PAUL AUSTIN MURPHY ON POLITICS

PAUL AUSTIN MURPHY ON POLITICS


The subjects covered in this blog include Slavoj Žižek, IQ tests, Chomsky, Tony Blair, Baudrillard, global warming, sociobiology, Islam, Islamism, Marx, Foucault, National/International Socialism, economics, the Frankfurt School, philosophy, anti-racism, etc... I've had articles published in The Conservative Online, American Thinker, Philosophy Now, Intellectual Conservative, Human Events, Faith Freedom, Brenner Brief (Broadside News), New English Review, etc... (Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy can be found here


This blog used to be called EDL Extra. I was a supporter of the EDL until 2012. This blog has retained the old web address.

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Friday, 13 July 2018

The EU & the Customs Union: Politics vs. Economics




The essence of the issues of both the Customs Union and, more broadly, the European Union itself can be summed up in a single sentence:

It's not all about economics. It's all about politics.

At the very least, it may not literally all be about economics. However, it's certainly true that many people believe - and many Remainers pretend to believe – that it's all about economics...

In terms of detail, the former Conservative Chancellor, Lord Lawson, captures this when he recently said that Lord Patten advanced a "political argument dressed up as a trade argument". Lawson was specifically responding to Lord Patten's "wrecking amendment" in the House of Lords. Lawson developed his it's-all-about-politics argument by stating the following:

"I can see there are political reasons for remaining in the EU, but I think the political reasons for leaving are much stronger. But what it is absolute nonsense to suggest is that there is an economic case for what is being proposed."

He added that the Custom Unions would leave the UK in a "quasi-colonial" status. Lawson said all this after some Conservatives (who'd joined with opposition parties) inflicted a defeat on the Government. This means that the issue will now have to return to the Commons. Needless to say, the Government doesn't have a majority in the Lords.

The problem with what's going on in the House of Lords is that many people may find themselves in a quandary. Personally, I've never been particular critical of the Lords in the past. So I can't suddenly claim to have a major problem with it simply because it's attempting to subvert Brexit. That's not to say that I didn't formerly have any problems with this institution. It's just that I never took a radical position against it.

This is similar to what happened with the Leave referendum itself. That is, if the result were inverted in every respect, then no Remainer would ever ask for a repeat referendum. Similarly, if the Lords had never subverted Brexit, then many Brexiteers would never have developed a big problem with this institution.

The issue of the Customs and the EU can of course be both economic and political in nature. However, depending on the audience and the context, economics or politics will often be stressed. To an audience full of Remainers, political factors and values will be stressed. In mixed audiences, Remainers will stress economics - the politics, projects and values of the EU will hardly be mentioned at all.

This difficulty of disentangling the economic from the political is best demonstrated when it comes to the EU's commitment to the “free movement of labour”. (This only applies to “labour” within the EU. It has nothing to do with the free movement of people outside the EU into the EU.)

Now is the EU's commitment to the free movement of labour an economic or a political commitment? Is it both? For businesses and many of those on the Right, the EU's Single Market (to be specific) was an economic commitment. For socialists and/or “progressives”, on the other hand, it's a political commitment. However, when the architects and creators of the Single Market spoke about their child, they tended to speak in entirely economic terms. For example, they talked about “increased competition”, “economies of scale”, the “allocation of resources” to the best places, “efficiency”, the “free movement of goods”, etc. And even with the “free movement of labour” (not “the free movement of people”), the emphasis was on competition. Despite saying that, here again there was still a political component. After all, the EU's Single Market is about integration; and (as stated) that can only be the result of political action and legislation.

The other thing that's worth stating is that it's the political climate that largely determines the economic realities anyway. So, in that sense, it's hard to split the two.

Put simply, the political and legal dreams of Remainers and the EU itself are driving all these references to economics, not the other way around. The political and legal agendas of the EU are fundamental and primary: almost everything else serves those goals. At least that's the case for most British Remainers and all pro-EU politicians.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Soft Brexit is Remain: Hard Brexit is Brexit




I simply don't understand the notion of a “soft Brexit”. Take this basic definition from the BBC:

“Soft Brexit: Leaving the European Union but staying as closely aligned to the EU as possible. It could keep the UK in the single market or the customs union or both.”

