A few days ago Freedom published an article called, “The End of Dogma #keepcorbyn as a Transitional Demand.” In it an occasional Freedom contributor argued for support of the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as he faces a coup organised by right wing Labour MPs, Blairite think tanks and most of the soft left media. It has inevitably caused controversy and argument, which is a good thing. It is not Freedom’s position to support Corbyn or join the Labour Party and the above article was published with this (admittedly late) response in mind.
Firstly it is important to recognise the wave of popular support for Corbyn. To ignore or dismiss the great number of people signing up to the Labour Party to support him and the politics he represents would be a wasted opportunity. Whether Corbyn survives or not, he is going to leave a lot of people disaffected and looking for something else, which would hopefully be ready made audience to which radicals could appeal.
It is true that this crisis is not going away any time soon. With that crisis there comes a sense of urgency, a need to be doing something. The Labour right has presented a particular emergency that many have leapt on, including some anarchists. Unfortunately this energy is being spent in the bureaucratic machinations of constituency and branch meetings or at rallies held by the usual ragtag bunch of Labour lefties, union officials or trots. Of course political activism is not a zero sum game, you can support Corbyn and still be involved in community organising and grassroots struggles. However to achieve a reorganisation of the Labour party and the deselection of Blairite MPs would involve a scale of organisation that would inevitably distract from other struggles over the coming months.
It is wrong to say that a refusal to support Corbyn or the #keepcorbyn movement is engaging in dogmatism or sectarianism. Anarchist support of Corbyn is not an ‘end of dogma’ but the acceptance of an old dogma – that of parliamentary politics. Corbyn, and his psuedo-grassroots support organisation Momentum, claim that his leadership is not about him as a personality but about a wider movement of people. However, in the focus on maintaining one man in his position of institutionalised power #keepcorbyn necessarily falls into the logic of bourgeois social democracy.
The whole point of anarchist politics is that liberation is won through the self organisation of the working class and other oppressed groups through direct action, strikes and agitation. To give up on that now, for the hope of reforming the Labour party to achieve unspecified ‘transitional demands’ doesn’t make much sense. Tactics such as direct action have time and again won concessions from the state that have immeasurably improved working peoples lives. More importantly it has done so in a way that doesn’t politically disempower people but builds solidarity and working class power.
The anti authoritarian left can hardly be described as isolationist, more just isolated. UKBA raids are disrupted by anarchists all over London, the Glasgow Anarchist Collective organises against homelessness, and grassroots unions like the IWW or the UVW are campaigning and winning for their members. Freedom has done it’s best to highlight these struggles and will continue to do so. The challenge anarchists face is to link these struggles through mutual aid and solidarity to form an insurgent radical movement that can challenge the capitalist hegemony.
It is wrong, as Daniel briefly did, to posit support for Corbyn as an antifascist act. It needn’t be said that anti fascism is practised in the streets, and the idea that the state, or parliamentarians, should have anything to do with combating fascism is dangerous. The rights of oppressed peoples are negotiated, given and ultimately taken away be the state. Those protections are defended through community self defence and self organisation – not through electing sympathetic politicians.
Ultimately it matters little if the Corbyn coup succeeds or not. It may be, as has come apparent only in the last couple of days, that some kind of negotiated peace deal could be brokered between the rival factions that make up the Labour party. We also could bear witness to a historic split. The direction of class struggle is where it has always been, in the workplaces and on the streets. This is where anarchists should be organising, and agitating to push those invested in Corbyn to be organising as well.