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Weissman writes: "Jeremy Corbyn, the outspoken Socialist MP, moves closer to leading Britain's Labour Party, even as Tony Blair and other aggressively pro-American advocates of neo-liberal economics smear him and his supporters as beyond the pale."

Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Zach Gibson/NYT)
Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Zach Gibson/NYT)

Redbaiting Socialists in Britain: Bernie Will Be Next

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

24 August 15


eremy Corbyn, the outspoken Socialist MP, moves closer to leading Britain's Labour Party, even as Tony Blair and other aggressively pro-American advocates of neo-liberal economics smear him and his supporters as beyond the pale. Bernie can expect the same, whether from Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, or Donald Trump. As a lifelong “Democratic Socialist,” ducking was never Bernie’s way, nor is it a viable option for Corbyn. Just the opposite. Unless he, Sanders, and those of us who support them stand up and define twenty-first century socialism for ourselves, the red-baiters will define it for us.

Their smears often seem silly, but they take their toll. On environmental policy, the media have convinced even Corbyn supporters that his plans to reindustrialize Britain include an iron-clad vow to reopen Welsh coal mines. Just what the world needs. More carbon to further cock up a catastrophically changing climate.

In fact, Corbyn never vowed to reopen the mines. Like Sanders, he has been an environmental activist for years, and has made the protection of our planet a cornerstone of his Socialist ideals. See for yourself what he actually said when he raised the issue in a video interview with Energy Desk, an editorially independent spin-off of Greenpeace.

“The last deep mine coal mines in South Wales have gone but it’s quite possible that in future years coal prices will start to go up again around the world and maybe they’ll be a case for what is actually very high quality coal, particularly in South Wales, being mined again.”

“But,” he added, “if there’s to be substantial coal fire generation it’s got to be clean burn technology, it’s got to have Sulphur filters on it, it’s got to be carbon neutral.”

Corbyn understands that such technology does not currently exist on a commercial scale and would likely be very expensive. But, he concludes, “The principle has to be that we’re protective of our environment, guaranteeing affordable energy supplies for everybody, and we’re not ripped off by big companies.”

Nor would Corbyn simply nationalize everything in sight, as his attackers suggest. “I would want the public ownership of the gas and the national grid” that Maggie Thatcher privatized, he explains. But he also wants solar panels on every new home and warehouse, and would encourage municipal and cooperative developments of energy. “Essentially the more locally you generate electricity the more efficient it is,” he argues.

Other socialists who know the field differ on how to get the greatest efficiency, but the point is that Corbyn is far from the knee-jerk, left-wing reactionary that his detractors make him seem. Extremely sophisticated on the environment, he is open to wide-ranging debate.

His detractors similarly portray him as viscerally anti-American, anti-EU, and a patsy for Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The true patsies are his attackers, who parrot the NATO party line, blaming the Russian leader for everything bad that’s happened in Ukraine. As chair of Britain’s “Stop the War Coalition” and a long-time leader of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Corbyn does not condone Russian behavior or expansion. But like Henry Kissinger, he believes that the Americans and their NATO allies provoked much of the Russian response. Kissinger is hardly pro-Russian. Neither is Corbyn, though living in Britain during the time of the Soviet Union and working politically with his wing of the Labour Party, I knew many who were.

Corbyn made his position clear back in March 2014. “We should,” he wrote, “oppose any foreign military intervention in Ukraine, as that would only succeed in that country reliving its traumatic past as a battleground where Russia and Western Europe vie for supremacy.”

Bernie similarly opposes military intervention in Ukraine, but remains much too soft on American and NATO policy. Appearing on The Ed Show in March 2014, he was completely uncritical of Obama’s intervention in Ukraine, and later backed the president on both financial aid to the post-coup government and sanctions against Putin. “The entire world has to stand up to Putin,” Bernie announced on Facebook and in a TV interview. “We’ve got to deal with sanctions.” In his opinion, sanctions and financial aid offered an alternative to military action rather than a buildup to it.

How should modern-day socialists choose between Corbyn’s approach and that of Sanders? Not by quoting Karl Marx, Eugene Debs, or any of the old venerables, and not by following the old saw, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” We need to be more nuanced and less doctrinaire, an approach certain to outrage true-believers and trolls on all sides. On Ukraine, for example, see my “Meet the Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev,” Part I and Part II, and “Ukraine: Who Will Control Eurasia’s Oil and Gas?” On US and NATO provocation, “Exposing the Cold War Roots of America's Coup in Kiev” and “Putting a Stop to the New Cold War.” And on Russia’s new role in the world, “Putin Spells Out His Politics” and “Putin Funds Far Right in France. ‘It’s No Secret,’ says Maine Le Pen.

