In the Soul of Man Under Socialism Oscar Wilde berates the hypocrisies of Victorian society and calls for man to live on a higher plane of existence. It is not enough to feed the poor. The point is to redesign society so poverty is impossible. These are words easier said than done and perhaps the dream of eliminating the conditions of poverty, ignorance, idleness and squalor root and branch is but that: a dream that when transcribed into reality taints good intentions into bad results.
Or maybe I am talking nonsense. Socialism has worked in practice. The welfare state was built by socialists. When Thatcher closed the factories and coal pits the Trade Unions filled the gaps as best they could forming co-operatives and co-ordinating mutual aid. The NHS remains the most efficient healthcare system in the world. The most successful and creative societies provide free healthcare, education, enshrine worker rights, holidays and have universal suffrage. These rights are not gifts that were bestowed from up high. They are our common inheritance fought for by the poor, the wretched, the disenfranchised and abused.
Corbyn understands these things but under his leadership the conversations has drifted. We should not forget, there is a dark side to the socialism. How many millions were murdered, repressed and had their freedom taken away under the failed Leninist dictatorships? How many thousand, how many of our greatest minds turned a blind eye and intellectualised these crimes? More recently how many have wasted their lives selling socialist newspapers and attending “emergency rallies”? The truth is that ideas are not black and white. They must be implemented with care and nuance if they are able to succeed.
If a form of socialism worth fighting for is to take root in the UK it should not and can never involve apologising for antisemitism. It wasn’t what I signed up for when I started identifying as a socialist. It wasn’t what I signed up for when I joined the Labour Party. I am tired of people dismissing antisemitism in the Labour Party as a conspiracy. While I have no doubt that Corbyn personally is not a rascist he has lost the support of the Jewish community. Under his leadership anti-semitism has become a problem. There is a tendency amongst pro-Palestine campaigners to use language and hold attitudes that make Jewish people feel uncomfortable. There is a tendency in anti-capitalists to entertain racist ideas of Jewish conspiracy. The truth of the matter is that these groups have flocked to Labour under Corbyn and that he has benefited from their support.
Maybe I am pointing out the obvious too late. Personally complacent because of the aspects of the Corbyn project I support. Keynesian economics, re-affiliation with the Union movement, Labour Party democracy, redistribution of wealth, co-operatising the means of production. These are legitimate, good policies that would never have seen the light of day under any other leader. But they can’t be implemented at the expense of alienating the Jewish community. Corbyn needs to go and I can’t tell if I feel more like a dumb ideologue for supporting him so long or a useless traitor.