After carefully summarizing how the British Labor party fell into hands of the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-American, and pro-terrorist Jeremy Corbyn and his followers, Robert Philpot considers the danger that America’s Democrats could be headed toward a similar devolution. For Labor, Philpot shows, the turning point came under the prior leadership of the comparatively more moderate (and Jewish) Edward Miliband, who “abandoned the pro-Israel line that had characterized the premierships of [his predecessors] Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and . . . shifted wholesale into the anti-Israel camp.”
Miliband’s regular attacks on much of the domestic and foreign-policy record of the government of which he had been a member helped give credence to Corbyn’s later rhetorical assault on the Blair years as a triumph for “neoliberal” economics at home and American-led military adventurism overseas. That assault opened the door to the new leadership’s own hard-left alternative agenda and also cast those associated with the former government as complicit in this apparently shocking enterprise. . . .
As Senator Bernie Sanders releases videos labeling Gaza a prison camp and, together with some of his fellow aspirants for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination, shies away from denouncing those in their ranks who propagate nakedly anti-Semitic tropes, some in America have detected the creeping onset of Corbynism. They are right to do so. [In the case of Labor], seemingly marginal figures with views and values far removed from the party’s mainstream were at first ignored, then tolerated, and, finally, legitimized, with devastating consequences. . . .
Wresting Labor back from the grip of the hard left may now be impossible or, at least, a task that will take years to accomplish. The Democrats, however, still have an opportunity to learn from it. First, ignoring or appeasing the views of those who appear to be fringe figures is a dangerous risk. In uncertain political times, and with the opportunities provided by the “alternative” media, marginal individuals can—if they go unchallenged—take their ideas mainstream with far-reaching consequences.
Second, disregarding the hard, unglamorous and largely thankless task of political organizing comes at a huge cost, as Labor moderates have discovered. . . . Third, any critique of the far left or objections to it should be rooted in values and principles and should not be focused solely on electability. The latter critique can, as happened to Corbyn’s critics after [a near-electoral victory] in 2017, fall apart all too quickly.