Charles Clarke grasps the nettle interestingly when he says the following:
Over the past 50 years, Labour has steadily become more the party of the public sector than, say, an ideologically driven democratic-socialist party or a party committed above all to fighting poverty and social exclusion.
There was a time when I would have agreed with the implications of such an assertion. A statist dinosaur of a political movement, incapable of refreshing itself for modern times. Seeing how the private sector is deliberately undermining public and representative democracy for its own pecuniary ends, however, makes me begin to wonder if the left-wing fans of the public sector weren’t right all along. That is to say, we need the bulwark it might represent against a fascist state driven by private-sector interests out to destroy representative democracy’s integrity and basic fundamentals.
The truth of the matter is that institutions such as the NHS are an out-and-out threat to the private sector’s fiercest proponents. On the one hand, in their desire to bring to every man, woman and child the advances of 21st century progress, such institutions are about as individualist as you could possibly desire. On the other hand, in their ability to do so in a sustainable and supportive way, they are about as socialist as you could possibly hope for.
What institutions like the NHS demonstrate is that – at one fell swoop – one can construct a politics where every single person is valuable and worth fighting for – in as individual a way as any libertarian might care to argue in favour of – whilst at the same time offering up an implementation of such a politics which beds down the foundations of a social space any democratic socialist would be happy with.
Institutions like the NHS massively square political circles.
Those who want to make more and more money out of our democracies find themselves threatened by such wonderful processes.
That is the real reason they must be destroyed. In reality, the NHS, and institutions like it, don’t pose a significant financial threat to their business models – they have, after all, been making money out of medicine for generations – but, rather, far more importantly, a dialectic threat to their politics, and thus their longer-term goals. And that is what’s at the root of the private sector’s battle to destroy the collaborative politics the Welfare State and its institutions represent.
The private sector wants an extraordinary and total rendition of our democracy precisely because our democracy was on the point of sorting out its most significant challenges. After the end of the Cold War, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and even as no one was really aware that it was happening, people in certain governments were looking to share out the spoils amongst the populace. Battening the hatches on the Welfare State was just one example of such an investment.
Wars, economic crises and foolish endeavours various had, then, to intervene. If they had not, the world this side of the 21st century would have looked very different.
Which is why the NHS and institutions like it are the final political – not financial – battleground where the future of representative democracy will be waged.
If we lose this war on that battleground, representative democracy will end up only representing those who do the representing. Which is to say, those in power: the MPs who fiddle expenses; the leaders who lie to stay at the top; the Eurocrats who bind together a continent behind closed doors; the media barons who have access at all times of day or night; the columnists who have a bigger voice than the people; the moneymen and women who support labour laws which reduce the freedom of unionisation and collective action but allow evermore liberal opportunities to move their capital at will.
So what will happen to the people as a result of all the above? Say goodbye to any significant chance of participating in the direction of a country’s political development! The only vote you’ll be making is which consumer (not very) durable to purchase with your ever-decreasing disposable income. That’s how they want it. They want all ideology to become just one more monetary transaction.
Because when it comes to ideology, they fear the unpredictable. But when it comes to money, they know more than anyone.
And that’s why we need an ideological public sector more than ever before. Only then, when we stop allowing them to decide on their weapons and their killing-fields of choice, will we have even half a chance of saving representative democracy for ourselves.
At the moment, it’s like we were practising the political equivalent of unprotected sex.
Is that really something we want to continue getting involved with?