What the Rise of Corbynistas Says about the Leadership Vacuum in UK and Beyond

The rise of Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of UK’s Labour Party was both a symptom and a catalyst of the disintegration of the organized “moderate left” inside the country. Corbyn openly supports Communism, and considers the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hizbullah among his friends. Moreover, he favored nationalization and redistribution of private property and made completely unrealistic promises about buying every homeless person a house. More than just another deluded politician, however, Corbyn openly appealed to the worst instincts in the British left, and  encouraged the advancement of open Jew-haters through party ranks. Most recently, the six anti-Semites who were suspended from Labour were quietly readmitted into the party.

Corbyn himself was caught participating in multiple anti-Semitic Facebook groups and deleted his personal page. He recently apologized for an anti-Semitic mural, but then almost immediately was found attending a Jew-hating seder by a provocative radical left-wing group called “Jewdas”, which called for getting rid of Israel. Examples of the Haggadah reading included such quotes as “Consider how sh*t Israel is...”. Anti-Semitic backlash against pro-Israel and Jewish speakers has been rising dramatically within Labour circles, including on campuses in UK, and in other fora, where these speakers have been heckled, harassed, precluded from speaking, or even surrounded and physically threatened. Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International canceled the appearance of UN Watch Director Hillel Neuer’s appearance, citing an anti-Semitic Middle Eastern publication.

Jewish Labour members such as David Hirsh, the author of “Contemporary Left Anti-Semitism”  have been active in pushing back against radicalization of the party by lecturing, speaking out in the media, and organizing events focused on rejecting the backlash against Jewish identity as such, even without the Israel connotations. The upheaval over the recent increase in the political aggression against Jews and Israel supporters, however, appears to be rising. Worse still, it is facilitated by left-wing Jewish apologists for Corbyn and his ilk who have been attacking anyone remotely critical of Corbyn’s ideology and circle of close associates, by claiming that the attacks against him are unfounded, personal, and unfairly reactionary to his economic positions. None of that holds water, of course.

One, however, can make several observations.

First, Theresa May, the Queen, and the international community all remain silent with respect to this ongoing and rising problem. Dismissing the more conservative leaning British establishment as likewise anti-Semitic is easy enough; however,  Corbyn and his milieu present a very easy opportunity to score larger political points, if nothing else. The issue is not about attracting Jewish voters, but denouncing bigotry and hatred, as well as the Labour party’s increasing organized associations with bad actors damaging to UK’s security interests. Quite clearly, by allowing such social and political divisions Labour, led by Corbyn, is facilitating the sowing of chaos that plays right into Russsia’s hands. That the Labour sympathizers with UK’s adversaries and terrorist groups are essentially a fifth column undermining social order goes well beyond their treatment of the Jews. However, their treatment of the Jews is the first indicator that that is what they in fact are. Surely, not all members of the Labour party share this views. Many have already resigned in protests, and others have been working privately or publicly to reform the party from within.

Nevertheless, the fact that the leaders of the country are not speaking out and putting pressure on the Labour to abandon such shameful practices speaks of weakness and lack of vision for the country as a whole. And the fact that Corbyn managed to outmaneuver the moderates to get to the top, and has managed to make anti-Semitism great again likewise raises question about the preparation of the moderates for leadership positions. How did it come to the point that someone like Corbyn speaks to and for the most active members of the Labour party, and whose dog whistles against a segment of society are welcomed or at least ignored due to his grandiose and hare-brained economic promises? HOw is that there are enough people who are ok with someone who praises terrorists to keep Corbyn where he is? Why, in the 21st century, inside the country that prides itself for its rich history and culture, is this medieval phenomenon rearing its ugly head in such a demonstrably socially acceptable way?

To understand the dynamics that have led the party to this place, one needs to look no further than the cultural institutions which breed certain types of ideas: school and university education, media coverage of Israel and the Jewish community, as well as the treatment of Jews and Israel supporters by the international institutions. All those three issues contribute to the worldview of many politically active people, and even those who do not necessarily fully buy into the perpetuated stereotypes and learned bigotry, are pressured into complying with the social norms in their circles. The fact that Jew hatred and virulently bigoted attacks on Israel are acceptable without strong reaction from anybody but some Jews themselves, inside not just  UK, but Europe facilitates the spread of bad ideas and makes what would previously be considered shameful actions (if not views) part of the wider norm. Jew hatred has been normalized, sold, and repackaged in the way that it is treated differently from any other type of bigotry. Further, Jews are considered soft targets, because they will not fight back with defamation law suits, hard political actions,  or forceful response that would tear the bigots to shreds.  Parts of the Jewish community are either in denial, still, or prefer to keep their heads down so as not to attack, whereas for their non-Jewish friends, all of this action may seem like a tempest in a teapot, unrelated to them personally.

