Jeremy Corbyn: A libertarian view

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With staunchly left-wing candidate, Jeremy Corbyn increasing his lead in the polls, it looks likely that he will become the next leader of the Labour party. Not many would have predicted Corbyn’s rise to the top of the Labour party; just over a month ago bookmakers had Corbyn at 100-1 to win the leadership election, however he is now the strong favourite to take the role. The initial reaction of a typical libertarian is to face-palm and cry out “Socialism does NOT work!” However, upon further analysis, he does share some similarities with libertarians. and a Jeremy Corbyn leadership of the Labour Party may not actually be a bad thing.

Firstly, unlike the vast majority of politicians, he seems to be a decent and honest man who has a strong set of principles.  Regardless of whether you agree with his principles or not, it is refreshing to see a politician with a strong set of beliefs that he passionately believes in, and who speaks like a human being, not like a politician that has a strict team of campaign advisors rehearsing every sentence. Unlike most politicians, Corbyn does not shape his policies by toeing the party line, or by wetting his finger to see which way the wind of public opinion is blowing. He believes in his ideology, and the establishment hate him for it. The powers that be within the Labour party are desperate for Corbyn to not become leader. According to Tony Blair, the Labour party faces “annihilation” if Corbyn wins leadership; similarly Alastair Campbell has called upon voters to choose “anyone but Corbyn.” There is a resistance to Corbyn by the status quo, which libertarians can emphasise with.

Secondly, putting aside Corbyn’s disastrous economic policy, there is some common ground with libertarians. Corbyn follows a relatively non-interventionist foreign policy – he was passionately opposed to the Iraq war, and is against the idea of Britain doing whatever the U.S. asks it to. However, Corbyn does seem a little bit too friendly towards Hamas, unlike Libertarians who remain neutral towards both sides. Corbyn is also a Eurosceptic and has refused to rule out campaigning to take the UK out of the EU. Most libertarians see the EU as corporatist and undemocratic, and the left are finally beginning to agree. Corbyn has also pledged to cut taxes for small businesses, and has rallied against corporatism – the unity between the state and corporations.

Lastly, one of the most exciting prospects of a Corbyn Labour leadership, in my opinion, is the potential of a mainstream public debate over Socialism vs. Capitalism. Rather than the blandness of ‘he said, she said’ party politics that we usually see today, we would have an actual philosophical debate over the flaws and merits of both systems. See for example this Oxford university debate between Corbyn and Daniel Hannan about whether or not Socialism works: