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Nederlog

September 13, 2015
Crisis: Five items on Corbyn's election + the Pentagon's Law of War

 "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton















Prev- crisis -Next

Sections
Introduction

1.
If Jeremy Corbyn victory was an incredible political
     achievement, it was the easy bit

2.  What does Jeremy Corbyn think?
3. Jeremy Corbyn hails huge mandate as he sets out
     leftwing agenda

4.
Jeremy Corbyn: ‘Britain can’t cut its way to prosperity.
     We have to build it’

5. American Media Freaks Out After Socialist Wins UK
     Labour Leadership

6. US War Theories Target Dissenters



This is a Nederlog of Sunday, September 13, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. It is not a quite normal one, because 5 out of 6 reviews are about various aspects of Corbyn's winning the Labour Party's leadership elections,
but then again I think this is an important event. Item 1 is about an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian; item 2 is a good article on what Corbyn stands for
(but you have to read the original if you don't know); item 3 is by two Guardian journalists; item 4 is about an article by Jeremy Corbyn; item 5 is about the American main media's reactions to Corbyn's election; and item 6 is a good,
long and frightening article about the Pentagon's new "Law of War".

As I said, there is a lot of Jeremy Corbyn in today's Nederlog. My main reasons are that I think his election is important beyond England; because he is the first
genuine leftwing social democrat to be elected party leader of an important social democratic party in a long time; and because I like most of his program.

Apart from that I also uploaded a new version of the
crisis index, which now is
updated until yesterday: I wrote 971 (plus 10) Nederlogs about the crisis, since
September 1, 2008, which means I reviewed something like 4000 to 4500 articles.
(I say.)

1. If Jeremy Corbyn victory was an incredible political achievement, it was the easy bit

The first article today is by Owen Jones on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

It must surely rank as the greatest against all-odds victory in British political history. Jeremy Corbyn began this contest as beyond-rank-outsider. He was 200-1, and that was one of the most favourable odds offered. Outside the campaigns he most passionately champions, barely anyone knew who this mild-mannered backbencher and his award-winning beard was.

After the most open and democratic contest in Labour’s history – an election run by rules introduced to appease the party’s Blairite right, who wanted to dilute the unions’ influence – this man now has the biggest mandate of any Labour leader in history.

A disclaimer: I’m someone who has actively backed his campaign, and spoken at some of his rallies. At the outset, the campaign had one clear purpose - to help set the terms of debate and put policies on the political agenda.

The first two paragraphs are quite correct, as indeed is the third, though I don't quite see the need for putting in a "disclaimer" when almost everyone writing in the papers is a propagandist - but it is fair.

Here is Owen Jones' analysis of why Corbyn won:

So how did he win? The Corbyn phenomenon has to be put in the broader context of surging disillusionment with political elites across the western world which finds its expression in support for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, Podemos and the Front National, the SNP and Ukip.

Social democracy is in crisis because it accepted the underlying principles of austerity, and therefore has little to say. A vacuum was left, and the Corbyn phenomenon filled it. He offered an optimistic hopeful vision that resonated, and his rivals failed to do so.
I don't agree with treating the left and the right on a par, but I agree with the second paragraph: Social democracy has been in a crisis since Clinton and Blair
pronounced their support for the "Third Way" (<- Wikipedia), which was a fraud
from the start.

This is William K. Black (<- Wikipedia) on
the "Third Way", from Wikipedia:
William K. Black said that "Third Way is this group that pretends sometimes to be center-left but is actually completely a creation of Wall Street--it's run by Wall Street for Wall Street with this false flag operation as if it were a center-left group. It's nothing of the sort."
I agree: it was all propaganda for careerists, which also worked for careerists:
The Clintons now have tens of millions of dollars; Tony Blair has between 20 and 80 million pounds; and that is what the
"Third Way" was good for: It hugely enriched the political careerists who popularized it, but it did almost nothing for the very many poor it helped create.