Looking beyond the either-or, we can simply refuse to take sides in a new nuclear-charged conflict, as many of us did during the first Cold War. We can work for a peaceful solution between the two sides, which Jeremy Corbyn has spent his life trying to do, most famously in early negotiations with Sinn Fein. And, we can learn to fight two monsters at the same time – America’s imperial expansion and the neo-fascist alliance on both sides of the Atlantic between xenophobic racism and right-wing Christian nationalism, whether in the form of Evangelical Christianity, Putin’s use of Russian orthodoxy, or Marine Le Pen’s appeal to right-wing Catholic traditionalists in her shift from her father’s Jew-baiting to unashamedly bashing Muslims instead.

One other smear of Corbyn deserves brief attention. “Although there is no direct evidence that he has an issue himself with Jews,” wrote Britain’s oldest Jewish newspaper, “there is overwhelming evidence of his association with, support for – and even in one case, alleged funding of – Holocaust deniers, terrorists and some outright antisemites.”

Or, as the Guardian’s James Bloodworth put it, “Corbyn may not have an anti-Semitic bone in his body, but he does share platforms with people who do.”

Large numbers of progressives Jews have condemned these attacks, which amount to little more than guilt by association. Corbyn has a long history of opposing racism of all kinds, including antisemitism and South African apartheid. He also supports Palestinian statehood, opposes Israeli settlements on the West Bank, and talks with Hamas and Hezbollah in his search for peace. But he has never wavered from his insistence that “a safe and viable Palestinian State” coexist “alongside a safe and viable Israel.”

Unhappily, Sanders is much less solid on the issue, supporting the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2014. But, to his credit, he shares Corbyn’s support for a Palestinian state, though he does little to bring it about. With the growing movement to boycott Israel, this could become a major issue for him and for the way we define twenty-first century socialism.

A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, "Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold."

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+35 # Wally Jasper 2015-08-24 17:32
Bernie does need some education about Palestine/Israe l. Just as he has reached out to Black Lives Matter and really brought the issue of institutionaliz ed US racism into his campaign agenda, he would do well to also meet with the BDS movement, Campaign to End the Occupation and Jewish Voice for Peace. The way AIPAC has bought the US Congress is no different than how the oligarchy of 1% has bought the US Congress, with equally disastrous results. Bernie has shown that he is open and willing to learn from Progressive activists; time to now expand the learning curve.
+18 # futhark 2015-08-24 19:34
I would be delighted if Senator Sanders spoke out unambiguously to condemn the influence that Israel exercises on U.S. foreign policy and Israel's ongoing aggression against its indigenous Arabic-speaking population with its east bank settlements lebensraum programs copied from the Nazis and restrictions on people in the Gaza strip from free access to the benefits of food and medicine that most people in civilized countries now enjoy. AIPAC is fully as toxic to truth and justice as any combination of Wall Street investment banks.

The whole concept that Israel is our default ally in the Middle East is deeply flawed and needs a serious critique.
-4 # SalzburgStan 2015-08-25 02:57
Dope, the east bank is Jordan and there are no Israelis there.
-10 # lewagner 2015-08-24 19:35
Sure, lets "educate" him on the genocide and land grab that's been going on in Palestine since 1948, now especially in Gaza.
The man is 74 years old, let's "educate" him.
Then he still needs some "education" on 9/11 and the War on Terror, too. For instance, who did it, and who has benefited all along.
But let's not forget to vote for "Bernie" anyway, even if we can't "educate" him on these smaller side issues. :)
-12 # SalzburgStan 2015-08-25 02:57
another Antisemite who blames the Jews for 9-11
+12 # Buddha 2015-08-25 09:13
Another AIPAC patsy playing the "If you aren't for the State of Israel and support its policies, then you are an anti-Semite" card of rhetorical Fail.
+20 # Inspired Citizen 2015-08-24 17:46
Next? It's already happening on WaPo and Politico comment boards. Glenn Beck calls Bernie a communist of course, and that persuasive propagandist has millions of radio listeners who post lots of comments around. You can almost always detect low information and/or IQ in their words.

We have a plan to help Bernie secure the nomination called the #BernieOrBust pledge. Over 6,000 people have pledge to write-in Bernie Sanders in the general election next year if he's not on the ballot.

