What is Corbynomics?

Very good article in the Guardian by Zoe Williams, ridiculing opposition to Corbyn’s call for ‘people’s quantitative easing’ after the magic-money tree at the Bank of England spent £375bn driving up asset prices. QE as a way of building socially needed infrastructure might be muddled but isn’t nearly as outrageous as the credit already pumped into the system to stave off collapse.

But what is Corbynomics? It seems to be a mixture of fairly mild and long-standing leftish commitments (public ownership of rail and utilities), Keynesianism, and the redistributive demands of the tax-justice people. The particular positions he has taken are infinitely less important, of course, than his effect in releasing political energy on the left and in the Labour Party. Still, it is worth noting that the 1945 government was more radical on nationalisation, and in its own quite different way, the Alternative Economic Strategy (AES) of the 1970s was more radical still. Both envisaged steps to change the economic structure, to democratize the economy. Corbyn was a supporter of the AES as was MacDonnell, but as yet there is no sign of a larger vision, one that puts particular reforms in context, that speaks to a contemporary idea of socialism. There isn’t yet  a Corbynomics.

That probably doesn’t matter right now but it will, and soon. The political energy Corbyn has released will need to take shape, to coalesce around a more or less coherent project for more far-reaching change than implied by anti-austerity. It has to be pro-something. The worst thing that could happen is for anti-austerity to get bogged down in blind-alley defensive struggles – ‘no cuts’!

Corbyn needs the economists he has brought in, and tax-justice campaigners like Richard Murphy, but most of all he needs the people he has attracted to think beyond ‘policies’ to what they want out of politics and how to get it.

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