Posts Tagged ‘British American Project’

Scottish Economist Mark Blyth’s on Neoliberal Economic Cause of Trump and Global Fascism

December 3, 2016

Mike early today put up a piece about a speech by Jeremy Corbyn, in which the Labour leader correctly described the extreme right-wing parties and their leaders as ‘parasites’, feeding off the despair and poverty that had been created through Conservative economic policies. They blamed their economic problems on immigrants, racial minorities and the poorest and weakest members of society. What was needed was for centre-left parties to reject the political establishment, and devise policies that would help people take power for themselves.

The report cited by Mike quoted Corbyn as saying:

“They are political parasites feeding off people’s concerns and worsening conditions, blaming the most vulnerable for society’s ills instead of offering a way for taking back real control of our lives [from] the elites who serve their own interests.

“But unless progressive parties and movements break with a failed economic and political establishment, it is the siren voices of the populist far right that will fill the gap.””

Mike makes the point that this effectively damns New Labour and its legacy. Blair’s espousal of neoliberal, Thatcherite economics allowed the country’s remaining state assets to be sold off by the Tories and Lib Dems, and made the country ready for the rise of far right politicians such as Theresa May and Nigel Farage.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/12/03/far-right-politicians-and-their-supporters-are-parasites-says-corbyn-calling-for-rejection-of-the-establishment/

Jeremy Corbyn isn’t the only person making this point. Over a week ago Michael Brooks, filling in for Sam Seder as the anchor on the left-wing internet news show The Majority Report, discusses the economic causes behind the rise of racist authoritarianism around the world. And it is global. Trump has been elected the next president of the United State, Marine Le Pen’s Front National is leading the polls in France, the neo-Fascist Fidesz party is in power in Hungary, and Brexit in England is part of this pattern.

Mark Blyth, a Scottish political economist and professor of international political economy at Brown University gave a speech at the university’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs which laid bare the roots of the origins of these illiberal, Fascistic movements in the massive poverty and social inequality created by neoliberal economics. Brooks plays a clip from his speech, and then adds his own comments afterwards.

Blyth states that from 1945 to 1975, the world’s governments were concentrating on full employment. He states that there is an economic law called the Lucas Critique, which states that in any economic policy, someone will try to game it to serve their ends. And in the case of the strategy of creating full employment, both unions and employers tried to game the system, with the result that inflation increased massively. This principally hurt the creditor class – the financial sector – who decided to hit back by liberating the banks from government control and creating an integrated global economy. This included globalising labour, so that they could not demand fair wages. If they did so, their jobs could be closed down and moved overseas. He also makes the point that the international trade agreements concluded during this period have been made with little regard for the interests of ordinary people themselves. You can see this in the Trans-Pacific trade agreement. If you look this up on the web, you will find a 700 page document negotiated between governments and major corporations, but with little input from civil society. Ditto for the treaties of the European Union. People have realised that for the past thirty years from 1985 onwards, massive amounts of money has been made, but these have all been passed upwards to an infinitesimally small number of people.

The result is massive poverty. He makes the point to his audience at the uni that they don’t have to go very far to see the consequences. All they have to do is go to north-west Providence, in Rhode Island. There they can see the stores offering to cash cheques on demand, or selling or fixing goods cheaply. People are fed up, and use every opportunity to show it. This was demonstrated with Brexit in England and Wales, and in the Constitutional Referendum in Italy.

And there is also a macro-economic underpinning to these movements here. Successive governments have targeted inflation, and Blyth states that he can see no reason why the Lucas Critique should not also apply here. We now have a situation in which 3 trillion euros have been dumped into the money supply through quantitative easing, and it has not caused inflation. This has caused other problems. When banks have been bailed out and taken over by governments, so that they have been dumped on the public, the creditors fight even harder to get their money back. This can be seen in the case of Germany versus the rest of the Eurozone. This has set up a conflict between creditors versus debtors. On the left, it’s produced Podemos in Spain. On the right, it’s created the Front National in France. Trump’s part of this trend. Misogyny and racism are part of the mixture that has thrust him to power, but if you look at areas like America’s rust belt, you also see that part of it is also economic.

Brooks adds that this is true, and like Corbyn, he makes the point that if there is no serious left-wing response which deals with an economic system that has been created to serve a tiny elite, it will open the door to the ugly things that are also present in the system.

In America, this is White Supremacism. He states that it’s in America’s DNA. The country was founded on genocide, slavery, apartheid and racism, of which there are different kinds, including discrimination against Asians and Hispanics. It is a profoundly racist country. The situation has also been made worse through the misalignment in the Democrat Party. There is a split between those who want social liberation, and those who want to reign in the corporate interests and break up the big cartels. This wasn’t quite so pronounced twenty years ago under Bill Clinton, who was willing to use racial demagoguery. Brooks states that the only way to tackle the rise of racism in America is to combine the two goals of creating greater opportunities for women and minorities, and attacking the power of the big corporations. The Third Way, neoliberal nonsense is unable to do this. The age of neoliberalism is over. The reign of neo-Fascism is now in.

