Corbyn wasn’t the problem, you were!

By Alex Mazey

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A day after the election, The Guardian released, perhaps, its greatest piece of journalism since The Snowden Leaks. A simple, eighteen-minute video titled, ‘How Labour lost, and the hope that endures’. 

Two journalists, John Harris and John Domokos, trace a journey on the election campaign, interviewing ordinary people from ‘a rain-sodden journey to Milton Keynes’ to ‘Stoke-on-Trent – where they watch the party’s working-class vote collapse…’ 

Why has this vote collapsed, not just in Stoke, but throughout Labour heartlands? While experts scratch their heads, the answer is quite simple, it is about the apathy of politicians to engage with the material issues of the electorate – particularly where they relate to local concerns. 

In The Guardian’s documentary, we see keen, young Labour activists following Ruth Smeeth around, calling her their hero. Yet, in 2017, when multi-million-pound conglomerate, FirstGroup, saw exorbitant ticket price increases in the area, there was very little interest from these activists, or from the politician whose party claimed to care about issues of public transportation. 

How are working people supposed to believe in policies regarding the Re-Nationalisation of public transport when there has been a relative silence in regards to the corporate exploitation of people trying to get to work in the morning?  

It leads me to assume that Corbyn wasn’t the problem, you were. Who was the problematic ‘you’ in this statement if it wasn’t the sheltered followers of a Corbyn doctrinaire who damaged his myth of electability? If socialism is to prevail, it needs less celebrity endorsement, and more grass-roots engagement. The optimism of Boris Johnson’s victory is revealed in both the power of class consciousness and how exhibiting an utter contempt for a unified working-class will not work towards the implementation of more democratic socialism. 

So then, what do you get when you cross argumentation based on ad hominem and false equivalence with sanctimony and resentment exhibited towards your “stupid and racist” electorate? In the words of Phoenix’s Joker, I’ll tell you what you get, you get what you fucking deserve. 

“They will be queuing up to say it’s the media’s fault.” Commented the LBC’s James O’Brien, they will blame the Zionist lobby, the Centrists and Tony Blair. This is all true in terms of the mediated games of condemnation, of course, because self-reflection for the ideologically motivated is always seen, in a sense, as a form of self-loathing. 

James O’Brien, while careful not to twist the knife, continuously revisits the problematic ‘you’ that cascades from his voice with alliteration. “You weren’t ready to admit it after the last election.” He continues, “You weren’t ready to admit it after the debacle of the Brexit referendum. You weren’t ready to admit it after various catastrophes beset the leadership.”

I understand. To question one’s own convictions is to question everything you’ve stood for; after the pupation of so much hatred and vitriol, the existential threat to the doctrinaire becomes almost unfathomable, it reaches for delusion. 

In his 2007 work, ‘God Is Not Great, the author and journalist, Christopher Hitchens compares his loss of belief in a Marxist philosophy to the individual who loses their faith in religion. Hitchens concludes, ‘Leave hold of the doctrinaire and allow your chainless mind to do its own thinking.’

Moving forward, we must see this as a point of catharsis from bygone models and their systems of methodology. If ‘The Authentic Left’ is to build any genuine opposition to the conservatives over the next five years, we must accept vital realities – and move forward with a chainless mind. 

Cover photo by Garry Knight