d cut the military, even within a range of $100 billion. Does Sanders, or do any of the other candidates, favor $45 billion in more free weapons for Israel paid for by the U.S. public whom Sanders usually wants to spare lesser expenses than that? Who knows.
Jeremy Corbyn just won leadership of the Labour Party by promoting socialism at home and abroad. What are we yanks afraid of?
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
from the archives:
Chris Hedges on Corbyn VS Sanders: Two Different Political Animals + Hedges: US’ Ongoing Assault on Iraq Coughed Up Groups Like ISIS
Bernie Sanders Again Insists That Saudi Arabia Should Kill More People by David Swanson
Is Bernie Sanders Making A “Political Revolution”? by Todd Chretien
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I Have Some Suggestions For You by Ralph Nader
Chris Hedges: Bernie Sanders is Lending Credibility to a Party That is Completely Corporatized, interviewed by Ralph Nader
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I Have Some Questions For You by Lo
Chris Hedges: Bernie Sanders Has Made No Mention of the Military, Part 3 + Our Night with Bernie by Bruce Gagnon
Invest in Activism, Not Bernie Sanders by David Swanson + The Problem with Bernie Sanders by Ashley Smith
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Well said David S. & bravo Lo for posting such a remarkable benchmark moment here ~ what a contrast!! Mind boggling. We are so habituated to careerist platitudes from self-congratulating sophists, how shocking it is to hear actual truth for a change! It’s like awaking from a ghastly dream.
Here is a reliable, consistently stalwart & radical human being speaking not just from the heart, but from direct political experience as the new majority leader of one of the most important parties in Europe, in the self-same spirit as the legendary Keir Hardie ~ the very first independent Labour Member of Parliament; a man who started work at 7 years old, & was already forced into the pits by the tender age of ten…. ‘Hardie went to work in the mines as a “trapper” — opening and closing a door for a 10-hour shift in order to maintain the air supply for miners in a given section….’ (Wikipedia quote from Stewart’s biography.)
What an extraordinary moment, and what an incredible result this is. It needs now to translate into powerful direct action, proactive resistance, as an invincible corrective to the dinosaur-reflex ecocidal mindlessness of the old guard of hoarding power-junkies and morally ignorant, materially corrupt political perverts and war-financiers ~ those fanatical bigots who believe the answer is always to bomb ourselves out of our present difficulties.
This event changes the climate of thought in the UK forever; as together with the Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP we now have a totally new landscape of emergent coalition politics in the making ~ with unprecedented representation by and for women, and a real voice on behalf of the slaughtered innocents, those sacrificial victims and broken bodies, crushed under the PNAC regime of infanticidal monstrosity. What a welcome sea-change!
This what politics should be about. We need to be asking the electorate straight “are you in favour of child murder, poisonous extraction, indigenous genocide, ecosystem death, PR engineered consent and universal habitat destruction? If so, vote for the ruling establishment & suffer the inevitable consequences…or do you have the spiritual will to resist and to regenerate the Earth, to affirm the sanctity of Life?”
Great commentary, David, as always. It’s wonderful to be able to post “Good News” for once. I’m very happy for the people in the UK.
I second your reply to David, Lo. I listened to Democracy Now this morning and heard some of Corbyn’s dynamic speeches, and to hear the eloquent Tariq Ali in Britain (who has known Jeremy for about 40 years) tell you that Corbyn is the “real deal” (my words, not his), I can see why David and all of the genuine anti-war, pro-people, pro-Mother Earth folks in the UK are elated.
He MUST rally the Brits (and then the European Continent) into returning to progressive (and sustainable) changes in government, taking on the reactionaries in Parliament, no easy task.
The hard work begins…. PAX
It won’t be easy.
Here’s an article I read yesterday: http://www.ianwelsh.net/so-you-supported-corbyn-here-is-what-you-must-do-if-he-is-to-survive-and-win/
Thanks Lo, and Frank. Indeed, it is a colossal undertaking to shift prevailing assumptions toward a more intelligent, ecological and incisive engagement with reality. I’ll try to keep this brief, but a basic outline sketch may be worth considering….
The Ian Walsh response (you cite above) is sound so far as it goes, but we’re missing a trick if we don’t see that the real significance of this massive upheaval for Labour is about the power of exercising political diversity and the strength of working with tactical coalitions, alliances and initiatives not just getting bogged down with the same old, same old party wrangling.
