What would be worse than Labour losing the next election?

corbyn-poster

What would be worse than Labour losing the next election?

The answer to the above question is: Labour winning the next election.

I am no friend of the Tories, the right, Brexiteers. But I can tell you one thing, observing recent history teaches us that when the likes of Corbyn and his team take power, bad things happen.

The obvious parallel with Corbyn’s Labour Party is Greece’s Syriza. The hard left that we thought extinct is alive and kicking. Not only that, but in dire circumstances, like the Greek crisis, or the Brexit coming rupture, it is capable of taking power.

Why should we fear Corbyn and his brand of reactionary, resurrected hard left? Again, Greece is a good example. While the left says the right things and pretends to want the right things, it is both incapable of delivery on its promises and more often than not dishonest.

Behind the facade of interest for the common man often hide people hungry for power. Not only are they hungry for power and privilege, they are so sure of their own ‘goodness’, they will stop at nothing in taking for themselves what they think they are owed. Add to this a belief that the system is corrupt, that the traditional elite is illegitimate and the usual Marxist mumbo jumbo and you have the perfect mix: A group of people who will wreck havoc on the very people they claim to represent.

Tsipras and his comrades in Greece have demolished the western, modern character of the state (there was one, albeit flawed) in their year and a half in power. They have stolen and pillaged with the belief that they are better than anyone that came before them, purer, newer, more correct. When faced with the consequences of their hypocrisy they replied: The others have been doing this for 40 years, it is our turn.

To add insult to injury, they are incompetent even in their piracy. There is corruption and dodgy dealing everywhere, but there is a difference in level, extent and (if you want) finesse. There is a difference between an overweight gourmet and an obese glutton. I am not trying to excuse the ill-takings of previous administrations here. I am trying to show that the hard left does the same, more of it, worse of it, with less attempt at hiding it. It steals and robs and gloats about its moral superiority. Oh, and it cannot govern on a very basic level. It is staffed by people who are rabid ideologues, yet incompetent in administration. See Varoufakis as a great example.

Greece’s Syriza left is an abomination. Further more, it is undemocratic. We learned in practice what was predictable in theory, that people who disdain the institutions of the state, that see everything in terms of conspiracies and plots, have little respect for democracy itself. Ask Minister of Propaganda Pappas.

Corbyn’s ground-up, ‘movement’-led operation is staffed by people of the same mentality. Agitators cannot govern. They do not even want to, most of the time. Hopefully they do not get the chance.

The reaction of supporters of Corbyn’s win has shown what they are made of. There is a lot of the familiar, we won, you shut up attitude you get from the victorious Leavers (people of similar mind-frames). You do not want this newly energized mob coming anywhere near Downing Street.

What should the PLP do? It should defect to the LibDems and help build an anti-Brexit (or in any case anti hard-Brexit) coalition of centrists. What should sensible center left voters do? They should quit Labour and also join forces with the LibDems in opposing any plans for a catastrophic hard Brexit. Everything else can wait. The future of the Labour Party is irrelevant. The future of the country matters to all.

@iGlinavos

 

Three reasons to dislike Corbyn

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You would think I would be the perfect Corbyn supporter. Lefty pretence, academic writing on the evils of neoliberalism, anti-Tory, blah blah blah. Yet I am not. Here are the three main reasons why:

1) Man-of-the-people BS

Because fanatical corbynistas keep telling you what a nice working class boy Jeremy is, doesn’t mean it’s true.

I had the chance to see the man in the flesh at the latest UCU conference. Apart from everyone slobbering over him (he is in fact closest than most to our Union’s positions), I did not see much that distinguished Jeremy from every other career politician.

Polished, professional, lifeless performance. On-message soundbites. No questions. Because Jeremy is so friendly, he wanted to chat with the audience rather than take questions. Better shaking hands Bono style than answering Brexit questions, hey?

Natalie Bennet was way better then Jeremy, period.

2) The damn Referendum

Jeremy now supports Staying-In does he? He speaks about it with such conviction (not). He has been dragging his feet because he is not a friend of the EU. You know what Jeremy? I am not a friend of the EU either, but leaving is a horrible deal for the nation. Grow some and go out and say it- every day- all the time.

If Leave wins I will blame Corbyn.

3) Government is like porn

The experience of the ‘first left government’ of Greece has taught us there is a pronounced gulf between what the radical left thinks it can do once in government and what actually happens.

Think of it this way, one may enjoy watching porn, but would find actual participation a bewildering, nasty experience. Ask Mr Tsipras.

The fact that Corbyn is accosted by the likes of Varoufakis and Mason worries me no end.

