Posts Tagged ‘White Collar Workers’

Pro-Corbin Rally in Bristol Yesterday

June 29, 2016

Apart from the post-Brexit anti-racism rally on Bristol’s College Green yesterday, Points West also covered a rally in support of Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbin, held at the same time and in the same place. They interviewed one of the rallies organisers, who had rejoined Labour after Corbyn had won the leadership contest. She had been a member, but had left, and was rejoining the part after twenty years. The interviewer raised the matter of the party’s MPs passing a no-confidence vote in him. Unfortunately, the three Labour MPs for the region, according to the programme, have also joined in this vote. The rally’s organiser replied that, whatever the parliamentary party may think of Corbyn, he was immensely popular with the grassroots members. The party membership was up to 200,000, with tens of thousands joining or rejoining the party thanks to Corbyn’s leadership. After raising the issue of the no-confidence vote yet again, and getting another, more positive response, the interviewer turned to the camera, and concluded the interview by saying that, while Corbyn was having trouble with his MPs, at least he could rely on some support here in Bristol.

In fact, throughout the country Jeremy Corbyn is massively popular with traditional Labour voters and the party’s grassroots base. Mike’s written a series of articles about this over at Vox Political. The members of the parliamentary party, who are desperately trying to oust him, are Blairites to a man and woman. And it’s disgusting that they should try and mount this coup against him, just as their bosses’ policies were. Blair took over the Tories’ policy of privatising everything that he could get his hands on, and sell to corporate fat cats. This included expanding their attempts to sell off the NHS. Like the Tories, they knew that this would make them lose the next election if the British public ever realised, and so, like the Tories now, they have deliberately kept its privatisation very quiet. Nevertheless, they did it, and the threat is very real. See Jacky Davis’ and Raymond Tallis’ excellent book, NHS SOS.

The Labour party has, under Jeremy Corbyn, overtaken the Tories in terms of mass membership. This is the complete reverse of the previous situation. For decades the Tories were easily the largest party in the UK, with a membership of about 2 1/2 million. Now it’s half that. Many branches have less than 100 members, and their members are, on average, of retirement age.

Blair reformed the Labour party according to Thatcherite, neoliberal ideas. Those ideas have run their course, and the consequences have been terrible. They have wrecked this country, and are reducing its people to poverty. But many of the members of the parliamentary party joined when Bliar was in the ascendant, and have swallowed the economic snake oil. Thus we had one Blairite MP saying before the last election that Labour would be even harder than the Tories on the unemployed. It’s all been to suck up to the middle class ‘swing voters’ New Labour targeted at elections, at the expense of their true, working class constituency.

One of the consequences of this is that the neoliberal political class, drenched as it is in Thatcherite orthodoxy, has refused to countenance any criticism of the private market policies that have generated this poverty and inequality. And so instead, the xenophobic right has arisen, under Nigel Farage, blaming the poverty and country’s ills on immigrants and the EU.

There are several good arguments against the EU. But Corbyn needs to be backed to return real life and vitality back to the Labour party and democracy. The country needs to be built back up from the devastation inflicted from three decades of Thatcherism, and working people, whatever their race or ethnic origin, given back their dignity and protection from the predatory factory masters that Thatcher, Major and Bliar released. And the country needs a true democratic choice between left and right, not merely between two right-wing parties, whose policies are now indistinguishable. As the Neo-cons and Neolibs intended all along.

As for the Blairites, if they cannot stomach what their party was founded to stand for, and what their grassroots members want, and what the party’s supporters want and need, they should leave. Go to the Tories. That’s their natural home after all. One of the first things Blair did when got into No. 10 was invited Maggie round for tea. Well, she’s dead, Blair’s out of power, and his heir and collaborator, Broon, lost the election. It’s about time the Blairites and their supporters either genuinely started representing Labour – organised labour, the labour of the unions, the working class, and the students and white collar workers Bliar betrayed. Or they should leave, and make way for those who will.

Pareto, Liberismo, Free Trade and Conservative Fascism

April 11, 2014


Vilfredo Pareto: Free Trade economist who believed in the importance of elites.

