Posts tagged - Jeremy Corbyn

Davos Men bring the Uncle Leo “anti-semite” routine across the pond

You know you’re getting old when Seinfeld references fall on deaf ears. Thus, we must re-introduce Uncle Leo, Jerry Seinfeld’s uncle, who would leap to anti-semitism rants upon getting an overcooked hamburger at the diner. “Anyway,” Jerry says, “the point I was making before Goebbels made your hamburger here…”

Jerry ends up on the Tonight Show making fun of Uncle Leo, “Spaghetti’s not cooked al dente – anti semite! Loses a bet on a horse? Secretariat – anti-semitic!” Uncle Leo’s girlfriend thinks the bit is funny so Uncle Leo dumps her for being an anti-semite.

Donald Trump has veered into overcooking the hamburger territory on and off over the past year with his “globalist” language, which has now, predictably, caught the attention of the establishment. Anti-semite! Bernie Sanders made similar arguments about the rigged game in the primary, but escaped the anti-semitism smear perhaps because Bernie himself is Jewish. Jeremy Corbyn, during both his UK Labour leadership landslides this year and last year, was not so lucky.

The anti-semitism smear on Corbyn by the Blairite New Labour Third way…ahem…”cabal”, came swiftly and viciously. Through a series of guilt-by-association-with-Corbyn attacks, Labour, as a whole, was forced to spend an entire year proving that leftist socialism directed against neoliberal Thatcherite capitalism wasn’t, in fact, anti-semitism.  Blairite donors leapt to Nazi analogies with a gleeful flourish mainstream media outlets were only too happy to parrot. A commission was called, the works, leading some members to be suspended from Labour for utterances just as minimal as Uncle Leo’s overcooked burger. Even at the Labour conference in Liverpool this September, where Corbyn was re-elected massively, entire seminars were held to prove that Corbyn’s movement was in no way an overcooked Nazi hamburger, which Blairite media of course smeared anyway.

I’m sure there were party conferences in the year 1933 at which the Jews were this much discussed. But not, perhaps, in this country.

The Uncle Leo smear will continue against Corbyn’s Labour, picked up by the Tories, probably indefinitely. Trump’s Breitbart cess pit is certainly a more accurate target for this attack, but normally, as in the UK the past year, the target of an anti-semitism smear is almost always the left. That’s because the left, always, most loudly notices global capitalism is gutting the working class by rigging the game for profit. Now that the left also notices New Labour’s Third Way, and Bill Cinton’s DLC Democrats, were the indispensable enablers for global neoliberal capitalism’s rigged game, predictably, establishment Blairites become Uncle Leo.

A Hillary Clinton presidency will no doubt defend itself with the Uncle Leo attack, just as the Tories will use it against Corbyn’s Labour, any time the left stands up to fight, either through Bernie Sanders on the Senate floor, in the streets through protest, or in election campaigns against establishment Democrats at every level, local, state, or federal. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who knows better, is this hour trotting out Uncle Leo like a champ.

Certainly, Trump is closer to Goebbels in the kitchen overcooking Uncle Leo’s burger, than anyone on the left. The smear, though, needs to be seen for what it plainly has become – a Davos Man deflection in defense of a globally rigged game whose days are numbered. Despite the year long smear against Corbyn’s Labour, the party is finally showing unity, and closing in on the Tories. Bernie Sanders will be the single most powerful Senator in a Clinton presidency (or a Trump presidency), and will represent the same threat to the rigged game Corbyn does. The left can survive the Uncle Leo smear. But we should be aware that it is certainly coming, not just at Donald Trump, but at anyone who attacks Davos Man’s zombie undead grip on a world rigged for oligarchic profit alone.

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Psst. Hillary. Labour defeats capital, again, this Saturday

CorbynWinningVoting in Labour’s second leadership election in a year today closed, with a massive turnout nearly 50% higher than last year, despite persistent, repeated, concerted efforts to purge new members. On Saturday, the result will be announced at conference in Liverpool. All expect Jeremy Corbyn to crush the pointless Blairite challenger Owen Smith by an even bigger margin than the 59% Corbyn won last time. A Quixotic, opportunistic, post-Brexit temper tantrum from the tools of capital, summer 2016’s New Labour Blairite coup never had a chance.

