Jeremy Corbyn waves in London after he was elected the leader of the Labour Party on Saturday. (Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP)
The politics of Jeremy Corbyn, elected by a landslide Saturday to lead Britain’s Labour Party after its defeat at the polls last May, are part of the global revolt against corporate tyranny. He had spent his long career as a pariah within his country’s political establishment. But because he held fast to the socialist ideals that defined the old Labour Party, he has risen untarnished out of the ash heap of neoliberalism. His integrity, as well as his fearlessness, offers a lesson to America’s self-identified left, which is long on rhetoric, preoccupied with accommodating the power elites—especially those in the Democratic Party—and very short on courage.
I will not support a politician who sells out the Palestinians and panders to the Israel lobby any more than I will support a politician who refuses to confront the bloated military and arms industry or white supremacy and racial injustice. The Palestinian issue is not a tangential issue. It is an integral part of Americans’ efforts to dismantle our war machine, the neoliberal policies that see austerity and violence as the primary language for speaking to the rest of the world, and the corroding influence of money in the U.S. political system. Stand up to the masters of war and the Israel lobby and you will probably stand up to every other corporate and neoliberal force that is cannibalizing the United States. This is what leadership is about. It is about having a vision. And it is about fighting for that vision.
Corbyn, who supports negotiations with Hamas and Hezbollah and once invited members from those organizations to visit Parliament, has called for Israel’s leaders to be put on trial for war crimes against the Palestinians. He has expressed support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel and the call for an arms embargo against that nation. He would scrap Britain’s Prevention of Terrorism Act, which, like the Patriot Act in the United States, has been used to target and harass Muslims. He wants the United Kingdom to withdraw from NATO. He cannot conceive of any situation, he has said, that would necessitate sending British troops abroad.
He was a vocal opponent of the invasion and occupation of Iraq and a founder of the Stop the War Coalition. He denounced the United States for what he called its “assassination” of Osama bin Laden, saying the al-Qaida leader should have been captured and put on trial, and he assailed the British government for using militarized drones to kill two British jihadists in Syria in August. He advocates unilateral nuclear disarmament and has urged the elimination of Trident, his country’s nuclear weapons system. He opposes any British military intervention in Syria and wants to put pressure on “our supposed allies in the region”—read Saudi Arabia—that support Islamic State. He has called for talks with the leaders of warring factions in Iraq and Afghanistan to end the conflicts.
“There is no solution to the killing and abuse of human rights [in the Middle East] that involves yet more Western military action,” Corbyn has written. “Ultimately there has to be a political solution in the region which bombing by NATO forces cannot bring about. The drama of the killings and advances by ISIS in the past few weeks is yet another result of the Bush-Blair war on terror since 2001. The victims of these wars are the refugees and those driven from their homes and the thousands of unknown civilians who have died and will continue to die in the region. The ‘winners’ are inevitably the arms manufacturers and those who gain from the natural resources of the region.”