The liberal dream becomes a conservative nightmare
Back in the nineteen-sixties when my generation was growing up there was a real feeling that barriers – class, educational, racial, national – were being broken down. In fact that was happening and continued into the early seventies. There is plenty of evidence for this in a variety of cultural analyses, so that I won’t spend time discussing the Beatles and Rolling Stones, Germaine Greer, red-brick universities, labour union rights, anti-war movements etc. And then something happened. The ruling elites – or old-time Establishment – cottoned on and began to get scared that all their power and influence might well slip away from them. All they really had was their wealth and powerful contacts and so they thrashed around in search of a unifying ‘idea’. Eventually they settled on one that had appeared to work in Chile, where a brutal dictatorship had been established against the will of the people by use of force and the introduction of a financial system so fixed that a small group of insiders inevitably grew richer at the expense of the larger population. This ‘idea’ was called ‘monetarism’ and its long-ridiculed advocate was hauled out from obscurity, dusted down, and hailed as an economic messiah. His name was Milton Friedman and the disciples of his dis-credited economic model were known as ‘the Chicago school’. The system had been discredited because it plainly failed to operate in favour of the wider public. This flaw, however, was precisely what the western ruling elites required as they fought in hidden corners to regain their pre-modern ascendency. With such an ‘idea’ in place they were firmly able to quash the modern liberal-thinking upstarts. The first thing they needed to do was to create unemployment and destroy the labour unions. The former was easily initiated by taking out and misspending huge international loans that undermined the national economy; with a lack of proper investment and poor management oversight the industries that had formerly underpinned the whole economy – engineering, public transport, the National Health and educational system etc – were all quickly dismantled. And of course, by use of media manipulation, the blame could all be put squarely on so-called socialist ideas and labour rights. For example, as British Leyland was being undone in the Midlands the national media launched a campaign demonising just one person: a factory-worker they labelled Red Robbo, and somehow with the help of MI5 managed to plant the idea in the national consciousness that this one inconsequential man was responsible for the entire collapse of a massive national car-making industry, as large and as successful as any existing at that time in the industrialised world. The Soviets would have been proud. All they had come up with were supposed saboteurs deliberately harming their nascent industry back in the nineteen-thirties. With regards to labour rights, and following on from what had happened in Chile, the government mobilised the national police force and sections of the British armed forces to brutally attack the miners and their thriving communities, forcing them into near starvation and growing dependence on outside charities until at last their resolve collapsed and they were shame-facedly beaten into submission. This was a British government using British law-enforcers, the British military, the British Broadcasting Corporation and British Secret Intelligence Services (SIS) i.e. the whole state power, against its own people, just as had happened in Chile. Essentially, the British working-class were disempowered and the old Establishment could wheel out its previously ridiculed ‘idea’ of monetarism in order to con the public out of all the national utilities and organisations they had previously owned and in some manner controlled. Privatisation finally left the British people with virtually no national resources and massive debt as big companies creamed off the profits and simply left the public to bail them out after the new owners had taken the money and run. And subsequent governments called this economic model a success.
And so, to the point of this blogpost.
You will recall point one was: the world expanded and then contracted again.
By this I meant that a whole series of social developments were taking place over more than a decade which would have for sure led to an opening out of communications and opportunities between different peoples, both nationally and supra-nationally. This very opening out of the world threatened the UK ruling class and all its accepted hereditary rights and privileges. Hence the fight-back. Of course, all us liberal-minded citizens had no clue concerning the machinations being carried out which would deny us a brighter future. Not until too late has it become clear with what perverted vision our long-standing rulers have contracted the circumstances which would have enabled the vast majority to flourish in this eminently possible open world.
More to come.
Posted from somewhere in the Haute-Savoie, France