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Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics

Jeremy Corbyn, the radical left candidate for the Labour leadership, won—and won big
With a landslide in the first round, this unassuming antiwar socialist crushed the opposition, dealing a huge blow to the Blairite opposition. For the first time in decades, socialism is back on the agenda—and for the first time in Labour’s history, it defines the leadership.

This book tells the story of how Corbyn’s rise was made possible by the long decline of Labour and a deep crisis in British democracy. It surveys the makeshift coalition of trade unionists, young and precarious workers, and students who rallied to Corbyn. It shows how a novel social media campaign turned the media’s “Project Fear” on its head, making a virtue of every accusation thrown at him. And finally it asks, with all the artillery that is still ranged against Corbyn, and given the crisis-ridden Labour Party that he has inherited, what it would mean for him to succeed.

Reviews

  • “Richard Seymour has a brilliant mind and a compelling style. Everything he writes is worth reading.”
  • “One of our most astute political analysts turns his attention to Corbyn, and the result is predictably essential: not just to make sense of how we got to this unlikely situation, but for his thoughts on what the left might do next”
  • “Seymour is an essential voice on the left, and this book is a necessary intervention, explaining this daunting political moment and bringing the focus back to strategy. Not so much a call to arms as a call to brains.”
  • “No one writes about politics the way Richard Seymour does. He takes a very British story of the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, with all its peculiarities and details, and turns it into a revelation of the international crisis of parliamentary democracy. Whether you love Corbyn -- or Sanders or Podemos or Syriza -- or loathe him (and them), you'll find here the most sophisticated diagnosis of why men and women across the globe are turning to the left and why their aspirations are so continuously being frustrated. Seymour is a magnificent explainer: pointed without being pedantic, funny with out being flip, and always insisting that we take in the whole.”
  • “The Anglophone left has been cheered by the surprising rise of Bernie Sanders in the U.S. and Jeremy Corbyn in Britain. Richard Seymour's elegantly written book is a reminder of all the obstacles facing Corbyn. Even if you're not as pessimistic as Seymour about his prospects, you really need to pay attention to this critique. It will make you a better fighter of the necessary class war.”
  • “Long after the Labour left was thought to be dead, Jeremy Corbyn's emergence has inspired millions. There is no one better positioned than Richard Seymour to take a look at his emergence and whether Corbyn can actually turn Labour into a force for radical change.”
  • Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics is the fullest and fairest account of Jeremy Corbyn’s rise released to date. In avoiding much of the rhetoric espoused in similar accounts focusing on Corbyn’s early career this book provides a frank account of how the unlikely leader took charge of the Labour party. It is a very readable account too. Richard Seymour writes plainly but effectively and his writing is both accessible and incredibly informative.”
  • “Richard Seymour's Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics not only shows how, amid Labour Party decline, Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters challenged the neoliberal consensus, but also considers the possibility of success and what form that might take.”
  • “Laser-sharp analysis of British 'Labourism' and its contradictions... This book is terrifically astute”
  • Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics is the first serious analysis of Jeremy Corbyn's unexpected ascent.”
  • “A must-read for militants inside and outside the Labour Party.”
  • Corbyn is not about Corbyn in much the same way that Richard Seymour’s earlier and much shorter book, The Meaning of David Cameron, wasn’t really about its eponymous anti-hero. Rather it is an analysis – and an astute one – of the socio-political conditions which have given rise to Corbynism, its future prospects and the substantial obstacles it will inevitably face.”
  • “The best, and the definitive, account of what Corbyn’s victory the first time round meant. One year on the essential summer 2016 read.”
  • “A brilliant and incisive analysis by a long-term watcher of the party.”
  • “It is a point of contention whether the politics represented by Jeremy Corbyn offers a pathway out of the crisis or we are instead witnessing the last hurrah of Britain’s harried and diminished workers’ movement. That is one of the questions Richard Seymour tries to answer in his excellent new book…Seymour’s analysis remains indispensable”
  • “The finest study of Corbyn yet written”
  • “A witty and acute political and historical analysis from a position to the left of Corbyn...Seymour is utterly unsentimental in his analysis.”

Blog

  • Emmanuel Macron, spasm of the system

    First published in Le Monde Diplomatique. Translated by David Broder.



    "I'm going to be very clear..." Probably ignorant of the basic logics of the symptom, Emmanuel Macron seems unable to see how this repetitive way of starting each of his answers betrays the deep desire to cover things up — or rather, to recover them — that animates his whole campaign. "Keep on bathing between vagueness and nothingness" — that is what we should take from each of his promises of clarity. In his defence, we will admit that deferring to the obligation to speak when one's intention is to say nothing at all is one of the curses of this "democracy" that we have still found no satisfactory antidote for. Some will object that most of the candidates end up accommodating to this long and difficult moment — a moment one simply has to go through — and that the campaign-season fib is a well-established genre which should no longer be able to surprise anyone. For Macron, however, the problem takes on unprecedented proportions: not just a matter of slipping across a couple of whoppers, even of the calibre of "my enemy is finance" [as François Hollande claimed before his election in 2012]: rather, his entire campaign, and even his very persona as a candidate, constitute an essentially fraudulent enterprise.

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  • The Windows of History

    First published in Le Monde Diplomatique. Translated by David Broder. 


    Mélenchon rally, Lyon, February 2017. 

    1. In the so-called "democratic" era, a system of domination is a paradoxical creature. It categorically refuses to recognise its own systemic character, precisely because this era purports to be "democratic." However, even to begin to challenge its vital interests immediately reduces this playacting to nothing, making its systemic character manifest again. Indeed, so much is this system a system, that it comes out of the register of denial only in order to fall into a register of hysteria. As soon as Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s presidential bid became a serious possibility, leaving behind his outlandish fringe-candidate status, all the pretenses of upholding democracy, all the restraints of reasonable objectivity, instantly collapsed, ultimately allowing the system’s true face to come to light: furious, and of one mind.

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  • Mélenchon: a vote to prompt the future

    Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon’s campaign is now at an impasse, because he couldn’t see that the neoliberal fox would refuse to accommodate to the socialist hen, while Mélenchon takes an opposing strategy, write Cédric Durand and Razmig Keucheyan. First published in Libération. Translated by David Broder.



    Elections were for long time rather boring. Carried forth by a liberal wind, there was a seamless exchange of office between the self-assured Right and the lightweight Left — these wholehearted converts to market modernisation — in the eternal present of capitalism. Capitalism had been made master of a globalised space and a financialised time. Endemic unemployment, consumerist exultation and terrorist/criminal horror made up the three dramatic extremes of a little game buzzing along, spiced up only by the candidates’ antics or the scenes made by betrayed friends.

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Other books by Richard Seymour