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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Margaret Thatcher's extremism has already been outdone by this coalition

This article of mine appears over at the Guardian's Comment is Free website.

Neil Clark: The Lib Dems have proved less of a moderating influence than One Nation Tories in Thatcher's first years.

Ask any genuine socialist or progressive which was the most extremist British government since the war and it's long odds-on that they'd say one of the three administrations of Margaret Thatcher. But I believe that is now an outdated judgment. For when it comes to political extremism the present government has already outdone Thatcher.

The coalition, which its supporters ludicrously claims occupies the centre ground, seems hellbent on privatising the entire British state.

You can read the whole article here.


Anonymous said...

Great article. I noticed that some of the comments suggested that the people of Great Britain want neoliberalism because they keep voting for neoliberal parties. But what if there is just no real socialist or social democratic alternative among the major parties?

My understanding is that even the Labour Party is nowhere close to what it used to be on economic issues. I suppose one could vote for a minor party, but many see that as throwing your vote away. Many people just hold their nose and vote for the major party they see as being the least awful alternative in a field of awful choices.

Also, it is important to point out that many people do indeed vote against their own economic interests for a variety of reasons.

For an anecdotal perspective, I personally know a large number of public employees (police, firefighters, etc.) that vote for candidates that are promising to make them pay for the collapse of neoliberal capitalism here in the United States. Of course, what alternative do we have when organized money dictates who wins elections?

Vladimir Gagic said...

I would add the news lately is that in response to the government's austerity measures, the UK economy is shrinking. Osborne is following the Hoover game plan during the Great Depression and getting the same result, a deflationary recession.

Austerity is only appropriate in response to inflation, not recession. The UK is sovereign currency issuer and the government should be spending its way of the current recession, not contracting the economy. The budget deficit is not a problem because deficits follow economic downturns; they don't cause them. Once the government sees the light by stimulating the economy, the deficit will fall as tax revenue increase and fewer unemployed workers will need government benefits.

The only thing austerity will do is contract the economy, but then again, wealthy individuals and corporations seem perfectly fine with that fact.

von Hayek said...

Mrs T wasn't an extremist. There was a coherent intellectual tradition of classical and Gladstonian liberalism to justify her economic policies which worked remarkably. Unemployment skyrocketed because of restrictive union practices and the death of heavy manufacturing. No business that wants to stay solvent is going to buy British when he can get it much cheaper in China and India. The industrial revolution caused a great deal of hardship for agarian workers, leading to the rise of the Luddite movement. Would you roll back the industrial revolution just so some farmers could stay in work? Would you roll back the technological devolopments that have give our people much better life chances than their ancestors could have dreamed of decades ago? The same is true with heavy manufacturing. It could have survived if the Unions hadn't been obstructive and to use your favourite word... extremist. But their obtusity lead to their downfall.