Sunday 20 November 2016

Trump, Farage, Le Pen - what it means

6 mins ·

1. There was a world banking crisis.

2. In the UK, the electorate appeared in part to 'blame Labour' for this. Alternatively, you could say that the Tories, LibDems and the press successfully made it look as if Labour had been incompetent and had thrown 'our' money around.

3. The Tories (and LibDems) decided to 'solve' the problems caused by the banking crisis by cutting working people's and (people on benefits) living standards and cutting back on all forms of public spending.

4.The problems - as measured narrowly by the public deficit - have not been 'solved'. And the unemployment figures have been massaged so that tens of thousands of people have been taken off the unemployment register and listed as 'self-employed' or 'zero contracts'. In fact, many of these people are seriously 'under-employed' but that mass of 'under-employment' is not listed as 'unemployment'. It just disappears.

5. The Tories and the press seem to have in part succeeded in 'blaming' people's low standards of living on migrants, the 'chaos' of the previous Labour government and 'the EU'. This represents three lies. Migrants have not lowered people's living standards, whatever one thinks of the last Labour government it wasn't actually responsible for the banking crisis. and 'the EU' didn't cause that crisis either. The one key act responsible for people's lowered living standards is the government policy of 'austerity'. Just that. 

6. A new scenario has appeared with Brexit, Trump and Le Pen: their line is that it's free trade that is the problem. They have a seemingly radical plan (it talks of 'elites' being got rid of) to throw away free trade agreements between nations within 'blocs' and 'protect' national businesses which they can dress up for the electorate as protecting their jobs. They can ally this with 'keeping out immigrants' as part of that protection. It's all a lie because a) there are some free trade blocs that they will favour; b) protectionism leads to trade wars which result in businesses going to the wall, c) unemployment and serious wage-cutting and public services cutting d) many kinds of racist forms of discrimination in work and civil society are introduced which in the end impact on everyone because working people's rights get eroded and police state methods are introduced.

7. In the present situation, the Tories and LibDems and the press claim - by association - that somehow Labour and/or Corbyn are 'to blame' for the banking crisis, immigration and any old rag-bag of accusations even though some of the time, this radical right approach steals the clothes of left Labour politics talking of the 'people left behind' by the 'elites' and people 'struggling' to get by. 

8. Ultimately, the row between the two wings of right wing politics - protectionism versus free trade is a row between two ideologies neither of which knows how to solve the 'crisis' that world capitalism has got itself into - as expressed at the moment by impossible levels of debt. What they offer are competing ways to deprive the lowest paid and the unpaid of standards of living and public services. 
9. We need Corbyn and McDonnell to carry on making the case for minimum standards of living, defending public services, international agreements between workers on workers' rights, absolute refusal to play the 'national' card (lightly disguised 'race' card in actual fact). What is dangerous about the present situation is that the nationalist and protectionist policies will inevitably lead to serious sabre-rattling between nations and/or 'blocs' which our leaders will call on us to support, claiming that this or that nation is 'bringing us to our knees' or some such. We will have to be alert to the way in which all the personality stuff about people like Trump, Farage and Le Pen obscures what they are doing economically and why whole large chunks of big business is backing them. As ever, it will be about 'solutions' - that is, how can such big business profit in a time of unprecedented world competition, greater demands on raw materials, higher demands than ever world wide for a decent standard of living for workers, (pump-primed by consumerism of course which demands that workers buy goods which don't last long), greater and greater investment needed in 'automation' to make industry less reliant on labour and to keep up with modernisation - and of course with the huge weight of debt affecting regions such that one region tries to sting another as part of doing better in the fight between chunks of big business.