Jeremy Corbyn’s Magical Mystery Tour
If the Labour Party chooses Corbyn as leader, it will be a power-play by the worst collectivists in our society to poison the well of intelligent public thought in favour of something little better than witchcraft. It all mirrors the "developed stagnation" of the late Soviet era
Back in 1986 I met top KGB defector Oleg Gordievsky when he was still being debriefed after being exfiltrated from Moscow by MI6. We talked about Gorbachev’s idea that cutting Russians’ massive vodka consumption would make the Soviet economy more effective.
Gordievsky said that Gorbachev really believed that the Soviet economy was like a car whose only problem was a badly running engine: if it stopped running on vodka and started using petrol instead, the Engine of Socialism would whir into action and propel the USSR to a bright future.
"In other words," I said, "Gorbachev believes in witchcraft?"
"Exactly! He believes in witchcraft!"
Collectivist socialism takes it for granted that the fuel of disciplined individual creativity which creates society is like the milk from a cow that can be milked without limit. It assumes witchcraft.
When the cow finally keels over, exhausted and dying, the ensuing starvation is never the fault of the witches who flogged it to death.
Take, for example, Venezuela. A large country with terrific natural resources, smart people and a sassy sense of style. Thanks to successive governments’ socialist policies, it has reached the dizzy state of affairs where a jar of Nescafe costs $232 dollars by the official exchange-rate. Everything is in decline:
Venezuela is the only member of OPEC that suffers from shortages of staples such as flour, milk, and sugar. Crime and violence skyrocketed during Chávez’s years. On an average weekend, more people are killed in Caracas than in Baghdad and Kabul combined. (In 2009, there were 19,133 murders in Venezuela, more than four times the number of a decade earlier.) When the grisly statistics failed to improve, the Venezuelan government simply stopped publishing the figures.
How has this amazingly awful situation come to pass? Not because anyone actually wanted this outcome.
Rather because successive governments have kept meddling with real things for the sake of advancing abstract things, such as ‘social justice’. A nationalisation here combined with more controls and regulations there creates outcomes that require ever-more improbable economic contortions:
In addition, Maduro enacted the Fair Price Law, which set maximum profit margins at 30 percent for companies and requires them to obtain “fair price certificates” to access dollars. The law carries prison sentences for those convicted of hoarding or “destabilizing the economy.”
Similarly, last year, the government took over an electronics retailer accused of overpricing its products. Maduro promised the effort would reduce consumer prices by 5 percent. Instead, prices rose 4.8 percent.
It’s horribly like Atlas Shrugged. Once a false premise is the basis for literally everything, one bad decision prompts another, then another, and another, until the ruling elite runs out of sane options and resorts to insane ones: importing Cuban communist goons to beat back Venezuelans demanding change.
Back in the UK we have the Labour Party agonising over its next leader. Should it choose Jeremy Corbyn, a person whose whole political life has been defined by his prim defence of all available collectivist witchcrafts?
There are two ways the contemporary ‘Left’ advances witchcraft.
One is to set no conceptual limits on the role of the state. Anything not quite right out there? Quick, bring in another law or control.
The genuinely baffling thing about this is the underlying stupid, ahistorical idea that some sort of ‘perfect’ society is in principle attainable and sustainable in happy equilibrium, if only the perfect set of rules can be identified and imposed.
See ‘Climate Change’. Yet in real life when the state stops grown men wading into a shallow boating-pond to rescue someone, the Left simply shrugs and looks away.
Or look at how the Guardian blandly, and astonishingly, identified at least one failing of the otherwise glorious NHS: "The only serious black mark against the NHS was its poor record on keeping people alive."
Once you set no theoretical limit for state control, there is no theoretical limit to your cynicism about the outcomes.
The other Left witchcraft ploy is to deflect attacks on Leftist outcomes by frothing up supposed ‘double standards’ to sow confusion about what works or is decent.
Take Jeremy Corbyn mulling over the grim problems in Ukraine. Where better to opine on that than in a communist newspaper that has sucked up to Russian nationalism for decades? Thus:
Russia has gone way beyond its legal powers to use bases in the Crimea. Sending unidentified forces into another country is clearly a violation of that country's sovereignty.
Not bad, Jeremy! Therefore what do you think we should do to stop this aggression?
Still, the hypocrisy of the West remains unbelievable. NATO has sought to expand since the end of the cold war. It has increased its military capability and expenditure. It operates way beyond its original 1948 area and its attempt to encircle Russia is one of the big threats of our time.
Ah. You parrot Moscow’s lies and talking-points. Your basic point? Western governments do LOTS of bad stuff now, so Moscow’s aggressive policies are nothing to get over-excited about. Move along, folks, nothing to see here. Everything is relative, after all.
If the Labour Party chooses Corbyn as leader, it will be a power-play by the worst collectivists in our society to poison the well of intelligent public thought in favour of witchcraft.
Corbyn’s success will shift public debate towards anti-semitic populist collectivism, with an implied menace of fascist street violence and trades union bullying.
What in fact stands between one of the world’s leading economies and a brisk slump to Venezuelaisation? Maybe not much.
Charles Crawford is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. A former British Ambassador in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Warsaw, he is now a private consultant and writer. His website is www.charlescrawford.biz. He tweets @charlescrawford
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