Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally. Photo: David Bailey Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally. Photo: David Bailey

We need an explicitly anti-capitalist left to fight back against the centre’s assault which is paving the way for an emboldened radical right, argues Kevin Ovenden

What is happening in Britain right now is the construction of its political system’s version of the “theory of the twin extremes”.

That is that the radical left and far right are twin dangers, two peas in a pod, to be confronted by the official political system and a centre that goes from centre left through liberalism to the Tory party in its majority.

This is backed by the entire daily press with the exception of the Morning Star newspaper.

Outrageously, and most in need of refutation, is the claim that has been allowed to gain ground that the left has its racism problem in just the way the right has its.

This is why there has to be the most energetic fight to defend Corbyn and also to confront the politics of this and the substantive mendacious arguments.

If that does not happen, then it is not just that the left suffers as a whole. It is that the right and far right gain – incredibly, over the public understanding of what is racism and who is responsible.

I’m not conjecturing here. Look at France where the radical left has been falsely accused of antisemitism. The result is more racism from the governing centre and a boost to Le Pen.

Look at Greece where the twin extremes theory was deployed to stop Syriza gaining first place and the advance of the radical left in 2012. It also resulted in the boost for Golden Dawn.

This is about much more than supposed tactics. It is about the strategy of the fighting left and whether it is going to fight to expand a radical left space or suffer moral and political defeat by being absorbed back into the social-democratic centre as if the key moments of the last two decades since the Battle of Seattle never took place.

If a big battle is not given, it will not stop here. We already see attempts by Tory ministers to delegitimise anti-capitalism and moot legal action on that basis. Trailed over the last four years has been the false claim (itself resting upon an antisemitic construction of Jewish communities and of capitalism) that anti-capitalism is antisemitic.

This is on both sides of the Atlantic. For those who want to abandon anti-capitalism in favour of Democrat or Labour electoralism that might not seem a problem. But even that and they will be hit by this.

That is what is at stake. And it will increase this time next week whatever the outcome of the US election.

Its organisational shape is yet to be determined, but we need an explicitly anti-capitalist left. That is also an anti-imperialist left. Look carefully at major commentators of the liberal centre. They are already saying that anti-imperialism is anti-semitism.

This is assisted by some foolish people who put their antagonism with parts of the left above understanding what the direction is here.

The centre and its assault on the fighting left is paving the way for an emboldened radical right. It is not some pragmatic path to the electoral success of the centre left.

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Kevin Ovenden

Kevin Ovenden is a progressive journalist who has followed politics and social movements for 25 years. He is a leading activist in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, led five successful aid convoys to break the siege on Gaza, and was aboard the Mavi Marmara aid ship when Israeli commandoes boarded it killing 10 people in May 2010. He is author of Syriza: Inside the Labyrinth.