Then there is this, which is also quite correct:

But have no doubt. If this was an incredible political achievement, it was the easy bit. The challenges now faced by a Corbyn-led Labour party are absolutely huge.
Yes, indeed. Jeremy Corbyn may fail for many reasons. Here are some of the things Owen Jones thinks are necessary (excerpted as points):
  • A vast and vibrant grassroots movement has to be built
  • his leadership must also reach out to middle-income and middle-class people.
  • On immigration, he must rebut the scapegoating of migrants and refugees
  • The economic strategy must not simply be anti-austerity, but pro-something else (...)
I don't know about the last point, simply because austerity is baloney, but I agree with the rest, though again this will not be easy.

2. What does Jeremy Corbyn think?

The next article is by Nadia Khomami on The Guardian:

This is a good article that you should read all of if you don't know Corbyn's position on the following subjects, that are all quoted, but without any text:

On the economy
On tax
On education
On housing
On immigration
On welfare
On defence
On public ownership
On Europe
On healthcare
On the monarchy
On the arts
On gender equality
On foreign policy

It so happens I agree with nearly all of it but planning is easier than doing, and Corbyn won the leadership of Great Britain's biggest opposition party, and not of the government.

3. Jeremy Corbyn hails huge mandate as he sets out leftwing agenda

The next article is by Toby Helm and Daniel Boffey on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Jeremy Corbyn has insisted that Labour voters would “want and expect” all senior figures in the party to rally round and work with him after he pulled off a historic victory to become leader of the party.

Speaking to the Observer minutes after it was revealed that he had trounced Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, Corbyn said he had won a “huge mandate” from across the party for his leftwing anti-austerity programme. “That is what is important about this. It is a huge mandate for a new democracy in the party,” he said.

“I think the membership and supporters will want and expect members of the parliamentary party to cooperate with the new leader and let us develop an effective strategy for opposing the Tories on the issues I outlined in my speech: welfare reform, trade unions, budget and so on. We will be constructing a shadow cabinet later today and tomorrow.”
Yes, but one of the hard fights he will face is with the careerists who were the top of Blair's "New Labour" (<- Wikipedia). He has beaten them in the leadership election, but not (yet) politically, although I agree most non-prominent members of Labour like Corbyn's genuinely leftist politics.

There is also this, which I quote as a phrase:

.. Corbyn – arguably the most leftwing leader in Labour history ..
Perhaps, but part of the reason is that he opposed the most rightwing leaders of the Blairite/Blatcherist "New Labour Party".

Then there is this:

In an appeal to those who think his politics will alienate middle-class voters, he adds: “We understand aspiration, and we understand that it is only collectively that our aspirations can be realised. Everybody aspires to an affordable home, a secure job, better living standards, reliable healthcare and decent pension. My generation took those things for granted and so should future generations.”
I agree, though it will be hard to secure these, especially when the Tories are
in power.

Finally, there is this response from the Blairites:

But his election prompted a flurry of senior resignations, including those of shadow chancellor Chris Leslie, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt, shadow communities secretary Emma Reynolds and shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves.
I'd say: "Good riddance!", but I agree Corbyn must remake the Labour Party
into a genuine leftist party, and this will be quite difficult.

4. Jeremy Corbyn: ‘Britain can’t cut its way to prosperity. We have to build it’

The next article is by Jeremy Corbyn on The Observer (part of The Guardian):

This starts as follows:

Labour’s leadership election has been an extraordinary demonstration of grassroots democracy and public participation, which has turned the conventional wisdom about politics on its head. We have drawn in hundreds of thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds from across the country, far beyond the ranks of longstanding activists and campaigners.

Who can now seriously claim that young people aren’t interested in politics or that there is no appetite for a new kind of politics?

Above all, it has shown that millions of people want a real alternative, not business as usual, either inside or outside the Labour party.

The hope of change and bringing big ideas in is now back at the centre of politics: ending austerity, tackling inequality, working for peace and social justice at home and abroad. That’s why the Labour party was founded more than a century ago.

