Some within the Labour Party and definitely some in the right-wing media are presenting Jeremy Corbyn as if he is a threat to capitalism.
Some in the Party think it would be great if he were, “Finally the socialist nirvana!” Others in the Party would regard it is an electoral disaster. The right-wing press universally present even the possibility of it as a great ‘evil’.
But I think the news for all of these people is that Corbyn is NOT suggesting the end of capitalism!
He’s suggesting a neo-Keynsian form of managed capitalism, with a mixed economy, a fully funded NHS and welfare system and strong trade unions. And just such a system led to the most sustained period of economic growth in British history from 1950-1973 AND with the highest levels of equality and economic justice. Neoliberalism introduced by Thatcher in 1979 has never got near post-war Keynsian Capitalism on growth and has also led to the decemation of our manufacturing base, huge financial instability and extraordinary levels of inequality. Neoliberalism has been a disaster for almost everyone except the top 1%. Everything in our lives has been debased to a commodity; politics, culture, friendship, freedom, everything.
Yet even some of the more ‘socialist’ ideas of Corbyn and his Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, such as workplace democracy and a workers ‘right to buy’ businesses, still assume a capitalist system in which the businesses will operate.
Many of the economists advising McDonnell on the ‘The New Economics‘ such as Yanis Varoufakis and Ha-Joon Chang, are also self confessed capitalists – as indeed was Keynes himself who was shockingly pro-capitalist and anti-marxist. For example:
“Economic prosperity is dependent on a political and social atmosphere which is congenial to the average businessman.”
This could be a Thatcherite Tory minister speaking. More on Keynes the Capitalist here.
The choice Corbyn offers is not between capitalism and some sort of communism. Corbyn merely offers a choice between two different types of capitalism (i) Managed capitalism with a democratic government balancing the power of global capital (ii) Rampant neoliberal ‘free market’ capitalism with no way of mitigating the worst effects of capital.
Indeed, this is why to describe Corbyn as “hard left” is ludicrous. To the revolutionary socialists of the hard left Corbyn is a ‘reformist’ capitalist in the classic post-war tradition and is despised for it.
As a Libertarian Socialist (aka left-wing anarchist) I am suspicious of all seats of power and fear the ‘socialist state’ as much as I do global capital.
Thus for me the post-war mixed economy provided a unique balance of power. The government facilitated democratic accountability of ‘the market’ and defended the People from the exploitation and inequality inherent in global capitalism. And in turn global capital counter-balanced and challenged the potential for abuse of government power and provided consumer goods to the People.