Mr Corbyn may be well meaning, or not, but if Labour wants to survive 2020 it needs a different leader.

Today’s election results being a not-as-bad-as-everyone-thought ‘success’ tells you what you need to know.

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@iGlinavos

Lefty zika-heads and Brexit

lefty idiots

The lack of a positive message:

The ‘stay’ campaign in the EU referendum is having difficulty finding its feet. The reason for this is the lack of a clear, easily transmittable positive message about the EU. It is possible to win on the basis of fear, scaring voters about the consequences of an exit. This seems to have been the strategy of the stay campaign in the Scottish referendum. The issue is however that this is a dangerous strategy for two reasons. First, negative campaigns do not work very effectively. Second, negative campaigns do not settle the issue conclusively.

If pro-Europeans want to win this referendum and stop the demagogues of the right from demanding another one in a few years, they need to offer a positive narrative about Europe. Can one be found however that will work for the ‘leave’ leaning British voter?

I am not so sure. We can all come up with a fairly convincing list of arguments on why Brexit is a bad idea, but can we think of reasons why staying in the EU is good, other than the velocity of existing arrangements?

EU law is positive in protecting the consumer as most lawyers know. This is unlikely to have much impact on a public ‘disgusted’ with ‘health and safety gone mad’ and other such tripe.

Should we try and convince the public that EU immigration is good for the country? It is, but good luck with that argument. So far as third country immigration is concerned and the refugee crisis, best not go there at all.

Let’s show how EU institutions have effectively dealt with economic crisis in the Eurozone… Eh, maybe not.

You get I hope the nature of the problem. The ‘stay’ campaign needs a positive narrative, for sure. How to come up with one is less sure.

 

Lefty zika heads:

An additional problem is the attitude of the left towards the EU

There is a problem with the Corbynite Left. Actually there are many problems with the ‘grassroots’ non-Parliamentary left, but I will focus on just one.

They are an unpredictable danger for the In-camp in the EU Referendum. The reason for this is that the condemnation of the EU as a neoliberal, pro market Leviathan, may lead significant numbers of young, newly energized voters (by the Corbyn effect) to vote for Brexit. They may do so thinking that this enables more discretion and more options in their attempt to re-balance the state-market relationship in Britain.

The idea that a Britain outside the EU may allow socialist type alternatives is a fallacy for two reasons.

Reason one is that Socialism in One Country (Социализм в одной стране in Stalin’s words) does not work. The theory held that given the defeat of all the communist revolutions in Europe in 1917–1921 except Russia’s, the Soviet Union should begin to strengthen itself internally. That turn toward national communism was a shift from the previously held Marxist position that socialism must be established globally (world communism). The British hard left seems to think that while leftist movements have failed in Europe (Syriza abandoned its leftist pretenses in Greece, Podemos is fizzling out etc), a left alternative could be built in Britain, starting with Corbyn taking power in 2020.

It will not, because Corbyn cannot and will not win in 2020. No pollster, or betting shop or academic who has looked at the numbers think that Corbyn has a better chance of winning than a snowball materializing in hell.

Reason two is that in the short term defeat in the EU Referendum and Brexit will launch the country sharply to the right. In the mayhem that will ensue, the left message will be lost in the nationalist fervor and right wing anti-immigrant, racist politicking that will dominate between 2017 and 2020.

As Corbyn will have forfeited the higher ground (pro-immigration, pro-internationalist) by not supporting clearly and unequivocally  staying-in, he will suffer even worse in the General Election.

Voting for a Britain outside the EU for the working class is equivalent to turkeys voting for Xmas. Voting for Britain outside the EU is voting for a 1000 year Tory rule (if you will excuse the unpleasant analogy).

Does the working class really want to align itself with the Hedge Fund managers who will support the Leave campaign out of unashamedly expressed self interest? Really?

Now is the time for the working class, the left, to come out strongly in support of the EU.

Thinking people of course do not like what the EU has become. Nonetheless, the interests of the working class and the left are best served by Britain staying in and working for a better future for everyone.

Socialism in One Country did not work too well for the Russians either.

Despite the obvious nature of the above, groups of fantasists like LabourLeave are digging the grave of the working class campaigning for Brexit. In what follows I try to explain why they are wrong, without becoming too offensive.

 

Hello, I am Kevin:

Let us explore the position of a fictional left leaning voter, currently in the (persuadable) leave group. We shall call this chap Kevin.

Kevin works as a teaching assistant at a University. He is on modest pay, but aspires to an academic career which will see a steady improvement in his salary, coupled with the security of a permanent job. He is a self-proclaimed lefty and supported Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest.