I’ve posted a number of piece criticising the attempts by Conservatives, such as the Dorset MEP Daniel Hannan, to smear Socialism through the argument that Fascism was simply one form of it. American Conservatives in particular seem to believe that any form of state intervention or collectivist approach automatically equals Socialism, which is in turn equated with Communism and Nazism. Mussolini started his career as a radical Socialist, and there were elements of Socialism, and specifically Syndicalism, in Fascism. Fascism was, however, an unstable and frequently incoherent mixture of different and contradictory ideologies and attitudes. Syndicalism was one element. Others were the middle class, Conservative ideologies of free trade, private enterprise and liberismo.

Liberismo was the ideology of the Italian middle classes. It was associated with the belief in a balanced budget and sound, stable currency, and reflected the interests of the middle class groups with fixed incomes, who felt themselves vulnerable to inflation. These were rentiers, pensioners, civil servants, professionals and White collar workers. These groups looked to Fascism to halt rising prices. At the same time, Mussolini presented the Fascist movement as defending private enterprise and the small businesses from Socialism and organised Labour on the one hand, and the large trusts and cartels of big business on the other. They resented the way the government, under their influence, had maintained a policy of high tariffs and high state expenditure. The Italian Nationalists, who later merged with the Fascists, had attacked international finance and the major banks. The crash of the Banca di Sconto associated with the Perrone brothers and the Ansaldo conglomerate in 1922, resulted in a number of small investors losing their savings. The Perrone brothers and Ansaldo were major figures and backers of the Nationalists, who blamed their bank’s failure on the government blindly obeying the dictates of the rival Banca Commerciale.

Fascist elitism and contempt for democracy also had part of its origins in the ideas of the economist Vilfredo Pareto. A professor of Political Economy at the University of Lausanne, Pareto was a staunch supporter of free trade. This in turn led to his contempt for parliamentary democracy and belief in the importance of elites. He also valued myth, considered as powerful irrational ideas and images, as a means through which governments and movements could inspire their supporters to action. His works also explored the use of force and consent. He argued that the ‘foxes’ of the old, patrician order, would now be overthrown by ‘plebean’ lions, and denounced the humanitarianism of contemporary liberal politics as a symptom of a political order in decline. As the above quote makes clear, Pareto believed that contemporary democracy was merely an ideological disguise for the way the elite continued to hold power while maintaining the impression that it was the masses who were in control of government. Mussolini read Pareto when he was a radical Socialist, and took over his idea elitism, and utter contempt for parliamentary democracy and humanitarianism.

Free trade, private enterprise, and a balanced budget, became elements of Fascism. This is, however, denied by Conservatives, who seem to believe that they stand apart from and opposed to it in a way which the Socialist parts of Fascism do not. Liberismo and Pareto’s elitism may also explain the strongly anti-democratic trend in Libertarianism. Both von Hayek and Mises served in Vollmar Dollfuss’ Austro-Fascist regime. Dollfuss banned the Austrian Socialist party on the grounds that it was preparing a revolution. It’s unclear whether this was true, or merely a pretext. The regime was allied to Mussolini’s Italy, and looked to the Duce for protection against annexation from Hitler’s Germany. After Hayek moved to America, he also travelled to Chile after Pinochet’s coup to examine the implementation of his economic doctrines there. Pareto’s prediction of the victory of the plebs over the patricians may well have been another piece of myth-making – a powerful image intended to inspire fear in the middle classes, and force them to act against the threat from the working class. Hayek in his absolute support for private enterprise, free trade and willingness to serve Right-wing dictatorships, seems to have shared these attitudes. This is despite Libertarianism’s claim to represent traditional Liberalism. Libertarianism and its adherents share the same attitudes as the Conservative followers of liberismo who joined the Fascists.

For further information, see ‘Pareto, Vilfredo’, in Philip V. Cannistraro, ed., Historical Dictionary of Fascist Italy (Westport: Greenwood Press 1982) 392.

Adrian Lyttelton, The Seizure of Power: Fascism in Italy 1919-1929 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1987).