This election has given that founding purpose a new force for the 21st century: a Labour party that gives voice to the 99%.

I agree. I don't quite agree with the following bit:

The most important message my election offers to the millions who we need to vote Labour and turn the Tories out of office is that the party is now unequivocally on their side.

No. Corbyn was voted the new Labour leader because many ordinary people liked his leftwing politics, but this does not mean that "the party is now unequivocally on their side": Most of the former leadership still hold positions of power or influence.

For the Conservatives, the deficit is just an excuse to railroad through the same old Tory agenda: driving down wages, cutting taxes for the wealthiest, allowing house prices to spiral out of reach, selling off our national assets and attacking trade unions.

That is true. Here is the last bit I will quote from this article:

The human response of ordinary people across Europe in the past few weeks has demonstrated the thirst for a different kind of politics and society. The values of compassion, social justice, solidarity and internationalism have been at the heart of the democratic eruption in Labour’s hugely expanded ranks.

Yes, but one important problem for Corbyn is to keep the positive interest
alive now that he has become party leader.

5. American Media Freaks Out After Socialist Wins UK Labour Leadership

The next article is by Adam Johnson on AlterNet:

This is from the beginning:

Jeremy Corbyn, a self-described socialist, outflanked his opponents to the left on many issues, including militarism, immigration, unions - breaking ranks on a whole host of centrist orthodoxy that Labour had embraced since the mid-90's.

The American media, perplexed as to how someone labeled with the dreaded “s" word could not only capture a major party nomination but do so with the largest mandate in the history of the party, went into full smear mode:

This is followed by a list of propagandistic titles, which you can find in the original if interested. But here is one more bit, indeed with some of the titles:

The reality is Corbyn's win isn't just a rejection of standard neoliberal orthodoxy -- it's an indictment of it. For years we've been told the will of the people is to be anti-union, pro-austerity, and pro-corporate take over of pensions and education. Now the tide is shifting dramatically and the cognitive dissonance of those in charge of our media is too great to compute. They must at once report on Corbyn's record victory while insisting he's fringe.The goal of cheap smears like "Karl Marx admirer" (not that there's anything wrong with that, but the goal is to red-bait) and "far left" and divisive" is the same as those leveled against Bernie Sanders: "unelectable", "socialist", "far left".

That seems mostly true, and indeed "the will of the people" is not "to be anti-union", not "pro-austerity", not "pro-corporate take over of pensions and education".

6. US War Theories Target Dissenters

The last article today is by Todd E. Pierce, who is a retired major from the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General:

This starts as follows:

When the U.S. Department of Defense published a new Law of War Manual (LOW) this past summer, editorialists at the New York Times sat up and took notice. Their concern was that the manual stated that journalists could be deemed “unprivileged belligerents.” The editorial explained that as a legal term “that applies to fighters that are afforded fewer protections than the declared combatants in a war.” In fact, it is far more insidious than that innocuous description.

Here is the manual’s definition: “‘Unlawful combatants’ or ‘unprivileged belligerents’ are persons who, by engaging in hostilities, have incurred one or more of the correspondingcareerists liabilities of combatant status (e.g., being made the object of attack and subject to detention), but who are not entitled to any of the distinct privileges of combatant status (e.g., combatant immunity and POW status).”

The key phrase here is “being made the object of attack.” For slow-witted New York Times editorialists, that means journalists can be killed as can any enemy soldier in wartime. “Subject to detention” means a journalist deemed an unprivileged belligerent will be put into military detention if captured. As with any enemy belligerent, however, if “capture is not feasible,” they would be killed if possible, by drone perhaps if in a foreign country.

Currently, most U.S. captives deemed “unprivileged belligerents” are imprisoned in Guantanamo although some may be held in Afghanistan. It must be noted that the United States deems as an “unprivileged belligerent” anyone they target for capture or choose to kill.

There is a whole lot more in the article, which is both good and frightening, that I leave to your interests.

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