Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 20, 2018

Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics

Filed under: Great Britain,Labour Party,social democracy — louisproyect @ 1:43 pm


The left internationally has been stuck on the horns of a dilemma for quite some time now. When radicals take state power but fail to abolish private property, internal contradictions eventually catch up with the government and dash the hopes initially placed in it—Syriza in Greece and Chavista Venezuela being prime examples. With Cuba and North Korea as relics of the “communist” past, there are few on the left that consider them as models in the way that large parts once did fifty years ago, even more so when both hold-outs are now moving rapidly toward a Chinese-style economy. Just this week, there was news that Cuba will now recognize private property under a new constitution.

Despite such discouraging tendencies, radicalism persists mostly as a result of the assaults on living standards the capitalist system imposes. As part of an ongoing project to analyze the renaissance of social democracy in the United States, rebranded by the DSA, Jacobin and the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party as “democratic socialism”, I decided to read Richard Seymour’s “Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics”. I knew little about Corbyn except what I learned from the Guardian, The Nation and the usual leftwing websites that were as breathlessly enthusiastic as they were about the Sanders campaign.

As someone who has lauded Seymour’s books in the past, I delayed reading his 2016 Verso book because his Lacanian turn, while satisfying his own intellectual agenda, left a Freud-hater like me cold. I am happy to report that his book on Corbyn vintage is Richard Seymour and necessary reading for those grappling with the question of whether capitalism can be reformed.

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  1. Reblogged this on Rabblerouser.

    Comment by firebrand — July 20, 2018 @ 2:03 pm

  2. […] Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics […]

    Pingback by “Corbyn: the strange rebirth of redical politics” | Louis Proyect: the Unrepentant Marxist | COMRADE BOYCIE — July 23, 2018 @ 12:03 pm

  3. The article reproduced in Counterpunch says info on Corbyn was picked up from the Guardian and other sites. What the wrfiter is apparently unaware of is that Corbyn has met with a wall to wall blanket hostility across the entire British media for three years. Counterpunch has done nothing to recognise this and this doesn’t either. Rather than arguing how truly Marxist Corbyn is and how deadendlike bourgeouis parliamentary democracy is,it might repay some readers’ attention to be at least made aware that Corbyn became leader through an absolute fluke that was never supposed to happen. He is the one person in parliament who has never claimed expenses, never got on the gravy train of promotions, committees etc had voted 200 times against Blair in all his warmongering; and used his postition as mp for his constituents and to extend his activism as leader of the Stop the War coalition and member of the Palesting Solidarity Campaign. The last mentioned seems to be taboo to mention in America, and to equate Corbyn with Sanders is specious and does indeed show a lack of knowledge and understanding of the situation in Britain and what Corbyn has practised, all his life.

    Comment by Tom Older — July 23, 2018 @ 3:39 pm

  4. Thanks for the correction. I should have remembered that Richard supplied great detail about the Guardian’s hostility.

    Comment by louisproyect — July 23, 2018 @ 3:56 pm

  5. Thanks, Louis, for your post on this book. Given the nature of Seymour’s report, I expected to not find his book among our local library’s holdings. Wrong again, Boyd.

    Bill in Fredericksburg, VA

    P.S. I’m number two on the waiting list.

    Comment by Bill Boyd — July 23, 2018 @ 5:36 pm

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