Blyth, Brooks and Jeremy Corbyn are all exactly right. But you won’t hear it from the establishment press, or the Beeb, or any of the mainstream news outlets, which are there to serve corporate interests. And those interests want to prop up neoliberalism as long as possible. Hence we have the supposedly liberal press – the Guardian and Independent, viciously attacking Jeremy Corbyn and demanding his removal in favour of a safe Blairite leader. There’s a piece in today’s I newspaper by Janet Street-Porter asking why Ed Balls can’t be leader of the Labour party. She makes the point that he’s a fellow of Harvard University, and so intelligent. Balls academic qualifications aren’t in question here. All of the New Labour clique were well educated men and women, and the majority of them had spent periods studying in America. That’s the problem. They are the products of the British-American Project For the Successor Generation, a Reaganite programme set up to influence rising politicians in the 1980s so that they followed the Atlanticist line. And you can see the effects in the case of Tony Blair. When he started out, he was for unilateral nuclear disarmament. They he spent four weeks in America as a guest of the think tanks involved in the programme, and came back a convinced supporter of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. And Balls was an integral part of New Labour, and the Thatcherite/ Reaganite policies it pursued.

And that’s exactly what Janet Street-Porter and the other, supposedly left-wing hacks want: Thatcherism, but under a left-wing guise, which is essentially no different from that of the Tories.

It’s why Tony Blair has also returned, and is talking about his plans to set up an institute to promote ‘centrist’ politics next year. His politics aren’t centrist, as Mike’s pointed out: they’re far right, neo-liberal. They punish the poor, the ill, the unemployed and disabled for the profit and big businessmen like David Sainsbury. I’ve no doubt Blair is genuinely afraid of the rise in racism across the Continent. But he’s also terrified of the re-emergence of genuine socialism and of ordinary citizens taking back power from the corporations and the bankers. Hence his stupid and misguided plans for the institute. He hasn’t realised that his policies are part of the long chain of causes of the present political crisis, going all the way back to Thatcher. His institute isn’t going to solve the problem of racism and authoritarianism across Europe. It’s going to make it worse. If it ever gets going, of course.

German Journo Udo Ulfkotte on Europe’s ‘Bought Journalists’

August 2, 2016

In my last piece, I discussed an article in Counterpunch by Thomas Harrington about the corruption of the British, French, German, Spanish and Italian press, even serious, progressive left-wing newspapers, to reflect American foreign policy interests, neoliberal economics and aggressive American militarism, even at the expense of the interests of their own citizens. Harrington’s article follows a book published in Germany by Udo Ulfkotte, a journalist with the Franfurter Allgemeine, one of the country’s foremost papers, roughly equivalent to the Times or the Torygraph. Entitled Gekaufte Journalisten (‘Bought Journalists’) the book describes how German and other European newspapermen have been bought by the American secret state, to publish pro-American, anti-Russian articles. Despite being a bestseller on that side of the North Sea, an English translation is still awaiting publication. Harrington’s article links to an interview with Ulfkotte on RT on YouTube.

In it, Ulfkotte describes how he too was bribed and corrupted by the CIA and the Bundesnachrichtsdienst – the German secret service – to write pro-American propaganda pieces. He describes how he has become an honorary citizen of Oklahoma in the US, amongst other rewards for his services, and goes on to describe how very many journalists from across Europe, particularly Britain, have been similarly corrupted. Those that have been corrupted the least are the French. He states that no-one will come up to you saying that they’re from the CIA, but ultimately, these are the people journalists like himself served. They get taken on in a system of ‘plausible deniability’. If they becoming too embarrassing, the agencies deny that they ever had anything to do with them. Ulfkotte’s states that after writing anti-Russian articles for the secret services, he is sick and tired of doing so and especially fearful because of the push to war with Russia.

He describes his country as so much under American control that it is ‘an American colony’ and a ‘banana republic’. Most Germans, for example, are against nuclear power, but still the Americans have sited their nuclear missiles in the Bundesrepublik. One of the instances of journalistic corruption he describes is obviously particularly shocking to a German very much aware of the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis. He describes being sent to Zubaidat in Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War in 1988. There he saw how the Iranian soldiers had been gassed used mustard gas made in Germany. Ulfkotte states how horrifying this was, to see German poison gas used again four decades after the Nazis. But when tried to write an article about it, it was spiked.

