Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Corbyn's Triumph Another Ill Omen for Hillary

Hillary's grave has been dug.

Back at the beginning of May, after Ed Miliband led Labour to a historic defeat in Britain's parliamentary elections, I opined that it augured ill for corporate Democrats in the U.S. At the time, analysts in the mainstream media were trying to spin Cameron's big win as a cautionary tale for Labour moving to the left. Somehow these analysts (I'm thinking here of Steven Erlanger's "Appeal to Dwindling Core Proves Costly for Labour Party in Britain") interpreted Miliband's meekly mouthed promises to roll back some of the egregious aspects of Tory austerity, and Labour's subsequent collapse at the polls, as proof that a leftist attack on neoliberalism was a surefire loser. These analysts failed to account for the incredible showing of the Scottish National Party, a party far to the left of Labour.

Now, this past weekend, Labour has corrected course by shifting hard to the left. Longtime socialist, anti-war firebrand and Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader of the Labour Party. (See top of the post the informative interview with Tariq Ali from yesterday's Democracy Now! for a good intro to Corbyn.) He won thanks in part to a change in rules that broadened the base of who could vote for party leader. Young people overwhelming supported Corbyn and his message of equality, fraternity and an end to foreign wars; he won with 60 percent of the vote over a mishmash of Blairites.

So Labour is starting its journey back to relevance. Rocky will be the road because zombies occupy most positions of power in neoliberal Western society. (Erlanger pitifully reprises his tune from May by arguing that Corbyn's election means a big Tory win in 2020.)

But the canon has sounded and the blast has been heard across the pond. The U.S. and UK are cousins. When neoliberalism drove it piles into the soil 40 years ago it did so with Thatcherism and Reaganism. Markets are always right and unions are insidious special-interest groups and blacks are lazy scofflaws and military might must be exercised frequently (preferably against a powerless opponent). These are some of the tenets of Thatcherism/Reaganism. And I would say that they have largely lost their purchase on the general public.

Hillary as the Democratic banner-waver of the neoliberal consensus has said that her plan to win the White House is based on returning the Obama coalition to the polls. One crucial bloc of the Obama coalition is the youth vote. Youth went overwhelming with Corbyn in the Labour leadership vote. Youth is not going to go for Hillary in any significant number.

Richard Hell said that the truth is in the youth. The youth has rejected neoliberalism and its perpetual wars and inequality. Even if Hillary manages to cart her carcass across the finish line and defeat Sanders in the Democratic primary, Trump's traveling fascist road show will prove far too formidable for a conventional champion of neoliberalism like Rodham Clinton.

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