Theresa May’s attempt to lecture us all on the joys of capitalism is another howler in a series of blunders that should only end in her ejection from politics and the (self-)destruction of the political party she has been running into the ground for the last 14 months.
This Writer hastens to add that this is not because she advocates free-market capitalism as the “greatest agent of collective human progress ever created”. I don’t agree with that sentiment but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with capitalism in itself; pack that system full of good worker-owned co-operatives and I’ll be delighted.
The problem is that Tories preach free-market capitalism while actually practising something very different – neoliberalism: a sort of protectionist socialism-for-the-very-rich.
Neoliberalism demands that the benefits of scientific and cultural progress should only be enjoyed by those who can afford to pay for them using their own money.
That is why, internationally, eight people own as much wealth as half the population of the world. It is why, here in the UK, the richest 1,000 families have nearly tripled their wealth since the financial crisis (“all in it together”? I should bleedin’ cocoa) while half the country has to make do with just 8.7 per cent of the wealth.
It is why, under the neoliberal governments of Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron and now May, national industries and utilities have been privatised – to take their profits away from the UK’s government and into private hands (and never mind the fact that some of those “private” hands happen to belong to foreign governments). The intention was to deprive the state of valuable funds, preventing it from investing in projects that would benefit the populace at large.
It is why social housing has been sold off and cruel penalties – like the Bedroom Tax – have been imposed on those living in the housing stock that remains. The aim is to drive the poorest into the gutter, opening up the properties for resale and redevelopment as “gentrified” – read “expensive” – estates.
It is why wages have been pushed down – to increase profits for rich company owners and shareholders who squirrel them away in offshore bank accounts where they do not have to pay tax to the UK government – and trade unions’ ability to oppose this cruelty has been rendered illegal by draconian legislation.
It is why regulations that protect citizens’ rights have been removed, to make it easier for privateers to provide substandard products or skip safety procedures altogether, thereby maximising their profits.
It is why people with long-term illness and/or disabilities, considered to be “useless eaters” in exactly the same way as in Nazi Germany, are persecuted to their deaths by a perverted “benefit” system that in fact strives to remove any help available.
Ultimately, it is the reason the UK has been pushed deeply into debt (sources of funding for the government having been either sold off, scrapped or squirrelled into tax havens) – to turn the country into a so-called “zombie economy” in which the vast majority of the people labour for a pittance, their tax money used not to provide public services but to partially pay off the interest on the national debt. Only partially, mind – the intention is for the debt never to be repaid.
That is what Theresa May calls the “greatest agent of collective human progress ever created”. That is the central aim of all Tory economic policy – not an improvement in living standards, not protected jobs, but the exact opposite.
Of course she has been ridiculed:
Today, Theresa May came out to bat for the Free Market – which is basically her one and only job, as a Tory PM… pic.twitter.com/76Qln3u4JA
— EL4C (@EL4JC) September 28, 2017
This free market of yours, Theresa May, looks more like socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest.
— George Monbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) September 28, 2017
Today @theresa_may made a speech about the historical success of free markets. People don't want the past, they want the future.
— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) September 28, 2017
In fact, the greatest agent of human progress every created was socialism, as enacted by Clement Attlee in his 1945-51 government and maintained in the post-war consensus years from 1945-79. Those were years of unprecedented prosperity that happened in spite of Conservatism and neoliberalism.
Tories and neoliberals hated those years. You can prove Mrs May a liar simply by pointing out that her neoliberalism was not responsible for the most sustained increase in living standards of everyone in the UK – living standards here were at their highest in 1977, under a Labour government in the post-war consensus years.
By then, the neoliberals were well on their way to power. The oil shock, engineered by the very rich, had prepared the way by creating social unrest due to inflation-stoked price rises – for which the Labour government was blamed. Margaret Thatcher had told the Parliamentary Conservative party that they now believed in Hayek-style neoliberalism and was plotting the destruction of the UK’s industrial base, in order to deprive working people of the security they had built up over the previous 30 years. Tory think tanks were filling the pages of newspapers and the time on TV political shows with pro-neoliberal dogma in order to sway public opinion.
Thatcher, and the other prime ministers since her, were all elected on a promise that living standards would improve. Instead, they have worsened.
Theresa May’s lying speech is an opportunity for us all to put an end to this insanity. Let’s denounce her version of capitalism for what it is – socialism for the very rich – and put both it and her on the scrap heap of historic failures.
Theresa May defended the free markets after Jeremy Corbyn’s criticism of capitalism by saying … that it is the “greatest agent of collective human progress ever created.”
Speaking on Thursday, May told the Bank of England’s 20th anniversary of independence conference that capitalism “is unquestionably the best, and indeed the only sustainable, means of increasing the living standards of everyone in a country. And we should never forget that raising the living standards, and protecting the jobs of ordinary working people is the central aim of all economic policy.”
The prime minister said it was free-market economics that “led societies out of darkness and stagnation and into the light of the modern age.”
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