He also describes how he was asked to write a piece by the BND, the German intelligence service, describing how Colonel Ghadafy was also building poison gas plants in Libya. He himself had no knowledge of this, and all the information about it was supplied by the German intelligence agency.

He also describes some of the consequences if you refuse to join the ranks of the corrupted. He discusses the case of a German civilian helicopter pilot. This chap was a member of the ‘Yellow Angels’, a group that assists with traffic accidents. The spooks approached him about joining them as one of their spies under the cover of the organisation. He refused. He was then sacked from his job as a pilot because he was ‘untrustworthy’. The judge presiding over the case concurred with the assessment, and so the gentleman lost his job. Ulfkotte himself states that he’s not afraid what the intelligence services will throw at him. He’s already had three heart attacks, and has no children.

Here’s the video:

I’ve no doubt that what Ulfkotte says is true. As I said in my last post, Lobster has published a number of piece over the years on the way the British press, and particular journalists, have served as an outlet for propaganda cooked up by the CIA and the British Secret State. Leading journalists, such as an editor of the Times, were also recruited by the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, a Reaganite programme to train up-and-coming British politicians, like Tony Blair, to support the Atlantic alliance. Which is why you definitely won’t read much about BAP in the papers. Private Eye has also published pieces about BAP, and the way journalists with connections to the British intelligence services have tried to intimidate other journos into revealing their sources or working for them on issues relating to domestic terrorism.

What Ulfkotte describes is just the German part of a nasty web of intrigue that has been spread all over the continent. I’m not surprise that the French are the least corrupted. Under De Gaulle France pursued a solidly independent line, retaining its own, genuinely independent nuclear deterrent – ours is effectively signed over to American control – and establishing cordial relations with the eastern bloc. De Gaul blocked our application to join the Common Market – as the EU then was – in the 1960s because he feared that we were a Trojan horse for American interests.

A war with Russia is definitely not in the interests of anyone in Europe. I can remember being shocked when I was growing up in the 1980s at the suggestions then by American generals that there could be a ‘limited’ nuclear war in Europe, and apparently this appallingly stupid notion has been revived under Shrillary. Such a conflict would leave the continent, including Britain, a burnt, radioactive cinder, if it didn’t lead to the total destruction of all life on Earth as the conflict escalated. And the anti-welfare policies peddled by these papers have resulted in hardship and misery across the Continent and promoted the rise of Fascist parties and organisations as peoples have turned against each other to fight for what’s left.

Counterpunch on Udo Ulfkotte’s ‘Bought Journalists’

August 2, 2016

Today Counterpunch published a very interesting article by Thomas Harrington, ‘Europe’s “Bought Journalists”‘, on the promotion of pro-American, pro-Israel neoliberal imperialist policies in the European press, even in traditionally left-wing papers like the Groaniad, El Pais, the Suddeutsche Zeitung, Le Monde and La Reppublica, heavy weight papers with a record of supporting progressive politics. Harrington states that future historians will be amazed how a continent, with a sophisticated and critical intellectual culture, came to be dominated by American elite interests. He notes that America has always been keen to ‘manage the perceptions’ of its various allied countries as part of its Cold War campaign against Communism and the Soviet Union. It is an intrinsic part of what Donald Rumsfeld described as ‘full spectrum dominance’. This has now got to the point where American neoliberal interests now override those of Europe’s own peoples in the minds of their journalists. He compares this absolute belief in American, neoliberal cultural hegemony with religion in that this is uncritical accepted in absolute faith. He also states that when explanations are sought how this situation came about, the standard explanation is that the European population has got older, and so more conservative. But this can’t explain how Moises Naim, who was previously a member of one of South America’s corrupt governments, an arch-Zionist, former director of the World Bank, and also a former editor of Foreign Policy, which Harrington describes as the ‘in-house Bible of American imperialism’, came to be the weekend foreign policy ‘guru’ for Spain’s El Pais, a newspaper which is pro-welfare and anti-interventionist, while Spain is also generally pro-Palestinian. He suggests that it is due to the co-option of European journalists by the American secret state, and urges his readers to watch a linked interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine’s Udo Ulfkotte. The Frankfurter Allgemeine is Germany’s foremost newspaper, with a centre-right bias, rather like the Times over here. Ulfkotte in the interview describes Germany as an American colony and a ‘banana republic’ because of the way its journalists have been deeply compromised through their collaboration with the CIA and the German intelligence agency. Ulfkotte has written a book, Gekaufte Journalisten – ‘Bought Journalists’ – about this corruption. It’s a bestseller over the North Sea in the Bundesrepublik, but for some strange reason an English translation keeps being put off.

