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The Left and Their Jewish Question
by Fergus O'Connor (April 2018)
This whole Jewish world, comprising a single exploiting sect, a kind of blood sucking people, a kind of organic destructive collective parasite, going beyond not only the frontiers of states, but of political opinion, this world is now, at least for the most part, at the disposal of Marx on the one hand, and of Rothschild on the other . . . This may seem strange. What can there be in common between socialism and a leading bank? —Mikhail Bakunin
What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly cult of the Jews? Huckstering. What is his worldly god? Money! . . . What is contained abstractly in the Jewish religion—contempt for theory, for art, for history, for man as an end in himself. —Karl Marx
Antisemitism is the Socialism of fools. —August Bebel
here is, in the early undistinguished career of Jeremy Corbyn, an incident which probably says more about the man than a thousand platitudes on social justice. Indulging one day in the infantile Leftist street theatre that made the Greater London Council a prime target for Thatcher in the 80s, comrade Corbyn suddenly realised he had left a weighty piece of agitprop in his flat. Knowing that his guest was still sleeping it off, our gallant hero didn’t hesitate for a minute, taking fastidious care to invite his guests in while he retrieved the critical missive. There, in resplendent semi-naked repose, was Dianne Abbott, no mean sight in her pride, and possessing all the cachet an ostentatious vegan socialist would want to flaunt in the febrile left-wing politics of that decade.
Diane Abbott, as British readers will know, went on to be the first black female MP in the House of Commons and, if she has spent most of her career playing down an expensive private education, she at least she was a worthy public spectacle. The whole scene reeks of student politics, and her tawdry outing somehow seems far more offensive than the torrent of subliterate tweets she undoubtedly gets from cyber cranks, especially when one considers the gulf in intellect between them. Abbot, like her school contemporary Michael Portillo, made the most of her privilege at Harrow and went on to a decent degree at Newnham College.
Corbyn, by contrast, is an embarrassing lightweight in a party known for intellectual gravitas—his aborted polytechnic degree in Trade Union studies a testimony to the kind of limitations even a privileged childhood cannot entirely efface (Corbyn, brought up in a seven-bedroom manor house is the latest in a long line of silver-spoon Labour left-wingers). To be fair, Corbyn is a modest man but, then again, he has much to be modest about and in this puerile smutty gesture we have ample evidence of how he was able to compensate. Commenting on the left-wing Labour icon Tony Benn, Harold Wilson famously remarked that he immatured with age. Much the same can be said of Corbyn and it is this which accounts for his preternatural cult popularity with the student rabble who are now a greater influence on the moral conscience of Labour than the rougher voices of organised labour.
Like many London Labour MPs who hold their seats on a bobo ticket (For American readers: his constituency of Islington is a byword for organic trendiness) Corbyn is an existential distance removed from the post-industrial areas which voted Brexit and, however hard he tries to hide it, his political obsessions invariably betray his unfamiliarity with proletarian priorities. For Corbyn, as for the degenerate Galloway, the great crusades have always been conveniently global or intensely personal and the result is less socialism as the language-of-priorities than a stream of agitated and diffuse sermons.
Six months before his unlikely and unexpected (perhaps unwanted) elevation to Labour leader, Corbyn was addressing a parliamentary meeting on “Human Rights and Security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” Ever solicitous to the needs of immigrants in this constituency Corbyn had twice visited the benighted country and become “increasingly concerned.” “The horrors of the Congo,” he gravely intoned, are not new.
As the sympathetic journalist Andy Beckett noted, "There was a sense, rare in Westminster, of politics being about life-or-death questions that extended across continents and centuries. But Corbyn’s entire audience consisted of a Conservative junior minister, a Democratic Unionist party MP, and four other people, two of whom chatted while he was speaking. Corbyn carried on, seemingly quite unfazed; in early 2015, as for much of his political life, promoting apparently lost causes before tiny audiences was what he did.”
None of this, needless to say, would have concerned Corbyn—these flat ephemeral pamphlets and boring meetings are what student politics consists of. When you prize gesture over the dirty hands of real politics and allow your weeping conscience to run amok no stage is too small. Better purity of heart than the responsibility of power. Corbyn, as if it needed to be said, had no solution to the problems of the world’s bloodiest civil war—western intervention would doubtless be a new scramble for Africa and the sins of China hold no terrors. Better to bask in the adulation of prepubescent minds than carry off the more courageous feat of holding convictions and power. It is fashionable nowadays to see Corbyn as a useful idiot but one should not underestimate the dangers of playing with fire and nothing demonstrates this more than the infamous mural. The piece of street porn daubed by Los Angeles “artist” Kalen Ockerman is, by any standard, a luridly anti-Semitic piece of street theatre and it is a sad reflection of the moral torpor on the hard Left that Corbyn’s first response when he heard of the council’s decision to take it down was to strike a blow for free speech.
“Why?” Comrade Corbyn wrote on facebook, before reassuring the aggrieved artist that “You’re in good company. Rockerfeller (sic) destroyed Diego Viera’s mural because it includes a picture of Lenin.”
This is, let it be conceded, not a dishonourable argument. If an argument for freedom of speech is not good in a hard case it is not good for any occasion. A good argument can be made for allowing anti-Semitic cartoons, but it would be better made if the same broadmindedness was applied to say a risqué caricature of the prophet. This is an invitation, needless to say, that has been honoured more in the breach than the observance, and the ease with which tropes around hook-nosed financiers have worked themselves into the semi-literate vocabulary of the left is a symptom of a larger malaise in our political life. Partly it is a product of the infantilisation of the Left.
Once upon a time, the scientific cachet of historical materialism inoculated many Leftists against the lure of pre-modern romanticism that infects the anti-globalisation movement. Nowadays, when the rage against progress is in hyperdrive it is hardly a surprise the socialism of fools should be in fashion again.
Most of us cannot hate abstractions and, when hack journalists conjure up a world of Wall Street conspiracies, it is hardly a surprise the dots get connected. What pits of depravity in our subliterate and uber-therapeutic times cannot be summoned by rootless cosmopolitans and well-fed Jews. Trotskyites have always seen the political potency of this low-bred ressentiment. The Socialist Workers Party continues to exercise an influence out of all proportion to its size by exploiting its appeal and it is no surprise that the two most conspicuous fellow travellers for Islamism, Jeremy Corbyn and George Galloway, share a putrid embrace of another morbidly self-pitying cult of violent victimhood. Both are notoriously promiscuous in their praise of Irish republicanism, a movement whose addiction to lachrymose self-pity, funerals, and ghastly ululating matriarchs make it a natural ideological soulmate of Palestinian terrorism.
By any stretch of the imagination, Corbyn is the most anti-American leader-in-waiting in Europe and, given the succour the dregs of Irish American political royalty have given to one of his greatest loves, now might seem a good time to consider the elective affinities.
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