Linked with our presentation of Jeremy Corbyn – England.
An Interview with Jeremy Corbyn for Al-Ahram on February 5, 2004, by Ian Douglas:
What is the importance, or potential, of the WSF?
Corbyn: It has brought together people of a diversity of social movements to give themselves increased strength. Dalit people meeting up with forest peoples from parts of India, meeting up with campaigns from other parts of the world, has got to be strengthening. Secondly, it brings together a political tradition of the progressive green and left parties from around the world with all these singularistic campaigns, and I think it is from this that the kernel of quite an effective political force on general issues in the future — such as opposition to war and for a fair world trade system — will emerge. So I’m quite excited by it all.
What do you think of the split between the WSF and the Mumbai Resistance, with the latter’s critique of established NGOs?
Corbyn: There are people who have been to both the WSF and the Mumbai Resistance activity — Arundhati Roy, for example, went to both. There are NGOs here, some of which are Western funded. There are people from the West here.
But I think that one should remember that this is a Third World-led organisation, a Southern-led organisation, and one hopes it’s going to remain that way. There is a need for solidarity between protest movements, anti-globalisation movements in the Southern countries, with working class and progressive organisations in North America and Western Europe.
The poor in the United States have everything to gain from linking up with anti-globalisation movements around the world.
Do you think that globalisation is inexorable?
Corbyn: I think global communications are inevitable and important. But what is equally important is to remember that the planet seems very good at telling each other what’s going on, sort of, through mass media, and having wars to protect existing political power structures, but not very good at distributing wealth or protecting the environment.
Yes, globalisation in the sense of sharing knowledge, information, and so on, is inevitable; but a globalisation which is a minority of global corporations getting economic power over the whole globe, that is not inevitable, and that’s why we’re here — to oppose that.
I think the whole Iraq experience, and the first global anti-war movement, is a sign for the future. The US and Britain will be far less keen to go chasing after another war somewhere else having gone through the political pain of this one. So we’ve already had an effect.
But the fallout has been minimal. Few have resigned, and governments have not yet fallen over this issue.
Corbyn: I agree. Obviously, I wish it were different. I think, however, that what happened last year might help to prevent George Bush doing a tick-box down the axis of evil and starting a war somewhere else. It certainly has hastened the day for the withdrawal of British and American forces. And whilst Blair might manage to persuade some countries to send troops into Iraq I suspect they won’t stay there very long. No country is going to happily see its soldiers die for a lack of security in Iraq that was created by a US greed for oil and military power in the first place.
As a world social movement, should we focus on the regional level (for instance, Iraq, Palestine, Tibet, etc), or the local level (in developing countries, for instance, focussing on how people can put food on their tables with consistent regularity)?
Corbyn: I think it’s a false choice because one actually leads to the other. The anti-war movement has led to a greater understanding than I’ve ever known before among people in Western Europe and North America of the global issues, the global dynamic — the global power of world trade and of global corporations. Clearly, if the world can afford to go to war in Iraq the world can afford to treat AIDS sufferers and can afford to put food on everybody’s plate. But you can’t do both. And that’s the choice that has to be made.