The coup attempt has a shining silver lining – Labour is now the most battle tested it has ever been, with a brand new, younger membership so huge it is now the largest political party in the history of Western Europe. Corbyn’s Labour is today a muscled out Jaguar, Rolls Royce, pick your favorite British made car, with nitrous oxide turbo boosters.

Spitting in the face of this movement, rumors of New Labour dead enders splitting off continued all summer. The parliamentary Labour Party, the PLP (members in parliament) made pathetic noises about somehow detaching themselves from Corbyn’s Labour by forming their own faction from Parliament, suing to keep Labour’s assets, all manner of nonsense. That didn’t last.

Reasonably, members began wondering aloud how to remove these recalcitrant coup plotters in Parliament if they cannot accept a democratic decision of membership for a second time. In America, we call this a primary challenge. In Britain, this is called “deselection”, local members meeting to choose a different candidate to stand in their parliamentary constituency. Every MP in Labour knows that if the gargantuan size of this new membership mobilized to deselect them, they can kiss all those Westminster perks goodbye, and like the rest of us, start looking for a new job that pays them to talk all day in the neoliberal hellscape their policies created. Sort of concentrates the mind.

labourleadsthewaylordsLabour is now the strongest fist worldwide punching up at the scourge of Third Way, Clinton DLC, Reagan Thatcher “There is no alternative” free market purist neoliberalism. Is Hillary Clinton listening? In America, Donald Trump has captured this sentiment with racism. No longer immunized against 1930’s style nationalism by the long dead New Deal (which Bill Clinton with his own pen himself dismantled most), America is falling victim to the predictable rise of hate that persistent economic decline at the hands of capitalism always produces. Blaming the problems on the brown people doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. It means average Americans are on the hunt for a scapegoat responsible for the end of the American Dream, and through Trump, they’ve been given the oldest scapegoat in human history.

It’s understandable that Hillary is so obviously reluctant to attack the failed neoliberal legacy her own husband created. However, tectonic plates worldwide are rolling over that legacy, right now, and in Liverpool next week, Labour will take its place standing atop that shift, ready to fight. Blairites will either cry uncle, finally (hint!), or put themselves in the crosshairs of this movement merely to be crushed a third time.

Hillary can either join Labour, capture that same movement stateside, or prattle on in irrelevance, watching powerlessly as Donald Trump, like every ugly dictator before him, scapegoats his way into the White House. She should seize this moment. This movement.

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How Hillary Clinton loses Ohio

When news broke that Hillary Clinton left the door to America’s internet wide open in her basement server, my Tweet was…

Two months out, with Russian hackers having spent 7 years burrowing like termites from Chappaqua into every crevace of the DNC, Donald Trump’s about to win Ohio. The Ohio Democratic Party’s last statewide candidate foisted onto us whether we wanted him or not also flouted the law, lied about it, got caught, and lied some more during the campaign; Ed FitzGerald, who got 34% running for governor in 2014 after being found to not have a driver’s license for 10 years. Hillary is tied with a stinking racist at 43% in Ohio, and heading downward toward Fitzy’s glory. Ohio voters don’t like candidates who get off scot free for something average folks would be tossed into jail for. Who knew.

"sure beats a blow job, Bill"

“sure beats a blow job, Bill”

Ted Strickland’s US Senate campaign against Rob Portman is a Ford Pinto held together with duct tape leaking oil. Poor Ted. When Ted was governor, Ohio Democrats barely put up with what we all called “the best Republican governor Ohio ever had”. Now, what’s even the point? Visibly old and tired, Ted’s barely making it across the finish line, with a voting record reliably in the pocket of the NRA, a legacy of prostrating Ohio’s budget before the market gods seizing every inch of public space. Now Ted reaps what he’s sewn, with the added insult of Hillary Clinton dragging him down just as Lee Fisher’s pathetic (just as rigged) US Senate attempt dragged Ted down in 2010, giving us John Kasich. Karma. Shoulda kept the downstate good ol’ boy preacher act on the farm this time, Ted; all them hillbillies votin’ for Trump, dawg. Ohio Democrats have had quite enough of triangulation.

