Jeremy Corbyn – reformer or revolutionary?

31.08.2015 - Tony Henderson

This post is also available in: Greek

Jeremy Corbyn – reformer or revolutionary?
Jeremy Corbyn speaking in Middlesbrough. July 2015 (Image by Jeremy Corbyn via Facebook)

Not quite the ‘new boy on the block’ Labourite Jeremy Corbyn has decided to seek for party leadership and has stated to the media as to why he wants to be Labour’s leader, because, “Britain is not working well for most people. More of the same won’t work. We believe the new advances and opportunities of the 21st century can be harnessed to benefit all. Our party must meet this challenge. Change is never successful if it is top down. We will build a new social movement to bring about real change in our country.”

Point is, does Jeremy Corbyn see this social movement taking place inside the present system or is he calling for a radical, nay, revolutionary change. It would appear it is the former and that in itself places Jeremy Corbyn’s efforts, though highly welcome, in jeopardy.

He insists that the values he proposes are based on policies of justice, freedom, solidarity and equality for all. Excellent.

His stand on the economy: “An economy which works for all, rejects austerity and places wealth and opportunity in the hands of the millions and not simply the millionaires.” Great, he is against austerity; now that is different and to date a minority stance which is very much part of the Greek drama being enacted in real life for all interested parties to witness right now.

Also, “Public ownership of railways and in the energy sector – privatisation has put profits before people.” Glad to read this. This phenomenon of privatisation has to be reversed. Nationally important utilities have to remain in the citizen’s, government, hands. He has big plans to revamp the railways.

Jeremy pledges that: “ …a Labour government will introduce a new Railways Act in 2020 to begin the process of bringing our railways into public control, run in the public interest in line with the other social, economic and environmental goals…” of his overall Vision For Britain 2020.

“Protection at work – no zero hours contracts, strong collective bargaining to stamp out workplace injustice.” Yes. Today’s workplace in Britain is not what it was in the days or heavy industry and huge workforces, but independent work place unions still have a place.

Politics: “Democratic collective action is needed to secure a better country. Government should not be the property of a closed elite circle.”

Yes again, in detail, taking this observers view of this issue which is that of the Humanist International – the title of the federation of Humanist Party member countries – this means decentralisation of everything to enable participation at all levels by all strata, or, real democracy which admittedly is going to be messy and slower than one authoritarian group or person calling the shots but devoid of the danger of centralisation of power.

On the environment Jeremy Corbyn sees; “Our world is under threat as never before. This means we must act in the long term interest of the planet rather than the short-term interests of corporate profits.”

Excellent. Could lead to the break up of those massive out-of-control corporations that can take on a government or a Party and beat it into the ground and simply do what the shareholders are demanding – so those monoliths have to be shorn of their power – is Jeremy Corbyn the man to catch the tiger by the tail?

As he sees things looking from Britain’s international point of view: “Britain needs to redefine its place in the world. We [should or could] stand up against injustice wherever we find it, looking to build a more peaceful world through dialogue, cooperation and democracy.”

Indeed, this would go a long way to solving the migrant and refugee crisis. If Britain really took up the cause of righting the wrongs caused by wilful engagement in less developed economies and began doing everything in its power to start building solid business infrastructures and decried the corrupt inside foreign governments, refusing to deal with them, the unjust situations causing widespread disengagement to so many people’s would be helped reform.

As to the Labour movement, his statement that: “Our party must become a rejuvenated, democratic mass social movement again dedicated to bringing about real change.” So welcome, then people would have a real choice like in the ‘good old days’ when a worker would clearly vote for Labour because that Party was looking after his-and-her affairs. This is not the case today when one political party is indistinguishable from another.

Also, when political action and policy is determined by a winning number of votes, leaving a discontented majority and an opposition that always disagrees and confronts instead of co-operating to get things done, such system is no longer viable. In a participatory democracy the representatives should represent all segments of society – minorities must be represented. Somehow, people have to willingly co-operate and a social ambit inducing that is crucial, that means, a contented society!

“Replacing Trident not with a new generation of nuclear weapons but jobs that retain the communities’ skills.” Very important, to begin dismantling Britain’s nuclear weapons. Those skilled workers can be amply employed building the likes of wave and tidal power water turbines, geothermal plant equipment, solar array structures, and so on.

Corbyn proposes unilateral disarmament as does the SNP, given that the UK can never legally use such weapons and that they have reached the stage where they need replacing (according to the government) and that such a replacement would cost in excess of £100 billion to the UK tax payer.

As a signatory to the Non-Proliferation [of Nuclear Weapons] Treaty (NPT), the UK has a recognised status as an ‘official’ nuclear-weapon state but there is nothing in the NPT that says that disarmament can only or should only be multi-lateral. Furthermore, to bind the UK to a position of multilateral disarmament would essentially say that the UK intends to keep its nuclear weapons because it is clear that the USA has no intention of disarming given that they are spending $1 trillion on modernising their arsenal over the next 10 years.

There is good reason to propose proportional and progressive disarmament of the USA and Russia and this process should effectively lead to disarmament of China and the rest, but the UK’s arsenal is no more than an attempt to hang on to some vestige of imperial power and a level of global importance, in the form of a permanent seat on the UN security council, that it no longer merits.

A new broom in the political yard

In this short review of Jeremy Corbyn’s plans it can be ascertained that indeed his is a new broom in the political yard. He is worth supporting. But let us be aware that as in the instance of Britain’s Labour Party gaining power just after World War II and same party’s abject failure to ‘get things done’ it has to be seen this was because the people with the money withdrew that money and support for the government projects and caused the general failure. It was not a policy failure; it was an implementation failure. No money, no progress and the Conservative Party was in again next time around.

That’s why the system as is does not fit the new times and has to be changed. When speaking of revolution, as in revolutionary changes, this in no way brings in violence. Even an instantaneous change does not infer violence. In fact, real deep change in the direction posited by universalist humanism is essentially non-violent in its very nature.

See, Statement of the Humanist Movement: http://www.cmehumanistas.org/en/humanist-document

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