What Corbyn is trying to do in the Labour party seems like a revolution 7 years out of date.
Let me explain what I mean by this. In September 2008 the British banking system came to the brink of implosion. If action had not been taken immediately to support the commercial banks, the Northern Rock scenario would have spread to RBS and beyond. In a country where everyone (almost) relies on plastic entirely, we would be stuck with the cash in our pockets which would probably buy us lunch and that is it. This humongous failure came at the back of the biggest financial meltdown in history and caused a global credit crunch. I have explained all this in detail elsewhere, so I do not want to rehash the facts here — See here for a summary of the global economic dynamics that led to the crisis of 2008 and its subsequent European contagion.
At that point (end of 2008, beginning 2009) we were faced with the single greatest failure of financialised capitalism (see Lapavitsas -of all people- on the term and its uses). Everything that was wrong with capitalism was laid out for everyone to see. The state had shrunk below the point where it could make sure the economy operated in accordance with a democratic determination of the public good. Inequality in the developed world was rising steeply, with those at the top earning absurd amounts, while those at the middle and lower end struggled. Politics had degenerated into a race to appear market-friendly. The sacred tenets of capitalism, the invisible hand, trickle down of wealth, had all been exposed as the fallacies they are.
Surely we thought, this was the beginning of the end of neoliberal domination!
It was not. The US elected Obama, who then sunk in deadlock over every single bit of reform that might chip away at the neoliberal monolith. Merkel tightened her grip over Germany and dictated an orthodox response to the European debt crisis. Gordon Brown was defeated and replaced by the Con-Lib abomination that offered gratuitous austerity as a lever for implementing an ideological agenda. France elected Hollande, fair enough, but he quickly moved to sideline anyone not in tune with the German status quo in Europe. And then, in 2015, Cameron emerged victorious in the UK with a mandate for further austerity and a referendum on Brexit.
The final nail in the coffin came from the failure of the left in Greece. This blog has been pretty much devoted to the Greek problem and has shown how hope for a sensible left alternative was first chocked by the Europeans, and then ruined by the incompetence, fanaticism and ideology of those who were supposed to save us.
Against this background, we now have Corbyn energising the left in the UK in an attempt to build resistance to austerity and challenge the dominant narrative of the Conservatives. This will not work electorally because he has come 7 years too late. Now that there is a semi-plausible economic success story, Labour cannot win an election, but can try to change the public mood slowly from the left. Electorally unfortunately, even if it wins back Scotland, it can never prevail in the South. The time to ride the wave of dissatisfaction with capitalism was 2008. The radical left has missed its chance. All that remains is to put forward ideas, hoping for a change in the public mood beyond 2020.