As an anarchist, as someone who believes neither in leaders nor the means by which we select them, I’m obviously at something of a disadvantage when it comes to making political endorsements of any kind. That said, I wasn’t born an anarchist. I was born to an ordinary working-class couple in the closest thing that Northampton has to a ghetto, and I was raised with the probably simplistic but heartfelt belief that it was the duty of our family and people like us to vote Labour since Labour, unambiguously, was the party of the working people. Back then in the 1950s, my parents’ belief was based not on wistful idealism but on the insurmountable fact that the post-war Labour government had introduced a National Health Service and had allowed access to free education for their children. These were simple, unsophisticated people who felt that their class had taken the brunt of the Second World War, and who looked upon the promise of a fairer future as a well-deserved reward for their hardships. I wish both of them had survived longer, of course I do, but at the same time I am somehow glad that they were both gone by 1997 and thus never lived to have their hearts broken by the advent of Tony Blair and his rebranded Diet-Tory New Labour party. In the decades since then, had they witnessed this country’s purported left wing, I’m confident that they wouldn’t have had the first idea what they were looking at. The thing that they believed in and fought for has become unrecognisable and completely inimical to all working class principles and values.
Now, in the 21st century, we begin to see a glimmer of re-emergence from political figures who appear to hold genuinely socialist ideals – Bernie Sanders in the U.S.; Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K. – only to be told that such figures are apparently “unelectable”, despite their massive groundswells of popular support. The word “unelectable” seems to be shorthand for the phrase “You are henceforth only permitted to elect conservatives”, a massive adjustment to the concept of democracy with regard to which I don’t recall anyone being consulted. And yet, from the laughably disproportionate torrent of ridicule and demonization that politicians like Corbyn are being subjected to, one has to suspect that their opponents are increasingly afraid that they are anything but unelectable. If we sincerely believe that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable, why bother saying another word about Jeremy Corbyn? In fact, why bother pointing out his unelectable status in the first place? It’s worth remembering that vested powers and authorities, throughout time and across the world, are always at their most vicious when they are also at their most frightened. To a degree, every media barb and embarrassing bout of inter-party recriminations can be seen as a measure of your man’s unprecedented success.
As an anarchist I don’t vote, preferring direct political action and comment without an elected intermediary. If I did vote, however, I would try to vote with the way that viable human history appeared to be going rather than against it. The economic and political agendas imposed in the West over the last thirty or forty years clearly lead only to a ruined environment, to international austerity while the planet’s billionaires attempt to become trillionaires, to Donald Trump, and to a horrific abyss that threatens to make the English Civil War look like a Sunday-school outing. That scenario, in any sane person’s reading of the situation, is not an option. If figures like Jeremy Corbyn are emerging to propose a far more humane and workable direction for society, and if such figures are garnering enormous support from part of the electorate that’s been denied a voice for too long, then it may be that this is because people like Corbyn have become historically necessary. The previous drivers of our vehicle along the narrow, twisting mountain roadways of 2016 seem to be sleeping off a thirty-year cocaine binge, and now might be a good time for somebody functional to grab the wheel.
If you believe in democracy as something other than a vending machine dispensing several slightly different flavours of privilege, then you should put all of your mind and all of your muscle into supporting someone who offers a future that ordinary people could actually live in. Like I say, repeatedly and annoyingly, I don’t vote, but if the dead and departed were ever to be enfranchised I know with certainty who Ernest and Sylvia Moore of 17, St. Andrew’s Road would be marking the box of. Jeremy Corbyn is about the only current political figure that the working class that I grew up among could have recognised as such. Don’t miss this opportunity to throw all of the weight you have behind him and to struggle towards a future that we and all of the people who came before us could breathe in; could actually take pride in. It is time for this horrific and inhuman nonsense to stop, and if you’re going to vote then I suggest you vote for someone who looks willing to stop it.
With the very best of luck to Jeremy Corbyn, to Momentum, and to the Labour Party from your sincere if understandably conflicted friend,