It gets worse (or better if you're a Remainer) than that. Here goes:

“Soft Brexit could involve British compromises on free movement of people, allowing European Union citizens rights to settle in the UK with access to public services and benefits.”

Thus the words “soft Brexit” sound like what the philosopher Jacques Derrida called a “sign substitution”. That is, the substitution of a new term for an old one. However, the new term is conceptually indistinguishable from the old one – except for extremely superficial differences. In other words, such a sign substitution is a gimmick designed to hoodwink people and perhaps even the neologists themselves.

The term “hard Brexit” (coined by Remainers), on the other hand, is hardly a description of policies at all. It is based on futurology and value judgements. So let's return to the BBC to show that. It writes:

“Hard Brexit: This phrase is often used by critics of Brexit who think it will harm the UK economy.”

The prophesy continues in the following manner:

“A hard Brexit would be one where few of the existing ties between the UK and the EU were retained leading to more disruption than a Soft Brexit.”

It's of course the case that there will be “disruption” because all large-scale political and economic changes result in some kind of disruption. Indeed even small-scale changes can have large-scale effects.

So think about this. Remainers are seriously attempting to convince Brexiteers - and others - that remaining part of the customs union, single market, the free movement of people (perhaps with less less or even more movement than exists today), etc. is Brexit - if a “soft” version of Brexit. Not many snobby Remainers clearly believe that Brexiteers are dumb. (Many explicitly say that and other hint at it.) Yet to believe that anyone will buy the gimmick that Soft Brexit is Brexit Lite is truly dumb. That is, assuming that your political opponents are dumb is dumb. Such a condescension (as with the “false consciousness” of Marxists) often backfires.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Žižek Demands Revolutionary Violence




It may seem like a waste of time to write a piece on a 21st-century Marxist. Many people believe that Marxism is dead and gone and has been since the fall of Communism in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Indeed many others believed it was dead long before that – at least here in the West. Therefore any Marxists such people acknowledge to still exist are deemed to be the largely ineffectual and harmless members of a dying cult.

Whatever the case, books by Marx are currently political best-sellers all over the place; including in Marx's country of birth, Germany. And now we also have Slavoj Žižek, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. (Žižek has classed himself as, variously, a "radical leftist”, a "communist in a qualified sense”, and, in tune with Labour's John McDonnell, a “Marxist”.)

If you believe that Marxism is a cult or religion (or as close to being a religion as it can possibly be without thereby being a literal religion), then of course Marxism isn't dead. Essentially, Marxism isn't based on truth or accuracy. It's based on various hopes, dreams and memes which seem to have a long shelf-life and which still fire the spirits of many people in the West. (And not all those people are middle-class students and academics.) These Marxist hopes and dreams are based on theories which don't really require either truth or accuracy in order to inspire and motivate people. They are, essentially, Sorelian myths.

In addition, because it was the case that no revolution was ever forthcoming in Europe and the United States, Marxists, on the whole, stopped believing in the imminent possibility of a violent revolution – even though they still agitated for one. Consequently, many took the advice of the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci (first offered in the early 1930s). He directed Leftists to “take over the institutions” in order to create a new “hegemony”. (The Frankfurt School and many other Marxist theorists offered similar proposals.)

When it comes to Slavoj Žižek himself: he both has his cake and eats it. That is, he still believes in violent revolution and in taking over various and many institutions. Currently Žižek is a senior researcher at the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia; the international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities (London); a professor of philosophy and psychoanalysis at the European Graduate School; and an Eminent Scholar at Kyung Hee University, South Korea.

I said that Marxism isn't dead: it's certainly not the case that Žižek is dead. In fact he's been called the “Elvis of cultural theory”. The journal Foreign Policy listed him in its Top 100 Global Thinkers list in 2012. Žižek has also appeared in films and documentaries, including the 2005 film,Žižek! It's even the case that there's a journal dedicated entirely to his work: the International Journal of Žižek Studies

And last, but not least, Žižek has appeared on the BBC and written for the Guardian and Independent many times.

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Revolutionary or “radical” Marxists have often come clean about their “demanding the impossible” from what they call “capitalist democracies”. They do so because they know full well that such democracies can't grant their impossibilist demands – by definition. Again, Marxists know that they're literally demanding the impossible. And that's the whole point!

