Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thatcher's Capitalist Revolt and the Impending Disaster. . .

I know one is not supposed to speak ill of the dead but Margaret Thatcher was an awful, terrible, scoundrel of a person. But as bad as she was, she was really just one of many leaders of a global movement, the goal of which was, and continues to be, the destruction of democracy  and the shift of society's wealth and power away from the majority and into the hands of a small minority. You see the elite of the capitalist class was on the defensive for a long time as unions and activists struggled to create greater economic and political equality. The process of globalization and the corporate control of the media made the capitalist's job relatively easy and today governments all over the world are more or less at the behest of big capital, creating the illusion (or should I say 'fostering the lie') that society can't afford decent wages, good education and health-care, and adequate pensions for the masses. Meanwhile, the elites hord more and more wealth and the gap between rich and poor grows ever wider.

Changes in the socio-economic system tend to be gradual, sometimes to the point of being difficult to notice. They come in fits and starts and each event in isolation does not always seem to be connected to the wider picture. Think of the movement from capitalism to feudalism, it was expressed in everything from the twelfth century peasant revolts to the 18th century French Revolution. But with the emergence of capitalism came the inevitable countervailing force of social-justice activism. And thus was set in motion a continuing struggle between those who seek to keep wealth and power away from the majority and in the hands of a select few on the one hand, and those who seek to spread political and economic wealth widely across society on the other. The attacks against unions by the likes of Tatcher (or idiots like Tim Hudak who want to destroy the Rand Formula) is part of that war. The goal of these people is essential destroy and mechanisms that average people might have to leverage the collective power to get a decent share of society's wealth. They figure that if they take away people's unions, their pensions, their education, their healthcare, etc., they will be kept so busy with the struggle of everyday life and so convinced that society can't afford general prosperity that they will simply let the rich get richer while the rest of us struggle to keep our heads above water.

There are two essential problems with the Tatcher/Reagan globalization of capital. One is that it is based upon the assumption that people will just let it happen. But the not only does the struggle continue, it is gradually shifting gears as more and more people become acutely aware of the inequalities and injustices in our society. But, perhaps more importantly, the flaw with the neo-liberal agenda (as it is sometimes called), is that it leads to economic disaster. The fact is that inequality is, in the end, bad for business. Such practices as union-busting, privatization, out-sourcing, environmental deregulation, etc., all point toward the gradual decrease in generalized wealth, health, and happiness. And the result is social breakdown and economic decline. Anyone who denies this decline is simply lying to themselves or the rest of us. Even if you seek to turn citizens into nothing more than obedient workers and machines of consumption, you will end with an empty economy. You cannot simply discard people forever, because all wealth ultimately derives from labour.

Though it is popular to say that "Tatcher won," in the final analysis the capitalist revolt led by people like Tatcher is doomed to failure. It will end either in complet social disaster or a massive growth in socialist belief and activism.

1 comment:

Owen Gray said...

Your comment that Thatcherism is -- eventually -- bad for business is well taken, Kirby.

When wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, the whole system collapses.