All this stench is piled atop an ODP racket so corrupt for so many decades it’s incapable of mounting the most basic get out the vote campaign at the grassroots in 2016. Chris Redfern’s farcical departure as chair after the FitzGerald comedy, gave us not one, not two, but three attempts at keeping the game rigged, landing ODP on David Pepper, son of a Proctor & Gamble billionaire. Pay dirt, literally. No one is going to volunteer for a rigged game benefiting a 20 year hustle just this side of a RICO case, just as they wouldn’t for Al Gore after being made fools of in defense of a blow job.

CorbynWinningThe energy on the left is organizing not to assist but to destroy that hustle, as the Lakewood Democratic Club learned when the revolution descended upon them in force last month. Lakewood Dems robotically repeated the exact same machinations of capital displayed by this summer’s coup mounting Blairites rejecting this same movement electing Jeremy Corbyn leader of the Labour party by a landslide in 2015. Moving the goalposts, trying to outrun a flood of new members with rigged votes, refusing new members’ right to vote for leader, heading to court to do so, spitting in the face of a movement ready to spit back. Corbyn will repeat that mandate September 24 at Labour conference in Liverpool, likely with an even bigger margin. Capital is on transatlantic notice; we ain’t buyin’ it anymore.

Ohio in fall 2016 is, as the saying goes, “woke AF”. After the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and now the Bernie Sanders campaign for president, Ohio is boiling with revolution from the bottom up in all 88 counties. In 2000, for Al Gore, Democrats were expected to get up, brush themselves off, and start right over again after defending Bill Clinton’s blow job for 3 solid years. Al Gore was out of the state by Halloween. Another Clinton whose stupidity and arrogance we must defend? Who will then give us yet another Goldman Sachs Secretary of the Treasury? As out of touch as a red rightward pointing arrow in the H logo. They’re completely clueless.

What can she do? Water’s already under one bridge, unfortunately. She should have mea culpa’d her way around the server issue in March, 2015. Hand over the server immediately, beg forgiveness. Instead, she parroted her husband’s “What blow job?” for a year, which worked just as well.

Leaked photo of Bill Clinton "helping cure AIDS in Africa"

Leaked photo of Bill Clinton “helping cure AIDS in Africa”

Another missed opportunity – Hillary could have used her convention to cut ties with her Citizens United funding model, and promise to rely only on individual donations, like Bernie Sanders. Is there time yet for that change? Perhaps a moment in the first debate where Hillary responds to Trump’s inevitable attack on the Clinton Foundation by making a spectacular funding U-turn on national TV could save her.

Alas, these are the Clintons we are talking about. Their political radar long ago stopped working, left somewhere at the bottom of Harold Ford Jr.’s punch bowl in the Hamptons. With Gary Johnson and Jill Stein pulling 10-15% statewide, turnout going ever downward, a Democratic base that would rather watch the Browns lose by 30 on a Sunday than knock on a single door with that stupid H-logo on their chest, Ohio is Trump country.

HillaryLogoNewYorkerAmerica survived many stinking racist presidents, some of whom turned out to be pretty good presidents despite their bigotry. When Trump said in the first Fox News August 2015 debate “she came to my wedding because I paid her, she had no choice,” this die was cast. Ohio would have been the center of a historic Democratic tidal wave if Bernie Sanders was at the top of this ticket. Instead, we are on our own, preparing to kick in the teeth the next day whoever “wins” neoliberalism’s ultimate “lesser of two evils” display then predictably gives Goldman Sachs another Treasury Secretary.

On November 9, the movement will either have Trump’s Goldman Sachs appointment to Treasury to fight, or Hillary’s. Whether we have to fight the building of an idiotic, racist wall, too, really doesn’t make much difference. We know where this country is headed. Hillary Clinton certainly does not.

