The Levellers have recently taken on a sudden political topicality. First, Theresa May accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of being a Leveller, and then UKIP's only MP Douglas Carswell attempted to claim the Levellers for the populist right. How can we situate the legacy and contemporary relevance of the Levellers?
In this piece John Rees, author of the recently published The Leveller Revolution, looks at the history of this 400 year old political insult.
The Leveller Revolution is currently 50% off as part of our end-of-year sale, with free shipping.
Jeremy Corbyn and Tony Benn (centre) with John Rees and Cllr Rania Khan at the unveiling of the plaque to Leveller Thomas Rainsborough in Wapping, 2013.
This discussion between Nancy Fraser and Andrew Arato, Dorothy Hart Hirshon Professor of Political and Social Theory at the New School, first appeared at Public Seminar.
Andrew Arato: Nancy we have had a conversation about the elections a week ago in Great Evremond, Mass, and one thing you said really struck me. If I can paraphrase you, you said something like ” the worst thing about this election is that because of Trump’s wild claims and assertions, and the attacks that focus on these, we are now completely neglecting the genuine issues that have merged with his candidacy, and with that of Sanders previously. What exactly did you have in mind? Can you outline what these issues are or were?
Nancy Fraser: Yes, you’ve captured my point exactly. I am struck by the sharp contrast between the invigorating debates of the primary season, which challenged the reigning neoliberal commonsense, and the lockstep moralizing of the present, which has shut down all such questioning under the guise of the need to combat the “grave danger” represented by Trump. I find this both demoralizing and infuriating.
Jeremy Corbyn has, once again, emerged victorioius from a Labour leadership contest, but in the weeks since a number of his decisions have risked alienating his support-base.
What do the confusions over his policies on immigration and his recent decision to speak at the Stand Up To Racism event say for the future of Corbynism as a social movement? In this essay Nick Srnicek, co-author of Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work, analyses Corbyn's leadership not, as most have, with an eye to his critics on the right, but from the left.
"With the election of Corbyn, a new opportunity arises for a historic re-engagement with an ambitious politics across the Left in the UK" - Alex Williams, co-author of Inventing the Future, looks at how the the politics of Corbynism can genuinely create transformative change.
This essay is taken from our ebook collection, Corbyn and the Future of Labour - free to download, with contributions from Tariq Ali, Rachel Shabi, George Monbiot, Richard Seymour, Hilary Wainwright, and more.