The global landscape is changing in dramatic ways. Accordingly, the narratives have to encompass these new geodesic horizons, many of which are still only dimly visible. The (nuclear) issue of militarism is the most huge challenge, but not impossible to grapple with. To begin with, more women are implicated in discussions and are directly gaining credible traction.
The insidious root of the UK’s problem is the criminal arms trade. The only cure for this sick racket is to revive stolid old-fashioned notions of self-defense, invoking the timeless wisdom of the Daoist approach and scorning the macho charisma of the organized global crime syndicates we politely call corporations.
On a purely humanitarian note, the consequences of US/NATO (centralized bank) policy have deluged us with endless unprecedented crises. Even some right-wing die-hards like Kenneth Clarke openly admit the utter folly and the disastrous outcomes of the long history of Afghan misadventures. So common sense does still count for something.
I think myself, it all boils down to how we frame our war and peace rhetoric; how we actually perceive the world. Is our planetary existence a living, breathing esoteric mystery or just a prescriptive playground for machine dominance?
David, you really hit the nail on its head with calling corporations “organized global crime syndicates”, as that is indeed so true.
What do you think of this piece, “UK Labour leader Corbyn includes pro-austerity, pro-war Blairites in shadow cabinet” http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/09/15/corb-s15.html?
Lo and David…. I must be slipping! Misspelling Tariq Ali’s name, especially after hearing him speak on many occasions over the years.
On the Ian Welsh article, Corbyn definitely needs massive support among not only in the Labor Party, but by all those who share his vision and ideas for a more just world.
On the wsws article, I like many of their articles, but some of the writer’s are too dogmatic and if anyone doesn’t toe their line, they find fault, making unfair accusations.
Here’s a prescient article by one of our heroes.
“organized global crime syndicates,” aka “corporations.”
DonCorleone was a struggling novice by comparison!
Thanks, David & Lo!
I corrected the spelling in your first comment, sorry I didn’t catch that yesterday.
Thanks for the Finian Cunningham article, I may post it later today.
Excellent article by Finian!
Terrific value from Tariq Ali, Frank!
To respond the wsws article Lo, I think it is only the proverbial tip of a gigantic ‘berg. Sounds to me like the Don Corleone gambit ~ keep ’em close.
I don’t think we’ll get very far until the issue of land reform is raised in this country, as the “ruling class” approach can actually obscure the truth on the ground ~ I mean, I like Billy Bragg but he doesn’t live in a hovel or a favela. It is the big investment monies from the (New Labour ?) city that are being hedged and hidden through huge land tie-ups (internationally.)
In fact, Prince Charles has probably done far more for sustainable ag. & inner city initiatives than many working class ideologues. It’s the unaccountable “free” market that has to reform. Extractive economies of scale are immensely destructive of social coherence as I see it…
I think we need to revise those comfort-zone stereotypes and see the “new growth” forest for what it really is, something new ~ not just a cause to lament a few sad dying specimens in isolation…authentic, imaginative biodiversity is the thing not monoculture of the land or the mind; and the same applies to political philosophy in my opinion.
Thanks for your insights, David. May I ask if you live in a city or in the rural area of England?
I’m in the rural S West on the Atlantic coast in N Devon, that is the only designated Biosphere Reserve in the UK…not that you’d know it the way intensive farming has taken hold! On the bright side we have more organic small-holders & producers than elsewhere in these islands….
Thanks, David, I’m sure you’ve mentioned it before, but I forgot. Wonderful that you have so many small organic farms and the Biosphere Reserve sounds great, too.
Corbyn is right on war and peace. He is right on creating money to help people, not banks, as Ellen Brown of “Web of Debt” fame advocates. Is he a single tax advocate like Henry George, too?
Congratulations Mr. Jeremy Corbyn Now Head of British Labour Party, from the Far East.
I promise to open my heart, my mind and attitude whenever and wherever I meet and speak our people as you’ve said in your speech!
Thank you, Mr. Onoda for your lovely comment.
Excellent post Lo by one of my favorites, David Swanson! Corbyn answers all of our complaints regarding Bernie Sanders including the fact that the latter is running in the Democratic Party!
In the clamor online yesterday and today it does my eyes good to find THIS. Corbyn just nails it. And I thank David for writing this. Both he and Corbyn call it out and are REAL leaders.
Thanks, Virginia. It’s wonderful to be able to post “Good News” for once.