The article’s at http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/02/europes-bought-journalists/

I’m not surprised at Ulfkotte’s allegations, which seem only too plausible. Lobster has published several pieces over the years about the way the press has been used and manipulated to push the Atlantic alliance against the Soviet Union, and the role of particular journos in publishing disinformation and propaganda on behalf of the British intelligence agencies. Ulfkotte doesn’t mention it in his interview, but leading British journalists were also included in the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, a Reaganite project to train up pro-American future politicians, such as Tony Blair. But you won’t read much about it, because when one journo on one of the papers did – I think it was in the Times – he found the article spiked by the editor because he was another of BAP’s alumni.

As for the problem of getting a translation of Ulfkotte’s book into English, it struck me that what might be needed here is a version of the old ‘samizdat’ underground publication system for the nominally ‘free world’. Samizdat was the underground publishing system in the former Soviet Union, in which literature that had been suppressed by the Communist authorities was illegally copied and circulated. Among the works published and distributed in this way was Boris Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago. The people, who read samizdat literature described how they did so in utter secrecy. A book was often read in a single night, because it was too dangerous to keep hold of such books for very long. If a system like this is what is needed to publish book’s like Ulfkotte’s in Britain – or at least, England, if Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland go their own way after Brexit, then it will show very clearly that Jeremy Corbyn is right, and that David Cameron has created a ‘zombie democracy’. Though the credit mustn’t go just to the Tories. Tony Blair also did much to create the surveillance state and the system of secret courts that Cameron expanded, and which May will probably preserve and extend even more.

Vox Political on Those, Who Believed Blair’s Lies about Iraq

July 5, 2016

Yesterday Gloria de Piero, one of the Blairites, published a piece in the Scum calling on ‘moderate’ Labour supporters to join the party to vote out Jeremy Corbyn. Mike over at Vox Political has put up a piece today quoting a piece by one of those, who has, and asking if the person, who wrote it is really as left-leaning as they seem, and do people want someone like that in the Labour party?

The author of the piece seems to have been taken in by all the vile Blairite spin and propaganda. Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters are racist, anti-Semitic and misogynistic, and have no interest in doing anything positive for the people of this country. They also state that they joined the party because they supported the invasion of Iraq and the consequent overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Curiously, they seem to believe that Iraq is now a genuinely functioning democracy. The invasion, they declare, is one of the UK’s finest achievements since World War II. And then they proudly announce that they’re deliberately rejoining the Labour party on the 4th July, stating that the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, should also be our aspiration.

Blairite Atlanticism and the Worship of the American Constitution

Looking at the piece, it’s so over the top that I genuinely wonder if whoever wrote really is an ordinary member of the public. Blair and his cronies, including Broon, Ed Balls and so on, were fervent supporters of America. Blair himself was a product of the Reaganite British-American Project for the Successor Generation, or BAP. This was set up by the Gipper in the 1980s to train the next generation of British politicians to support the Atlantic Alliance. Its alumni went on courses in America to study the country’s political traditions. Before Blair went on one of these jaunts, he was a supporter of CND. After he came back, he was very definitely in favour of Britain keeping its nuclear deterrence. Broon and Balls also studied at American universities. And in government, Blair was so keen to emulate JFK or Roosevelt, I forget quite which, that he and Mandelson called each other by the names of those politicos.

There are many people, who would like Britain to have a written constitution, so that we can hold our rulers to account when they break it, or traduce reasonable standards of democracy. But the idealisation of the American Constitution and the Declaration of Independence tends to be far more characteristic of the American Right, who love the idea of limited government, the defence of private property and gun rights. Cameron’s statement that he wants to repeal European human rights legislation and replace it with a British Bill of Rights looks like an attempt to introduce that aspect of American political culture over here. Especially as very many of the Conservatives also have business and political connections in America, and admire the American tradition of laissez-faire capitalism and minimal worker’s rights and welfare state.

The Undemocratic Invasion of Iraq

Then there’s that rubbish about Blair’s invasion of Iraq being the greatest of this country’s achievements since the Second World War. This is quite preposterous. I can think of many better achievements: the setting up of the welfare state, decolonisation and the transformation of the Empire into the Commonwealth (with caveats), the abolition of the death penalty and the launch of the Black Knight British-Australian space rocket, which put a British-built satellite in orbit in 1975. Other greater British achievements I would argue include Jodrell Bank, Jocelyn Bell-Purnell’s discovery of Pulsars, Crick and Watson’s discovery of the structure of DNA and the Mini. Oh yes, and the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the sheer fact that Ozzie Osborne is still with us. In fact, just about everything peaceful Britain has done after World War II, which hasn’t involved us invading anyone or stealing their industries and resources.

Which is what happened in the invasion of Iraq.

