As the inevitable reality of Corbyn’s election failure began to dawn, my friend Helen took to Facebook.
“Lost an election, comrade?” she wrote. “Take a moment. And in no time at all, you’ll remember that we have a world to win.”
With my mood rapidly plunging southward and inebriation looking like the only solution it was a helpful intervention.
There is, of course, nothing to be gained by moping, and as disheartening as the events in the UK may be, the struggle goes on. Because it must. As journalist and activist Chris Hedges
says, “I do not fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists.”
Which is to say that the struggle is the point.
And so with that in mind here are some reasons to keep fighting the good fight.
Actually, Jezza did okay
Viewed through a strictly electoral lens it’s an unmitigated disaster. But although Labour’s total vote fell heavily from its 2017 highs they still
got a larger share of the national vote
than under Ed Miliband in 2015 and Gordon Brown in 2010, and only a slightly smaller share than Tony Blair’s Labour in 2005. Also, thanks to the popularity of the Corbyn agenda, Labour’s membership has soared
to its highest level since the ‘70s.
Corbyn rebuilt the party’s grassroots and established a social-democratic platform that was rightly admired by millions. Nice one, Jezza.
There’s hope abroad
Globally, capital prevails and neoliberalism’s pulse, once perhaps weakening
, may have strengthened a little with the Tories romping home. But not all countries are hellscapes of austerity and nativism. Finland, Norway, and Sweden while most undoubtedly capitalist are also socially democratic
with strong welfare states and a more equal distribution of wealth and power among its citizens. Elsewhere, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Mexico, Finland and others all have broadly social democratic governments.
Coal’s demise is assured
The price is collapsing. Mining giants are walking away. Banks and insurers won’t back new projects. Super funds and others are divesting.
Meanwhile, all over the world
, countries are making huge strides towards 100 per cent renewable energy generation. Earlier this year Britain, for example, experienced its first coal-free week since the Industrial Revolution, while Costa Rica
has produced around 95 per cent of its power from hydro, geothermal, solar and wind over the past four years.
And back home, the Australian Energy Market Operator released a draft report during the week showing how Australia can achieve 90 per cent renewables
by 2040, while modelling shows that a just transition
to a green economy will create jobs.
In other words: coal’s demise will happen, and soon, regardless of whichever stuffed shirt has the keys to the Lodge.
We would all do well to abandon our habit of putting too much faith in the power of charming leaders who do little more than exude charm, but I refuse to feel guilty for feeling buoyed by this 16-year-old’s passion and clear-eyed disdain
for the failings of global leaders.
She’s fantastic. Us grown-ups owe it to her and her generation not to screw this up.
Activism is on the rise
The youth are revolting! Thanks in part to the movement
inspired by Ms Thunberg, the world’s children are discovering their activist voices. But it’s not just the climate kids: protesting has been on the rise worldwide since after the GFC in 2009 and is now at levels not seen since the 1960s
Democratically elected governments are, by literal definition, susceptible to public pressure. Exert enough, at the right places, and you can get them to bend to your will, even when they’re a collection of cynical theocrats and anti-worker authoritarians.
See my point above about the perils of putting your faith in charismatic leaders (although Bernie’s appeal arguably stems more from his anti
-charisma), but Bernie’s not your average politician. He’s been an activist all his life
and is the only
US presidential candidate backed by an actual grassroots movement.
Can he win. Hell yes, he can
. What’s more, Bernie never wanted to be this close to the White House, which makes him the perfect person for the job.
And although his ability as president to do the things we would love him to – Medicare For All, Green New Deal, ending capitalism – will be constrained by the make-up of Congress, he’ll at the very least have the power to radically reshape the geopolitical landscape.
A Bernie Sanders presidency will be a game-changer. Bring on November.