A specter is haunting the British capitalists; it is the specter of a renewed class struggle. Or rather, the class attacks by British capitalism finally starting to receive an answer from workers and young people.
The specter is taking the form of a campaign by socialist Jeremy Corbyn to win the leadership of the British Labour Party. Here’s how the London Telegraph sees the matter:
“Britain needs as many pro-capitalist parties as it can get…. It would therefore be a disaster for Britain were Jeremy Corbyn to become leader of the Labour Party. He is an unreconstructed socialist…. It would become acceptable again to call for nationalising vast swathes of industry, for massively hiking tax and for demonising business…. It would also become far harder for them to reform trade unions…. Class war, extreme language and nonsensical positions would all be back…. A Corbyn-led Labour Party would be a disaster for the pro-capitalist cause.”
Like similar mass workers’ parties throughout Western Europe, the British Labour Party has turned sharply to the right in recent decades. It has embraced cuts in services and jobs, cuts and more cuts. The result has been that workers and youth have turned away from Labour in droves. Now, however, Jeremy Corbyn is campaigning to lead a Labour Party that would reverse all that. The London Telegraph article shows what the capitalists fear this would mean for British society.
We here in the US have a lot to learn from the struggles all around the world. In Greece, recently, workers and youth rejected their traditional mass party – the Greek socialist party known as Pasok – and voted in a left alternative, Syriza. Even though the Syriza leadership has shown so far that it lacks a strategy to defeat European capitalism, the last act there has not yet been written. Meanwhile, we see here the drama shifting across the channel to Britain.
Some might compare the campaign of Bernie Sanders in the US’s Democratic Party to that of Jeremy Corbyn. But it’s not the same, because the Democratic Party never has been, is not now and never can become a mass party of workers. It will always be corporate-controlled. But what we are starting to see here is the very beginnings of independent left candidates – socialists most often – running for local office outside of the Democratic/Republican paradigm. As this develops, they will tend to come together and a new mass organization, a political party, will tend to be formed. As that develops, we will have to learn from the lessons of Syriza, Jeremy Corbyn, the struggle in South Africa against the ANC, and other such struggles.
(In the coming days, we hope to have a more in-depth analysis from Britain of what is happening in the British Labour Party.)