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- The Nature of the New European Left
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- An Invitation to Our Readers
Saturday, September 12, 2015
Further implications of Jeremy Corbyn's Landslide Victory
Former international organizer for the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI)
I very much liked Sean's O'Torain's article on Corbyn's victory. In my mind, this victory really refutes the ultraleft sectarian attitude of left groups like the CWI, who, under the leadership of Peter Taaffe switched its positions on the Labour Party as the traditional, socialist representative of the working class and categorically asserted that during the Blair leadership, the Labour Party had been turned into a bourgeois party, and its rejection of socialist principles and quashing of internal democracy could never be reversed. Taaffe's conclusions that the Party was dead forever and that the working class would never again turn to it or join its ranks to transform it back into a mass left-wing, socialist working class party has been proven pathetically wrong.
In reality, Taaffe's ultra-left theory of bourgeoisified working class parties was shot full of holes from the beginning. The surge to the left the Labour Party in the 1970s and 1980s took place despite the fact that the Labour Party leaders betrayed the 1926 General Strike, supported the sending of millions of young workers to their death in two world wars and exercised a death-grip over the party during the entire post-war period.
Despite the Labour Party going through a similar period from 1990 to 2015, when the Blairite leaders pursued the same anti-working class, pro-capitalist and pro-Imperialist policies, the aftermath of the 2007-2009 economic crisis and the continuing attacks by the Conservative government on the workers and youth, has again led to the election of Corbyn and the influx of new blood trying to change the Labour Party back to its original socialist roots. This proves the point, which the veteran revolutionary, Ted Grant consistently made, that the workers will turn again and again to the Labour Party to try to change it into a fighting, socialist party, despite its betrayals.
The Corbyn campaign has proved him right. It has led to a tripling in the membership in a matter of months. As today's Guardian points out;
"Corbyn’s campaign has also been helped by a surge in new members and supporters who paid £3 to take part in the vote, leading to a near-tripling of those eligible to about 550,000 people. Throughout the campaign, he addressed packed rallies and halls, where he had to give speeches outside the buildings to crowds gathered in the street."
Has anyone ever seen a bourgeois party with half a million left-wing, socialist members in it? Moreover, the two biggest unions in the country supported Corbyn, another reminder that the organic links of organized Labour, which created the Labour Party, have not been severed, and that the unions still see the Party as the political representative of the working class.
Of course, we shouldn't sow illusions that Corbyn is going to lead society towards a socialist revolution. However, despite the fact that he avoids direct use of the word socialism, his radical pro-working class, left-wing policies of renationalization of privatized industries and services, his opposition to cuts and austerity and his principled anti-war, anti-Imperialist stance has galvanized youth and workers to fight for a socialist future and to transform the Labour Party back into the vehicle for achieving this. Moreover, he is actively encouraging the re-democratization of the Labour Party and encourages the building of a new radical left-wing mass membership. This represents a sea change in the history of the Party, opening a new period in its development.
The hundreds of thousands of fresh youth and left-wing workers now becoming involved are a reflection of a much wider support for a shift back to the left in British society. It is therefore more a case of what Corbyn represents than what he might ultimately do, which is important.
From the point of view of the revolutionary socialist movement, it is an example of how wrong, and, indeed, undialectical, it is to dig oneself into rigid, wooden and absolutist positions. As Goethe once said, "Theory is gray my friend, but the tree of life is ever green." The gray theories of the CWI leaders are poisoned weeds built on barren ground. Corbyn's victory will prove to be their nemesis.
Taaffe has shown himself to be inadequate as a theoretician and as a leader in the socialist movement. The truth is that his "theory" of a bourgeoisified Labour Party and the creation the Socialist Party (a sect not a party) was simply an opportunist, organizational twist to exploit the temporary disillusionment with Labour among youth and workers and maintain his guru-like leadership of his group.
Ironically and tragically, the CWI - once the largest and most working class revolutionary socialist movement in the world - followed a mirror process of what Taaffe actually criticized the Labour Party for, in terms of undergoing a process of theoretical and organizational degeneration, leading to the death of internal democracy and the quashing of all types of dissent.
Now in true sectarian fashion, Taaffe, the organic opportunist, has made a volte-face to support Corbyn and encourage a semi-return to entryism to save his skin. Not for nothing did Lenin call ultraleftism and opportunism two sides of the same coin. However, such a sharp turn in policy will cause the CWI to jackknife, sowing doubts among its rank and file and undermining Taaffe's iron grip on the group. The CWI has been travelling on the wrong side of the road and as events come face-on towards them, they will be forced over the edge of the cliff into political oblivion. Members will leave in disillusionment, others will split away to form new groups and only a rump of old hacks with a splattering of blind devotees will remain. Hopefully, a layer of the CWI members will draw the right conclusions and reestablish a new healthy group with a democratic internal life, a better theoretical understanding and a more realistic orientation to the workers' movement."