Kevin hates Europe. For a lot of the more ‘radical’ British left, Europe is a neoliberal nightmare. The ever-closer Union by stealth is building a market based leviathan that sucks away sovereignty and effectively outlaws any policy incompatible with economic orthodoxy. Kevin always held this view, but two recent events have solidified his position as an enemy of the EU.

The first is the crisis in the Eurozone and the treatment of Greece. The depression in Greece, Kevin argues frequently, gave birth to a left alternative. Syriza came to power in 2015 and fought valiantly against the forces of Euro-neoliberalism under the command of Prof. Varoufakis. The Syriza rebellion however was crushed by Merkelism and the unrelenting neoliberal fiends of the Eurogroup. Varoufakis was ousted and Tsipras capitulated after being blackmailed into submission. The EU was always seen as undemocratic, but the latest events make it worse than that. The EU, at least in its Eurozone part, will go out of its way to undermine and subvert democracy, to crush dissent. Schaeuble will roll over anyone who objects to German ordo-liberalism.

The second event is the TTIP negotiation. For decades Europe, while pursuing a liberalising agenda, had resisted American influence on full scale marketisation. Some protection remained for certain market sectors and a European welfare state survived to a degree. While this was not optimal in Kevin’s view, it was still better than the do-or-die American culture. Then the European Commission embarked on secret negotiations on a grand trade deal. A trade deal that would bring the worse of Anglo-saxon capitalism to Europe, a deal that would even lift corporations out of the jurisdiction of national courts, creating ‘special’ investment tribunals tasked with protecting the expectations of the market against the rights of citizens.

All this was too much for Kevin. He will vote for Britain to leave the European Union. His last act of solidarity to the Greeks will be to drop his ballot in the box and stick it to Schaeuble.

Hang on a second….

What would the day after the referendum be like for our friend Kevin? All polling suggests that Corbyn is set to lose in the 2020 general election, and lose badly. If Labour lost in 2010 (being accused of the financial crisis), lost in 2015 (where it tried to advocate for the poorest in society), will it win in 2020 on a classical left agenda?

Lets assume that it will not (at least the bookies do).

Kevin has proudly rejected the ‘neoliberal’ EU, so that he is tormented at home by a Thatcherite right? The Tories, if ‘leave’ wins the referendum are likely to lurch further to the right. Kevin will be left with a country turning right, lose social protections guaranteed by EU norms, lose access to the European Court of Justice, probably lose the Human Rights Act to a reduced Bill of Rights created by a revanchist right. Kevin will have shut himself off, not only from the market lovers of Brussels, but also from social movements and progressive parties that are trying to argue for a more socially inclusive Europe in the European Parliament.

Kevin will be alone, at the mercy of a domestic predatory elite that cares nothing for him.

The message for Kevin and all the Kevins of the Corbynite left out there is this: Yes the EU is flawed and neoliberal and in need of serious change. Leaving the EU will leave you at the mercy of Mr Cameron, Mr Osborne and their ‘business’ friends.

Perhaps Kevin should think about where the biggest threat to any left alternative comes from. It does not come from Europe.

homer

@iGlinavos

PS. I will be happy to come explain this in person (at my own cost) to any LabourLeave supporters and help them come to their senses.

 

 

Surrealist Governance and Opposition

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What happens to a democracy when the government of the day faces no opposition? Nothing good is the answer and Greece is a case at hand. I will attempt to substantiate this and offer a warning to the British Labour Party.

Syriza in Greece won the September election and then a strange (albeit predictable) thing happened. All and any opposition to the government dissipated. How is this so, you may ask. Hasn’t Syriza denounced its leftist pretensions, betrayed its programme in favour of a new Bailout?

Yes it did, but no one says a word about it. The right (ND and -apologies- PASOK and Potami) with the policy of Euro uber alles cannot complain about attempts to implement the Bailout terms. ND tries some complaining about choices in the consolidation measures, but lacking leadership (especially after the botched internal election) it is becoming irrelevant.

The left? Surely if Tsipras moved to the right a gap must have opened on the left? No it didn’t. KKE remains in Stalinist obscurity and the Syriza splinter faction has all but died, as the Greek people are a nation of have-your-pie-and-eat-it that wouldn’t countenance the Grexit they were advocating. As to movements and unions, they have been co-opted by a government that feels no shame encouraging people to join general strikes against it, with the argument that it strengthens its position against the hated creditors with which it is eternally ‘negotiating’.

