David Garcia on Sun, 30 Aug 2015 19:08:20 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Corbyn as a medium is the message

Corbyn the Medium is the Message- A Thought Experiment 

Partly in response to Alex Foti’s -rallying cry- posted this morning I thought it might
be useful to indulge in the thought experiment by imagining that something hopeful may be 
happening in Britain. 

Obviously I mean the astonishing success of Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for the leadership of the 
UK Labor party. It is movement that came from nowhere and took every one by surprise including Corbyn 
himself.  And as he was slipped in by the westminster power brokers at the last moment merely to ensure a 
broad debate its a “gold-plated” example of the law of unintended consequences . So his rise to prominance is a 
slap in the face for the deterministic calculous that is the bread and butter of party politics as usual.  
It is the non-deterministic dimension the Corbyn wave is as much a part of his appeal as his actual policies. 
Corbyn is a true Black Swan moment. And I wonder if he knows it. 

In the parliamentary Labor party (not the wider membership in the country) consternation reigns 
as the called “big beasts” of the party line up to declare his victory would be the equivalent to driving 
the party over cliff. Not only Blaire but Brown and Kinnock all of them see him as a statist throw back. 
Even leftist commentators such as the Guardian’s Poly Toynbee are struggling to come to terms with the 
fact that he is clearly going to win. 

Yesterday on a well known radio show Toynbee tried to press him to assure 
listeners that if it became clear (by opinion polls I assume) he was 
“dragging the party down” he would resign. A ridiculous request for someone who 
is yet to win his own party’s support, and a craven approach to instituting the 
transformation that Toybee must know is required and presumably still believes in..    

This morning in a newspaper article Tony Blaire made a last gasp appeal to 
preserve some shred of the New Labor project, urging those planning to vote for 
Corbyn to come to their senses. It was a strange article laced as it was with the clear 
understanding that no one is listening. At one point he declares that he "just doesnt get it”. He is 
of course right, he doesn’t. But -and here’s the thing- I have a weird sense that Corbyn doesnt entirely
 -get it- either. 

Watching Corbyn in action (and the action around him-like kids climbing through windows when denied 
access to his meetings). I have the feeling of someone surfing a much bigger wave than he understands 
or that his current agenda allows for. And I want to take this as a hopeful sign. His appeal may be as much 
about the possibility for radical transformation as the substantive content of his speeches. Its as though Corbyn 
as a medium is the message. 

And as his approach to manifesto development promises to be far more inclusive than the "tablets handed down 
from "on high” approach of recent decades which the -cult of leadership-in party politics seems to demand. 
Blaire and Mandleson called it "party discipline". Above all it was politics as a proffession. Corbyn’s aproach appears 
to allow for a much needed dose of amateurism and a degree of openness that suggests that what emerges after he 
wins the leadership may help to redefine what leadership in party politics means. This makes the campaign feel very 
different from the proffessional political operators of the SNP to whom the Corbym movement is often compared. 

Although the clarity of Corbyn's values means he can speak plainly and well, avoiding the tortured Bermuda-triangulations 
of Milliband and the current crop of candidates.. His style is nevertheless studiously anti-charismatic and so maybe better 
suited to the networked era’s suspicion of leaders in general and the cult of leadership.  Rather than traditional leadership 
there is a longing for a process of orchestration or what Paolo Gerbaudo has called -emotional choreography- Who knows
whether this is what Corbyn is offering.  And so when he wins the possibility arises, for the first time in a long time, for a 
transformation of the political dynamic of Britain as a whole. (I warned you this is a thought exeriment)


d a v i d  g a r c i a

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