Thursday, 19 July 2012

The 'free' market Taliban pose a very real threat to our society

There can hardly be a person in the UK who has not heard of the 'terrorist threat' or the 'war on terror'. We have become used to living with heightened security. If you travel by train as I do you will have heard automated Orwellian announcements which refer to "unattended luggage being removed and destroyed by the security services" - whoever they are supposed to be. Some people have argued that all this security has gone way over the top and that the 'terrorist threat' has been deliberately exaggerated by politicians to suit their own purposes. Adam Curtis, in his excellent documentary, The Power of Nightmares, argued that politicians play on our fears and use the terrorist threat to get us to vote for them, and ultimately, to control us. I am sympathetic to this view, but that is not what this post is about. It is about a very real threat which is causing enormous economic damage, human misery and death in the West on a scale that terrorist groups like Al Qaeda could never hope to emulate.

Ayn Rand - prophet of the 'free' market right

But the real threat doesn't come from outside, from some foreign power or terrorist group it comes from within. Those who a perpetrating very real damage to our society are not terrorists or even idealists -  they, like the Taliban, are fundamentalists. These people are neoliberal 'free' market fundamentalists whose views are not economic, nor even really ideological, they are more a belief system. If you wanted to compare these 'free' market fundamentalists with other groups you would find they had more in common with extremist religiously inspired groups like the extreme evangelicals in the USA or the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The holy tenets of this 'free' market religion are not to be found in one holy book, though if they had a bible it would probably have to be Atlas Shrugged, and their prophet would be its author, Ayn Rand. The 'free' market fundamentalists claim to be the descendants of Adam (Smith) though their views are a distorted and selective extract from his writings. They believe in deregulation, privatisation, in outsourcing, downsizing, austerity and small government. They believe that there are magic beings called entrepreneurs who we all depend upon for wealth and  prosperity. And make no mistakes these are beliefs, which when examined closely, turn out to have about as much validity as the beliefs of the Creationists and other flat-earthers. Do they care about that? Not at all! -  because they have faith.

The 'free' market fundamentalists are the very people who brought you the greatest economic crisis in capitalism, a near collapse of the world economic system, featuring the credit crunch, the sovereign debt crisis, and the Eurozone crisis. These are the people who have deepened and made worse those same crises by their belief in austerity, and, as things continue to get worse, as economies crumble, mass unemployment grows and people's living standards are destroyed, what is their answer? Why - of course - more of the same! They are like the mad medieval doctors who while bleeding the patient to death - call for yet more blood to be spilt. Believe me, these people are a far greater threat to the planet, your family and your community than the Taliban or Al Qaeda ever could be. They need to be stopped, for all our sakes, before they bring the whole world down in ruin.

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