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The Real Reason Labour Elites and Commentators Hate Jeremy Corbyn and the Movement Behind Him

Posted on Jul 5, 2016

  Jeremy Corbyn speaking at an anti-drones rally in 2013. (stopwar.org.uk / CC BY-SA 3.0)

American anthropologist David Graeber digs beneath the superficial justifications for the Labour Party’s failed “chicken coup,” as it’s now being called, to understand the true reasons why members of Parliament and political commentators want British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn out.

From The Guardian:

The real battle is not over the personality of one man, or even a couple of hundred politicians. If the opposition to Jeremy Corbyn for the past nine months has been so fierce, and so bitter, it is because his existence as head of a major political party is an assault on the very notion that politics should be primarily about the personal qualities of politicians. It’s an attempt to change the rules of the game, and those who object most violently to the Labour leadership are precisely those who would lose the most personal power were it to be successful: sitting politicians and political commentators.

If you talk to Corbyn’s most ardent supporters, it’s not the man himself but the project of democratising the party that really sets their eyes alight. The Labour party, they emphasise, was founded not by politicians but by a social movement. Over the past century it has gradually become like all the other political parties – personality (and of course, money) based, but the Corbyn project is first and foremost to make the party a voice for social movements once again, dedicated to popular democracy (as trades unions themselves once were). This is the immediate aim. The ultimate aim is the democratisation not just of the party but of local government, workplaces, society itself. ... I should emphasise that I am myself very much an outside observer here – but one uniquely positioned, perhaps, to understand what the Corbynistas are trying to do. I’ve spent much of the past two decades working in movements aimed at creating new forms of bottom-up democracy, from the Global Justice Movement to Occupy Wall Street. It was our strong conviction that real, direct democracy, could never be created inside the structures of government. One had to open up a space outside. The Corbynistas are trying to prove us wrong. Will they be successful? I have absolutely no idea. But I cannot help find it a fascinating historical experiment. The spearhead of the democratisation movement is Momentum, which now boasts 130 chapters across the UK. In the mainstream press it usually gets attention only when some local activist is accused of “bullying” or “abuse” against their MP – or worse, suggests the possibility that an MP who systematically defies the views of membership might face deselection.

The real concern is not any justified fear among the Labour establishment of bullying and intimidation – the idea that the weak would bully the strong is absurd. It is that they fear being made truly accountable to those they represent. They also say that while so far they have been forced to concentrate on internal party politics, the object is to move from a politics of accountability to one of participation: to create forms of popular education and decision-making that allow community groups and local assemblies made up of citizens of all political stripes to make key decisions affecting their lives. ... What all this suggests is the possibility that the remarkable hostility to Corbyn displayed by even the left-of-centre media is not due to the fact they don’t understand what the movement that placed him in charge of the Labour party is ultimately about, but because, on some level, they actually do.

After all, insofar as politics is a game of personalities, of scandals, foibles and acts of “leadership”, political journalists are not just the referees – in a real sense they are the field on which the game is played. Democratisation would turn them into reporters once again, in much the same way as it would turn politicians into representatives.

Read more.

— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

 


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