I spied a Commentary piece in today’s US print edition of the Financial Times that I could not agree more with. It was by Janan Ganesh of the FT, and it was titled, “Corbyn has risn because the stakes are so low“. The premise of the Comment is that the rise of Corbyn, a hard-left, until recently unellectable Labour back-bencher, and now leader of the opposition, has little to do with the dire condition of the working class in Britain. It has more to do with the safe, well-off, comfortable middle class that now has the time and the money and energy to mess around with politics.
There is no pressing crisis to pull everyone together: sure, there are issues like Syria, Ukaraine, the economy, Greece, and so on, but nothing mortal. And so for years the liberated and swollen ranks of the middle class, swallowing up whole binges of what was preivously, now reduced, working class, can afford its holidays, its Jaguars, and can while away its leisure hours attending town hall meetings and playing with politics. The result of all this excess gas is a dressed up retreat to the left. This is no working class Jarrow march, or fight for the right to work, or fight against crushing inequality: there are just too many folks that are well-off and that have too much time on their hands to aggrandize themselves – and this is the result.
Mr. Ganesh highlights how this long developing situation is not unique to the UK, and also why it is different to the lurch or rise of the left in Greece or Spain. The same now-leisured working-cum-middle classes are giving rise to the idea that Donald Tump might be elected as President of the USA; and why Australia, which has not had a recession since 1991, cannot hold onto a Prime Minister. In the US the public debt issue, which should be a national crisis, is not even understood by the population at large. So the near political deadlock is in place and the stage is set for leisure-classed-literacy from left, and right. Rome is not yet burning, the western cultural state is not yet under seige. But we senetors are well fed, our bellies larger than they should be (just look at obesity levels), and we have time enough on our hands to waste.