"Having, at the same time, ample opportunity to watch the middle-classes, your opponents, I soon came to the conclusion that you are right, perfectly right in expecting no support whatever from them. Their interest is diametrically opposed to yours, though they always will try to maintain the contrary and to make you believe in their most hearty sympathy with your fates. Their doings give them the lie....What have they done to prove their professed goodwill towards you? Have they ever paid any serious attention to your grievances? Have they done more than paying the expenses of half-a-dozen commissions of inquiry, whose voluminous reports are damned to everlasting slumber among heaps of waste paper on the shelves of the Home Office?" - Friedrich Engels, Condition of the Working Class in England, 1845
Engels' words come to mind watching Jeremy Corbyn announce plans for his “Project for Peace and Justice” to launch in the New Year. Some 175 years have passed since the great revolutionary—whose bicentenary it is—wrote damningly of the cloying perfidy of England's middle class, but his observation retains full force.
The former Labour leader, now stripped of the party whip, appears in a four-minute video, which he describes as a “taster” for his new project. Bearing all the hallmarks of a Christian Aid charity promo, or the latest United Nations initiative, a beneficent Corbyn explains he is “very excited” about bringing “people together for social justice, peace and human rights in Britain and across the world.”
“It’s been a difficult year for all of us”, he intones against a mellow backdrop and scriptural “PJ” logo, with COVID-19 having “exposed and deepened the scale of injustice and inequality in our society.”
“Difficult” is an understatement. The profit incentives of the global oligarchy have allowed the COVID-19 pandemic to rage out of control, bringing a mounting toll of death and economic and social misery. Yet Corbyn seems remarkably untouched. This is the most relaxed, even assured, that he has ever appeared.
If the aim is to project serenity, an almost saintly removal from human strife, the real lasting impression is self-satisfaction and complacency.
The “mishandling” of the pandemic has shown the “inability of our privatised, hollowed-out system to meet the challenges of our time,” he goes on. There follows a brief name check of the various failures of “our politics and economic systems”, beginning with a homage to the Black Lives Matter movement that has exposed the “scourge of racism”, “wildfires across Australia, Russia and the US”, and “years of endless wars and economic crisis...” All of which have shown “how connected we all are” and the need for “solidarity” to solve our “common problems”.
Just what system has failed is not specified. The word capitalism does not pass Corbyn’s lips. As to what action is urgently required to halt the pandemic, save lives, protect the planet, achieve social justice—nothing. The growing danger of fascism and authoritarianism is not referenced. Instead, Corbyn says the aim is to create “space, hope and opportunity”; “share experiences and generate ideas,” and provide “research and analysis.”
Then comes the small print: “This project won't be a substitute for any other campaign or organisation.”
Corbyn's suspension as a Labour MP, and possible expulsion, spearheads a McCarthyite-style witch-hunt led by current party leader Sir Keir Starmer to drive out any trace of the left from the Labour Party, overseen by the British, US and Israeli secret services.
To this end, Labour now resembles a Stalinist-style regime, with hundreds of constituency branches censored and leading members suspended, solely for the “crime” of expressing solidarity with Corbyn. According to Labour's General Secretary David Evans, ensuring a “safe space” for those who may “feel unwelcome and unsafe” in party meetings, “must take precedence over our [members’] rights at this time.”
While this purge is conducted in the name of supporting “Jewish members,” an increasing number of those disciplined are anti-Zionist Jews who have spoken out against the witch-hunt, including Moshé Machover and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi.
The grotesque farce of claiming that this has anything to do with fighting anti-Semitism and racism was underscored by Starmer's placatory response to a phone-in call to LBC radio. The caller openly endorsed the “great replacement” theory popular among fascists, claiming that whites were “set to become a minority” in the UK by 2066, and asked why she, as a “white British female” should not have the “same right” to “self-determination” as Israeli Jews—a reference to Israel's 2018 law declaring only Jews have the right of self-determination in the country. Starmer reassured her that “we all have those rights.”
Upwards of 50,000 Labour members have resigned in the last months. But Corbyn did not mention Starmer or the witch-hunt in his video, while claiming that his project would “build on popular socialist policies developed in the Labour Party over the last five years.”
The pro-Corbyn Canary media outlet opined, “There may be some disappointment that Corbyn hasn’t launched a new political party... But what this new project will hopefully do is work beyond political party lines and foster cooperation and change outside of established democratic processes.”
Corbyn's project has been heavily trailed by Jacobin, the organ of the Democratic Socialists of America. And it is in an interview with this outlet that Corbyn made the following comment regarding his latest venture: “This isn’t a new political party, but a space in which people can come together.”
The DSA worked to subordinate radicalised workers and youth to the Democratic Party, first through its full support for the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. Then, when he dropped out, it transferred to enthusiastic support for Biden, while deliberately downplaying the danger of Trump’s fascist coup plots.
Likewise, Corbyn's initiative is intended as a political holding pen to prevent a rebellion against the Labour and trade union bureaucracy. The official launch will include former National Education Union leader, now Labour peer, Christine Blower, Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey, South African Communist Party member and former ANC Intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, and Yannis Varoufakis, a former minister in the Syriza government in Greece.
The claim that “Corbynism” would transform the Labour Party—the main political opponent of socialism in Britain for more than a century—was always a lie. Piloted by the pseudo-left, its model was Syriza and other anti-Marxist, fake-left tendencies, including the New Anti-capitalist Party in France, the Left Party in Germany, Podemos in Spain, and the DSA.
As the SEP (UK)’s 2020 congress resolution explains, “Rooted in affluent sections of the middle class, they insist that the working class is no longer a revolutionary force but has been superseded by a multitude of social constituencies defined by national, racial, gender or lifestyle identities....To identify and explain these parties’ role, the ICFI developed the term pseudo-left: they support capitalism, oppose the class struggle, embrace philosophical irrationalism, and support neo-colonial wars.”
These “new left party” initiatives have seen Syriza and Podemos enter government on behalf of the ruling elite or serve as midwives to Starmer's Labour Party and Biden's intended administration of bankers and war criminals.
On the wreckage of their previous ventures, the pseudo left now propose “projects,” “research and analysis,” and the “exchange of ideas” as they redouble their efforts to conceal the revolutionary implications of capitalist breakdown beneath the ideological camouflage of identity politics, the “Green New Deal,” etc. Talk of “solidarity,” devoid of any specific class content or class interests to be protected, is the codeword for assembling a bourgeois “progressive coalition,” working “beyond political party lines” to smother, confuse and divert independent, socialist, working class struggle.
Only the Socialist Equality Party fights for rank-and-file safety committees against the pandemic; the unconditional defence of immigrants and asylum seekers; opposition to militarism and war and the defence of democratic rights as integral to socialist internationalism and the building of the International Committee of the Fourth International as the world party of socialist revolution. It is this party that workers and youth must join and build.
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