Monday, August 10, 2015
An analysis of the Left from the Left
James Bloodworth, a British Trotskyist, unleashes below a broadside at "Comrade" Jeremy Corbyn, the current hero of the British Left. He rightly excoriates Corbyn for his antisemitism and sympathy for tyrants. Bloodworth's major point is that too much Leftist thinking is simplistic, something that is undeniably true.
It is simplistic to the point of sheer ignorance a lot of the time. For instance, anybody who says that rent control is a good way of providing housing for the poor clearly hasn't got a blind clue about housing provision. It is in fact a good way of HALTING new housing provision.
The major form of simplistic thinking that Bloodworth identifies is the Leftist view that "capitalism" is the source of all the world's ills and that America is the home of capitalism. So America is public enemy no. 1.
That the government grab for the health system and the ever-more onerous regulations of the EPA have made America under Obama very little different from most European countries has escaped their notice.
Extremely simplistic thinking does have a lot of appeal. The vast bulk of the population is very poorly informed politically so simple answers can easily appear right to them. Simplistic thinking is a good vote winner. It will probably grab the majority of votes from welfare dependants and people in humble occupations. And there are a lot of those. So Corbyn and the Left generally are probably not as obtuse as they seem. Their motto is "keep it simple and say it often". It's like a Coca Cola advertisement. And, like Coca Cola, it sells.
Bloodworth, however, appears to be more principled and less cynical. He actually believes that there are some groups of people that need protection and help -- and thinks that helping them is what Leftism is all about. Like all Leftists, he thinks that taking money off "rich" people is how you do the helping but he does not lose sight of the objective.
I actually think Bloodworth is too optimistic. I think the Left have a bigger problem than simplistic thinking. Bloodworth seems unaware of how deeply angry many of his fellow Leftists are. They relish destruction of the world they hate. Their "caring" is just camouflage for their hate. So people who really do destroy capitalism around them -- such as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez -- do genuinely seem like good guys to many Leftists, such as Corbyn. Bloodworth underestimates Corbyn's hate motivation. Bloodworth has the handicap of being a genuine and principled Leftist rather than being just a hater.
Until mid-2011 I was a member of a small London-based Trotskyist group. Early in that same year, as part of my propaganda efforts on behalf of the group I ended up at a meeting of the Labour Representation Committee, a left-wing faction of the Labour party, where I listened to Jeremy Corbyn deliver a rousing speech on the then raging war in Libya.
From memory, the speech was not so much anti-war, which would have been perfectly reasonable considering talk at the time of Nato intervention, as pro that country's dictator, Colonel Gaddafi. I do not remember the exact contents of the speech – it took place when Corbyn was an obscure backbencher – only that audible groans filled enlightened corners of the hall, including my own, when the left-winger began to reel off what he considered the "achievements" of the Gaddafi regime.
You might call my experience of that day the beginning of my education in the left-wing case against Jeremy Corbyn, who since then has risen from obscure backbencher to likely next leader of the Labour party.
No, Corbyn is striking a chord with Labour activists because in many respects he is correct: a Britain built on finance capitalism and property speculation will never work in the interests of the majority. That isn't Bolshevism; it's the ABC of social democracy. The problem with Labour's so-called modernisers, or Blairites, or whatever you want to call them, is that they appear to have forgotten much of this.
The best case against Corbyn is not that he is a wild-eyed socialist, but instead goes back to my initial reminiscence: he is remarkably good at proffering apologetics for dictatorship and tyranny. As well as Gaddafi, Corbyn has in recent years championed/made excuses for Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chavez, Russian gay-basher Vladimir Putin, the butcher of Bosnian Muslims Slobodan Milosevic and the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
He has also worked for Iranian state broadcaster Press TV (home of Holocaust deniers and other cranks) and has referred to fascistic terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah as his "friends".
It is this, rather than any desire to make the British economy more like that of Germany – the horror! – which ought to prevent Labour members from voting for Corbyn in the upcoming Labour leadership election. A person cannot conceivably be anti-establishment when they are so willing to line up behind some of the most atrocious "establishments" in the world.