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A Corbynista on the inside must be sabotaging the Blairite coup

CorbynWinningOne of my favorite qualities of the Blairite apparatchiks who used to be my closest friends was their ability to make the hard left Trots think they were getting what they wanted, while at the same time knifing them in the back.  “You won’t believe this one, mate,” would begin the latest war story, followed by uncontrolled cackling laughter at pulling another fast one. Nothing would bring them more delight.

Given the suicide mission of this year’s Blairite coup, which is now so obvious the plotters are literally using members’ money to fight their own membership in court, repeatedly, I can only conclude that Jeremy Corbyn has someone at the very top of Labour convincing Blairites to continually chop their own heads off spectacularly. As we all know, Britain has a long history of expertly deployed counter intelligence. Who could it be? And when will Billy Bragg pen a working class Woody Guthrie style ode to this unnamed hero of the movement?

One imagines Our Hero dragging on a cigarette in the Stranger’s Bar at the House of Commons, cuff links gleaming, collar pressed, eyes telling nothing, surrounded by whispering coup plotters awaiting Our Hero’s next word to set them racing to their own guillotine. Our Hero is no Fredo Corleone, flailing about in desperation, easily discovered. Oh no. Our Hero is quiet, elegant, may be a femme fatale in stilletos mingling amongst the City boys, flowing effortlessly through Westminster. He, or she, will never be known, but for her heroic service to the revolution.

The plant would have to be very high up, with enough credibility that party lawyers leap into court to self immolate at his (or her) mere suggestion. Someone with a political compass that still functions well enough to sniff the breeze, who can feel the political tectonic plates worldwide about to bury neoliberalism, and its hideous progeny Blairism. Could it be Tony Blair himself? Blair’s political radar was once this accurate. After Blair’s very public takedown in the Chilcot report, and Blair’s personal defense thereafter, he would make the perfectly unsuspected saboteur.

A far more likely Jezza’s Jihadi James Bond would be Gordon Brown. Brown once claimed the mantle of the left, famously feuded with Blair for years, thus has precisely the self-interest to help Blairites salt the earth over their own graves. Brown can still call on a clique of MPs, members of the House of Lords, former and current staffers, right up and down the country. And Brown has been conspicuously quiet throughout this entire squalid affair.

Either way, this summer has been a display of political strength by Jeremy Corbyn none of the Blairite coup plotters could have foreseen. British voters reward such strength handsomely, whatever their political beliefs. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and unwittingly, this coup has made Jeremy Corbyn infinitely stronger than he was before the coup oozed out of neoliberalism’s backside. Before the coup, Corbyn seemed easy pickings for the Tories. After the coup, Corbyn is now the strongest figure in British politics.

If you’re going to try to kill the king, better get it right the first time.

 

 

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Zombie Blairite Undead prepare to refuse another thrashing Corbyn victory

LabourZombies

You know you’ve got Blairite neoliberal capitalist pigs in a corner when they start leaking to the Torygraph, anonymously, how they’re going to sue to grab the Labour Party for themselves. Such a cunning plan!

…it emerged frustrated Labour politicians – many of whom expect Corbyn to retain the leadership in September – are looking at proposals to choose an alternative figurehead in the Commons and pick their own shadow cabinet, as well as approaching Commons Speaker John Bercow to try to be named the official Opposition on the basis of having a greater number of MPs.

They could even launch a legal bid to take control of the Labour Party names and assets, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph, which confirms plans which are known to have been in circulation in Westminster for some weeks.

The Tories couldn’t be more tickled. It’s as if the Lord Mayor convened a sanhedrin of the Worshipful Company of Suicide Bombers in the Guildhall, Chukka Umunna circled the room in a fuzzy hat lighting candles, they drew lots, and Owen Smith (a ten year BBC whore, then Pfizer lobbyist, which makes him perfect for the job) got the short straw to go blow up Labour, the one political party standing in the way of total Tory control of Britain. Masterful.

As us Yanks might say, we now see the whites of their eyes. Only Blairites could see hundreds of thousands of new members come in the door and spit at them. Spit some more. Then cry to their toadies in the media about how abused they’ve been for spitting in the eyes of hundreds of thousands of new members. Then threaten to sue and keep those members’ donations (best part), take the buildings, the party name, create their own fake rump PLP…this will all make excellent British comedy someday. Already is!

