If Twitter had existed in the 1980s when I was a teenager, then I could look forward to being purged from the Labour party in the United Kingdom. After all, I wasn’t just a Trotskyite – I was a full-blown Marxist-Leninist member of KPML(r) youth wing who thought that the critique against the Soviet Union was mostly Capitalist propaganda aimed to undermine a people’s revolution.
One can only see what happened to Mhairi Black, the young Member of Parliament for the Scottish National Party, whose teenage tweeting was taken as proof positive of a sinister disposition in the Scottish and national UK media. What hope then for the fourteen year old me who marched for revolutionary communism to wash away the evils of capitalism?
Many, many spurious exclusions have occurred in the current Labour leadership contest that’s ever stranger than my theoretical expulsion and Mhairi Black’s real conflict. I’m lucky Twitter didn’t exist back then, or my current middling libertarian social democratic opinions would be awash with a piquant edge of uncompromising revolutionary Marxist-Leninist communism.
But then, as an exchange I had with a fellow in England, I’m suspect anyway of being a capitalist stooge, because I don’t celebrate the rise of Jeremy Corbyn. In 1989 my political world fell apart and I had to go on a grand-tour of the former Warzaw pact countries just to see what it was that I had supported. The trip began in Berlin just after the wall fell, and then went through Poland and the Baltics to St Petersburgh. It was an inoculation against what I had believed before.
My reasons for not trusting in the Corbz are simple enough. At the outset, I’m sceptical because of my history. Then, I don’t support him simply because it’s none of my business as a Swede to campaign for the political leadership of someone in another country. Second, let’s face it, Corbyn isn’t exactly the most competent or engaging politician around.
Funnily, that doubt would probably save me had I been a member of the UK Labour party. My fourteen year old me marching to end capitalism and have a communist revolution not-withstanding. The convulsions in the UK labour party does not, from afar, seem like a competition of ideas but of tribes.
Neither of the tribes have any idea about how to win an election and to get a mandate for the change that is needed. Neither of the tribes have evidentiary schematics beyond empty slogans for what they want to do. And without that, all there is, is to look through social media to exclude people for tribal reasons, or to flood non-Corbyn supporters with intemperate admonitions.
Today the UK Labour leadership contest ended. Voting closed. Jeremy Corbyn will win, but the war between the tribes will go on. Instead of a battle of ideas to improve people’s lives, it will continue to be an introspective struggle to enlarge or diminish tribes. In the meanwhile, I suspect that folks who aren’t anoraks will throw up their hands and go look for something else. That something else won’t always be as nice and down-to-earth as a jam-making geography teacher from Islington North.