British politics has been moving at a staggering pace in the last few weeks. As if the resignation of David Cameron, swiftly followed by arguably the weirdest leadership election in Conservative Party history weren’t dramatic enough, a section of Labour Party MPs chose this extraordinary moment to attempt to topple Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. Led by members of the shadow cabinet, they instigated a planned coup attempt against him, beginning with a strategic series of resignations from people who by and large had never supported the leadership. Once it became clear that this was not going to force Corbyn to resign, Angela Eagle launched a formal leadership bid, quickly followed by Owen Smith, who eventually knocked Eagle out of the race. As we enter a fresh leadership election, it is worth considering the question: what is at stake here?
Corbyn: Against All Odds presents a new essay from Richard Seymour, in which he examines this bizarre, and thus-far unsuccessful, coup attempt, and attempts to outline Corbyn’s prospects in such unpredictable and turbulent times, alongside an extract from his new book Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics.
The Belgian philosopher Chantal Mouffe — a thinker who inspires French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon — defended her project in a column appearing in the 15 April edition of Le Monde. Translated by David Broder.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s breakthrough into third place in the presidential polls has unleashed a campaign by defenders of the status quo trying to pass him off as a "communist revolutionary." After long having dismissed Mélenchon, part of the press is now working to destroy the credibility of his programme, presented as the "cloud-cuckoo-land plans of the French Chávez."
Painted as a dangerous extremist, Jean-Luc Mélenchon is attacked by all those who think that there is no alternative to neoliberal globalisation. For them, democracy requires acceptance of the "post-political consensus" established among the centre-left and centre-right parties. Any questioning of this consensus must be the work of populist demagogues.
Verso Books is a proud Co-Sponsor of this year’s Historical Materialism New York Conference: “Resurgent Radicalisms in a Polarizing World.” The conference will be held April 21-23 at NYU and will bring together hundreds of radical scholars in conversation and debate on some of the most pressing questions posed today by social movements and Marxist theory. More information about the location and registration is available here.
From the 27 January edition of Daniel Mermet’s Là-bas si j’y suis. Translated by David Broder. Based on French transcript.
Frédéric Lordon: Well, the upcoming elections… There is something weird. For me, the prospect of this election awakens very mixed feelings. Very contradictory feelings.
I should say that as the years have come and gone — and it is a while since I stopped voting — I have truly come to consider the Fifth Republic’s institutions’ electoral pantomime as something empty, a dead end.
And from a certain point of view, what happened with Nuit Debout was the expression of this same frame of mind. Playing the game within these institutions is either a game lost in advance, or an entirely senseless one. And the only political question…