Ever since the first meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society in 1947, and many say before that, the prevailing political orthodoxy has been shaped by the “neoliberal” movement; although it only really reached the point of obtaining the power to bring it into practice, after the elections of Thatcher and Reagan, although there was an experiment in post-war Germany. Since then it has retained an iron grip in most industrialised countries. It is not just free market capitalism, but has at its core the preeminence of “competition” and, far from the small state libertarianism, it sees a major role for the state in promoting competition by means of price stability and reducing or removing the power of organised labour, while creating competition in areas such as infrastructure and public services where it does not naturally exist. This political consensus is now in crisis because it has gone too far increasing the gap between rich and poor, with the wealth and power concentrated in too few hands whose natural greed caused the massive crash of 2008 and is set to produce another even worse in the near future. It cannot cope with the threat of climate change which along with the wars created in major part by the unequal divisions of the world’s riches are causing massive global movements of population. It has great difficulty managing the changes introduced by technological innovation and the information economy, as seen by the farcical attempts at control using copyright, IPR and DRM which makes lots of money for lawyers but achieves very little except to stifle the very innovation it is trying to manage. Opportunities for new competitive markets are drying up and people are reacting against the artificial elements of competition which are decreasing the effectiveness of public services. The upshot is that the world is changing rapidly and radically technologically, socially and politically; we are all going to be affected by these changes such as longevity, abundant cheap energy, automation and artificial intelligence.
So, how then does this vision of possible futures affect the election of a leader of an opposition party in one country. Well, with massive change inevitable within a very short timespan, the question of who manages the change and who reaps the benefits of change become of vital importance. The existing political elite want to retain control so that they can continue their transfer of wealth from the mass of the population to themselves for as long as possible while they put in place mechanisms that can ensure their safety and continued dominance in the future. They want the benefits of technological change, such as longevity and good health for themselves, while they maintain their iron grip on how much they allow to trickle down to others and to whom. If we want to control the future ourselves so that the benefits are shared by all and build the future society on principles of equality and liberty so that we can tackle the problems of climate change, poverty and population movement together, then time is running out very fast to start building the political systems that will make that possible, it may already be too late. We in the UK are not alone; movements such as Podemos, Syriza and the followers of Bernie Sanders show a world-wide desire to start making the change now.
Is Jeremy Corbyn the ideal person to take on this task? Probably not, but he is the only chance now available and he, his team, his policies and his avowed aims are certainly going in the right direction. Above all he represents the only possible candidate for radical change. Those within the Labour Party opposing him may be fighting, as usual, for the opportunity to be in power and to try and persuade the entrenched elite to allow a few more breadcrumbs to fall the way of the poor and to shore up the health and education services for a while, but as always when the pendulum turns any benefits will soon be lost. The Blair government did have some successes in alleviating poverty and improving the NHS and education system, but that has virtually all disappeared and we have even more in poverty and with an NHS in even worse state than ever before. Such changes are ephemeral, they make good headlines and make you feel good for a while but they do not stick and above all those entrenched elite not only remained in power but accrued even more wealth and power.
We must have a radical change now. We must base our new world on socialist principles; not soviet style communism, not Trotskyism nor old fashioned Marxism, not by violent revolution but by peaceful persuasion. We must fight (metaphorically) to make sure that no one is left behind and the wealth is equitably shared. We do not want to stifle innovation, we want to encourage entrepreneurs, but so the whole world can benefit as well as they themselves from the fruits of their inventions. This may be the last chance; change is happening so fast, and that rate of change is itself increasing. Defeat for Jeremy Corbyn will probably pass control of the future to those same elite who have so messed up the past. His victory may not achieve what we want, but it is the only chance we are likely to get for a long time, or possibly ever.
This is why I am voting for Jeremy Corbyn.