Thursday, June 15, 2017

'There is hope where you can't see it, there is a light after the storm...' Corbyn, neoliberalism and Shovels & Rope

The British elections certainly didn't go according to plan.

A humiliated Theresa May looks to form a decidedly unstable government via some agreement with a bunch of fanatical Presbyterians from Ireland who are convinced they are British, despite all available evidence suggesting they are actually definitely from Ireland, and whose social views have not advanced since 1690, and whose agreement to prop up the Tories is based on reinstating government programs of Catholic burning or something.

But a bigger story is the scale of the successful campaign by Jeremy Corbyn, his team and left activists around a popular Manifesto that breaks with austerity and neoliberalism. This campaign's success defied predictions of almost all pundits and polls.

Is this important? I'd say that depends how bothered you are by the horrific catastrophe of the Grenfell Tower inferno in London, where repeat warnings by residents were ignored by the cost cutting privatised company running council housing in dangerous conditions that are repeated in tower blocks the poor live in across the country.

If you think a further kicking of the poor to worsen such conditions is neither here nor there, then maybe the success of Corbyn's campaign can be viewed on grounds of "well that was surprising, that is interesting isn't it, an election manifesto about NOT kicking the shit out of ordinary people prove quite popular with ordinary people? I guess this crazy ol' world will never fail to surprise us, eh?"

But for those strongly opposed to a society that sacrifices the majority to ever worsening conditions amid growing inequality, while the poorest and weakest are sacrificed, literally, in bonfires... the fact that Corbyn was so successful, and consolidated the hold of "Corbynism" on Labour's leadership, and has helped energise a mass movement, led by youth who were inspired to turn out in huge numbers to vote for an alternative FOR FUCKING ONCE... well it means something more.

I mean, everyone told young people Corbyn was a no-hoper, at best a decent bloke with nice ideas but who'll never get anywhere. But it didn't work, they turned out in the largest numbers for years because the people telling them this have done nothing but spit in their faces. Meanwhile, the Manifesto Corbyn has touting actually promised them something when no one had ever offered them anything before. Not really.

And their response?

Within Labour, which is now the largest left-of-centre party across Europe with as many as 800,000 members, the Great Neoliberal Orthodoxy has been overturned. There is the growth of a mass, youthful movement around the politics of solidarity and hope.

The fact that, while Corbyn has failed to form a government this time, he is very well positioned to do so sooner rather than later around a Manifesto that says "For the Many, Not The Few" on its cover and actually fucking means it ... is not just stunning, it is heartrendingly, beautifully hopeful.

Derek Wall, an ecosocialist and activist involved in Green politics since 1979, which is a fucking long time ago, and who is the joint international coordinator for the Green Party of England and Wales, put it simply an article on Green Left Weekly:

For the first time in my lifetime, the left in Britain are making dramatic gains.

We have lived through, and are still living through, a dark neoliberal nightmare where people and planet are sacrificed.

The rise of Corbyn (and similar left political breakthrough in other countries) is not The End of it, not by a long way. Hell, here in Australia, we haven't gotten close to even looking like seeing this type of political breakthrough.

That is without even getting to the challenged a Corbyn-led government would face if it won government from powerful entrenched interests, notwithstanding his platform actually being little more than reasonable. For a taste, you could just look the intense financial blackmail applied to Greece when they elected Syriza on a perfectly reasonable platform of not letting Greece be strangled to death. Syriza finally capitulated and abandoned its democratic mandate with the banks threatened with total collapse -- all done to send a strong message to ordinary people across Europe that they should STOP asking for FUCKING REASONABLE THINGS if they know what's good for them.

And that is not even discussing the fact a Corbyn government would formally head an imperial state whose actual democratic content is not quite as strong as it claims on the label, and would need to be countered by strong mobilisations from below.

But the Corbyn movement is a serious challenge to all this that brings hope of a struggle that may end the neoliberal nightmare, for the sake of the many and fuck the few.

It is hard to know how to fully put this into words, so I will do what I love to do, which is a) use a song and b) make that song by the glorious country folk husband-and-wife duo from South Carolina, Shovels and Rope, from their 2014 album Swimming Time.

Said I thought it would be colder
You put your head upon my shoulder
Ain’t it funny
How time just seems to run
What the hell have you been doin'
Not too sure, guess mostly movin'
I’ve been spinnin' for so long
Now I guess I’m spun 
Like the widest river
Like the brightest morn
There is hope where you can’t see it
There is a light after the storm
But won’t you help me to get through it
I’ve been flailing like a child
My mistakes, they are so many
For my lovin heart is wild 
Not quite old
But far from young
Body bold
With a youthful tongue
Like a kiss held out of context
I can’t separate my mind
We can set this boat on fire
We can leave it all behind 
Like the widest river
Like the brightest morn
There is hope just up ahead
There is a shelter safe and warm

 I am NOT crying! Fuck you. You don't deserve another Shovels and Rope song, but I'll give you one any way.

...I’m going down a long road, maybe it's the wrong road
But either way I gotta find my way back home again
It's too late to turn back now, gotta get the lead on out
Gotta find some way to make it right on

And nobody knows it like you do babe, nobody knows it like you do
Nobody knows it like you do babe, the lengths we will go to

There must be some other way, I just don't know
Gotta get myself back up on that high road
But nobody knows that like you do...

What is that??? MORE??? Fucking Jesus, OK in the spirit of sharing I offer this... Shovels and Rope covering Nick Lowe's classic "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding

As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin' for light in the darkness of insanity.
I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?
And each time I feel like this inside,
There's one thing I want to know:
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?

...And as I walked on
Through troubled times
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.
'Cause each time I feel it slippin' away, just makes me want to cry.
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?

Alright now fuck off.

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