Sunday, 5 June 2011

Neoliberalism is unravelling, and so is everything else

Capitalism isn't working, and, as a result, we are facing multiple social, political, economic and environmental crises. So wedded are our politicians to the market, and there is so much power in the hands of financial capitalism, that the politicians are trapped like rabbits in the headlights of an oncoming juggernaut. In the UK this is exemplified by the adherence of Osborne and Cameron to a failed economic approach which threatens to take us back into recession. Despite the warnings of what happened to Ireland and Greece, and economists like Joseph Stiglitz and others, despite the dire news about climate change, peak oil and food security, and despite the protests in the Arab world and Europe, we continue, lemming like, to be lead towards the abyss.

It was Santayana who said that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat past mistakes. As we repeat the mistakes of the past we are also repeating the failures of the past. It appears we have learnt nothing from the depression of the 1930s. But the saddest thing in the UK is that we also seem to have learnt nothing politically. In the UK the Labour party has learnt nothing from losing millions of votes at the 2005 general election and continues ploughing ahead with self-defeating neo-New Labourism, ignoring the fact that Labour supporters want a return to social democracy. Ed Milliband's timidity, under the circumstances, is astonishing. Here we have a government which has cocked-up the economy, devastated the welfare state and is threatening the future of the NHS and what do we hear from Labour? - a big fat nothing! No wonder the latest poll showed Labour neck-and-neck with the Coalition for the first time since the election in the latest polls.

We won't be able to solve any of the above mentioned crises until we end the domination of the political right and financial capitalism. This can only be done by a move to the left, a return, initially at least, to the politics of social democracy and social justice - that is what people are crying out for here, in Europe and the Middle East. As a socialist and environmentalist, I've been aware for decades that rampant capitalism with its endless desire for growth would lead to the collapse of environmental systems with devastating consequences for all of us. I just didn't expect it to happen in my lifetime.

So what is the answer? How can we change politics and revive the politics of the left? Not by suddenly ramming Marxism down peoples throats that's for sure. We need to learn from history and make sure we don't repeat the mistakes the left made in the past, ditching the dogmatic and sectarian aspects of Socialism which have lead to disillusionment and defeat. I've posted about this before here. The answer is the stick to the straightforward democratic socialism of social justice and need not greed, of putting people in control of their own economy, of jobs, housing, healthcare and a strong public sector. That is what the people in Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Libya really want.

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