When the hundreds of thousands of new members literally repeat the exact same leadership election result they delivered a year ago, here’s what needs to happen after Jeremy Corbyn crushes these morons, again, at conference in Liverpool this September. Every tea room on Merseyside should boil with CLP members planning to deselect every single MP who participated in this nonsense. Why? Because they’ve revealed themselves to not be Labour Party members anymore, but naked tools of capital. As such, they won’t stop until they are out for good. They’ll be happier with the Tories anyway, deselection will be doing them a favor.

The lesson for us Bernie Sanders Yanks stateside? The fight to contain capital never really ends. Never.

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Capital gives us Tim Kaine, recycles Bernie Bro slur in British Labour

Since I used to do this for a living, I can’t stop finding similarities in the concurrent dramas of the US presidential campaign and the British Labour Party’s now year long fight to the death with neoliberalism.  With Tim Kaine as Hillary Clinton’s VP we see the Democratic Party take another lurch toward capital. Kaine himself seems nice, which reminds me to scratch my Gandhi itch.

We must remember that our fight is with capital, not the people who make themselves its tool. Capital will find a way to rig the state in its favor very like water finding its way to the ocean. Perpetually. It will not stop, it has to be stopped. That is what the New Deal was designed to do, specifically on Wall Street, but the New Deal barriers also directed the flow of capital, rather than always upward toward oligarchs as now, in directions that helped us all – the alphabet soup of federal government programs that built the white picket fenced unprecedented American post-war boom we now view through our 21st century nostalgic gaze backward.

As an invented sharp end of capital, Blairite neoliberalism in the British Labour Party was never going to just go away; too many pimps and whores suckle from the foul teat of the oligarchy they themselves created. Thus, this summer there’s a second Labour leadership election in a year, forced upon the party by Blairite neoliberalism; forced upon Labour by capital.

Didn’t we just do this, you ask? Why yes! You’ll recall after Labour lost the 2015 general election spectacularly, Labour members elected the stereotypically bearded grey haired super lefty Jeremy Corbyn leader last September with 60% of the vote, his nearest Blairite challengers (plural) invisible in the distance. A year later, Blairites have manufactured a coup, first justified with the lie that Corbyn hadn’t done enough to defeat Brexit, which soon gave way to the absurdity of last year’s beatdown, and which now features a cut and paste, spun from whole cloth Bernie Bro lie narrative about “abuse” toward various and sundry. I suspect that came from David Axelrod himself, who consults for Blairites as I once did.

Capital will lose in Labour again this summer. Corbyn will crush the Blairites when ballot papers go out August 22, there is little doubt. The most recent poll showed Corbyn doubling up the weirdly conjured challenger, Owen Smith, a creature oozed out the corpulent back side of neoliberalism’s media spin, big pharma, Westminster petri dish. Owen Smith is quite like Tim Kaine in this regard; just another empty vessel through which capital flows upward.

 

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Blairites stick a middle finger in Labour memberships’ eye on the way down the bin

CorbynHipHopThe post-Brexit Labour Party’s internal Blairite coup against new leader Jeremy Corbyn has descended into total farce. (Relatedly, why is Brexit even a Labour problem? It’s a Tory problem, full stop.)  Blairites didn’t merely bungle every step of their incomptent post-Brexit coup over last summer’s leadership election, which Jeremy Corbyn won in an emphatic 60% landslide less than a year ago. Blairite intransigence now features the party’s Blairite-packed governing body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), whistfully imposing rules willy nilly designed to suppress Corbyn’s vote, and keep new members out, as if no one is watching.

Not only has the NEC imposed clearly discriminatory arbitrary membership cut-off dates for voting eligibility, the NEC has even raised the fee for voting membership from £3 to an absurd £25 (isn’t Labour a party for, you know, workers?), and even if you pay that, you still might not be allowed to vote for leader, depending on your speed to the post box. One wonders how creative the NEC will get all summer attempting to plug the cracks in their collapsing neoliberal dyke. Will new members using pencil instead of ink on their ballot be denied a vote for leader? Must the ballot paper be folded a certain way? It really is that ridiculous at this point.

