Under Corbyn, The Left Has Traded Its Dissident Soul For A Herd Mentality

Whether it's anti-Semitism or Brexit, Corbyn supporters cannot tolerate the idea Corbyn is not bathed in heavenly perfection – but is an ordinary man, a terribly ordinary one, and very flawed at that too.

In the future, when something better has long since emerged from the decayed husk that was once left-wing morality, they will look back upon this time and see nothing but a deep intellectual rot coupled with disgraceful abdication over anti-Semitism. It is truly a terrible time for Labour and the broader left, and any sort of silence is to just accept things as they are.

The grievances regarding Labour run deep and long. The spectre of Brexit hangs over the country and Labour has failed to lead on it and the country has suffered from this void of political leadership. It has mangled its formerly pristine reputation on fighting racism by enabling anti-Semitism to seep into every acre of its institutional space. And when attention has been focused on this particular matter, it has been found wanting over its minimal degree of criticism regarding terrible dictatorships not favoured by the West.

To expect rationality from the current Labour incarnation on matters of internationalism is to misunderstand the strand of the left it comes from, one that treats Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership as a religious experience, dismisses criticisms of him as smears and treason, and believes in its innate moral superiority without ever needing to actually show it through actions. One that doesn’t really have fixed moral positions but subscribes to whatever their leader says on the day. The most militant of the far-left share underlying behavioural traits with those one would describe as religious fanatics.

This blind, unquestioning herd-mentality is something that George Orwell historically warned about, a disease amongst the left infected with romanticised notions of what Stalinism was about. Maybe people thought it had gone away. But it exists today in the left tied in with Jeremy Corbyn, Seamus Milne, Andrew Murray, with groups and organisations such as Morning Star, Stop the War Coalition and others.

All the major problems in the party stem from this top-down approach in the production of ideas, whereby the word of the leader is treated as sacred, and anything which strays an inch from his vision, undermines the movement, as if it all rests on him. What that word is doesn’t even matter because it is the leader’s word. As Nick Cohen explained in the Observer, for them “gang loyalty is the only virtue.”

Such political forces, which revolve so heavily around one figurehead, should crash when the leader becomes embroiled in controversy. But it hasn’t with Labour. The humiliating crisis of anti-Semitism hasn’t weakened his political leadership, but arguably strengthened it. So consumed with unflinching support for Corbyn and his regurgitation of old socialist tricks, the party’s supporters, his supporters, are largely convinced that this is all a smear to deflate his strength given he is a strong supporter of Palestine. Never mind that he has shared platforms with Holocaust deniers and rabid anti-Semites. Accusations of smears and a conspiracy against critical thought regarding Israel has echoes of right-wing denials around the state of Islamophobia.

Around anti-Semitism, and the moments of shame are plentiful, perhaps worst when Luciana Berger, a Jewish woman, was bullied out of the Labour Party by a growing abusive and toxic element. How much solidarity did she receive from Corbyn? Very little. Did his supporters behave introspectively in the aftermath, or regard her as part of a political ploy to plant the seeds of destruction in the utopian socialist project that so far hasn’t been able to defeat the most incompetent prime minister in history?

Similarly, on Brexit and foreign affairs such as Venezuela and Iran, you suspect that where Corbyn changes positions, a lot of his most ardent supporters might too. On Brexit at least, there is a divide between Corbyn and his younger supporters. But on other pressing issues, there isn’t so much an actual political position as to just support Corbyn.

This unbroken fidelity highlights much that which has been wrong with the British left for a while, but was perhaps marginalised until Corbyn’s leadership. Such a paranoia about criticisms mean self-reflections cannot exist, and those that do are seen as trying to undermine the structures of the project internally. Whether this is criticisms around anti-Semitism or Brexit, they cannot tolerate a morsel of truth that says Corbyn is not bathed in heavenly perfection, but is an ordinary man, a terribly ordinary one, and very flawed at that too.

This is what happens with movements that build around one man. An individual is flawed, weak and vulnerable to exposures of ideas and reality. A genuinely successful revolutionary leftist movement has to be rooted in ideas that emancipate the masses, rather than the political messenger seeking to deliver them. Today, the left has lost all its shred of dissidence and political courage, and has packaged socialism as simply to be where Corbyn is. This is why it behaves in a cannibalistic manner towards Labour MPs, particularly women, who dare criticise Corbyn. They have conflated socialism with Corbyn, as if to be a leftist one must immediately support him.

The similarities with the worst of organised religion in how they frantically follow the words of their chosen leader, believe in an innate and distinct moral goodness as socialists, and regard criticisms as the weapons of their enemies. This road to socialism taken by today’s leftists is a dangerous one, and when we get to the end of our journey, we will find a socialism we do not like. And it begins with how introspective we are allowed to be about Corbyn himself.


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