The result is a farcical unopposed governance of stupid stunts (eg. Tsipras tweets) and utter incompetence in every single area of activity. One watches with morbid fascination daily lashings of daliesque surrealism, as if the whole administration were an experimental comedy show worthy of Noel Fielding.

What is the warning to Labour? Corbynistas increasingly reveal themselves as detached from reality, fanatical, dogmatic and so, so very righteous. This is exactly the mix of horrors that breeds monsters (or monuments to comedy, depending on your perspective) like Tsipras’ Syriza. As Labour degenerates into introspection and infighting it offers no opposition to the Tories, in the same way that the midgets of ND offer no opposition to Tsipras. The UK is a mirror image of Greek politics with the same result, no opposition. A bad outcome for everyone involved.

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@iGlinavos

Corbyn’s Socialism in One Country

Социализм в одной стране or Turkeys vote for Xmas

270px-Stalin_Full_Image

There is a problem with the Corbynite Left. Actually there are many problems with the ‘grassroots’ non-Parliamentary left, but I will focus on just one.

They are an unpredictable danger for the In-camp in the EU Referendum. The reason for this is that the condemnation of the EU as a neoliberal, pro market Leviathan, may lead significant numbers of young, newly energized voters (by the Corbyn effect) to vote for Brexit. They may do so thinking that this enables more discretion and more options in their attempt to re-balance the state-market relationship in Britain.

The idea that a Britain outside the EU may allow socialist type alternatives is a fallacy for two reasons.

Reason one is that Socialism in One Country (Социализм в одной стране in Stalin’s words) does not work. The theory held that given the defeat of all the communist revolutions in Europe in 1917–1921 except Russia’s, the Soviet Union should begin to strengthen itself internally. That turn toward national communism was a shift from the previously held Marxist position that socialism must be established globally (world communism). The British hard left seems to think that while leftist movements have failed in Europe (Syriza abandoned its leftist pretenses in Greece, Podemos is fizzling out etc), a left alternative could be built in Britain, starting with Corbyn taking power in 2020.

It will not, because Corbyn cannot and will not win in 2020. No pollster, or betting shop or academic who has looked at the numbers think that Corbyn has a better chance of winning than a snowball materializing in hell.

Reason two is that in the short term defeat in the EU Referendum and Brexit will launch the country sharply to the right. In the mayhem that will ensue, the left message will be lost in the nationalist fervor and right wing anti-immigrant, racist politicking that will dominate between 2017 and 2020.

As Corbyn will have forfeited the higher ground (pro-immigration, pro-internationalist) by not supporting clearly and unequivocally  staying-in, he will suffer even worse in the General Election.

Voting for a Britain outside the EU for the working class is equivalent to turkeys voting for Xmas. Voting for Britain outside the EU is voting for a 1000 year Tory rule (if you will excuse the unpleasant analogy).

Does the working class really want to align itself with the Hedge Fund managers who will support the Leave campaign out of unashamedly expressed self interest? Really?

Now is the time for the working class, the left, to come out strongly in support of the EU.

Thinking people of course do not like what the EU has become. Nonetheless, the interests of the working class and the left are best served by Britain staying in and working for a better future for everyone.

Socialism in One Country did not work too well for the Russians either.

turkeys

@iGlinavos

Mind the Gap (in the centre)

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Jeremy Corbyn has been crowned leader of the Labour party. If this happened a year ago I would be jubilant. The experience of the ‘government of the left’ in Greece however has scared me enough to distrust any ‘left’ alternative that comes from ‘movements’ in the sidelines of the political spectrum.

Once again we have this paradox. Corbyn seems to voice many concerns that as academics we have been expressing for years, yet as I explained before this is a revolution past its sell-by date. I think pigs have a better chance of flying than Corbyn ever seeing the inside of Downing Street. Nonetheless, Corbyn can open up a debate that helps to recreate a political centre in British politics.

This is exactly why there is value to the Corbyn win, it opens a gap between the left and Cameron’s uncaring right. Seen through the lens of the Brexit referendum, this could be a pro-euro centre. Who can occupy such a space in 2020? The only centrist pro-Europe party we have left are the Liberal Democrats. Can they rise to the challenge and lead the centre of British politics?

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@iGlinavos

If the left cannot win elections, what is the point of the left?

red dawn

The debate sparked by the Corbyn bid for the Labour leadership has focused on the electability of a left candidate. If Labour moves to the left, it is almost certain that it will not win the election in 2020 because the British electorate has moved (at least in 2015) to the right. If we accept this to be true (it probably is) what is the point of Labour being led by a leader so obviously to the left of ‘Red’ Ed?