So why do Marxists like Slavoj Žižek demand the impossible? They do so primarily to destabilise the state and also to “radicalise” and “mobilise” people. (At least that's the hope.) When Marxists demand that the state change water into wine (or provide free second cars and foreign holidays for all), they know that it won't come up with the goods. Therefore “the people” (or “workers”) - Marxists hope - will get angry at this and then storm the barricades.

Similarly, Marxists promise an infinitely-funded welfare state (or NHS) that will be perfect in every respect. Then they demand exactly the same from the actually-existing state. However, because Marxists are knowingly demanding the impossible, they hope that the people (at least in theory), will rebel and then bring forth a revolution. And that's precisely why Marxists like Slavoj Žižek hate counter-revolutionaries such as the non-Marxist members of the Labour Party and “post-modernists”. Such wimps don't demand the impossible and therefore they'll never bring about Žižek's Total Revolution.

Žižek also believes in the (to use his own words and capitals) “Big State”. He's categorically against “the need to curtail Big State expenditure and administration”. He believes in the Big State in precisely the same way Stalin believed in it. There are no apologies from Žižek here. In fact he's explicit about his Big State dreams. He says that True Marxists (such as himself) will never defend themselves “by saying we are no longer the old Socialists”. Again, as a True Marxist, he will both demand and promise the impossible. Only such cases of modal political logic will guarantee the truly revolutionary situation Žižek yearns for.

Žižek traces this demand for the impossible back to what he calls the “1968 motto”: Soyons Réalistes, Demandons L’Impossible (“Let’s be realists, demand the impossible.”). That is, the workers must demand the impossible just as the French revolutionaries demanded the impossible, and, later, so did the Bolsheviks, the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, Mao's Red Guards and so on. This demanding the impossible comes along with the absolute and total overhaul of society – that extreme possibility which turns Žižek on so much. Like many Continental philosophers before him, Žižek is obsessed by the extreme and by the violent – except, of course, when that extremism and violence is carried out by Nazis/fascists or indeed by what he calls “Rightists”.

Is all this an exaggeration on my part? Well Žižek himself talks about the revolutionary “Terror” he so desires (complete with platonic/Hegelian capital 'T'). 

It's no coincidence that Žižek refers to “Terror” because he explains why he does so. Just as Žižek isn't happy that the Nazis didn't go all the way (i.e., they didn't destroy capitalism), or that the post-modernists haven't done so today (at least according to Žižek), so he's also unhappy that the Jacobins didn't “go to the end”: i.e., they didn't smash capitalism as well as faces. In Žižek's words, the French revolutionaries suffered from an “inability to disturb the very fundamentals of economic order (private property, etc.)”. And that's why the Jacobins became “hysterical”.

Žižek doesn't mind “Terror”. What he does mind is the fact that the Jacobins didn't “disturb” such things as “private property”.

The other point worth mentioning is that on the classic Marxist account of the French Revolution, it wasn't to be expected (according to Marx's “historical laws”) that the 18th century French revolutionaries would overthrow Žižek's "private property". What they did was simply carry out “the first revolution”: the “revolution of the bourgeoisie”. Thus it was also only the inevitable forerunner to a latter proletarian revolution (which was prophesied by Marx). 

Now if we jump forward to the 21st century, Žižek believes that a New Terror will also be inevitable because, as he puts it, the revolutionary will pursue his “goal with an inexorable firmness”. (This is the sort of revolutionary hard-man's language Lenin indulged in in his The State and Revolution.) In fact, the postmodernist “proliferation of multiple shifting identities” is, Žižek hopes, a prelude to a “new form of Terror”. And, as stated, if you demand the impossible (or if you're “opting for the impossible”), then Terror is almost bound to follow. Take Žižek's word for it.

In this Leftist Terror – or in this “revolutionary situation” - there will be “noa priori norms” such as “human rights” and “democracy”. (Will the Terror continue after the Revolution? Is the Pope a Catholic?) Instead there will be “the ruthless exercise of power [and] the spirit of sacrifice”. Now this is incredibly repulsive adolescent-male stuff. It's also the sort of psychotic and exhibitionist love of violence you'd expect from such previous philosophers as Georges Sorel, George Bataille, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari and Michel Foucault. (Think here of Foucault's “erotic infatuation” with Iran's theocratic violence after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.)

