We have suggested earlier the emergence of Mr. Corbyn as the new leader of the Labour party is a curious, but not inexplicable development. Obviously it has been the subject of much hilarity among conservatives The technicians at Conservative Central Office- a highly professional group- must be chuckling as they walk along Milbank to the underground on their way home. Their job has seemingly become much easier.
But they should not get too confident. They still have work to do. Assuming that Mr. Corbyn is not soon sent packing by his front bench, he poses the conservatives with a new challenge, or rather with an old challenge that they once understood, but which they have forgotten how to meet.
We have become so used to public relations men, spin doctors, and focus groups dominating politics that we have lost touch with the idea that politics is about competing visions of how society should be organised. It is to Mr. Corbyn’s very great credit, that he, unlike Tony Blair, understands this. Mr. Corbyn’s ideas may have emerged from a remote period of intellectual history, but there can be no doubt that he does genuinely believe them, and is keen to fight for his own brand of Jurassic Park unreconstructed socialism. He really does want to bring back British Railways. And the trouble is that after, however many years it is of state education, twenty or thirty percent of the population shares his delusions.
While the chances of converting Jeremy’s true believers and the “occupy movement” ( which has recently become active in Dublin ) are not good, the Conservative Party and perhaps others are going to have to convince the rest of the electorate- ie the seventy percent who are in touch with reality- that Mr. Corbyn’s ideas are seriously held, and would do deep damage to the British economy if put into practice ( as well as creating a property boom in Dublin 4 but that is another story).
The only way of alerting the electorate to the danger is by an intense campaign over the next five years of political and economic education. The BBC and the state schools will doing all they can to make matters worse. The Conservative Party must act, and it must act now. The case against socialism must be made. The only effective way of doing this is through the well understood machinery of spreading ideas- conferences, summer schools, seminars, debates, and yes, all that social media stuff that I do not ( yet) fully understand. But the important thing to do is get on with it. Several education officers, with doctorates need to be appointed in short order, even if it means doing a little less market research. If such action is not taken Mr. Corbyn’s ideas may well start leaking out into the mainstream like acid from a dud battery. But they could a lot more damage than a rogue A4.
As our contribution to this effort we will shortly be publishing an important and timely article about some the nineteenth century critics of socialism by our friend Philip Van der Elst. It deserves to be widely read, as it has never been more important to inject the ideas of economic liberalism into our culture. Fine though it is Mr. Vander Elst’s article is not exhaustive. In order to the better demonstrate to richness of the anti- socialist tradition we have illustrated this post with book covers of three twentieth century works of the same kind – obviously NOT treated by Mr. Vander Elst!