[Nemequene Tundama is an anti-imperialist activist based in Quito, Ecuador, originally from Muisca Territory in Colombia]
There’s little doubt that Jeremy Corbyn has consistently, more than any other British politician, challenged neoliberal and conservative politics for decades. He has also been known for his tireless anti-war campaigning. Be that as it may, Corbyn’s incredible climb to the leadership of the Labour Party has uncovered a deep rooted disregard for the extent to which Britain’s economy is dependent on the exploitation of the developing world. A flaw that, if left unresolved, could lose him international credibility if he becomes Prime Minister in June.
Corbyn’s popularity with a huge section of the British working class and with left-wing bases has very much to do with a platform that is, on the surface, antithetical to the policies of the governing elite. He could potentially pour huge amounts into health care, tax corporations to fund free education, and increase taxation of the most wealthy. That all sounds brilliant… up until now. From an international perspective one must ask: how will any of this be funded without maintaining Britain’s role in global capitalism?
After all, as British Marxist economist Tony Norfield states, Britain’s economy is maintained through an intricate web of imperialist finances generated by the City of London, with the support of the state of which part is trickled down to all layers of British society. This is not to say that Corbyn has consciously proposed a program based on the exploitation of millions across the globe but that he suffers from first-worldism, the convenient nearsightedness that advances the rights of the disenfranchised and poor working class in the Global North at the expense of the majority of the globe’s population in the Global South.
Corbyn’s proposed increase in taxation of large corporations, for example, is a one ended stick as it does not deal with the fact that many, if not most, of the corporations in question would have made their profits through economic imperialism around the globe. If we take some of the biggest British companies, who already contribute to the British government’s budget – albeit insignificant amounts compared to their profits, we will soon find that their practices around the globe are unacceptable.
The British multinational telecommunications company Vodafone is one of the country’s biggest raking in billions in profits. Corbyn’s platform says nothing of the fact that these billions are made from worldwide exploitation such as Congolese child labour in cobalt supply for portable electronic devices. No, his struggle is not focused on how these corporations make their money but on how they will share the cake with the rest of Britain.
Indeed, Corbyn is personally against military interventions and was even the chair of Stop the War Coalition. Yet, it seems that, like many in the First World, their anti-interventionism is limited to overt military operations – whilst the economic and financial imperialism which is more widespread and goes deeper is left untouched. Even his anti-war stance is questionable since in the bombing of Syria in 2015, where he had the chance to veto Labour members of parliament from voting in favour of the aggression, he chose to give them free votes.
His anti-war stance is not anti-imperialist. It is merely the superficial first-worldist non-violence – which rejects bombs – but welcomes any other means of profiteering from global exploitation. For the working class and the left in Britain, and by extension the rest of the First World, to be taken seriously, they must align their political objectives with the world’s majority. International solidarity through anti-imperialism must be the foundation of all political programs in the 21st century.