There is no mockery of the bigots. Their hateful discourse is considered legitimate and granted free platform by private institutions.  Government should not be in the business of regulating discourse or ideas, but private institutions do not have to actively promote and legitimize destructive concepts to remain firm supporters of free speech. And the stupidity of the Corbynistas is not derided or mocked by well known figures.  There are no champions of the cause against social destruction waged by this gathering of the dregs of British society. There is little thought given to the fact that bad ideas spread easily. And people like Maajid Nawaz who do take public stand against the sheer hatred are few in number and likewise subject to personal attacks.  The same culture that breeds conformity stiffles leadership, including active opposition to bad ideas.

Everything about mass culture in Europe speaks to conformity rather than if not rebellion, then at least challenge of common perceptions and contemporary cultural zeitgeist. Excessive bureaucratization of society breeds followers, not independent thinkers. Addiction to social media kills the art of the conversation and polarizes and dehumanizes the conversation. But none of that is unique to the UK. What is unique, however, is that the culture that produced the Magna Carta, the first modern steps in the assertion of freedom, now sides with oppressive mindsets and mob rule. The same country that  has once produced great Enlightenment thinkers and set standard for rational discourse and the elevation of reason now by embracing the likes of Corbyn is leading its society straight into the Dark Ages of ignorance, conspiratorial thinking, and shallow, fact-free communications. London, until recently the business center of Europe, is opening its way towards the triumph of debunked ideologies and the bases of human instincts: envy.  Is the UK lost?  Should the Jewish community simply flee for greener pastures? That is an issue each individual should decide for himself, but ultimately, leaving the UK to its swiftly growing rot will not end at the self-expulsion of the Jews. Bad ideas, left unchallenged, will simply overtake the society and come to control the politics completely, essentially not only allowing the modern day barbarians through the door but leaving them to mind the castle.

As much as it is tempting to despair over the fate of Europe and simply write off societies collapsing under the weight of antiquated responses to far more vigorous intellectual aggressors, the reality is that so long as there even one person left standing, the battle over hearts and minds should continue, and working towards victory and the prevailing of better idea is the only real possible response that will not automatically lead to the eventual isolation of free thinkers to small islands of security hear and there. No one is truly safe while the barbarians are on the loose.  The lack of vision and leadership in UK that leaves Corbyn unchallenged is a problem, but it does not have to be permanent. And the Corbyn problem is not just a Jewish problem; it is a British problem, it is a European problem, and it is a human problem. Rather than flailing away at how low our cousins across the pond have fallen, we, the liberal-minded Americans (in the original, British, classical sense, that is) should be asking ourselves how can we help. What can we do to lend strength to those who are fighting their battles in their own countries; how can we attack bad ideas (not people, who always have the free will to change their minds!), and what we can do to promote better ones.

To some extent, some of the British experience is also translating into our own. Bernie Sanders, even at his worst, has not yet reached the level of Jeremy Corbyn. However, some of the boorish embraces of bad ideas across the political spectrum in the US are contributing to the degrading process that may produce more Corbyns here in the future. To prevent Corbyns, we must help nip the damage influence of his actions in the bud. Containment is not an option; eradication of legitimacy of his approach and the reversal of the spread of this virulent disease is the only way to stop the appeal of the underlying assumptions to a much wider crowd, including our own. Europe may very well be contributing to some of the major problems we are seeing today; but perhaps not all is lost and it may in the end turn out to be part of the solution. Just as it seems that things could not get any worse, it is precisely the right time to persevere in seeking solutions. Europe has been embracing bad ideas, social inertia, and statism for decades if not longer, and the effects of these items will be hard to reverse. But the truth is, if we allow the free thinkers to lose, if we allow the struggle for truth and merit to die out, if we give up on Europe, we may very soon find ourselves meeting the same end. As hard and unappealing it may be to have to pick up and once again find ourselves embracing a battle far from our shores and distasteful to observe, much less to partake in, I am afraid that while we may have to hold our noses, that is the only real option we may have at this point. We do not owe anything to spiteful European bureaucrats, and to the embracers of terrible ideas, but we owe our very existence as a free societies to the good ideas that deserve and demand restoration to their rightful and guiding place everywhere, not just in our own little bubbles.

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender
— Winston Churchill

About the Author
Irina Tsukerman graduated with a JD from Fordham University School of Law in 2009 and received her BA in International/Intercultural Studies and Middle East Studies from Fordham University in 2006. Her legal and advocacy work focuses on human rights and security issue, mostly in Muslim countries. She is also involved in diplomatic outreach and relationship-building among different communities.
Related Topics
Related Posts