Call me crazy, but new members are the entire ball game in politics. Any politics. Anywhere. Anytime.

First, I very much doubt such stupidity from the NEC survives a legal challenge (perhaps the European Court of Justice? Blairites do love the EU!), as these machinations are transparently discriminatory and might even rise to breach of contract. Second, even if a court never takes a look at this nonsense, it’s a near certainty Corbyn will still win any membership vote, with coup plotters unable even to decide on a single candidate to challenge Corbyn.

Third, even if despite all this, the coup somehow, someway, results in the Blairite fever dream of a leader other than Jeremy Corbyn at conference this September, that “result” will be universally seen as illegitimate, corrupt, and deeply oligarchic. Labour will have told the vast majority of its current membership and any future members it does not matter what, or who, you vote for in the Labour Party, the rules will be changed afterward against you. What remains of a post-Brexit-coup Labour won’t really be a socialist party, will it, but instead an empty vessel for the safe movement of capital.

One of the reasons the British Labour Party liked having us Yanks around back in the neoliberal glory days of the late 1990’s was an uncanny Clintonista ability to deal with political reality. It’s largely a function of the European style British parliamentary electoral system, in which all the marbles ride on relatively rare general elections. America’s system of constant elections at every level from local council to the presidential primaries features high stakes at every level, all the time. Labour thus tends to be a pretty navel-gazing bunch, internally focused to a fault, while American political strategy is more head on a swivel, always looking around the next corner, then the next one, sort of a political radar turned GPS.

In this way we see Hillary Clinton, a neoliberal to her core, making all the right moves in victory before her convention in Philadelphia, while Labour’s Blairites make all the wrong moves in their precipitous decline into the bin of history. Hillary is adjusting to the political reality before her. She did not need to allow the DNC to adopt more than 80% of the Bernie Sanders platform at the convention in Philadelphia. Running against the trainwreck that is Donald Trump, an argument can be made Hillary does not even need the Bernie or Busters’ votes at all. Yet, the Clinton machine is doing the opposite of the Blairite rump – Hillary is changing the Democratic Party to meet the political winds all around her.

Instead of putting a finger in the breeze to see which way the wind is so obviously blowing, Blairites stick a finger in the eye of their own members, future supporters, and the British electorate as a whole. Neoliberalism, the chief governing theory of capitalism, is precisely this blind, as it only sees capital as power, not people. Fortunately for Britain, and for Labour, this worm long ago turned. Blairites are blindly putting themselves into traffic to get run over by the amply documented worldwide tectonic shift in our politics against neoliberal world order. No matter how clever they think they are, this will not end well for Blairites.

 

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Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Hillary Clinton & movement politics

PD photo, 2001, when I still bought the con

PD photo, 2001, when I still bought the con

It’s over. So many Bernie people are completely new to politics, so I want to address them first.

The newbies may not realize it, but us tired, scarred old veterans needed your energy. We gave up on America, too. For me personally, until ya’ll showed up Feelin’ The Bern, American politics had become just as repulsive as post-soviet politics has been for 25 years to my old friends in Armenia. A sick joke, whose inner workings I knew so well, the joke got sicker every hour, year, decade. So first – even though we all got a few more scars outta this, thank you for getting me to engage and believe (if only just a bit) again.

Now, my grizzled veteran speech. Politics ain’t beanbag, the saying goes. There are winners, and losers. Sometimes it’s better to be the loser, and in the case of the 2016 Democratic Presidential primary, the Bernie Sanders’ “loss” and today’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton strikes me as one of those cases.

We all know this rickety system of exploitation is the governing bargain broken to pieces. Whether you call it end stage capitalism, or Washington Consensus neoliberalism, capital’s capture of the state is bound to collapse at some point, likely within Hillary Clinton’s presidency. If she cannot prevent this collapse, it will be Hillary’s responsibility to fix the coming trainwreck, establish the American economy on a New Deal foundation again, to remake the compromise between the state and capital which FDR got right. That’s a big job. It’s coming. Pretty sure Hillary Clinton herself knows it, too.

