Saturday, 23 October 2010

Economic S&M.

The Safeword is Class.

The man in the picture above should look familiar, not only because it's a portrait of King William IV, but because David Cameron is descendant of William IV and his mistress Dorothea Jordan. So on top of a family of stockbrokers worth millions Cameron is "blessed" with blood that links him to the dysfunctional gene-pool of Buckingham Palace and the family values of Henry VIII. Though Cameron's ancestry came in handy when he was looking to find work at the Conservative Research Department. The rest of the cabinet are predominantly rich, white and male as well as being part of the Old Boy Network. So we should not be surprised by the aggression of this government, as seen in the Spending Review, towards the remnants of social democracy. But now the Con-Dem Coalition has finally stepped out of the darkness for us to behold in all of it's hypocritical and decadent splendor.

The Spending Review was delivered by George Osborne and was greeted with a demonstration in Whitehall, organised by many groups and political parties united under the grass-roots umbrella organisation the Coalition of Resistance. Students marched against the Browne review and the massive rise in tuition fees that would result from it. Trade unions marched against job cuts, potential declines in safety standards and increases in work hours. One of the slogan of the march was "Can't Pay, Won't Pay" which is an allusion to a play by Dario Fo and to the poll tax riots of 1990, which helped topple the Iron Lady. Naturally the media largely ignored the march and only commented with contempt. ITV News claimed that only 200 people were at the demonstration in Whitehall, whilst it looked to people who were there that there may have been as many as 3,000 people. Jesse Jackson and Tony Benn gave speeches at the demonstration, along with Bob Crow and Caroline Lucas.

The prescription of savage cuts has been referred to as economic masochism, the problem with that is it still assumes George Osborne, the artful oik, was being truthful when he said "We're all in this together." Economic sadism would be a much fairer characterisation as the pain is not self-inflicted by the masses. £7 billion in cuts to benefits, specifically income replacement benefits, which will hit the dole queue of disabled people, single-mums and low-earners hard. Of course, the bankers will get the £7 billion in bonuses this year because we can't have a few white-collar coke heads living off of cat food now can we? You can forget about collecting the £100 billion in taxes that escapes the Inland Revenue every year. Let alone touching the £4 trillion accumulated in paintings, antiques and pensions by the richest 10% of Brits. Instead we're looking at a VAT hike, a laughable levy on the banks and a hefty dose of austerity.

The Tory on Top.

There is a context to the current state of affairs, for just over 30 years the orthodoxy of politics and economics has been Thatcherite in character. Thatcherism could be summed up as a cocktail of monetarist economics, business-orientated individualism and Victorian moralising - on top of a passionate hatred of all things unionised and European. Cameron and Osborne, just like Blair and Brown before them, are thoroughly dedicated to the doctrines of Thatcherism. It's a complete falsehood that 'New Labour' was too left-wing and spent too much. This is only one of many falsehoods which is repeated by the mass-media. Actually tax-revenues and public spending were rising at the same rate for about 10 years, which is normal. In the recession tax-revenue collapsed and public spending became less sustainable as a result. By increasing economic growth tax-revenue could return to, or even exceed, pre-recession levels. As public spending is a vital aspect of furthering growth and development it should not be slashed.

The workers' share of GDP peaked in 1967 and Britain became increasingly egalitarian throughout the 1970s. A strong labour movement led to wages rising with high rates of productivity and contributed to the fall of Ted Heath. Since 1979 the workers' share of GDP has been in decline, Britain has become increasingly unequal ever since. The labour movement was smashed in the 1980s by the Thatcherites. As a result the working-class had been subject to some of the largest wage cuts in the world by 1990. The Poll Tax riots that same year contributed to the collapse of the Thatcher government. John Major seized the moment for personal glory only to stumble through 7 years of governance with the grace of a blind elephant, the only memorable events of his reign being an endless series of corruption and sexual scandals. The trend of rising inequality only slowed down under 'New Labour' and today we are now more unequal than we were 40 years ago.

Despite all the talk of "moderation" in the Party, David Cameron is still the leader of a Party with a homophobic voting record, that is still for milk-snatching, fox-hunting and the Iraq war. That is on top of policies which are still driven by a pro-business agenda, with aims of regressive taxes, an elitist educational system, greater deregulation and the stealth privatisation of the NHS. Let's not forget about guys like Daniel Hannan, who adore Enoch Powell and Ayn Rand. The cuts agenda is ideological, not as necessary as it's illusions, it's about furthering the transformation of our society that began in 1979 and continued on after 1997. The utopia being completely atomised, in which a few capitalists run amok at tax-payers' expense, with the masses left confused and fragmented. The only route to change is through grass-roots activism against these cuts and for social justice. It would be childish to expect an immediate change, dissent contributes to progress in the long-term.


Anonymous said...

"Let alone touching the £4 trillion accumulated in paintings, antiques and pensions by the richest 10% of Brits"
What exactly is it that you are suggesting here? i seem to remember a group of socialists doing something similar national socialists to be exact.
Whilst i certainly admire you for noticing that it is government which is the problem, i find your conclusion of more state control unpalatable.


J.T. White said...

If you bothered to open the link "£4 trillion" you would have found an article by Greg Philo, which advocates a one-off tax designed as to ensure the wealthiest citizens contribute the most. It is not even my only suggestion, in the same paragraph I suggest that the government ought to collect the taxes which "escape" the system and amount to over £100 billion a year.

As for the insinuation that I'm a Nazi, I seem to recall those same National Socialists were supported by the business community. Why? Because the National Socialists suppressed socialists, crushed the unions, poured money into the economy and created a slave labour force for them to exploit. This is the reason that IBM, Ford, General Motors, Siemens and Coca-Cola all benefited enormously from the Third Reich.

While I am in favour of nationalisation and progressive taxes, this article was written as a defence of the remnants of social democracy and the welfare state. In other words it is not a socialist article, this is a defence of the post-war settlement that founded the NHS, free education and nationalised major industries in Britain. So perhaps your finding of "state control" unpalatable is misguided, unless you don't think we should have universal health-care for instance.

Thanks for reading.