“…we have the certainty that matter remains eternally the same in all its transformations, that none of its attributes can ever be lost, and therefore, also, that with the same iron necessity that it will exterminate on the earth its highest creation, the thinking mind, it must somewhere else and at another time again produce it”. — Frederick Engels, from the introduction to ‘The Dialectics of Nature’, 1883
Delegates to the recent Labour Party conference in the English seaside town of Brighton seemed not to notice a video playing in the main entrance. The world’s third biggest arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, supplier to Saudi Arabia, was promoting its guns, bombs, missiles, naval ships and fighter aircraft.
Consider the Grenfell Tower inferno as an expression of a new kind of class war, but not a class war as we have known it–between organised workers, political parties and capital–but between ordinary citizens and the local fiefdoms of the capitalist state as increasingly, big business has taken over the running of what’s left of our public and collective life, through ‘outsourcing’, public-private-partnerships and what have you, where making a profit is the bottom line, not serving the public.
“From nowhere, a grassroots power base of [60,000] left-wing activists overturned Blair’s 20-year “New Labour” project, which took the party into the Clintonite center ground, and ultimately to three straight general election victories, No.10 Downing Street, and government. As the leader of Britain’s main opposition, Corbyn is technically the next prime minister in waiting. This is not a trivial achievement.
“It has left his party’s establishment stunned.” – ‘Momentum: The Inside story of how Corbyn took control of the Labour Party‘, Business Insider, March 3, 2016
Updated: June 8, 2017
And after all the bad things I’ve said about Corbyn (here, here and here) you would think asking the question was redundant, but is it? Should I vote for Corbyn/Labour Party or perhaps abstain? What is at stake here, aside from Corbyn’s political future (and perhaps the future of the Labour Party itself)? He is after all, almost at retirement age and thrust into a position that he never asked for in the first place. Had he been ten or twenty years younger I seriously doubt whether he would have accepted the position.
After 20-plus years of being lost in the muddy centre ground of British politics, the Labour party now stands tall again as the party of social democracy, rooted in values of social justice, participation and unity. Under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is offering a positive message of hope at the coming UK election and presents a real alternative to the Conservatives.
Consistent with 21st century politics the announcement on 18th April of a general election by Prime Minister Theresa May was a cynical move based purely on self-interest. The ‘snap election’ to be held on 8th June contravenes the fixed parliament act of 2011, which introduced fixed term elections (every five years) for the first time.
It’s very rare that you see the ruling elite totally at a loss for words: but they were. Gobsmacked and stunned would be accurate descriptions of the look on the political class’s collective face on the morning of June 24, 2016.
So socialist Jeremy Corbyn, after pressure from the trade union boys who bankroll him, agreed not to make Trident an issue. After all, making nuclear missiles and the submarines that carry them, are jobs for the boys. Continue reading
I ended my last piece with this:
But assuming JC [Jeremy Corbyn] makes all the right calls, could it, a reborn Labour Party lead to a new call for an end to the madness of capitalism and exactly 130 years after Morris made his plea?
‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’
I’m really torn writing this, for on the one hand, Jeremy Corbyn’s (JC) sudden materialisation in the midst of a rampant, Victorian-style imperialist England, like Doctor Who landing in the Tardis, it’s difficult not to join in the euphoria currently sweeping through what’s left of the left in England (the current Media Lens has an excellent description of this) and bow down before JC, an almost Christ-like apparition right in the middle of the gangster capitalists in Armani suits who rule us.
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.
The first time I met Tony Benn was years ago at the WBAI Pacifica radio station in New York. We were both being simultaneously interviewed about the events of the day. He was delighted to be able to speak his mind and share his progressive views with mine on the radio. “There’s much more freedom of speech in the U.S. than in the U.K.,” he remarked to me. “Not that much more,” I said. That was the closest we came to a disagreement.
Condolences to Tony Benn’s family and friends.
democracynow on Mar 14, 2014
democracynow.org – Tony Benn, the former British Cabinet minister, longtime Parliament member and antiwar activist, has died at the age of 88. He was the longest-serving member of Parliament in the history of Britain’s Labour Party, serving more than half a century. He left Parliament in 2001, saying he planned to “spend more time on politics.” In 2009 he appeared on Democracy Now! to talk about the war in Afghanistan and Britain’s fight for a nationalized healthcare system. Continue reading