Daily archives: May 24, 2011

The Strange Death of Corporatist Britain

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After the most intense bombardment of Tripoli yet, we are now deploying ground attack helicopters to intensify the fighting in Libya. Whether all this is really going to achieve the illegal objective of regime change is open to question. What is in no doubt is that it is killing people, and it is very expensive. In April 2011, UK net public sector borrowing exceeded £10 billion for the month – compared to £7.2 billion in April 2010 and a forecast of £6.5 billion. We are closing libraries and care for the disabled. Yet we still squander billions on neo-imperial folly.

The problem is that there is no opposition. The British political system has become an uncomplicated instrument of power for a united neo-conservative class. The Liberal Democrats have been neutered by Clegg and New Labour still seeks to attack from the populist right. Our established political system is not fit for purpose – it no longer provides a forum for the airing of views very widely held by disparate groups in society, and for the fair and agreed resolution of courses of action.

It has not always been like this. Even at the height of Britain’s formal Empire, major parts of one of Britain’s two main parties were actively and aggressively anti-Imperialist, and in the later Gladstonian period that included the leadership.

These aggressive wars are the most spectacular instance of the non-representation of important sections of public opinion. Involving less actual explosions and causing slower deaths, the banking bailout is a much deeper and more important example. No significant opposition was given to the lie that every single individual had to give tens of thousands of pounds to the banks to save us all from doom. As the payments are made over a lifetime – and multiplied many times in interest – the pain of realising that everyone was now vicariously paying off a very large mortgage on money somebody else has enjoyed, is only now starting to be felt. The vast mass of people did not realise what is happening, and did not do so because a united political class in the service of those taking the money from the people, conspired to mislead them and offered no alternative.

But the truth is that it will not last. A political system which has become as otiose as this one, which no longer reflects the interests of large masses of economically significant people, will eventually collpase. That process can take decades, and I am not sure how it will be replaced, nor that what replaces it will be better. But the current western liberal democratic model is looking bust. We need now to work on ideas which are both more libertarian and responsive to smaller communities which are closer to their people.

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