Of course, there were and presumably still are people, who’ve been taken in by Blair’s lies. That he had weapons of mass destruction. Which he didn’t. That he was ready to invade at 45 minutes notice. He wasn’t. That he aided Osama bin Laden. A really grotesque lie – Hussein was a secular nationalist. Bin Laden hated his regime and everything it stood for.

And the greatest lie of all: that the war was fought for democracy. This one, the worst of them all, had some plausibility because Hussein was indeed a brutal dictator. He gassed the Kurds when they rose up, and massacred the Shi’a minority. He was a brutal thug. And he had started out as our thug. He was on the American’s payroll to assassinate leading Iraqi politicians in the 1950s, but was never able to carry it off, and escaped back into Syria. See the book A Brutal Friendship on how bloody the relationship between Britain and the comprador elites in the Arab nations really is. The invasion of Iraq also formed part of a narrative in which Britain unselfishly sends her troops all over the world to give evil foreign dictators a good kicking and liberate their grateful peoples. That was the way Gladstone sold the Empire to us in the 19th century, even when members of his cabinet were writing ‘a love of empire is a love of war’. It was the rationale behind Britain sending troops to Bosnia and Kosovo to fight the Serbs and protect the local Muslim populations. Many liberals no doubt supported the invasion because they genuinely believed it was, for all its faults, another humanitarian police action. There was even a book, reviewed in Lobster, which aimed to present a Socialist case for the Neocons’ foreign policy.

But it was never about democracy. It was simply about oil. And Israel, and pure economic imperialism.

The Republicans in America and Israel’s Likud party had put together joint plans for the invasion of Iraq way back in the 1990s. Hussein was arming and supporting the Palestinians. The oil barons wanted him out the way, as his erratic policy on oil exports was causing massive fluctuations in price. And both the Americans and the Saudis wanted to get their mitts on the Iraqi oil industry and its reserves, which are the largest outside Saudi Arabia itself. And the Neocons wanted to privatise the Iraqi economy so that American multinationals could loot all the profitable Iraqi state enterprises, and they could play at real politicians by creating their low tax, free trade state.

The result has been sheer, unmitigated chaos. The results of the American economic policy has been that the Iraqi unemployment rate shot up to 60%. Community relations between the various tribes and sects in Iraq has been destroyed. There are peace walls – barricades – between the Sunni and Shi’a quarters of Baghdad, which didn’t exist before. Members of the American armed forces, who are supposed to be paragons and democratic virtue, instead behave as Nazis. The real-life soldier, who formed the basis for the hero in Clint Eastwood’s Sniper, was a racist butcher. The mess he ate and drank in was festooned with Nazi insignia, and the army, to the shock of one of Obama’s diplomats, is permeated with a deep, visceral hatred and contempt for the Iraqi people. This goes far beyond hating the remnants of Hussein’s army, or the Islamist terrorists that have expanded into the power vacuum. It includes ordinary Iraqi civilians. The Sniper mentioned above claims to have shot ordinary Iraqis. One very senior American officer in charge of the occupying forces provided American aid to Sunni death squads, which murdered and terrorised the Shi’a. American squaddies and private military contractors – what in the old days we called ‘mercenaries’ – have been found running everything from prostitution rings. They’ve even gone on shooting sprees, committing drive-by killings of ordinary Iraqis just for fun.

And the country is less than a functioning democracy. It is effectively a US client state. Much of it has been taken over by the ISIS’ thugs, while the Iranians are also seeking to expand their influence with the country’s Shi’a. Some of this mess comes from the fact that George W. Bush, Blair’s Best Friend and the rest of the Neocons had no clue about Arab and Middle Eastern politics and culture, beyond their own crappy ideology. And they believed the lies spouted by one Ahmed Chalabi, who claimed that he led the Iraqi resistance, and they would be welcomed as liberators when they invaded.

The invasion has not created a stable democracy. It has instead produced little beyond misery and carnage. It also amply demonstrates something Jacob Bronowski said in his blockbusting popular science series, The Ascent of Man. Clausewitz famously coined the phrase, ‘War is politics by other means’. Bronowski was a Fabian Socialist as well as a scientist, and had a much bleaker, colder view of armed conflict: ‘War is theft by other means’. In Iraq’s case, he was right.

A Blairite PR Piece?

Looking at the piece, it seems less to me to be a genuine statement by an ordinary member of the public, and more like another piece of PR guff from the Blairites. New Labour was notorious for spin and lies. After all, they ‘sexed up’ the ‘dodgy dossier’ with falsehoods in order to justify the invasion. And just because they’re out of power hasn’t stopped them carrying on. Jack Straw’s son’s PR outfit, Portland Communications, was behind the staged heckling of Jeremy Corbyn at a gay pride rally, and a T-shirt demanding the eradication of ‘Blairite vermin’ was the product of the fetid little mind of another Blairite, Anna Philips, and her pet ‘Creative Consultant and Media Guru’. One of Corbyn’s promises is that he intends to prosecute Blair for war crimes. Blair was on TV recently claiming he wasn’t worried, and trying to justify the debacle. But as this piece shows, clearly he and very many of his followers are worried.

