Corbynism: A Critical Approach

Matt Bolton
University of Roehampton, UK

Frederick Harry Pitts
University of Bristol, UK

Product Details
24 Sep 2018
Emerald Publishing Limited
368 pages - 129 x 198mm
From the moment Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader, Corbynism has been dismissed, derided or romanticised, but rarely taken seriously as a set of ideas on its own terms. This book critically outlines the shared understanding of capitalism and its alternatives that unites the component parts of the Corbyn movement. It decodes the central tenets of the Corbynist worldview, showing their coherence with contemporary political-economic shifts and conspiratorial understandings of global capitalism as a 'rigged system' common to populist nativism in an age of Trump and Brexit.
Introduction: Taking Corbynism Seriously
Chapter 1. Explaining 2017: The Strange Death of the Deficit
Chapter 2. Taking Back Control: From Bennism to Corbynism
Chapter 3. The Rigged Economy? Capitalism and Conspiracy Theory
Chapter 4. The Making of a Saint: Corbynism as Moral Community
Chapter 5. International Corbynism: Nation, State and People
Conclusion: A Critical Marxist Alternative
Matt Bolton is a postgraduate researcher in Philosophy at the University of Roehampton, UK.
Frederick Harry Pitts is Lecturer in Management at the University of Bristol, UK. He is the author of Critiquing Capitalism Today: New Ways to Read Marx.
"Using Marxist critical theory, this timely and courageous book analyses Corbyn's left populism as significantly diverging from the key traditions of the class struggle and democratic left."  - Dr David Hirsh, Goldsmiths - University of London

"This book is much needed . . . it cuts through the fog of uncritical adulation

and unthinking hostility toward Jeremy Corbyn to shine a light on the origins

and dynamics of this often misunderstood part of modern British politics." - Professor Paul Thompson, University of Stirling

'In Corbynism: A Critical Approach Bolton and Pitts have produced the most thorough and alarming overview of the Corbyn worldview to date….Corbynism: A Critical Approach, is the best book on the phenomenon of Corbynism by some distance because it slots the movement firmly within this camp of moralising and intolerant populism. In doing so it ought to free up space on the broader Left for a more critical approach to the Corbyn project, not least because it is written by two activists who have by their own admission long-yearned for “the Left to take the reins.' - James Bloodworth, Unherd

'In a fascinating critique from the anti-capitalist left, Matt Bolton and Frederick Harry Pitts argue that Corbynism’s big move is away from seeing capitalism as a system with its own unalterable dynamics, compelling all within it to operate according to its own logic, to seeing its cruelties instead as the work of malign individuals.' - Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian

'A fascinating new book, Corbynism: A Critical Approach, by two Marxist academics, Matt Bolton and Frederick Harry Pitts, argues that Mr Corbyn’s brand of socialism is a breeding ground for conspiracy theories. The essence of Corbynism is the belief that a “cosy cartel” of capitalists have constructed a “rigged system” for their own benefit.' - Bagehot, The Economist

'Anyone who wants to understand what a Corbyn government would be like might be better off studying the movement, rather than the man. Corbynism: A Critical Approach, a recent study by Matt Bolton and Frederick Harry Pitts, both former Corbynistas steeped in leftwing thought, provides several interesting insights. The authors argue convincingly that the Labour leader’s image as a moral paragon has been crucial to his rise — as has the argument that “Jeremy” has always been on the right side of history.' - Gideon Rachman, The Financial Times

'Matt Bolton and Frederick Harry Pitts’ Corbynism: A Critical Approach is a rare left-wing critique by authors who are virtual Marxists. Inevitably, it has been all but ignored, which is a fault that needs remedying as this rich and urgent work deserves better than that…Bolton and Pitts’ are worth reading because theirs is an explanation not just of the Corbyn Labour party but of the post-crash West.' - Nick Cohen, The Spectator

'Jeremy Corbyn…He really means it. His position is ideological and you have to understand his ideology. A recent book, Corbynism: A Critical Approach by Matt Bolton and Frederick Harry Pitts, makes this effort. The authors are two Marxist academics who argue that Mr Corbyn’s view of the single market is an expression of his particular brand of socialism…It is not, however, necessary to have an opinion on this to grasp the authors’ central and powerful point. Corbynism, they suggest, is a version of socialism derived from one understanding of Marx in which the role of class is replaced by “the elite” and “the people.' - Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

'In a recent book ostensibly focused on Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party, but partly about recent British political history, the academics Matt Bolton and Frederick Harry Pitts explain the last decade in terms of “austerity populism”. Cuts, welfare crackdowns and the case for leave, they explain, were all sold to the public via the exclusion of supposedly unproductive undesirables: “scroungers” in the austerity narrative; “migrants” in the stories that swirled around the 2016 referendum.' - John Harris, The Guardian

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