Interesting and perceptive paragraph, this one, from an interesting and perceptive article in the Guardian today (the bold is mine):
More and more voters, therefore, will be worrying about jobs, benefits, rents, and debt interest rates, not about the value of houses, pensions or shares. The neoliberal attempt to create mass capitalism has hit the buffers. Political parties that stand on what has been called “the centre ground” for the past three decades can afford to abandon it. If the left parties can develop a coherent economic alternative, they will find an increasingly receptive audience who, in the words of Franklin Roosevelt, have nothing to fear but fear itself.
That, in fact, is what has happened. And so now I understand why it all went so awfully belly-up. People like Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher maybe did after all believe in a capitalism of the masses – blinded as they were by their terrible convictions to the reality that capitalism, by its very essence, only ever feeds off the masses, even as it never properly or efficiently can all of them feed.
Capitalism requires hierarchy; capitalism requires owners and owned; capitalism requires both the downtrodden and those who do the treading. It’s a chimera, that we can all get to the top. For if we all got to the top, the armies that make up the capitalist battlefield would have no cannon fodder to throw at the enemy.
And that would never do.
If Blair is over, so are Thatcher and Cameron.
If Blair is over, so is that illusion of branded social democracy, of late and sentimental capitalism, that was the neoliberalism of little-people shareholdings. A manifest piece of marketing in any case.
In hindsight, after all, it really does beggar belief. Did we really – truly – believe them when they encouraged us to place our hard-won nest eggs precisely in those baskets they then proceeded to throw at the markets with the most violence, lack of foresight and absence of sensibility they could unprofessionally muster?
Save all your life to throw it away on an idea? Is that what Blairism, Thatcherism and that tiny little tail of Cameronism has finally succeeded in delivering to the masses?
And they talk about the irrelevance of ideology to modern politics.
This isn’t the age of aspiration any more.
This is the age of survival.
We don’t need salesmen and women to lead us out of these darknesses – but survivalists who understand what’s it like not to know where the next poverty-engendering job will come from. We need people and communities who understand that life isn’t about concentrating wealth but – instead - about sharing it out as wide as possible.
Not spreading it thinly but spreading it broadly.
There’s a difference.
Wealth needs to revolve to benefit society. Sitting on wealth and watching it grow coldly and uncreatively is the sickest act a rich civilisation can encourage its citizens to prize.
If Blair really is over, and Thatcher and Cameron too, let’s not let slip faint praise or murmur ashamedly to ourselves. Rest in peace for a job well done?
THEY FAILED FOR CHRIST’S SAKE! On their own terms, on ours, on behalf of generations to come; on behalf of generations who can now only look to the future with fear. This, my dear friends, is what failure – unmitigated, unruly, unpredictable, uncontrollable – actually looks like. Anything they now say will sound only of a vague and stupid puffery. They’ll squabble amongst themselves, of course, as they discuss their awfully complex issues: disagreeing here, disagreeing there, “agendas ladies”, “points of order gentlemen”. But in truth there is nothing they can do to charm us again with their stage-managed and effervescently careful whispers.
If only they were able to face up to the brutal reality: whilst the voters are too ignorant to properly understand what has happened, these very same voters are nevertheless obliged – duty-bound, in fact – to unknowingly suffer the consequences.
So it is that Blair and Thatcher and Cameron’s law and order, the Magna Carta itself, has broken up completely – right down the middle; a total disintegration of that formerly fair and just balance between doing and being done to.
Where Great Britain and Northern Ireland was once a land where the connection between rights and responsibilities ruled, now it’s becoming all too patently obvious that the truth we live is really quite another: too stupid to have the right to an opinion, we must even so swallow the medicine.
The real failure of neoliberalism – of Blair, Thatcher and Cameron? It’s NOT the economy, stupids! It’s utterly – and entirely – a morality play.
A broken-backed morality play for our time, that is.
A borked broken-backed morality play – if that sounds more in line with the register I’m using.
But I’m not looking to re-establish 19th century mores.
That’s not what I’m saying at all.
All I’m wondering, out loud, and with an ever-growing lack of spirit, is how it was possible for these two intelligent men and that one intelligent woman to contemplate creating a whole civilisation based on greed, something-for-nothing financial transactions and a survival of the fittest which even the basest creatures on our planet may choose to avoid.
If Blair, Thatcher and Cameron really are over, and we are now in the anteroom of another kinder and more humanly recognisable age, I can only proclaim: “Hallelujah!”
If they – and we – are not, I can only suggest you prepare your cardboard boxes, your tins of beans, your camping cutlery – and, perhaps, a prayer or two just in case.
For if it’s survival time, we’ll only really manage by sincerely and honestly pulling together as – maybe – never before.
Whilst if that’s not going to be on the agenda, and this tragically ugly and neoliberal Darwinian capitalism – which destroys so many lives, families, people and aspirations – is truly going to be all that’s left us … well, I really do not see a future peace for anyone to rest in.
Whatever standing history cares to assign them.
Whatever their official reputation may finally turn out to be.