In the world of progressive politics, all eyes are turned to Britain. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, represents progressivism in its most uncompromising form. He and his party are proposing massive increases in social spending, tax hikes on businesses and the wealthy, rent control in major cities, a ban on fracking, a boost in the minimum wage and the re-nationalization of railroads and water companies. Corbyn himself has advocated unilateral disarmament, has urged the United Kingdom to leave NATO and has seldom found a socialist revolutionary he didn’t admire (including Hugo Chávez).
And according to a recent YouGov-Times poll, Corbyn’s Labour Party is one point behind the Conservatives in voting intention.
There is no immediate election on the horizon in the United Kingdom. And the disturbing ties between British leftism and anti-Semitism are emerging as a serious scandal. But there is little doubt that Corbyn’s forces have consolidated their hold on the Labour Party, that the party did better than expected in the 2017 election and that Corbyn is no longer unthinkable as a future prime minister.
Whatever else Corbyn’s ascendance might mean, it is the death of Blairism — former prime minister Tony Blair’s attempt to define a center-left alternative to the Labour Party’s hard left. No more political trimming and tacking. Corbyn supporters regard themselves as part of a people-powered social movement — dedicated to economic equality and environmental protection, opposed to militarism and in revolt against a compromised establishment.
There is no exact political equivalent to Corbyn himself in the United States, at least outside the faculty lounge. But a similar spirit could be seen in Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign — the romance of ideological purity. Sanders’s supporters were as opposed to (Bill) Clintonism as Corbyn’s are to Blairism, and for the same reasons….