Žižek is proud of his demands for the impossible. In fact those who reject them (or who deny their feasibility) are nothing less that “status quo cynics”.

Žižek also comes out with what comes very close to be a non sequitur when he tells us that True Revolutionaries believe that “everything is possible” and that they therefore want to “change everything”. It also follows (to Žižek at least) that “status quo cynics” must believe (here's the non sequitur) that “nothing at all is really possible”.

Žižek is committing the same kind of Marxist black-and-whitism that he repeatedly commits. That is, because he believes that post-modernists, non-Marxist socialists, Greens, and God knows who else don't believe in Total Revolution, then they must be, in effect, counter-revolutionaries. Not only that: because they don't accept that the Only Solution is Total Revolution, then they must be the friends of capitalism and also believe that there's “no other game in town” (to use Žižek's own words).

Now take those on the Right who don't believe in Žižek's Total Revolution either. Because of that, he concludes that they believe “nothing at all is really possible”. I suppose it's possible that the phrases “everything is possible” and “nothing is possible” aren't meant to be taken literally. The former, I presume, work like the Georges Sorel's myth of the General Strike: simply as a meme to fire “the people” up. Nonetheless, what sense are we to make of the claim that some people – or anyone – believe that “nothing is really possible”? Has Žižek simply concluded that because millions upon millions of people sincerely believe that a Total Revolution will create more harm than good, that they must also believe “nothing is really possible”? Even if you're mindlessly committed to capitalism, it doesn't follow from this that you would also think that nothing is really possible. All sorts of things have been possible within capitalism. And, as Žižek himself has admitted, capitalism has created – or allowed - multiple “subjectivities” (or “hybrid identities”); as well as the adult vote, democracy, health care and myriad other things.

But none of that matters to Žižek because defenders of capitalism believe that “nothing is really possible” simply because they would rather stick with “capitalist democracy” – thank you very much. That, to Žižek, means that they think nothing is really possible.

However, most people who defend capitalism don't do so because they think that “capitalism is natural”, “inevitable”, or even incapable of alteration (as Marx and Marxists have it). Žižek is the essentialist here. It's not the case that capitalism is “the only game in town” either. There are lots of other games in town: including Žižek's Total Revolution, Islamism, post-modern “hyperreality”, a Green hegemony, the Third Way, fascism, the Nihilist Party and so on. It's just that most people - those who, by Marxist definition, suffer from “false consciousness” - don't want Žižek's Total Revolution. There are many possibilities that literally millions of people accept and even champion in the West. It's just that Žižek's Total Revolution isn't one of them.

Apparently I think all this because I'm a (to use Žižek's own words) “bleeding-heart liberal”. Now I thought that Marxist radicals hated such macho-talk. I thought they weren't fascists. Yet this sounds like the language of a fascist to me. Žižek's overall ideology may be dissimilar in some minor respects to that of a Nazi or fascist. Nonetheless, Žižek's talk of Leftist “Terror” and violence; his Marxist absolutism, fundamentalism and essentialism; and his love of complete change for its own sake - all that sounds pretty fascistic to me. And, as many people know, revolutionary Nazism and fascism were (at least in large part) off-shoots of 19th century revolutionary Marxism. So all the claptrap designed to distance the International Socialists from the National Socialists needn't be taken seriously when you think of the behaviour of the Bolsheviks, Stalin and his henchmen, Chairman Mao's Red Guards, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge and today's street-fighting Antifa (as well as of the “anti-fash” generally).

And now, to top all that, we have the violent words and fantasies of Slavoj Žižek...

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*) Most of the quotes from Slavoj Žižek can be found in Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left (Verso)

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Linguistic Tricks: Corbyn is Center-Left, a Social Democrat, a Democratic Socialist...


I've had various debates (or at least exchanges) with the supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. In these debates Corbyn has been variously classed as“center-left”, a “social democrat”, and a “democratic socialist”.

Despite all that, no matter how many times his supporters keep on saying that Jeremy Corbyn is "center-left" or a "social democrat", it won't change the fact that... he's not. Corbyn, after all, has classed himself as a “radical socialist”. Indeed he's been classed that way by numerous of his supporters.

