Sunday, 10 May 2015

Why are so many right-wingers still fighting the ideological battles of the 1970s?

In the aftermath of the 2015 General Election I wrote an article asking Tory voters a simple question. I asked them why they had been willing to actively endorse the undeniable abuse of vulnerable, sick and disabled people that the Tory party has inflicted over the last five years.

All I wanted was an honest answer explaining why the terrible suffering that Iain Duncan Smith's regime of malice and incompetence has caused to vulnerable and disabled people had ranked so low in their "who should I vote for?" calculations.

Obviously none of them were brave enough to put their heads above the parapet to admit the truth - "fuck it, it's all very sad and all, but I voted out of pure self-interest because I think a Tory government would be better for me", but one did pop up to leave this 'answer'.
"You have obviously forgotten the 3 Day week, the endless strikes, the piles of rubbish in the streets, and the Union's [sic] doing there [sic] best to drive this country into oblivion"
This is my reply to his 'answer'.
Well you obviously haven't forgotten it have you? You've clearly totemised it in your mind to such an extent that now almost anything is acceptable in comparison, even the systematic abuse of disabled people 
What is worse is the fact that what you've written isn't even an attempt to defend what is happening now or to explain your decision to vote in favour of it, it's just a demonstration of 'whataboutery'.

All of that stuff that you harped on about happened decades ago (the Winter of Discontent is actually closer in history to WWII than it is to now), but the abuse of vulnerable and disabled people that I am talking about is happening right now.

I think you need to stop re-fighting the ideological battles of the 1970s and 1980s in your mind and try to get to grips with what has actually been happening for the last 36 years, and with the stuff that is actually happening now. 
One of the ugliest things about the way you fixate on the past like that is the fact that your side won the ideological war decades ago. You got all of the deregulations and privatisations that you wanted; you got the centralisation of political power; you got the firesale and neglect of so much public housing; you got the destruction of so many workers rights and tenants rights; and you got the ideological ruination of the UK's heavy manufacturing sector. But despite the fact that you got what you wanted, you still won't let go of those familiar tabloid narratives about how much worse it all was back then. Back when people had job security, disposable income, tenancy rights, access to social housing and the like, and when hard working young couples could actually afford to buy their own homes, instead of being completely priced out of the market by an ugly and reckless property price speculation bonanza fueled by vast flows of debt spewing out of the dangerously deregulated private banks, even though both of them are working full-time jobs. 
It's like you don't even understand that the genuine left was eviscerated by Murdoch and Thatcher. After this catastrophic defeat, the empty gutless husk of the left was picked up by a self-serving opportunist called Tony Blair who agreed to use it in order to continue Thatcher's right-wing economic project in return for support from Rupert Murdoch's vast media empire.

Blair's continuation of Thatcher's project eventually led to it's logical conclusion: A massive financial sector crash and the complete ideological refutation of the right-wing free market ideology when the governments on both sides of the Atlantic had no choice but to launch the biggest state sector interventions in economic history in order to bail out the stricken and debt riddled private banks 
Amazingly the Tories have managed to use this glaring refutation of their own free-market ideology as an excuse to launch an even more extremist version of it, which they have called 'austerity' and sold to the ever gullible English public by fearmongering about the size of the public debt.
This debt fearmongering campaign succeeded in terrifying the public into supporting ideological austerity even though the 'ever so scary' debt in 2010 wasn't even a quarter of the size of the public debt mountain after WWII, when somehow we could afford to found the NHS, establish legal aid, massively improve pensions, introduce disability benefits, rebuild and expanded public infrastructure, construct 200,000 new houses every year and much more as well. 
In the post war period the government built and invested their way out of debt and created the foundations for the longest period of growth, economic stability and increasing prosperity for all sectors of society in the whole of British economic history.
By the time Thatcher put this period of state investment to a stop, the debt to GDP ratio had been decreased from 238% to just 43%. Now after 36 straight years of Thatcherite economics the debt is rising back towards 100% (200% if you include the costs of the bailouts and of PFI, both of which are carefully hidden off the public balance sheet). 
Ideological austerity is a con. It makes no sense whatever from a macroeconomic perspective and the evidence is absolutely clear that it has failed in its own terms (unless of course you believe that the objective all along was to transfer ever more wealth to the super-rich minority).

Ideological across the board austerity severely hindered the post-crisis recovery (amazingly per capita GDP is still lower than it was before the crisis), the Tories didn't even manage to reduce the deficit by half when they promised that ideological austerity would have eliminated it already by 2015, and George Osborne ended up creating more new public sector debt in five years than every single Labour government in history combined. 
Ideological austerity has coincided with one of the biggest upwards transferences of wealth in history (the richest 1,000 families in Britain literally doubled their wealth while the rest of us suffered the longest sustained decline in wages since records began). Ordinary workers have suffered badly, but the worst hit of all have been the poorest and most vulnerable people in society, which brings us back to where we began. Your recollections of ideological battles that happened decades ago have nothing to do with what is happening now (other that the fact that the ongoing abuse of the vulnerable and the disabled probably wouldn't be happening at all if right-wing free market lunacy hadn't eviscerated the left so thoroughly way back then). 
You really need to stop living in the past. You need to stop refighting decades old ideological battles in your head and get to grips with what has been happening for the last four decades, and with what is happening right now.
 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

Austerity is a con
The terrifying scale of political illiteracy in the UK
The myth of right-wing patriotism
How George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
The "all in this together" fallacy
The Tory ideological mission
Austerity and economic illiteracy
The "New Labour are left-wing" fallacy