Light at the end of the tunnel
Of all the unexpected crazy political events of the last twelve months one will prove to be more significant than all the others.
We have seen Brexit, the election of a self-confessed mass murderer who still enjoys overwhelming public support in the Philippines, a Liar in Chief in the USA, a young
political novice coming out of nowhere taking not only the presidency but an overwhelming majority in parliament and in the process evaporating the political establishment in France, a new Canadian Prime Minister winning an election with the promise to legalise pot and the list could go on.
However last week’s British elections will be seen as the most important turning point. It shows the light at the end of the dark tunnel of Neo-liberalism.
There Is No Alternative
Since the neo-liberal takeover of economics around Milton Friedman and his Chicago (School of Economics) boys under Reagan, Thatcher and New Zealand’s Roger Douglas we have been told endlessly that “there is no alternative”. This mantra drove me mad at the time as the economic system is man made and therefore by definition there is always an alternative.
However we have to understand that any myth like a religion or ideology and in this case a new economic dogma must be immunised against empirical evidence by either making it god given and consequently unquestionable or part of the law of nature and consequently unchangeable.
Since the neo-liberal experiment started in the late seventies all the evidence proves that it does not work other than making the rich and powerful even richer at the expense of the poor. However we are still told about the “trickle down effect”, which very much sounds like a law of nature as if money followed the law of gravity. The last time I looked at a bank statement 0n-line the big black numbers did not all end up at the bottom of the screen.
As the neo-liberal ideology is a myth it cannot be disproven by evidence and facts. If you point out all the failings over the last decades the answer always is that it needs more time and we have to go harder. There will never be a point when the neo-liberal disciples will admit that their experiment has failed. A belief system cannot be moved by reality.
Elections are won in the centre
The political version of “There is no Alternative” is the myth that elections cannot be won with left or havens forbid “socialist” policies but rather in the centre.
First of all we have to realise that this elusive centre has shifted over the last 40 years. What used to be in economic terms a far “right” position i.e. anti-union, anti-social welfare (for the poor not the rich), anti-regulation by the state, privatisation of state functions for instance is now the centrist position. In other words the centre has moved to the “right”.
Then at the beginning of the neo-liberal revolution the ruling classes created out of the 1983 UK elections the myth that left wing socialist policies/parties/politicians are un-electable. That election was called early by Margret Thatcher during the jingoistic period after the Falkland war. Labour’s loss had nothing to do with their left wing policies. It was the desertion of the neo-liberal wing of the Labour Party forming their own Social Democratic Party which ended all their chances. Such a move under the ‘First Pass the Post’ electoral system is lethal. Thatcher’s policies other than the war were deeply unpopular and the Conservatives actually lost votes.
But the myth created for the neo-liberal agenda changed the political discourse ever since. Now mainstream parties converge towards the new (formerly far right) centre. They have become so indistinguishable in their policies that voting has become largely meaningless. As a consequence less and less people take part in elections.
Un-electable candidate with socialist policies
There were two un-electable candidates with socialist policies. Last year Bernie Sanders in the US from the tiny state of Vermont almost took the Democratic Party nomination and would have won the presidency if the party establishment would not have stopped him in his tracks.
In the UK the Labour Party neo-liberal establishment was only partly successful in stopping the un-electable Jeremy Corbyn.
We have to remember that his election as party leader a couple year back was an accident. His nomination by enough MPs to put him on the ballot of four was meant to be a joke. Soon the joke was on the MPs who overwhelmingly opposed him and had been trying to unseat him ever since. Corbyn was elected twice within a year by the membership with a large and increasing majority. Still his own MPs kept undermining and sabotaging him. They were supported by their mates in the mainstream neo-liberal media, which from the moment he became party leader dismissed him as an un-electable left wing lunatic because of his socialist beliefs and hugely popular policies like properly funding the National Health Service (NHS) instead of privatising it and renationalising the British Railways.
When the snap election was called not only the Tory Prime Minister but the entire political establishment had miscalculated the mood of the people. They all did not learn any lesson from the Brexit referendum a year earlier when the voter had given the ruling political class a shot across the bow. The Conservatives had an unassailable 24 point lead in the polls. The cynical ploy to call the early election was going to give Theresa May a larger majority and crush Labour to their probably worst defeat ever not to come back in the foreseeable future. The neo-liberal Labour MPs and party establishment believed in the same script and seemed intend on loosing big rather than forming a truly left wing Old Labour – in contrast to Tony Blair’s New Labour – government.
As before the Labour Party membership the British voter didn’t get the memo how they were supposed to vote. They largely ignored the propaganda assault of the right wing media. And worst of all young people registered in record numbers and unlike in the Brexit referendum they actually turned out to vote.
The much maligned Jeremy Corbyn attracted record enthusiastic crowds and instead of losing big he won big, more than 30 seats including Kensington the wealthiest electorate in the land, which always voted Conservative. Labour missed an outright majority by just a couple of points. All this with left wing lunatic socialist policies. Labour’s manifesto hit the soft spot after years of ideologically driven neo-liberal austerity. Even two terrorist attacks just before the election could not drive the voters into the “strong leadership” camp. The foregone conclusion of a huge win and wipeout of Labour turned into a humiliating defeat.
However the neo-liberal wing of the Labour Party were partly successful stopping Corbyn from – shock horror – moving into No 10. That would have happened if they would have been loyal to their leader instead of undermining him. Must watch Jonathan Pie ! ! !
But that is not a bad thing. The Conservatives still have to deal with the mess they created with the Brexit referendum for their own little party political purposes. It will not last. We can look forward to a socialist win next time around. The people are not buying the neo-liberal myth anymore that elections are won in the centre.
Thanks Jeremy, you have shown us the Alternative.Tweet ##NZPOL