Rigged and Rotten

A short run through some of the painfully obvious ways in which Disaster Capitalism – operating through US-idolising, Social Darwinist meritocrats – stretched out its slimy tentacles from No.10 Downing Street and fucked the shit out of the country. Happy Birthday NHS… Enjoy..

‘The Pro-Privatization Shock Therapy of the UK’s Covid Response’, Rachel Shabi

The Crucifix

 

Several months ago, Adam Tooze warned that ‘the huge public debt commitments that are being made now will, no doubt, serve fiscal conservatives as a cross on which to nail progressive politics from here until kingdom come’.

 

This certainly seems to have begun. Despite promises by the central government to do ‘whatever necessary’ to support local authorities, in the last week, as councils have raised the alarm of impending bankruptcies and inadequate support, Robert Jenrick, Sec of Housing, Communities and Local Government, has chosen to blame their investment decisions – as if there are any investment portfolios performing well in the current environment.

 

“There are some councils that have very significant exposure to commercial investments,” Jenrick told the committee. “Some that are perfectly understandable and some that were perhaps unwise investments to have made in the first place. I have long argued against councils establishing very large commercial portfolios, for example.”

 

The tragic irony is that many local authorities resorted balancing the books with ever greater reliance on commercial investment in response to budget cuts under austerity (cutting an average of about 2/3 off council’s government grants). Now that those investments are reflecting the current economic shut down and short term injections are needed, no doubt the Conservatives will push for what they have been pursuing for the past decade: selling off public assets, no matter how profitable and especially on the cheap.

 

‘Mayors warn of looming council bankruptcies’, Jonny Ball

 

‘ “Whatever it takes”: Has the government broken its promises to local councils?’, Jonny Ball

Universal Basic Income

 

I’ve been more than a little disappointed by the ease with which “the Left” has picked up UBI over decommodification as a means of progress and recovery, post-pandemic. I am deeply suspicious of what could so easily be used as a disempowering, alienating form of alms; satiating the ever more wretched with just enough tuppence for them to quell their discontent by partaking in rabid consumerism at the detriment of the environment.

 

Of course, there are a variety of possibilities opened up by UBI, not all of them Huxleyan, but when Social Darwinist technocapitalists advocate for something, “the Left” should treat it with a lot of caution – as they should any idea claiming to be “non-ideological”.

 

Here’s an excellent article from a few years back, which has stayed with me ever since and is a particularly interesting read now:

‘The False Promise of Universal Basic Income’, Alyssa Battistoni

 

NB. The Finnish experiment, since seen as a failure, was in practice an exercise in Universal Credit masked as UBI.

 

 

Pinch, Punch, First of the Month

 

As the world, our attention and the click-bait news cycle rumbles on, here is a reminder of the ongoing fight in Chile.

 

For decades, Chile has been a poster child for the radical, neoliberal project – its sole success story in the face of the former Soviet Union, East Asia in 1997, the EU, Pacific, Caribbean, Africa and, of course, the rest of South America. Indeed, it is not unusual to hear commentators like Niall Ferguson declare the wonder of Chile as easily worth the horror of Pinochet.

 

So, as the fight continues and the vested interests of the Washington Consensus, grown weaker by the year, look on in anguish as their mother, like Saturn, devours yet another one of her children, I thought I’d revisit and share an elucidating commentary from one of our sharpest economic observers.

 

Branko, take it away:

 

Branko Milanovic, ‘Chile: The poster boy of neoliberalism who fell from grace’

Hegemony and the violence of objectification

Quote day! As I return to my blog, in supplication to my one or two followers after a long absence, I thought I’d strart off with this revealing line from Ayn Rand’s old friend, Big Al.

 

In 2007, Alan Greenspan, the former chair of the Federal Reserve, was asked by a Swiss newspaper which presidential candidate he was supporting. He said it didn’t matter:

 

“We are fortunate that, thanks to globalisation, policy decisions in the US have been largely replaced by global market forces. National security aside, it hardly makes any difference who will be the next president. The world is governed by market forces.”

 

By “objectification”, I am referring to a terrifying and violent form of horizontal power; the establishment of subjective, ideological beliefs – almost always closely aligned to the self-interest of their proponents – as ‘objective’, unquestionable facts.