Corbyn, Patriotism, the Working Class and Empire

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13/10/2015 by socialistfight

Jeremy Corbyn is declared elected as Labour leader on 12 September: “Corbyn’s speech at Labour Conference half suggested opposition to all this. But he must fight for it openly by mobilise his radicalising followers or he will demoralise and lose them all. Rejecting God and Monarchy would be a start. But it’s capitalism itself that must go.”

Corbyn, Patriotism, the Working Class and Empire

Socialist Fight flyer for the demo on 4 October in at the Tory Conference Manchester

Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour party on 12 September. On the 14th The Sunday Times reported that a senior serving unnamed British General has threatened “direct action” by the armed forces against a future Corbyn administration:

“The Army just wouldn’t stand for it. The general staff would not allow a prime minister to jeopardise the security of this country and I think people would use whatever means possible, fair or foul to prevent that… The intelligence services will refuse to let Corbyn see information on live operations because of his sympathy towards some terrorists.”

On the 15th he had failed to ask God to save the Queen. On the 16th Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the DUP, attacked John McDonnell, because in 2003 he had said:

“It’s about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table.”

On the 18th Corbyn was accused of “snubbing” the rugby world cup opening ceremony and England’s first match.

These new Corbynites were thoroughly unpatriotic chaps, simply bounders, ranted the right wing press, Tory politicians and Blairite supporters in Labour.

Tally-ho! Kate Hoey in full battledress on her charger against the working class and Labour left.

Right Labour MP Kate Hoey, of Ulster Unionist origins but late of the International Marxist Group and Troops Out of Ireland in the 1970s, now thinks Labour is losing because it drifted too far left under Miliband. In June the pro-fox-hunting, anti-bicycle bigot said of working class UKIP voters:

“They feel very strongly about their country and we have been extremely unpatriotic as a party to our country. There’s just a feeling that we’re half-hearted about being British, we’re half-hearted about the monarchy, we’re half-hearted about the way we see our country in the world”.

As Corbyn and McDonnell are atheists, republicans and socialists it might be thought reasonable not to honour an imaginary deity, an unelected monarch and to oppose the crimes of British imperialism. A Corbynite, Clive Lewis, Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, went part of the way:

“I’m a humanist. I’m an atheist humanist. If he decided not to sing the national anthem I would have defended him. I would have said I served in the Army, I don’t think my love for my country and my patriotism can be defined by a song – from a very jingoistic period of our history – singing about what I believe to be a non-existent deity, saving an unelected head of state.”

Note defence of the Empire is still there. In his Conference speech Corbyn asserted his alternative patriotism:

“It’s because I am driven by these British majority values, because I love this country, that I want to rid it of injustice, to make it fairer, more decent, more equal. Fair play for all, solidarity and not walking by on the other side of the street when people are in trouble. Respect for other’s point of view. It is this sense of fair play, these shared majority British values that are the fundamental reason why I love this country and its people.”

Leon Trotsky, writing in the period leading up to the General Strike in 1926 said that the lefts in the trade unions and Labour party were ideologically formlessness so the rights had a big advantage over them because:

“with them stands tradition, experience and routine and, most important, with them stands bourgeois society as a whole which slips them ready-made solutions.”

In that period the masses were radicalising as now, the lefts were represented on the General Council of the TUC as they are now. The TU bureaucrats in collaboration with Labour leaders, McDonald and Henderson, sold out the strike and the lefts failed to break from them in any way.

On issue after issue the combination of mass media, Tory, TU bureaucrats and right Labour push the lefts back. Corbyn may sing his dirge to God and the Queen and may bend the knee to her to become a Privy Councillor, McDonnell has apologised “from the bottom of my heart” for his tribute to the heroic Bobby Sands. Trident will be a free vote courtesy of the ‘left’ Unite leader McCluskey and the right GMB leader Sir Paul Kenny. Outrageously he will not commit to blowing up half the world, reactionaries tell us. And despite Conference opposition we must have a free vote on bombing Syria.

It is the duty of Marxists and revolutionists to make clear our political criticisms of the fundamental weakness of the Corbyn leadership. In the first place it has no economic appreciation that the crisis of capitalism is structural, caused by the falling rate of profit, “the most powerful law of capitalist economics”, Marx correctly asserted.

This cannot be remedied by Keynesian economic solutions like printing money in the mistakenly belief that underconsumption is the problem. The big transnationals control all imperialist governments and restoring their rate of profit means war. War in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and against Russia and China ultimately. That is the essence of the patriotic defence of Empire, with or without God and the Queen.

This is what causes immigration and refugee crises, this is what causes economic collapse and chaos. To defeat this we must unite with the working class of all lands. It is a great lie that there is any patriotic common cause between the British working class and the British ruling class; there is only an internationalist duty on us all to unite workers of the world against the imperialism of finance capital and their transnational corporations.

Britain and Ireland still holds some 100 Republican prisoners who are tortured, brutally strip searched and denied their rights, including proper medical care. As Chair of the LRC John McDonnell is surely in a powerful position now to remedy this; he voted for it at successive AGMs.

Jeremy Corbyn is in a good position now to fight for justice for the victims of the Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday state massacres.

He surely cannot allow himself to be manoeuvred into a position that he becomes responsible for another Batang Kali atrocity like Attlee, a Kenyan Mau Mau slaughter, sending troops to Ireland like Wilson or another Bloody Sunday massacre.

Corbyn’s speech at Labour Conference half suggested opposition to all this. But he must fight for it openly by mobilise his radicalising followers or he will demoralise and lose them all. Rejecting God and Monarchy would be a start. But it’s capitalism itself that must go.

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