We might as well ask ourselves, what is the point of the left in general, if it is not wrapped up in a ‘party of government’? Britain is not Greece. A fringe left party in the UK cannot take power under ‘normal’ circumstances like Syriza did in Greece. In any event Syriza wrapped itself around PASOK, the old left party of power and under extraordinary circumstances. Let us return to the key question therefore.

What is the point of the existence of a Corbyn Labour party that espouses views loved by the Greens and the SNP, but derided by the City, the establishment and the majority of the British public?

It is simple.

The role of the left is to speak the truth, or in any case to challenge orthodoxy. The point of a Corbyn Labour will not be to win a general election, but to raise awareness of different possible balances in the market-state relationship from a Cameron/Osborne ‘neoliberalism for the 21st century’.

How can this be done (enlightening the public) without actually being in government? Some support for the power of ideas to influence real-life outcomes comes from studies into the effects of what are called epistemic communities. An epistemic community can be defined as a knowledge-based group of experts and specialists who share common beliefs about the cause-and-effect relationships in the world and have common political values concerning the ends to which policies should be addressed. Epistemic communities can help popularise ideas and make them guides to change.

Epistemic communities are most important during periods of uncertainty when they are able to influence a key politician by providing a road-map to a politically salient solution.

It is important to note here that while epistemic communities are conduits of ideas to political formations that can put them to the electoral test, they are not the authors of policies themselves. An epistemic community therefore is not to be equated with a technocracy that directly determines issues of economic governance, something that this blog has argued against.

Ideas are most important during periods of uncertainty or in complex and technical areas. The reason for this is that fluid situations obscure the distributional effects of a given institutional arrangement or policy choice, making it difficult for interest groups to identify where their interests lie. When a policy cross-cuts prevailing material interests and party lines, interest groups find it difficult to adopt a position one way or the other. While uncertainty may obscure distributional effects, it provides politicians with greater room to manoeuvre due to the difficulty in monitoring policy results under these conditions. In these circumstances, ideas are important precisely because they reduce uncertainty, give content to interests, and make institutional construction possible. There are three distinct phases that allow ideas to shape events. First, a period of policy failure leads to the collapse of the old paradigm and the search for new solutions. While this policy failure may be accompanied by a crisis, the main feature is a period of greater uncertainty. Second, a new paradigm emerges offering a clear policy solution that is advocated by an epistemic community and implemented by politicians in a few states. Politicians in other states monitor the results of these test-cases to judge whether the policy is effective or not. Third, politicians in other states proceed to emulate this policy, embedding the new paradigm in their own institutional framework.

The economic crisis has created an environment of uncertainty, which still prevails. Austerity has failed significant proportions of the population and this failure calls for policy redesign.

There are contemporary examples of the power of epistemic communities to effect change. One such example are pension reforms in Sweden. There a significant change came about, not as a result of Sweden’s corporatist structures, but as a result of the penetration of ideas onto the policy space through the creation of an epistemic community comprised of academics and politicians. This epistemic community provided a pathway through a multitude of barriers to change. According to this analysis, barriers to the transition of ideas from academia to policy include entrenched interests and pre-existing institutional arrangements, a type of path-dependency in other words that results in national institutions being unwelcome to new ideas. Bureaucracies, for example, are inherently conservative with an entrenched organisational culture. For instance, the lack of substantive pension reform in Greece since the country’s entry to the EMU and prior to the policy reversals brought about by impending bankruptcy in 2010, illustrates these difficulties. In the case of Greece, the governing party had difficulty proposing reforms in an intelligible way, because, in part, it faced a complex and inefficient state apparatus and it could not circumvent powerful interests, which benefited greatly from the status quo.

Further, the technical nature of a policy problem also plays a key role in the level of influence an epistemic community is likely to have on domestic jurisdictions. This suggests that when a policy problem is highly technical (like the role of the Central Bank), experts tend to dominate the policy process making it difficult for political actors to play a potent role. However, regardless of the nature of policy issues, they ‘are seldom purely technical or purely political’ and ‘scientists’ -if one can call economists scientists- cannot really avoid the politicisation of ‘science’. It is a belief in the power of technocracy however that can lead epistemic communities to determine policy responses. A successful epistemic community is likely to integrate politicians if it wants to have tangible policy results.

Corbyn offers a unique opportunity as a political carrier of a well developed academic critique of financialised capitalism.

Even though I think, as I said before, that the time for a revolt against capitalism in the ballot box (Scotland aside) has passed and that Corbyn could never become PM, his leadership of Labour may be beneficial to country and party anyway.

scientist

@iGlinavos