Now what point is there of using the prefix "radical" (as in “radical socialism”) if it simple refers to some kind of center-left position or the position of a social democrat? The whole point about adopting a radical position is that's it's radical. (That is, not centrist.) Thus all this playing with terms is surely semantic deceit. It's linguistic showmanship which is primarily designed to distance Jeremy Corbyn from Marxism, Trotskyism and communism generally. But what's even more perverse is that the classifications “center-left” and “social democrat” are designed to distance Corbyn from Radical Socialism itself – something which he has openly endorsed.

Corbyn is on the Center-Left

So let's firstly tackle the classification “center-left”.

That term may sound odd for the current leader of the Labour Party. However, even the Independent newspaper has Corbyn down as being “center-left”. (See here.) Many others do too.

Yet the fact is that many Corbynites despise the center-left of the Labour Party and centrism generally. (Yes, Corbynites don't only despise right-wing "Blairite vermin".) You can see the vitriolic dismissal of non-Corbynite Labour Party MPs, Labour councilors, Labour members, etc. on social media and in Corbynite blogs (such as SkwawkboxEvolve Politics,Another Angry Voice, the Canary, Novara Media, etc.).

Nonetheless, I'm happy to admit that many Labour Party members and supporters are center-left. I'm even prepared to accept that a few supporters of Corbyn are center-left (i.e., those who're tribal Labour Party voters). However, I'm certainly not prepared to accept that Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Momentum, etc. are center-left.

Now semantic games can even be played with the term "center-left". As it is, there are dozens of quotes, arguments, bits of evidence and biographical detail which explicitly show that Corbyn is a hair's breadth away from being a non-revolutionary (though still “radical”) Marxist... So why have I just used the prefix “non-revolutionary”? I've used that because it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that there have been very many non-revolutionary Marxists (dating back to the late 19th century) whom happily participated in the political systems of “capitalist democracies”.

Corbyn is a Social Democrat

Many other Corbynites say that Jeremy Corbyn is a “social democrat”.

So let's start with this quote:

From a purely socialist point of view, social democratic reform is a failure since it serves to devise new means to strengthen the capitalist system, which conflicts with the socialist goal of replacing capitalism with a socialist system.”

The following are some example of outlets which also claim that Corbyn is a “social democrat”.

For example, the pro-Corbyn blog, Another Angry Voice, tells us that 'Jeremy Corbyn is a social democrat'. We also have openDemocracy (a “socially liberal and internationalist political website”) with its article,'Jeremy Corbyn – a mainstream [Scandinavian] social democrat'.

On the whole, however, it's more often said that Jeremy Corbyn is committed to “social democracy”; rather than saying – explicitly - that he's a “social democrat”. (Prospect - the “leading magazine of ideas” - published an article called: 'How Corbyn turned the tide for social democracy'.)

So let's take the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which was formed in 1981.

It's clear that there are lots of lessons to learn about the difference between social democracy and socialism (let alone Radical Socialism) within the SDP context. What's particularly relevant is the fact that the SDP was created as a response to the growing “far Left socialism” of the Labour Party in the late 1970s and early 1980s!

As just stated, the SDP was formed in reaction to the increasing Marxist/Leftist leanings of the Labour Party. In this instance at least, social democracy and socialism certainly didn't fuse. Thus the SDP was as hated by the socialists of the time as “Blairite vermin” and centrists (i.e., non-radicals) are hated by Corbynites today.

The primary gripes of the SDP included the growing prominence of Tony Benn (who, according to the BBC, “has been a key influence on Corbyn's politics”) in the Labour Party and the fact that the trade unions – with their “block votes”, etc. - had a very strong say in choosing the party leader.

It's also interesting to note that the SDP modelled itself (at least in part) on the “social-democratic governments” of Europe. This, of course, was something Labour Party socialists at the time were very much against – primarily because such social democracies were also “capitalist” social democracies - with monarchies! They were also strongly against the European Economic Community.

One can conclude that Labour's radicals must have been against both the democratic part of social democracy and also against the social democrats' commitment to capitalism. It was indeed the case that the SDP was committed to a restrained and controlled capitalism. (As is the current Conservative Party and all Conservative parties since the Second World War.) The SDP itself deemed its position to be a “middle way” between “Thatcherism” and “hard-left Labour”. In concrete terms, its constitution also stated that it was in favour of the “fostering of a strong public sector and a strong private sector without frequent frontier changes".

