neoliberal dogma
Like Attlee and Thatcher before him, Corbyn will completely transform Britain | Owen Jones
The vision set out by a combative Labour leader will be cheered far beyond the applauding activists in Brighton, writes Guardian columnist Owen Jones
By Owen Jones

Clement Attlee, Margaret Thatcher, Jeremy Corbyn. The first two led transformative governments that established a new political settlement in Britain: and make no mistake, the Corbyn project’s aspirations are no less ambitious. Attlee sought to overturn a failed system that delivered the great depression, the hungry 1930s and a genocidal world war. The Tories resigned themselves to the underlying assumptions of Attleeism, much to Thatcher’s chagrin. British politics became a “socialist ratchet”, she claimed, while the Tories merely “loosened the corset of socialism; they never removed it”. Thatcher strove to use a crisis spurred on by a global oil shock to smash Attlee’s consensus: this time, it was Labour’s time to surrender, with Tony Blair described by Thatcher herself as her “greatest achievement”.

Both Attleeism and Thatcherism had iconic moments that came to represent the bankruptcy – as they saw it – of the system they replaced. Postwar social democracy had the Jarrow hunger marches of the 1930s. Thatcherism had the winter of discontent. For Britain’s ascendant new left, it is the horror of Grenfell Tower: dozens of working-class people killed in a society that prioritises profit not just over people’s needs and aspirations, but even their lives.

“It stands for a failed and broken system,” Corbyn declared to rapturous applause, “which Labour must and will replace.” Labour had a “new model of economic management”, and it would “replace the failed dogmas of neoliberalism”. Labour’s mission was not simply reversing austerity, “but to transform our economy with a new and dynamic role for the public sector”. Democracy would be brought to the economy and the workplace, in an attempt to realise “a fundamental and irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth in favour of working people and their families”, as Labour’s 1974 manifesto put it.

The political wisdom of our time has been this: unless you accept lower taxes on the rich, an ever-expanding role for the private sector, deregulation, a limited role for government, weakened trade unions, and so forth, you are rendered unelectable. This was called the “centre ground”. But, as Corbyn noted, the “political centre of gravity isn’t fixed or unmovable”. Attlee audaciously ripped up the political mantras of his era – usurping power from a wartime hero no less. In the 1945 general election campaign, Winston Churchill even hysterically argued Labour would “fall back on some sort of Gestapo” to implement its policies.

Thatcher, too, rebelled against a consensus whereby Tories fought elections “largely on policies which 20 years ago were associated with the left, repudiated by the right”, as Labour’s Tony Crosland hubristically declared in the 1950s. Both Attlee and Thatcher had to confront those in their own party who were wedded to the certainties of the old system. Attlee expelled Labour MP Alfred Edwards for rebelling against the nationalisation of steel, while Ivor Bulmer-Thomas jumped before he was pushed; Thatcher had to confront the Tory “wets” who believed a break with Keynesianism was neither politically possible nor even desirable. The parallels with Corbyn’s Labour hardly need stating.

The calamity of the great depression and the second world war ushered in Attleeism; rampant stagflation was the midwife of Thatcherism. At the time of the 2008 financial crash there was a widespread misplaced schadenfreude on the left. Surely market fundamentalism had been discredited; surely the west’s ruling economic elites – and their political representatives – would be held to account; surely the left would rise from the ashes. Instead came a tidal wave of austerity, devastating attacks on the remaining social gains of social democracy, and the poison of rightwing xenophobia.

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popenibblesthegoat  asked:

Whats neoliberalism?Its a term I hear a lot,but everyone seems to have a different definition.

Bourgeois ideology and practice that equates “unrestrained market forces” with “freedom”. Reaganism and Thatcherism were veritable examples in the 80s. Basically capitalism with even less of a pretense that it’s beneficial to the working class (whereas Keynesianism and social democratic welfare capitalism operate under that pretense, for instance). The Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism gives a really good description of it. Source link:

“A set of economic and political views and policies used to administer a capitalist state, which is characterized by attacks on (or even the total destruction of) many previous concessions to the working class, such as unemployment insurance, welfare and other social programs, including public education; by further attacks against, and the destruction of, labor unions and whatever little pro-labor legislation may have previously existed; by promoting the lowering of real wages and, especially, benefits for workers such as abolishing retirement plans; by a freer hand granted to corporations to operate as they please and with many fewer (and weaker) regulations, including weakening or eliminating environmental safeguards; by much lower taxes for the rich and for their corporations; by international free trade, again for the benefit of big corporations; and by a general turn back towards the laissez-faire capitalism of the 19th century. More briefly, neoliberalism is the bourgeois dogma that everything should be left to the so-called ‘free market’ to work out all on its own, and that things will always ‘work out for the best’ if unrestrained market forces are given full play. Thus, neoliberalism is a very reactionary trend in modern capitalist rule which is serving to dismantle the welfare state and drive down the working class and the masses.

Neoliberalism became necessary for the bourgeois ruling class as a means of trying to deal with the long developing U.S. and world capitalist economic crisis. The leading capitalist-imperialist countries in the world over the past century made welfare state concessions to their own working classes in order to keep the peace at home while they plundered the rest of the world. However, with the growing overproduction crisis these concessions are no longer 'practical,’ and to keep corporate profits up they must now be rapidly eliminated. Neoliberalism amounts to a policy of trying to take out the very negative effects of the worsening capitalist economic crisis on the backs of the proletariat.

The advent of capitalist-imperialism initially permitted a temporary interruption in the trend toward the immiseration of the proletariat in the advanced capitalist countries, and even allowed for their partial embourgeoisment and the growth of a labor aristocracy. But the slowly developing, but inexorable, world overproduction crisis is forcing the ruling class to reproletarianize the working class and to renew the overall capitalist process of the immiseration of the proletariat and the broad masses—even at home.”

“Tragedy of the Commons” is probably the most blatant and vulgar of the reactionary narratives. In a nutshell, it argues that when social utilities are owned and managed by everyone, they’re in turn owned by no one; everyone will naturally try to maximize their own self-gain and soon you will have chaos and autocratic monopolies. Hilariously, the cappies who argue this don’t seem to see the irony behind it all. “Monopolies and cutthroat resource-grabs will happen if we socialize this utility and understand it as commonly-held, so we should privatize it and divvy it up into the private hands of a few elite owners, all while cutthroat individualism forces majority non-owners into wage labor and subservient dependence under those arbitrary owners.“ 

It doesn’t even pretend to focus on human freedom like some other passages from neoliberal scripture, too. At least standard neoliberal dogma pretends to care about the breadth of important choices a person can make throughout their lifetime, and at least Randian propaganda pretends to care about the working class by claiming that TRUE capitalism (NOT corporatism though, #ISwear2GodCapitalismAndCorporatismAreDifferent) would uplift everybody out of poverty. Tragedy of the Commons, on the other hand……"I don’t want the peasants mucking up MY miles-long forest and MY dozens of apartments with their dirty prole shoes.” It so gleefully and unabashedly advocates autocratic class domination based on resource and capital access that I swear I’m transported back into the 19th century every time I hear a cappie mention it.