Sunday, 13 February 2011

Now we need liberation from 30 years of Thatcherism

The Egyptians have achieved the first aim of their peaceful revolution - the removal of President Hosni Mubarak. Now that power has passed into the hands of the army will we see a peaceful transition to democracy? The Army has played a strange game in the past 20 days or so, refusing to turn on the protestors, whilst at the same time being complicit in the torture and detention of some of the anti-government campaigners. Because The Army is very much part of the ruling establishment its hard to see how they can turn against their own, which is ultimately what the protestors want. At best, we are likely to see a shoddy compromise where there are elections, but how free and fair these will be we will have to wait and see.

So what has this got to do with Thatcherism? More than you might think. Firstly the Egyptians have just removed a despot who ruled them for 30 years. In the UK we have now had 30 years of Thatcherism. Thatcherism is a right wing neoliberal ideology which aims to ensure 'free' market domination of the world's economies. In the 1980s neoliberalism was known as Reaganomics in the USA and Thatcherism in the UK. Ever since that time, UK and US governments, including those lead by Clinton and Blair, have pursued neoliberal policies characterised by tax cuts and privatisation of public services. These policies benefit the wealthiest in society and have been responsible for increasing the gap between rich and poor.

In the USA there has been a marked increase in inequality with the incomes of workers (including the middle classes) stagnating whilst those of the richest boomed. In the UK the changes have not been as marked yet because we have historically had a much stronger public sector. The current Coalition government has set out to change this by cutting the public sector, slashing welfare and dumping the costs of the economic crisis onto workers and middle classes. We are catching up with the USA. The Tory-led coalition plan is clearly to pave the way for further tax cuts before the next election, which will further reduce the tax base leading to further cuts in public services and, eventually, the privatisation of the NHS.

The point is that if you take what the current Thatcherite government is doing to its logical conclusion in the UK you end up with a country like Egypt. A country with a small wealthy elite, mass unemployment, and the majority living in relative poverty. That is the plan for the UK. Of course if you have such a society you have to have a repressive state/police apparatus to make it work. The foundations of this were laid by the last government. Think it can't happen here? Can you afford to wait and find out?

Of course its ironic that Cameron is calling for greater freedom and fairness for the Egyptians whilst putting in place economic measures that will inevitably take us closer to them. But he has to doesn't he? The Americans and the British have to maintain the illusion that they support democracy abroad despite the fact they have been propping up Mubarak and the other despots for many years.

Like the Egyptians we need liberation, liberation from a neoliberal 'economic' system which is gradually making us poorer and taking us closer to the kind of society they live in. That is why we have to fight the cuts and crack this coalition apart. If you can, join the protest organised by the TUC in London on March 26th. The Egyptians have shown that determined protest can work!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But how many times to deliver the same message and we don't take a call for action??!!