1996 Clinton Gore Campaign

1996 Clinton Gore Campaign

Our job now, as a movement, is to hound Hillary every step of the way, from within her own party, to hold her to the promises her party makes in the 2016 platform, and then some. The platform is a good start, and we owe a great debt of gratitude to the delegates who fought to change the Democratic Party from the inside out. True, they are just words on a page, and none of us think a President Clinton will just deliver these promises without a fight.

But we are a movement, so we know how to fight. I’ve written many times how the Bernie Sanders campaign for president is relatively new to the worldwide movement against neoliberalism. This movement began in the Tea Party reaction to the 2008 bailouts, exploded into the Arab Spring in late 2010, crystalized in the Western world on the streets with Occupy Wall Street in 2011, and is now at the ramparts of the establishment, with the Jeremy Corbyn takeover of the British Labour Party in 2015, and Bernie Sanders’ ideas now sitting firmly within the Democratic Party in 2016. Nineteen hundred elected delegates in Philadelphia in two weeks will march our movement directly into the halls of American power, representing millions of people.  Today, we make up close to half, if not more, of the oldest political party on earth.

Bernie Sanders is correct – this political revolution marches on. Only now, the stakes are much, much higher. With power comes responsibility. We used our power to transform the Democratic Party platform, and now we must keep that power fresh, deployed, at the ready, to enforce those ideas on President Hillary Clinton. In this endeavor, we have the advantage, because this movement has a long history largely outside of electoral politics, pushing political actors, not succumbing to them.

Bernie's Lakewood Office opening, Jan. 2016

Bernie’s Lakewood Office opening, Jan. 2016

And make no mistake, the interests of capital are like a cockroach. Fights there most certainly will be. In the UK, even though Jeremy Corbyn defeated Blairite neoliberalism utterly last summer, the zombie undead Blairites still mount an absurd post-Brexit coup from the shadows. Donald Trump, the hideous metastacized progeny of neoliberalim’s worst ugliness, stands in front of us. After Trump is vanquished, Hillary will be surrounded by the same neoliberal oligarchs who surround Trump.

Do we have to vote for Hillary Clinton because Bernie endorsed her? No, we don’t. She must come to us, not the other way around, if she wants our vote. She has work to do. But so do we.

Congratulations Berners – we continue to change our world. Thank you for helping me give it another try.

 

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Labour vs. Neoliberalism Round Two

From the Red London Facebook Page

From the Red London Facebook Page

Having just written about the blindness of elites, the Labour Party surprised even me. Apparently, Jeremy Corbyn didn’t do enough campaigny things for Remain, and now must go, according to a no confidence vote of Labour MPs. It’s always about tactical nonsense, some elusive “competence”, a clever potion of political alchemy to which only Blairites have the secret recipe. Corbyn must go.

Corbyn has fought this all the way, and is ignoring the no confidence vote, daring any other candidates to gather the 51 MP nominations to begin a leadership election. Leaders must compromise, and it is clear Corbyn would rather not have campaigned for Remain, and perhaps instead lead the large chunk of Labour’s core working class electorate who voted Leave. So his campaigny feeties didn’t run so fast on the hamster wheel of campaigny thingies. So what? To measure a Labour leader, one year after a crushing victory put him there, on the tactical slide rule of a Tory catastrophe is beyond ridiculous.

Last summer, I began covering Corbyn from the perspective of a Bernie Sanders supporter. The Corbyn Movement is one reason why I became involved in the Sanders campaign here in Ohio. It proved to me that a movement of the FDR/Red Labour Left could gain power, no matter the stereotypical bearded (or not) lefty leading it. Last summer’s Labour leadership contest, which Jeremy Corbyn won in a landslide by the way, was about ideas, not a personality. One idea in particular very much lost.

Blairite neoliberalism is not only not socialism, it doesn’t even work, except to create oligarchy. In my experience, Labour members are the most studied political actors in the western world. Labour was born in the socialist intellectualism of the early 20th century, and every Labour member I’ve ever met had a colleciton of party manifestos. They know what socialism stands for, and what the goals of a socialist political party must be.