The Young Turks on Fox News Attacking Obama’s Plan for Free Community College Tuition

February 24, 2016

This is another example of a policy by the Democrats that should be taken up over here. And of the right-wing rage that would accompany it if it ever was. The clip comes from a year ago (2015) and shows Steve Doocy and the rest of Fox and Friends getting very annoyed with Obama. That in itself is no surprise. What is interesting is the reason this time round. Obama had the sheer audacity to state that he was going to make federal funds available to pay for two years’ tuition at community colleges. The federal authorities would pay for three-quarters’ of the tuition fees for those two years, and the individual state would be required to pay the rest. This would mean, according to one of the pundits on the TYT panel, that Americans would save on $15,000 tuition fees each year for those two years.

Doocy on Fox and Friends can’t stand it. He states that he’s only just finished paying off his college fees, and doesn’t see why anyone else should get the chance of a free higher education. The Fox panel also shout that if you’ve just got a baby now, you’re not just going to pay for their education, but someone else’s as well. Students shouldn’t have the right to a free education, because nothing is free.

The Turks’ panel of John Iadarola, Dave Rubin, Jimmy Dore and R.J. Eskow give that attitude very short-shrift. They point out that the estimated $60 billion it’s supposedly going to cost is actually the total amount the American state spends on education. They also point out that investing in education is the way Finland actually boosted its economy by educating its people. They also make the point that the money is better spent on education, which will also ultimately benefit everyone in the areas the students in which the students are studying, than just simply giving it to millionaires in the form of tax cuts.

As for the line that present-day students shouldn’t have it, because it didn’t exist way back when, Iadarola states that this is a profoundly un-American attitude. He states that when American introduced Social Security, nobody argued against it’s introduction because, hey, their aunt had to scrimp and save and go without, so why should others have it easy. Or they came to America as indentured servants or slaves, so why should indentured servitude or slavery be ended. People generally want things to be better for the next generation than they are now, not the same or worse. And in the case of education, they certainly don’t agree that something that important, where primary and secondary education are free, should also be made more expensive to stop people taking it up.

As for Steve Doocy, they point out that he’s 58 years old, and attended one of the better American universities. He’d therefore still have to pay his tuition fees if this came in, because he did not go to Community College. Their producer also makes the point that Doocy was at College in the 1970s, so there’s no way he has only just paid off his student debt. And they also argue that the average student debt is so large, $20-30,000, that the only way students can afford to pay it off is for the luck 0.1% to become Fox News presenters.

I’ve reblogged this because British students are now in the same position since Bliar’s government introduced tuition fees, and the Lib-Dem-Tory Coalition hiked them up massively. In the case of Bliar, he was a member of the British-American Project, a Reaganite initiative for schooling the next generation of British politicians. He and the other leaders of New Labour were impressed with Reaganite American attitudes and policies. In the case of Cameron and Clegg, they’re Thatcherite toffs, who resent the working classes getting above themselves and having opportunities which they feel should rightly belong solely to the well-heeled. And it is a Thatcherite policy. I can remember it being discussed when the Iron Lady was doing her best to destroy everything decent in British political culture. Mind you, there were certain figures in the Labour party even then, who supported it, like David Cox, the Labour MP for Hartcliffe in Bristol.

It’s slightly ironic that as British politics has moved to the right with New Labour, so parts of the Democrats have moved to the Left. This particular policy is rather more left-wing, for example, than the current policy in Britain.

I’ve also reblogged this because I’ve also heard the refrain directed against certain policies over this side of the Atlantic, that people shouldn’t have particular benefits, ’cause ‘we never had it in our day.’ And the reply should be the same: it’s not an argument, as people should want to make things better, as The Young Turks have said about education above.

Lobster on Neoliberalism’s Trashing of the Land of the Kiwi

March 29, 2014

lange-celebrating

David Lange, the Labour leader, who introduced Neoliberal economics into New Zealand, celebrating 1984 election victory.

Early this week in the post ‘Letter from Australia’ I republished Gathering Swallows comments on the way Abbott, the current premier of Australia, was introducing the same policies Down Under that are being used to destroy the welfare state over here, and attack the poor and working class. The same Neoliberal programme of privatisation and cuts to the health service and the welfare state was also carried out about two decades ago in New Zealand. The parapolitical magazine, Lobster, no. 31, for June 1996, pp. 34-5, carried a review of Economic Fundamentalism: A Laboratory Experiment by Jane Kelsey, a New Zealand law professor (Pluto Press: London 1996). It was an account of how a handful of bureaucrats and their supporters in New Zealand big business took control of the nation’s economic policies and imposed a mixture of Neoliberalism, Thatcherite privatisation of state assets at rock-bottom prices, and the type of restructuring schemes imposed by the IMF on developing nations.

