In this moment of joy and relief, we must not forget the gravity of the perils we faced. Corbyn’s and McDonnell’s style of politics always moves quickly from revolution to a murderous tyranny. The ideological iconoclasts begin with extravagant promises of a new order, falling just short of a heaven on earth; but this turns swiftly to dictatorship. It has happed time after time throughout history. Let us have just two recent examples…
The French Revolution of 1789 began with the slogan Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. It proceeded to the Reign of Terror in 1793 and a nationwide tour by Madame Guillotine. When it first erupted, the Revolution was greeted with extravagant shouts of welcome by many who ought to have known better. Willie Words-worth-not-very-much wrote, “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive; and to be young was very heaven.” Given a huge nudge by the Tory Samuel Coleridge – his collaborator in the writing of Lyrical Ballads – he soon came to his senses. However, the French people didn’t. Instead they did what revolutionaries always do: they fell in behind a tyrant. Theirs was Napoleon whose armies threatened all Europe. His supporters derided the English as petit bourgeois, “a nation of shopkeepers.” The shopkeepers responded with victories at Trafalgar 1805 and Waterloo 1815, and Bony was removed permanently to St Helena.
The Russian Revolution of 1917 followed a similar course. Lenin’s slogans were: “Factories to workers!”; “Land to peasants!”; “Peace, Land, Bread!” But utopia turned out to be dystopia and, thanks to a technology far superior to that which obtained at the time of the French Revolution, Stalin’s purges exceeded those of the Reign of Terror and slaughtered forty million of his own people.
Given time, a Corbyn government would have proceeded after the same pattern. He began by promising the earth: more hospitals, more nurses, free broadband and limitless cash. But his class war would have ended in economic stagnation and social disintegration. Thankfully, he was defeated by the shopkeepers and shop-workers in the towns and cities in the Midlands and the North. As the French revolutionaries were supported by those useful idiots – such as Willie Wordsworth – who ought to have known better, so Corbyn’s chief cheerleaders were the pretentiously affected Champagne socialists and privileged snobs in the posh parts of London; among the bien pensants on The Guardian and the broadcast media; by the diseased “liberal” – really, intolerant and lying – political elite in parliament, the civil service, the universities and the suffocating public service bureaucracies which together make up the socialists’ client state.
All these people arrogantly claimed to know better than the ordinary folk. And, like the ideologues behind the French and Russian Revolutions, they also claimed to speak in the name of “the people.” But by “the people” they meant only themselves and their clique. And last Thursday the people answered back.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us, but do not quite forget; that we are the people of England that never have spoken yet.
Well, we have spoken now! So what is to be done with socialism?