UK: Caught at a crossroads, it’s time to build an alternative to neoliberalism

Published on New Statesman, by John McDonnell, Nov 2, 2016.

After four decades, the economic consensus is crumbling, what can politicians do next?

Theresa May’s speech to the Conservative party conference in early October seemed to mark a clear turn in economic policy. It was condemned by the right-wing Institute of Economic Affairs as “an alarming attack on free markets” and by the Adam Smith Institute as “the opposite of pragmatic”. The Institute of Directors felt compelled to point out that “business leaders are not pantomime villains” … //

… It is becoming clear that neoliberalism – as these rules have become known – has run its course and cannot deliver the rising living standards that were supposed to be the hallmark of modern economies.

Since the global financial crisis in 2008, ultra-loose monetary policy has been needed across the developed economies. In the UK in particular, stagnant wages for the lower-paid sectors have been supported by in-work benefits, whose costs to the Exchequer have been rising.

Now, the political and financial limits of this course are being reached. The Brexit vote sounded a death knell for our economic and political settlement of the past few decades. On the left, the temptation for some may be to celebrate. After all, we have called insistently for more public investment and economic intervention, alongside policies such as worker representation in boardrooms and clamping down on tax avoidance.

The change in rhetoric by the government has been portrayed as “Conservative tanks on Labour lawns”. But this cliché gets it wrong: it is when your opponents start using your arguments that you know you are winning – as Margaret Thatcher recognised when she claimed New Labour as her greatest achievement.

The breach between the Conservatives and capital does not necessarily herald an improvement in the fortunes of the left. If it is replaced instead by an inward-looking, xenophobic autarky, prepared to sacrifice the living standards of its citizens in the desire to please the most virulent anti-immigrant tendencies of the right, the organised left and the people we exist to represent will be worse off, as will all those who favour a free and open society. If Ukip wins, we lose … //

… Nearly 40 years on from Eric Hobsbawm’s * warnings about the future of the labour movement, we have the opportunity to put an end to neoliberalism with a modern, inspiring, collective economic alternative. If we don’t offer a credible alternative, someone else will, and the results will be ugly.

Of course our immediate priority is to hold the government to account during the negotiations over Brexit, but at the same time we must be looking ahead to rethink how our economy works. I want the Labour Party to be at the centre of that, and I want as many people to be part of that conversation as possible: through our policymaking structures and at our forthcoming public national and regional economic conferences.

To coin a phrase: change must come. But what type of change, and for whose benefit, is up to us to determine.

(full long text).

* Related Links:

  • In Guha’s Latest Book, The Polemicist Often Prevails Over The Intellectual, on Swarajya, by Sanjeev Ahluwalia, Nov 04, 2016: … Eric Hobsbawm’s (1917-2012) life-long commitment to Marxism illustrates the perils of sacrificing scholastic distance to wed ideology. Guha builds on this in the chapter on the eight barriers to freedom of expression in India—ideologically committed writers being one …;
  • Bugged: how MI5 spied on Cambridge academic, on Cambridge News, by Chris Elliott, Sept 28, 2016: famous Cambridge historian E P Thompson was secretly bugged by MI5 agents probing Communist Party activities in Britain … in 1945, he formed the Communist Party Historians Group, which included Cambridge academic Eric Hobsbawm, and which from 1952 published an influential journal, Past and Present …;
  • Viva La Revolución with Eric Hobsbawm - review: Latin America from leftwing hopes to bloody dictatorships, on The Guardian, by Tony Wood, July 8, 2016;
  • Viva la Revolución with Eric Hobsbawm – on Latin America, on Financial Times, by John Paul Rathbone, June 17, 2016: the Latin American writings of a great Marxist historian are remarkably prescient;
  • The age of… series – Eric Hobsbawm, on, by anonymous, Jan 3, 2012: the renowned historian was drawn to Cuba following the revolution and remained compelled by a continent destined to undermine conventional political truths;
  • Eric Hobsbawm: on en.wikipedia; /See also; /External Links; and on;

Other Links:

Assange: Clinton resisted FBI, and now they’re out for payback (JOHN PILGER EXCLUSIVE), on RT, Nov 5, 2016;

Internal labour markets as a co-insurance mechanism within business organisations,, by Giacinta Cestone, Chiara Fumagalli, Francis Kramarz, Giovanni Pica, Nov 5, 2016: diversified business groups and conglomerates have been shown to withstand economic shocks better than equivalent standalone companies. This column uses employment data from France to argue that business groups use internal labour markets to save on termination, search, and training costs, which helps them cope with unexpected changes. These internal markets also provide implicit employment insurance to employees;

Clintongate: How Corporate America Bought Hillary Clinton for $21 Million, on Global (first on New York Post), by Michael Walsh, Nov 4, 2016: … Ronald Reagan was severely criticized in 1989 when, after he left office, he was paid $2 million for a couple of speeches in Japan. “The founding fathers would have been stunned that an occupant of the highest office in this land turned it into bucks,” sniffed a Columbia professor … Here’s how much Hillary Clinton was paid for her 2013-2015 speeches: … Total: $21,667,000 … Bill and Hillary Clinton collected more than $48 million in speaking fees in the past few years …;

U.S. Elections “November Chaos”, What You’re Not Being Told [VIDEO, 13.05 min - also on YouTube], on Global, by James Corbett and Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Nov 04, 2016: the FBI’s October surprise has thrown the 2016 election into November chaos. But an examination of the trigger mechanism behind this event reveals a deeper layer of manipulation by the media and financial interests behind the election …;

Whom to trust, why we persistently get it wrong, on, by Jeffrey Butler, Paola Giuliano, Luigi Guiso, Nov 4, 2016: the economic consequences of individuals being persistently mistaken in their trust beliefs can be as large as those from not going to college. This column sheds light on how trust assessments are made. It documents a large role for moral considerations, which may ultimately contribute to the persistence of mistakes in trusting behaviour;

How the oil crisis wrecked Russia and obliterated Venezuela, on The Week, by , Nov 1, 2016: the future is not rosy for Russia and Venezuela;

Hürden für Sozialisten an der Macht, auf diesem Blog, 30. Okt 2016;

Germany: zur Lage der Religions- und Weltanschauungsfreiheit – Debatte im Bundestag, 83.39 min, von phoenix am 23. Sept 2016 …;

… and this:

  • Hey Jude – Paul McCartney, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Sting, Mark Knopfler, Phil Collins on Drums, 6.36 min, uploaded by Carz & … many others in autoplay.

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