The review describes just how bizarre these policies were, considering their background in American economic imperialism:

The oddity of what they did can’t be exaggerated. IMF restructuring programmes traditionally have been implemented at gun-point, imposed by the US-dominated IMF on developing countries with the ever-present threat of political action – from economic sanctions, through CIA subversion, up to full-blown coup in the background. They have to be imposed by force because they are simply schemes whereby the imperialist powers (until recently usually America) extract wealth from the Third World. Loan-sharking or extortion would describe them. In New Zealand, a bunch of true believers imposed this catastrophic nonsense on their own country.

Like Blair’s administration in Britain, this occurred under a Labour government. The review states that it was allowed to go on, because Labour politicians didn’t know enough about economics and opposition to these policies were divided. As in Britain, the Left was more concerned with opposition to nuclear weapons and feminism, while the unions failed to combat these policies. The policies also succeeded because the media, who really don’t know a thing about economics, absolutely believed everything that the businessmen and their economists told them, and then marginalised the opposition to them.

Lobster states

The result has been entirely predictable: less economic activity and/or depression, unemployment; massive redistribution from poor to rich, from manufacturing to money-lenders; massive rip-offs; destruction of unions, welfare state and health service; export of NZ capital, purchasing of NZ companies and former government assets by foreign capital.

Ramsay suspects there was a strong American influence controlling this somewhere. He notes that at the time there was a major effort by the Americans to counter the anti-nuclear stance of the New Zealand Labour Party and the trade unions at the time. Part of the programme of mass privatisation and destruction of the welfare state involved US-sponsored trips to America for New Zealand personnel. Again, there’s a parallel here in the way the British American Project and similar schemes has operated to influence and train up aspiring British political and industrial leaders, like Tony Blair.

The real responsibility for inflicting these policies on New Zealand lies not secret diplomacy by the US, but the uncritical adoption of Neoliberalism by New Zealand Labour politicians themselves. The review cites Bryan Gould’s description of meeting them in 1987 in his 1995 book, Goodbye to All That:

I recall a stimulating evening over dinner with [Labour Finance Minister] Roger Douglas and a group of “young Turks” from the Treasury. They had all the conviction of religious zealots. They were convinced they had found the Holy Grail and were seemingly unaware that their prescriptions had been tried and largely abandoned elsewhere.

Gould had been a British Labour politician, but was side-lined by New Labour, and as a result left politics to become a vice-chancellor at one of New Zealand’s Unis.

Throughout the world the same Neoliberal economic policies are being ruthlessly pursued, resulting in the destruction of welfare provision, massive unemployment and poverty amongst the lower middle and working classes, and the further, colossal enrichment of an extremely wealthy elite. This has happened not just because of Conservative administrations like Thatcher’s in the UK, but also through nominally left-wing parties, such as New Labour under Blair.

It’s high time this was stopped. It needs people across the world to learn from each other, and formulate a truly global campaign of resistance. For what’s being done elsewhere now, will be done here today.

Back to 1920s Economic Orthodoxy with Neo-Liberal New Labour

March 24, 2014

140323labourpolls

Poll showing the fall in Labour’s lead over the Tories after Balls and Milliband declared they would not opposte the government’s austerity campaign.

Yesterday Mike over at Vox Political put up a controversial piece about the way Labour’s lead over the Tories had collapsed in the wake of Osborne’s budget. Mike argued that this was because Ed Balls and Ed Milliband, instead of defending the working and lower middle classes – the genuinely hard-working people of Cameron’s Britain – against the privatisation of the health service and savage cuts to benefits – Balls and Milliband had instead largely agreed with the government’s policies. To the disgust of many, Milliband has stated that he will not reverse the government’s austerity cuts despite the fact that these are economically nonsensical. Like his predecessor, Tony Blair, Milliband has stated that he wants the party to reach out to the middle class. Thus he appears to have abandoned the very people Labour was founded to represent – the poor, and the working class.

When Blair launched the New Labour project it was proudly held up as modernising the party, a policy and attitude that Milliband wishes to follow. Except that it hasn’t modernised the party. It’s done the opposite and dragged it back over 90 years to the 1920s. When the Labour formed its first government in that decade, contrary to expectations and the desires of its rank and file members and voters it followed a policy of model economic orthodoxy with fiscal restraint in order to pay for the War one of the government’s chief priorities. This was the same decade that Keyne’s produced his ground-breaking theories that overturned classical economics and argued that government spending would indeed create economic growth rather than the opposite. However, with the exception of Lloyd George, the parties across the political spectrum failed to adopt them and remained firmly wedded to classical liberal orthodoxy.