Alas, after a Tory faction extracted a Tory promise from a weak Tory leader to produce a Tory disaster, apparently Blairism smells blood in the water? No one is fooled anymore, thus, I suspect this rematch of ideas will produce not just the same result as last summer, but energize the movement behind it.

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Kylo Ren, Bernie Sanders, and a neo-Marxist theorist walk into a bar…

I’NoSpoilersShushve never seen the “No spoilers!” ethic at work so thoroughly as for Star Wars, which I went to see this weekend. In international relations speak, this behavior could be seen as Gramscian, a universal acceptance of a cultural norm which functions as the enforcing mechanism of an ideology. Gramsci was an Italian neo-Markist who Mussolini tossed into jail, whose prison writings are some of the most commonly cited Marxist scholarship today.

So basically, according to Gramscian theory, we all accessed The Force by refusing, voluntarily, to reveal any details about the new Star Wars Movie, and also acted to enforce this norm, by shushing the whole Christmas break at people we really ought not shush at in public. And it was all very American, very Christmasy, very voluntary, very like…The Light Side.

There was no law telling us to act this way, no actor forcing us to. As a Marxist, Gramsci saw this acquiesence by a population to an idea as the mechanism by which capitalism enforces itself. We believe an idea so completely, and are invested in it so thoroughly, we enforce it ourselves. When capitalism is enforced in the same way as we enforced the “No Spoilers!” ethic, we are, according to Gramsci, turning to the Dark Side.

One scholar I cited this past semester in a paper on the IMF’s evolution into a capitalist vampire squid zombie undead, notes that Gramsci’s idea of capitalist hegemony relies on a Dark Side trick…a sort of buy-in from the whole of society, not into something nice like a “No Spoilers!” rule, but the ideas of the bourgeoisie, the familiar “we’re all just temporarily embarrassed millionaires” myth, a buy-in which gives those ideas their persistent power.

“Because their hegemony was firmly entrenched in civil society, the bourgeoisie often did not need to run the state themselves…Coercion is always latent but is only applied in marginal, deviant cases. Hegemony is enough to ensure conformity of behavior in most people most of the time…these institutions and ideologies will be universal in form, i.e., they will not appear as those of a particular class, and will give some satisfaction to the subordinate groups while not undermining the leadership or vital interests of the hegemonic class” (Gill, 1993)

Gramsci himself would argue that the shushing ethic was a Dark Side trick getting us to enforce capitalism, namely, the profit of the movie’s capitalist owners. But the shushing was for our benefit as well, a societal norm we ourselves bought into; the idea that we should all see this movie cold. Therein lies the battle of Star Wars, between the Light and the Dark Sides, within ourselves.

It’s hard to overcome this persistent Gramscian power. No one likes realizing they’ve bought into, and enforce themselves daily, an idea that exploits them. It’s embarrassing, for one. Humiliating. My own journey from Clintonista New Democrat, Blairite New Labour establishment tool to Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn revolutionary took a very long time. The Gramscian spell finally broke for good this past spring, when I realized my work on the inaugural London mayoral campaign in 2000, something I’ve been very proud of, turned out to be Exhibit A of yours truly bending over for capital’s game rigging hegemony. Wrote a paper about that too.

Then Jeremy Corbyn happened in the Labour party, which you could watch happen all summer via the internet in real time. It did not matter who Corbyn was, an idea had formed outside of his own personal story; Corbyn was merely a vessel. Similarly, the internet created the Star Wars shushing hegemony, then empowered us to see Gramsci’s Light Side form, coalesce, grow, and indeed even enforce itself, in real time, with our own hands. The shushing was very insistent and powerful, it leapt from the intenet to the real world (like Corbyn) and it worked when deployed. I wielded the shush on occasion, we all did, no?

Up next is Bernie Sanders. Perhaps The Force has been afoot for some time now, and Gramsci’s hegemonic Dark Side is cracking under the pressure of a new consensus forming to replace it, a new hegemony forming within us, which we enforce ourselves. If so, woe unto anyone standing in the way. You’re about to be shushed.

(and there were no spoilers in this blog post, btw)

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