In 1993 I was in the US to look at the state of the country after ten years of neoliberal policies, as well as the position of the left in American politics. On that subject, I also had a meeting with the only independent member of the House of Representatives, Bernie Sanders. In the meantime he’s joined the Democratic Party and is creating a furore with his clear, left language. Mrs. Clinton’s pretty nervous about that.
By Jan Marijnissen
The leading lights in the British Labour Party have also grown nervous following Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in the leadership election with almost 60% of the votes. The SP has always had a lot of contact with left-wing people inside the Labour Party, people like Dennis Skinner, Ken Livingstone and Tony Benn, who in 1997 wrote a review of ‘Enough, a socialist bites back’, an English-language translation of Tegenstemmen. His review started: ‘This is by far the best book about socialism that I have read for ten years or more,’ and closed with: ‘Above all this book will give hope – at the moment we need it most.’
That was almost twenty years ago. Tony died last year, sadly, and at that time, during the high tide of neoliberalism, I could never have expected that the left would now be on the rise: already for some time in South America, in Spain with Podemos, with Sanders and Corbyn in the English-speaking countries, and in Greece under the leadership of Alexis Tsipras.
Just for a short time the right-wing powers in the birthplace of democracy thought that they could win the elections of 20th September, but this proved an idle hope. Syriza came out far and away the biggest party with 35.5% of the votes – around one in every three.
Insight, militancy and courage: these are the ingredients for the left’s success: realism for the present and optimism for the future.