Despite the party’s formal commitment to socialism and the working class, there appears to have always been a reluctance amongst some members of its leadership to break with received economic wisdom and appearing too radical. Some of this may be due to the electorally weak position the Labour party has often found itself in. In the mid-1970s under Callaghan the party had a majority in parliament of five. Some of this may also simply be due to the ideological inertia of society as a whole. Once in power, Labour may feel powerless to challenge the entrenched economic and social views of wider society, including the Civil Service and the Bank of England.

It must also be admitted that there are sections of the Labour party, which also seems to share the views of their opponents across the floor, both in economics and in their attitude to the working class. One of the criticisms levelled at the new generation of Labour MPs in the 1970s was that they were largely drawn from the middle classes, and feared and distrusted the working classes on whose behalf they had been elected. This attitude became acute with New Labour, when Tony Blair adopted post-Thatcherite economic and social policies in order to win over the swing voters in key constituencies at the expense of their traditional working class electoral base. As New Labour proudly declared at the time, ‘we’re all middle class now’. Except that we weren’t, and the working class and the poor suffered as a result. Some of that attitude was due to desperation. One female Labour politician in Owen Jones’ book, Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class states that they turned to the new, post-Thatcherite political orthodoxy simply to get into power, so that they could at last do something. It worked, but once in power New Labour forced through many of the same policies that Cameron is pursuing now, which are causing so much damage and harm to Britain’s ordinary, working people.

In the case of New Labour, there is also an ideological influence from American Conservativism. Reagan launched a project to influence the next generation of politicians over here in order to create an Atlanticist alliance and political consensus. This was the British American Project for the Successor Generation, or BAP. The individuals who participated ended up going on various courses in Washington, to meet the people at the heart of the American political system and to see elements of it adopted on this side of the Atlantic. BAP not only included British Conservatives, but also aspiring opposition politicians, including Blair, Balls and the rest of New Labour. The British parapolitical magazine, Lobster, has devoted a number of articles to this.

The result is the current Labour leadership, which seems desperate to follow whatever the Conservatives are doing at the moment, no matter how wicked or harmful, in order not to offend the middle classes. Not only is this a nasty, short-sighted policy that hurts the very people Labour was formed to represent, it’s also unnecessary. The number of people voting in elections is shrinking, partly because people don’t see any real difference between the parties, who are all competing for the same narrow demographic base. Labour could overturn this simply by returning its original Left-wing political orientation. The public does not want the privatisation of the health service and most would like to see the railways and the utilities renationalised. Simply appealing to those voters could massively increase Labour’s lead over the Tories.

At the same time, Labour has never been against the middle class. One of the founding organisations of the modern Labour party, the Fabian Society, explicitly rejected class warfare. They felt that socialism would benefit the whole of society, and so set about trying to win over the middle class support, which they felt was necessary for the successful implementation of socialism. Note: they wanted to win the middle classes over to socialism, not simply win middle class support at the price of jettisoning it. In fact the Fabian Society and the Labour party have often been accused of abandoning Socialism in order to gain the support of the middle classes, but even so, they did have a profound belief in Socialism, even if this was not always reflected in practice. The Labour MP Tony Crossland believed that Labour’s welfare policies actually benefitted capitalism, as it allowed the workers to purchase more goods and services, while government intervention in the economy meant that businesses were protected from the massive slumps and bankruptcies that occurred in the 19th century.

In many ways the Labour party has been far more pro-business than the Tories, even before Blair arranged for the party’s commitment to nationalisation to be dropped from its charter. The Labour administrations of the 1970s made grants available to businesses so that they could modernise their plants, and attempted to pursue policies that would allow businesses to compete in the international market. Compare that to Thatcher, under whose administration failing businesses were ruthlessly closed and millions were thrown out of work.

Economically and socially, Thatcherism and Neo-Liberalism are abysmal failures. They succeed politically because they benefit an immensely wealthy few, and appeal to some of the worst aspects of human nature – greed, insecurity and a vindictive, visceral hatred of the less fortunate.

The Neo-Liberal consensus it not shared by a large majority of the population. Labour can still win elections with a more Socialist political agenda – by strengthening the welfare state and providing better planning and support for businesses. All it needs is the political will from its leaders to do so. If Balls and Milliband don’t do this, then Labour will certainly lose the next election and the British people will suffer poverty and deprivation on the level of the Great Depression. Balls and Milliband have a choice. They can either return Labour to its Left-wing roots, or they should give up the leadership to someone who can.