Having just mentioned European social democracies, many Corbynites have even had the audacity to cite Scandinavian countries as being Corbyn's political exemplars. Yet no Scandinavian government is socialist - let alone Radical Socialist.

Sweden, for one, is a parliamentary (representative) democracy and a constitutional monarchy; with a King as head of state. The country is now run by its Social Democratic Party.

Norway is also a parliamentary (representative) democracy and a constitutional monarchy; with a King as head of state. The government of Norway is a coalition between the Progress Party (which is “classical liberal-libertarian and conservative-liberal”) and the Conservative Party.

As for Denmark. This country is also a parliamentary (representative) democracy and a constitutional monarchy; with a Queen as head of state. At present, the Government of Denmark is made up of a “center-right bloc” which includes the Liberal Party, the Liberal Alliance and the Conservative Party.

Corbyn is a Democratic Socialist

Many supporters of Jeremy Corbyn also class him as a “democratic socialist”.

The question we should ask here is whether or not contemporary “radical socialism” (to use the Morning Star's words for Corbyn's position) can ever be truly democratic. After all, this is an ideology which demands that all the “means of production, distribution and exchange” (as well as all public services, schools, much - or all? - of the media) should be state-owned (or, as Corbyn's supporters put, “socially-owned”). We would also need to contemplate what a Corbyn government would do to political dissidents - of whichever flavour. (Note here that the leftwing “no platform” policy will be backed up by a socialist government if Corbyn gains “state power”.)

The term “democratic socialism” (or “democratic socialist”) is very vague anyway.

For a start, hardly any socialist or communist has ever explicitly spoken out against democracy. Nonetheless, they most certainly have spoken out against particular types of democracy. Thus the word “democratic” in “democratic socialism” will need to be defined and explained. After all, we mustn't forget that many communist regimes in the 20th century classed themselves as “democratic”. (E.g., the Lao People's Democratic Republic, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, the Democratic Government of Albania, Democratic Kampuchea, the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Somali Democratic Republic, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Democratic Federal Yugoslavia, the Democratic Republic of the Sudan, etc.)

The basic thing is that no matter how the word “democratic” - in “democratic socialism” - is defined or used, it's still deemed to be an aspect of socialism.

So perhaps it would be wise to consider here the Democratic Socialists of America; which was formed 1982 and is still with us today. The DSA is (according to itself“the largest socialist organization in the United States”. In the past the DSA has endorsed Jesse Jackson, Bernie Sanders and, more recently, Britain's very own Jeremy Corbyn.

One enlightening Democratic Socialists of America statement reads as follows:

Electoral tactics are only a means for democratic socialists.”

So what about democratic socialism itself? The following is the DSA's view:

"We are socialists because we reject an economic order based on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power... We are socialists because we share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution... We believe that such a strategy must acknowledge the class structure of American society and that this class structure means that there is a basic conflict of interest between those sectors with enormous economic power and the vast majority of the population."

We can see that this passage might have comes straight out of Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto - if in an updated form!

That means that when it comes to the Democratic Socialists of America (at the least), the term “democratic socialism” means acknowledging and then winning the class war. It also means the total control of all “resources and production”; alongside complete “economic planning”.

So what, exactly, of the democracy part the DSA's democratic socialism? The answer to that is as simple as this:

No state or government which allows capitalism – in any shape and form – can be truly democratic precisely because it still allows “gross inequalities”, “alienated labour” and the “conflict of interests”.

Quite simply, the Democratic Socialists of America believes that true democracy will never exist until socialism – in its complete form - is put in place.

And like the activist group Momentum within today's Labour Party (which stated that it "exists to build on the energy and enthusiasm from the Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader campaign”), the DSA places its cards on the table in this way:

Much of progressive, independent political action will continue to occur in Democratic Party primaries.... democratic socialists will support coalitional campaigns based on labor, women, people of color and other potentially anti-corporate elements... Electoral tactics are only a means for democratic socialists [my bold]; the building of a powerful anti-corporate coalition is the end...”

Indeed the overall role of the Democratic Socialists of America (just like Momentum in today's British Labour Party) is to “realign” the Democratic Party and make it out-rightly Marxist/Radical Socialist.

... and, finally, Corbyn is a Radical Socialist

So what about Corbyn as a “radical socialist”?

