What does Corbyn want?

88 Fleet Street London EC4Y 1DH

Jeremy Corbyn's successful campaign to run the Labour Party and his hope to lead the State inspired many people: a few hundred thousand registered to join or support the party and Corbyn spoke to packed meetings. The response of some on the left has been critical, or at least pessimistic, about Corbyn being able to implement his policies as somehow big business and its allies will prevent him from doing so. A variant suggests he will be prevented by the “Labour Party machine”. Others say that although he is generally going in the right direction, on some issues he does not go far enough. Still others insist that all real change must come from below and that the success of Corbynism will take people away from focussing on pursuing such change into the dead end of parliamentary campaigning.

In this workshop we want to investigate what Corbyn actually says he wants to do in terms of social and economic policy laid out in his policy paper “The Economy in 2020”. His goals are not something we think is good at all regardless of whether they are impossible to achieve. It is not that it doesn't go far enough or represents a distraction from the right means of pursuing the same goals: his programme is fundamentally hostile to the interests of those who want to live in a world based on human needs being satisfied instead of one where poverty is made its organising principle.

  1. We will look at how Corbyn thinks about the way in which wealth is produced in this society. We will argue that understanding how wealth is created is crucial to any political movement that wants a better society: we will show that despite Corbyn also appearing to start from this premise he never addresses the issue.
  2. We will argue that as a result of his mistaken thinking about the nature of wealth in this society, Corbyn agitates for a programme that calls for the increase of wealth from which workers are widely and systematically excluded.
  3. We will look at the fact that Corbyn perceives the necessity to use the capitalist state to provide a “fair share” to workers in the society reliant on this form of wealth creation. Contrary to what Corbyn thinks, we will argue that any such programme of state intervention must guarantee that the poverty of workers continues as its first principle.
  4. Finally we will look at how and why it is easy for Corbyn to arrive at the view that the State he wishes to run can be transformed into an organisation whose purpose is the welfare of all the people in this society. We argue that Corbyn will find that such welfare must necessarily preserve the poverty he wants to abolish and that the role he wishes the State to have is not one it can realise.