Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Latest attack on Corbyn: He didn't button his shirt.

Gasp! His shirt's not buttoned. What's all those medals for on the other guy?
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired.

The right wing British rag, The Telegraph continues its paranoid rants against Jeremy Corbyn.  The response from mouthpieces of the corporate elite like this shows how terrified the capitalist class are of the working class. It's OK if we're stumbling out of the pub, watching football or their mindless TV shows. It's OK if we look to them as the only force for change in society and fawn over their political representatives and the shallow, superficial celebrities they hold up as success in capitalist society.  We are honored when they send our children out to fight their wars.  But all the flag waving and patriotic songs are absent on return, if they return, and treatment and care necessary after an experience like that is never easy to access.

The Telegraph is upset that Corbyn refused to sing god save the Queen at a battle of Britain Service and, gasp, his top shirt button was undone.  I never sing god save the Queen. She's not my queen. And it's a bit hypocritical for this bourgeois rag to laud praise on a monarchy and remnant of a class that the capitalist class removed from power and by illegal revolutionary means. They hung its top representative for god's sake. Their class cousins in France chopped all their heads off.  These royals live a long time generally because they don't work, get all the best health care, eat the best food etc.

Corbyn also wore "mismatched jacket and trousers." the Telegraph reports informing its readers that Labor MP Walter Johnson, "denounced him as looking like and Irish Navvy" Well, I was an English Navvy, technically an Anglo Irish Navvy as my ancestry is part Irish. The term describes laborers, and originated in the 19th century. It describes in particular  those workers who built the canals, roads, sewage systems and tunnels of Britain.  The Irish had an additional burden of racial and religious animosity that accompanied the anti-working class attitude.

Funnily enough, when I worked laying sewer pipes through the countryside of middle England practically all my co-workers were Irish immigrants, rural peasantry basically.  Ireland was not what it became in the last twenty years of the 20th century.  But a more colorful use of the English language and harder working people it would be hard to find.  The conditions for all Navvies were terrible but for the Irish they had to deal with being from a British colony and a colony whose population were demonized for centuries so they found themselves working in a country often hostile to their presence. You can read more on the Navvies Here. There are many songs about this experience, one of them either titled or containing the words, "Building up and Tearing England Down."  I commented on my experience here. One of the songs about Irish immigrant labor has the verse:

In the tunnel underground
A young Limmerick man was found
He was built into the New Victoria Line
When the bonus gang had past
Sticking from the concrete cast
Was the face of little Charlie Joe Devine

The funny thing is if Corbyn was some famous bourgeois academic, one of those that gives intellectual credibility to their system and the precious market he would be praised as an eccentric and invaluable genius. Instead, Telegraph readers head to Twitter:

"Labour mps need to show Da Leader Corbyn how to tie a tie properly. Shirt buttons all done up and tie neatly pulled up to neck.Look a leader" one Twitter uses writes.

"Do your shirt up properly and sing the National Anthem at a memorial service for The War Dead - DISGRACEFUL" Tweets another.

I remember my first set of negotiations with my employer.  Another worker on the negotiating team who was a smart guy, but a ditchdigger like me, came to the session dressed in a suit. As a member of the union team he wanted us all to wear suits.  I was immediately suspicious of this.  We are taught that success in society is how the ruling class defines it.  How would wearing a suit make squeezing more out of the bosses easier? It wouldn't of course, it would impress the boss that's for sure, it would let them know the wearer  might be a potential ally. And ally he was. It's not that wearing a suit is bad if that's how one dresses, opportunists come in many forms. We had a couple of great fighters on the union side that wore suits. I think the reader knows what I mean.  That Corbyn wears unmatched trousers and jacket or that he won't sing the national anthem is also no guarantee that he won't betray his class.  It is ideas that are important in that respect.

What the writers at the Telegraph fear as a mouthpiece for the British ruling class and its figureheads like the powerless monarchy is not that Corbyn looks like an out of work laborer or won't sing the silly anthem that should have been abandoned long ago; it is that the working class raises its head in political expression.  It is the movement of workers that Corbyn gives expression to that bothers them. British capitalism like its US counterpart responded to trade unionism and workers organization with extreme violence. The Peterloo Massacre is one example of this. The Tolpuddle Martyr's, rural laborers, were sent to Australia for attempting to organize as a class.  The great London Dock Strike of 1889  just like the heroic Flint occupation here in Detroit in 1936-37, these moments in working class are events all workers should understand and hold dear. The struggle of all workers internationally for dignity and a better life is our history, the struggles against Jim Crow in the US., the women in the factories of Bangladesh, the miners of Bolivia and indigenous movements against global corporations, this is our history. These are the movements that brought us what we have today and offer us a real future.

In the great moments of our history when we made the most progress, our top shirt buttons weren't done up, we didn't wear ties, our pants and jackets didn't match because we never had them, and we certainly never sang god save the Queen.

The most important aspect of Corbyn's rise is the movement behind it and the affect this will have on consciousness and the mood. He has threatened to take the UK out of that murderous imperial war machine NATO.

There are no guarantees in this world other than the class struggle and recognizing that capitalism will destroy life on this planet as we know it if we don't condemn it to the dustbin of history.

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