It's fairly easy (I suppose) to square Radical Socialism with Democratic Socialism. However, when it comes to squaring Radical Socialism with the “center-left” or with “social democracy”, then that's very bizarre indeed.

I don't know if it's only me, but I take the words “radical socialism” to mean a kind of socialism which is radical. Now socialism itself is - by definition! - opposed to capitalism. So I simply must assume that Radical Socialism is radically opposed to capitalism. However, I'm prepared to accept that many other types of socialist do indeed believe in “mixed economies”, “parliamentary democracy”, etc. (Though their positions may well be self-contradictory.) However, I'm not prepared to believe that Radical Socialists believe in mixed economies. Indeed many of them are also deeply suspicious of parliamentary democracy (or “capitalist democracy”, as they put it). Again, if all this isn't the case, then what point does the prefix “radical” serve in the term “radical socialism”?

This also means that we shouldn't expect Jeremy Corbyn himself to be too explicit about his dislike of - or scepticism towards - “the parliamentary road to socialism”; as his fellow socialist/Marxist Ralph Miliband was in the 1960s and 70s. (Ralph Miliband argued that the Labour Party could never be truly “radical” within a parliamentary context.)

One must assume that Corbyn's response to these Marxist/socialist sceptics would be something like this:

If Parliament were ruled by a radical-socialist Labour Party (as well as if Parliament itself were largely socialist in nature), then there'd be no problem at all. There'd simply be no need for a revolution.

This also means - at least in theory - that Jeremy Corbyn doesn't need to take a categorical or extreme or revolutionary position against Parliament. And isn't that precisely why he's been an MP for 35 years?


Friday, 11 May 2018

Do Most Corbynites Hate the Rich?


Why is it that so many supporters of Jeremy Corbyn (Britain's “radical socialist” Leader of the Opposition) have such a big problem with what they call "posh" and "rich" people? Is it because so many of them are posh and rich people themselves? Or is it because the “rich people” they criticise dare to be even more wealthy than they are? 


It's certainly the case there are many (to use Corbyn's term for himself) “radical socialists” - specifically in the London area - who have nannies, cleaners and gardeners. (Indeed many of these "helpers" are underpaid and also immigrants.) In more general terms, the Radical Left is also chockablock with public-school boys and girls. Some of these Radicals even send their own kids to private schools and to the best grammars (Seumas Milne and Shami Chakrabarti are good examples of this).

The Radical Left (at least its leaders and activists) is also almost entirely made up of middle-class professionals; many of whom earn loads of dosh. And the Rad Left is chockablock with students who're hoping to make loads of dosh in the future too. 

To paraphrase: Many Corbynites don't love the poor. They just hate the rich.

Of course it can't be said that every single supporter of Jeremy Corbyn "hates the rich" - just most of them. This is especially prevalent on social media, when it comes to Momentum activists and to those people with more sympathy for Corbyn than for the Labour Party itself. (It's worth reading Richard Seymour's Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics here because this former Socialist Workers Party member despises the Labour Party at the very same time as simply adoring Jeremy Corbyn.)

Of course it can be asked how I know that many Corbynites hate the rich. Then again, how do other people know that Corbynites don't hate the rich? This is the philosophical problem of "other minds" writ large. So all one can do is interpret the words and behaviour of Corbynites. And the behaviour and words of Corbynites leads me to the conclusion that it's just as much a question of good old-fashioned hatred as it is of moral or political opposition.

To put all this another way. Many on the Left are forever talking about "haters", "hatred" and the rest. I'm simply arguing that Corbynites most certainly haven't miraculously escaped from the biological/human net in these respects.

Another thing which needs to be said here is that some/many people "support Corbyn" simply because they've always supported the Labour Party. And they also want to “get rid of the Tories”. So I certainly wouldn't class all of these Labour Party people as ideological Corbynites.

Envy, Jealousy and Hate?


So what about envy and jealousy?

I personally don't believe that Jeremy Corbyn himself is driven by an envy of - or jealousy towards - the rich. However, many Corbynites and other Radical Socialists most certainly are.

As for Corbyn and hate.

I think that hate is part of the Corbyn story. However, hate is almost the whole story when it comes to John McDonnell - the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. After all, he did say that his favourite past-time is "generally fermenting the overthrow of capitalism”. McDonnell has also made many other vicious and hateful remarks directed at the wealthy and at many others too.