-34 # 2015-08-24 18:29
Corbyn ! HA! He may make some political headway here and there....but I would bet all that I have his career and reputation will be smeared by his own doing ! "He that hurts Israel touches the 'apple of God's eye'"

Corbyn..... HA!
+36 # Dongi 2015-08-24 18:35
Jeremy Corbyn is a brave man with a long, illustrious record. He's tough on the Ukraine, sensible re Putin, realistic on nuclear peace between Russia and the US. tough on Israel. He would nake a good ally of Bernie Sanders.

Hopefully, a progressive tide is running. We can use it to solve many pressing problems. Like global warming and nuclear peace.
-14 # angryspittle 2015-08-24 18:35
Yeah, fuck it, put the pedal to the metal and let's go out in a blaze of glory........
+1 # Dongi 2015-08-27 05:26
Spoken like a true troll.
+13 # lfeuille 2015-08-24 19:16
But it doesn't seem to be working. He is still leading so he should just ignore the red baiting and keep doing what he's doing.
-5 # BKnowswhitt2 2015-08-24 19:18
You can't compare US to UK politics in this regard. The last leader of liberal party was way left of center .. as in here at home .. you can be for social services and taxing to get those funds .. however without a vibrant economy and support of that resulting in providing funds that will pay for those services .. otherwise if you are just Left and not pro business as well .. then you are missing that point .. economy a big and necessary thing or no one and i mean no one .. gets any social services money .. that's how democracies of our kind and in the West today work .. just economic facts ..
+15 # Kauai John 2015-08-24 20:12
In London for a week last week, I was amazed amazed at the vociferous attacks on Corbyn in all the news media. Not a single word in his defense.

Since I tend to restrict myself to more progressive media outlets when in the USA, I have not heard similar condemnations of Bernie Sanders -- except by Black Lives Matter. But I think the author is right. The MSM will turn their attention to Sanders soon enough. Maybe he'll do a "Dean Scream" or some other insignificant moment in his day will be completely blown out of proportion.

WRT Israel, no US politician anywhere has adopted my preferred policy. "F.. 'em." so I won't consider Bernie's Israel policies when determining my support for him.

And it just may be that, once elected, Bernie will be able to promulgate some policies that can lessen the hate being fomented between the Israelis and Palestinians. I would surely look forward to that. I could let go of my anger toward Israel and reconsider my position.
+9 # Street Level 2015-08-24 20:57
"Unless he, Sanders, and those of us who support them stand up and define twenty-first century socialism for ourselves, the red-baiters will define it for us."
I couldn't agree more although this article is part of the problem.
Bernie is a "Democratic Socialist" and not calling him what he is will allow the fear-monging redbaiters to cause confusion when he fearful public start googling "socialist" instead of "Democratic Socialist".
+16 # Vardoz 2015-08-24 21:15
Of course they will bad mouth Bernie - But we must keep it up! As Warren said we must fight for what we want.

So Spread the word-

Whenever I speak to an agent from Verizon,( Verizon doesn't pay any Taxes) Comcast or my credit card company. I asked them if they are voting for Bernie Sanders. Most people from TX to NC say they never heard of him. I just spoke to a girl from AZ who said someone in her office just had a conversation with some about him. I have urged people to do what I do. She said she works full time, her husband went to college and owes money in student loans and has not been able to get a job for 2 years. She is on WIC which the horrible GOP just cut, I went on to tell her all about Bernie and steered her to his face book page. She is sold. So lets do what we can to spread the word. I told her about Obama's new law where students only have to pay back 10% of their income. She never heard of it.
+8 # Archie1954 2015-08-24 22:20
Consider the source. Anything coming out of Blair and his ilk's mouths can be dismissed with prejudice!
+6 # jimmyjames 2015-08-25 07:06
If you are a registered "Independent", as I was, please re-register as a "Democrat" so that you can cast your vote for Bernie Sanders in the primaries.
-7 # mmcmanus 2015-08-25 09:08
No matter what you think of the internal politics in Ukraine, it is an independent and sovereign country. Putin is not being "provoked", he is an unstable megalomaniac invading one of our alllies in a land grab, and should be stopped.
+3 # Dongi 2015-08-25 17:21
How long have you been drinking the kool-aid? It's affected your brain circuits and you really should stop.
0 # tanis 2015-08-25 10:11
please go to Vardoz and jimmyjames and follow the instructions. thank you, and don't forget to talk to people about Bernie, most people have never headroom him.
0 # tanis 2015-08-25 10:11
I said heard of him!
+4 # Doc Mary 2015-08-25 12:43
The MSM is not red-baiting Sanders so much as completely ignoring him. He draws far greater audiences than the media darling Trump, but while Trump is in the news 24/7, they completely ignore Sanders. If they do mention him, it is with the addition, "but he is unelectable" - don't have to say why. All very frustrating.

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