Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Will the UK Treat Jeremy Corbyn the Way Brazil Treated Dilma Rousseff?

2016 has not been kind to left-leaning government leaders who dare to oppose neoliberal policies and systemic corruption.

Dilma Rousseff, the democratically elected leader of Brazil, was ousted in May on bogus charges of corruption by the very people whose corruption she was in the process of exposing.

Bernie Sanders, who challenged a foreign policy based on regime change and proposed a domestic policy based on infrastructural reinvestment, appears to have lost the nomination of his nation's so-called liberal party to Hillary Clinton, who sees spending cuts at home as the easiest way to finance wars abroad.

Earlier today, Jeremy Corbyn, the overwhelmingly popular leader of the UK's Labour Party, lost a no-confidence vote conducted among his own Members of Parliament, retaining support from only 20% of them.

But even though political officials may have lost confidence in Corbyn, the people of the UK apparently still consider him their best bulwark against neoliberal encroachments. According to an instant (and unscientific) poll conducted by The Guardian in the wake of the no-confidence vote, more than 90% of the people who voted to put Corbyn in charge of the Labour Party intend to vote for him again if presented with the opportunity to do so.

For his part, Corbyn has indicated that he will fight to represent the people who put him into his current position of power instead of kowtowing to the MPs who consider him unfit to lead:
I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60% of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.
If Corbyn had to run against likely challenger Angela Eagle today, I don't doubt that Corbyn would win.

But such a vote won't happen until UK officials (in conjunction with their media spokespeople) have had a chance to educate the hoi polloi concerning the dangers posed by Corbyn's leadership. I suspect the process will follow (in broad strokes at least) the outline of what happened in Brazil.

The corporate media of Brazil worked actively to plant seeds of doubt concerning Rousseff's leadership (often by using the airwaves to make staged protests look far more widespread than they were). That campaign to undermine Rousseff was effective enough to shake the confidence of the electorate in the one person in the national government who was working most conspicuously to weed out corporate-sponsored corruption--with the result that the bought-and-paid-for politicians against whom Rousseff fought most fiercely were the ones who ended up in power.

Here in the US, I know plenty of people who see through what MSNBC is doing when it trots out Barney Frank to agree with Chris Matthews about what a tremendous threat Bernie Sanders poses to America's future. But I know plenty more who don't. Even people who fundamentally distrust news broadcasts end up repeating "facts" they "learned" from networks that they consider unreliable.

The media machinery that misrepresented Rousseff in Brazil and Sanders in the U.S. will doubtless give Corbyn the same treatment. I'm already hearing an overlap in the dismissive rhetoric applied to all three figures. Pundits and fellow politicians acknowledge that they are "decent" people, but go on to assert that they lack the fundamental "leadership" qualities necessary to steer their ships of state through the troubled waters ahead. After that grave pronouncement is made, the speaker pauses for a beat to let it sink in before adding something along these lines: "Look, I'm just as committed to breaking out of this neoliberal cycle as anyone else, but the global situation is simply too volatile right now for us to take the drastic steps proposed by Rousseff/Sanders/Corbyn. The only reasonable course of action is for us to temporarily entrust the government to the guidance of a compromise candidate such as Temer/Clinton/Eagle."

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