This matters perhaps more today than it did in the past. Large swathes of the world are currently convulsed by war and/or under the boot of dictatorship. The world urgently requires a vocal and internationally minded left – a left which, while recognising imperialist follies such as the war in Iraq, never grovels to religious fascists and whose instinctive reaction to tyranny is one of revulsion rather than reverential talk about the "achievements" of this or that thuggish dictatorship – however "left" the posture of the regime in question
Unfortunately, Corbyn's indulgence of tyranny is invariably where politics takes you if you accept the increasingly fashionable view that the US is the world's most malevolent power. In building up the US as public enemy number one, the left must invent disagreements with it – and by extension Britain – to prop up an increasingly tortuous ideological house of cards.
Thus because the US is the beating heart of capitalism, it must always and everywhere be the "root cause" (you will hear that phrase a lot) of the world's problems; and by deduction, any movement that points a gun in its direction must invariably have something going for it.
To agree with David Cameron [British PM] about, say, the threat from Islamic State (Isis) is to admit there are nastier forces in the world than George Osborne [British treasurer] and the Daily Mail [popular conservative newspaper]. And if this turns out to be true, the main enemy might not be capitalism after all – and thus the illusions begin to melt away.
It may be accurate that, as his supporters like to point out, Corbyn "actually believes in something". And yes, ideology can at times inspire tremendous good. But it can also make a person believe that a goldfish is a racehorse
This is how Comrade Corbyn, a nice man who loathes tyranny and anti-Semitism, ends up on platforms lavishing praise on tyrants and anti-Semites. And it is how some of the very best now find themselves willing on a man who consistently gives succour to some of the very worst.
The truth is that, however much a Corbyn-led Labour party might claim to be standing up for the most vulnerable, it will always and everywhere be willing to sacrifice the very people it ought to stick up for – the world's democrats, secularists, Jews, gays and women – on the ideological alter of anti-Americanism. This, as I will never tire of pointing out, ought to make Corbyn persona non grata for any principled person of the left.
In a tribute to capitalism, China is now a destination for illegal immigrants. China's capitalism is far from perfect, even less perfect than U.S. capitalism, but even some capitalism has dramatic effects. Who would ever have thought that "low wage" China would become so remunerative that people from nearby countries break Chinese law to get there?
On a quiet river bend on the China-Vietnam border, a group of people clambered up a muddy bank. They had just glided across the river from the Vietnamese side in a longboat, guided by men on both banks signaling with flashlights.
The passengers scurried over to a group of men standing by their motorcycles, climbed aboard the bikes and disappeared into the night. Two Chinese police officers in uniform, stationed at a small post near the crossing point in the border town of Dongxing, watched impassively as they rode past.
"We come every night," said one young biker with spiky hair before he rode off. "Sometimes we carry (smuggled) goods into town. Sometimes we carry Vietnamese workers."
The bikers’ illicit cargo on that late summer night last year was illegal laborers. They were headed on a 700-kilometre (440 miles) journey to the economic powerhouse of Guangdong. The province, filled with factories making goods for export, has been dubbed “the workshop of the world.”
The smuggling of illegal workers from Vietnam across the 1,400-km (840-mile) border into China is growing. Labor brokers estimate that tens of thousands work at factories in the Pearl River Delta, which abuts Hong Kong. Workers from other Southeast Asian nations are joining them.
Visits by Reuters to a half-dozen factory towns in southern China revealed the employment of illegal workers from Vietnam is widespread, and authorities often turn a blind eye to their presence. Workers from Myanmar and Laos were also discovered to be working in these areas.
Reuters found that employers supply these illegal workers with fake identity cards and sometimes confine them to factory compounds to keep them out of sight of the authorities. Chinese human smuggling syndicates, known as “snakeheads", work with Vietnamese gangs to control the lucrative trade, workers and labor brokers in China said. The syndicates take a cut of the workers' monthly wages - up to 500 yuan ($80) a month in some cases, according to one broker - and charge factory owners a fee.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).