This obsession with "the rich" and with “public-school boys” (which is often displayed by rich leftwing public-school boys) could be seen when the Eton-educated Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg was recently photographed in Greggs (which is the largest bakery chain in the UK). Corbynites classed it as a “cheap PR stunt”. Yes, a PR student a bit like Jeremy Corbyn wearing Primark shorts, a Lenin cap, and carrying a plastic bag. Corbyn, of course, went to a private preparatory school, was brought up in a large house with seven bedrooms, had wealthy (Trotskyist) parents, has lived most of his life in a posh part of Islington, and has very many public-school friends; many of whom are communists and Trotskyists in the Stop the War Coalition - which he led until 2015. (The leading public-school boys in the Stop the War Coalition included and still include its Chairman Andrew Murray, as well as Tony Benn, Tam Dalyell, Chris Nineham, Charlie Kimber, Alex Callinicos, etc.

The Top 1%?


There also seems to be a logical flaw when Corbynites say that they "simply want the rich to pay their way” through “fair taxes”. In other words, Corbynites claim that it's not about vindictiveness or envy. However, surely if the tax policies which Corbynites want were ever brought into play, then there would simply be no rich people left. Corbynite tax policy is effectively a way of stopping the rich from being rich. Isn't that what “socialist equality” is all about?

This means that Corbynites are, after all, against the rich. Their policies would obliterate this section of society. “Fair taxes” and socialist equality will result in there being no rich people (except for, perhaps, the leaders of the Socialist State and Party leaders). Thus Corbynites are indeed against the rich; even if not all of them “hate the rich”.

So there is some dishonesty apparent here.

In a collectivist society based on socialist equality, there would be no room for "fair taxes" for the rich or for a “benign wealthy”. The idea that Corbynites or Radical Leftists just want to tax the rich more is very dishonest.

It's also the case that Corbynites never stop talking about “the top 1%”.

If you look at the socialist/communist regimes of the 20th century, it was never only the top 1% which got smashed in the face. Vast sections of society did. The Kulaks, for example, were wiped out for being “bourgeois” or “counter-revolutionary”. There were the “NEPmen” who suffered too. Some peasants who has an extra plot of land were even persecuted by the Soviet state or by party functionaries. Finally, under the Khmer Rouge, wearing glasses was seen as being a sign of being “bourgeois” or “rich”.

Even today, Marxists have a problem with all businessmen and owners of capital – very few of whom are in the top 1%. “Socialist equality” is, after all, socialist equality. Not only would the top 1% be wiped out, so would all “class distinctions”... Or, at least, the class distinctions noted by the middle-class Vanguard Class or by the Socialist State. That means that Party leaders, the rulers of the Socialist State, leftwing/Marxist academics, lawyers, and functionaries, etc. would still earn a hell of a lot more than the average worker - as was the case in all socialist/communist states.

Another point is is that the average member of the middle- and upper-middle-class Radical Left still earns a lot more than the average worker. However, that inequality is fine. It's the inequality between the middle-class Left and the top 1% that members of the former can't stomach.

Philanthropy and Charity



Despite all the above, some - though certainly not all - supporters of Corbyn say that they aren't "against the rich" or "against wealth". They say it's "what people do with their wealth that matters". They hint that Rad Socs do good things with their wealth. Though they never say, exactly, what it is they do with it. And I can't think of any examples myself.

As for the philanthropy of generous Radical Socialists.

The Radical Left has always seen philanthropy as being “counter-revolutionary” in that if individuals spread their wealth, then that would work against the revolution or against "radicalisation". It also means that philanthropy stops the Socialist State itself spreading the wealth. Either way, individuals spreading their wealth is a bad thing for Radical Socialism.

Traditionally, the Rad-Soc position on charity has been even more critical. After all, it's the Socialist State and the Socialist State alone which must make it the case that there's simply "no need for charity".

Thus both philanthropy and charity work against Radical Socialism.

So, instead, what many Corbynites have done with their wealth is send their kids to private schools, employ foreign nannies/cleaners/gardeners, go on many foreign holidays, buy extra cars, perhaps even invest (as Seumas Milne did), etc.

Thus the bottom line is this:

If you're rich, posh and a socialist – then that's fine.
If you're rich, posh and rightwing – then that's not fine.