By Mark Buckley
Currently the foul consciously lying media campaign against Jeremy Corbyn – attempting to portray the most principled lifelong anti-racist and anti-war leader the Labour Party has ever had as a supporter of anti-semitism and terrorism – is demonstrating the truth of Marxism to hundreds of thousands of people.
Every shade of capitalist opinion is joining in this attack.
The BBC, which claims political neutrality is one of the most unrelenting opponents of Corbyn, while the liberal Guardian is one of his most persistent critics. They are united in opposition to him with the Mail, the Express, The Times and the rest.
Any activist who wishes to check it can find that this attack is only in line with the long and contemptible history of bias at the BBC and other media outlets. In the 1926 General Strike the BBC was used as an arm of government to undermine the strike. John Reith, its first managing director wrote in his diaries that the cabinet, “took the view that the cabinet should be able to say ‘we did not commandeer the BBC’ but they know they can trust us not to be really impartial”.
In the miners’ strike of 1984-85, BBC TV showed footage of the battle at the Orgreave coking plant in reverse order, to make it look like the miners had attacked the police and the police had only responded in defence, while omitting coverage of police brutality. In fact, the police initiated the attack.
But outrageous distortion and bias is not solely confined to major strikes. A senior BBC journalist has shown that the BBC had an in-built bias against Catholics during the conflict in the north of Ireland. The BBC is still promoting Enoch Powell’s racist speech, 50 years after the event, refers to Tommy Robinson by his first name, and gives unlimited airtime to Nigel Farage. There is too a long history of vile sexist and misogynistic coverage.
The overwhelming majority of the press in Britain is owned by billionaires, many of them offshore who pay no taxes here. It is easy to see why a Corbyn-led government, with its intentions to clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion would be an anathema to them. They also have a long history of frenzied political opposition to Labour governments, not above completely fictional charges against Labour. More recently, one media outlet suggests 75 per cent of press coverage misrepresents Corbyn. In the current furore around him, is perhaps easy to forget that they overwhelmingly reported that Jeremy Corbyn was a Czech spy, without any evidence whatsoever.
But the BBC is effectively a state broadcaster (whose funding is collected by the state and is frequently altered by the government of the day). What is the material interest of the BBC in their relentless campaign against Corbyn, with admitted cases of distortion and bias?
The answer lies in the BBC’s status as a state broadcaster. Marxists understand that the state, that is coercive arms of the courts, the prisons, the police and the military, as well as its persuasive arm of the BBC, is not a neutral arbiter between contending social forces or classes. The state’s function is to uphold the existing status quo.
It is Marxism which explains the bias of the media, including the BBC against Corbyn. The historical experience shows a repeated pattern of bias and distortion against anyone who represents a challenge to the existing social settlement – that is capitalism. And there are both direct material interests on the part of the newspaper barons to oppose Corbyn as well as their political prejudices, while the BBC has a particular role as an arm of the state to undermine anyone championing progressive change.
It is important to understand these attacks in order to resist them. Marxism is the key to that understanding, and helps to underpin that resistance.
There no accident as to why this anti-Corbyn frenzy arises at this moment. There is a generalised inability of the of the Western economies to deliver increases in living standards – there has been no significant rise in the living standards of the majority of the population for at least a decade. That economic crisis is leading to a political polarisation to both the left and to the right.
Seen in this light the recent developments in British politics, including the rise and slide of UKIP, the hard right turn of the Tory Party, the Brexit vote, the victory of Corbyn in the Labour leadership contests, the increase in racism and the rise of the far right are only a unique combination in this country of general, far wider political developments.
Marxism is the analysis that understands current developments because it begins from the reality that ideas and movements do not fall from heaven, but are a product of the response to economic and social conditions. Political polarisation is to be expected in the current crisis, and should be expected to continue for at least as long as the crisis persists.
Those same objective forces act on all classes, and all institutions and organisations operating in society. But how those forces respond is itself conditioned by which class they are part of, or which class they represent or defend.
The last thing the current frenzied and consciously lying series of attacks on Jeremy Corbyn from across the media wishes to do is to prove Marxism is true. But despite themselves that is just what they are doing.