Sunday, 27 January 2013

One thing the 'free' market is brilliant at - generating bullshit

One of the cornerstones of 'free' market capitalism is 'confidence'. 'Confidence' is of course a code word. What is really means is that capitalists need to know the governments will ensure that everything is stitched up in their favour. Another way of putting this is - privatising the profits and nationalising the losses - that whatever happens, they can't lose. This is because capitalists, contrary to 'free' market mythology are not really risk-takers at all. That myth is a good example of 'free' market bullshit. What capitalists really want is no-risk-at-all guaranteed profits of the kind they can get from the privatisation of the public sector.

But its really another kind of confidence I want to focus on. This is the key confidence of 'entrepreneurship'. This is the bullshit that is really at the heart of neoliberal 'free' market capitalism, and comes straight out of the 'free' market fantasises of Ayn Rand. The mythology goes like this; all wealth is created by dynamic, risk-taking individuals we call entrepreneurs. Becuase of the dynamism and creativity of these special individuals the Earth continues to orbit the Sun, and we should all be eternally grateful to these people. And, because they are so magical they deserve special treatment - like not paying taxes - and must enjoy great wealth and, of course, power.

Poeple like Bill Gates and Richard Branson are cited as examples of these thrusting god-like individuals. The problem is that the idols have feet of clay. Gates's Microsoft empire was built on MS-DoS, a piece of software he bought off someone else, and grew through the ruthless destruction of rival companies by establishing a monopoly position for his key products; Windows and Microsoft Office. Branson has done extremely well out of government handouts as shown by his risk-free 'enterprise' Virgin Rail. No risk when you run a private monopoly, just guaranteed profits from the taxpayer. Much to Branson's chagrin this was ruthlessly exposed  by Aditya Chakrabortty in this Guardian article. But the myth of the entrepreneur continues to be crucial to the belief-system that is neoliberal 'free' market capitalism. That is not to say that there aren't dynamic and innovative individuals, it just that very few of those people are capitalists, or even want to be. For those few capitalists that are there is a fatal problem - the wealth that 'they generate' is actually created by workers, not by them.
Marie Antoinette said "Let them eat cake". But the entrepreneurs of Davos want us only to have the cake crumbs.

This week my 'free' market bullshit detector has been pointing in the direction of that heart of darkness known as the World Economic Forum in Davos. This is the home of the really confident ones, the capitalists with their luxury yachts who ride on the crest of the wave of 'free' market bullshit. These grossly overpaid, overrated and over-confident individuals, their sycophantic hangers on, and tame politicians who serve them, are beginning to look more and more like the Marie Antoinettes of the modern world. You can tell this by the fact that even Will Hutton, who likes capitalism, is getting very pissed off with the Davos crowd. and wants them sorted out. But, for the time being, while the entrepreneurs of Davos feast on the fruits of our labours we will have to be satisfied with the crumbs of cake that fall from their table.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Neoliberal Labour fail the social justice test - again!

Neoliberal Labour are at it again. This time pandering to the Coalition's class-war driven attack on the unemployed with their own version of Workfare. Labour's new plan - or should that be New Labour's plan? - announced by Ed Balls, is that people who are unemployed for more than two years would be forced to work in some sort of government backed scheme for at least 6 months. And Labour have repeated the Tory mantra that work must pay more than benefits.

So what is wrong with this you may ask? Well there is plenty wrong with it. For a start, unemployment is a failure of Labour's beloved 'free' market to provide meaningful jobs for people. But this can't be admitted, so the unemployed must be blamed for their own predicament, including the 660,000 public sector workers who have lost their jobs under the Coalition. In 'free' market la la land you must always blame the victims never the culprits - i.e. the banks, the tax dodging corporations and the tame politicians who support them, the very people who created the economic crisis we are now all paying for. Secondly, if people on benefits get more money than those in work that tells us the simple truth that those in work are not earning enough. Under the previous New Labour government, Gordon Brown's tax credits for working families simply subsidised cheap labour for the tax dodging corporations. It was a form of corporate welfarism. Thirdly, the unemployed and low paid are exactly the sort of people who ought to expect and allegedly 'progressive' party like Labour to give them some support in difficult times. Instead of this reactionary nonsense, Labour should be committed to full employment, as it used to be, and guarantee every unemployed person a meaningful job. But Labour doesn't have the 'Balls' to do that.

What is the answer? At the last general election in its 2010 manifesto, the Green Party came up with policies to halve the deficit and create one million new jobs in the green sector - in areas like home insulation - to tackle the crisis in the economy and fight climate change. This carefully costed programme, paid for by shelving wasteful and unnecessary projects like Trident, and taxes on environmental pollution and the rich, would have put the UK in a much stronger position than it is now. There would not have been swinging cuts in the public sector and no privatisation of the NHS. There is a real alternative of hope to the despair and destruction that neoliberal austerity is wreaking on the people of Europe and the UK. We can bring about positive change if people vote for us. Do you want to be part of a positive future? Then come and join us.