by Elias Blum
Since the 1970s, the left has been on the defensive, trying to stop Tories, and later pseudo-Tories with red rosettes, from chipping away at the welfare system and public services.
There’s not much remaining to defend. The manifesto of ‘privatise, cut, deregulate’ has been implemented beyond the point of absurdity. The mantra of ‘private good, public bad’ is constantly ringing in our ears. There is no opposition, except for the national parties of Scotland and Wales, and the tiny handful of Greens. The Labour party has lost all principle, vision, integrity and purpose. The Liberal Democrats have merged into the Tories.
Oligarchy has won. Wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of the few to a greater extent than at any time since the Great Depression. Living standards of the bottom 90% have stagnated or fallen, in real terms, over the last two generations. Almost all the gains from ‘supply-side’ policies have gone to the richest 1%. The UK Government is a government of, by, and for the rich. Bankers are bailed out, millionaires get tax cuts, the imperial war machine gets priority for funding, and the money is to be found by taking it out of the shallow pockets of the poor, the unemployed, the disabled. Common assets, not least of which the health service, are stripped and sold to cronies. Meanwhile the very pillars of justice and accountability are kicked away: legal aid is denied, secret courts are introduced, and they even want to repeal the Human Rights Act. Our patrician rulers have decreed that the plebs are to be put firmly back in their place. For many, it’s back to the sweatshop, the slum and the workhouse. There is no mandate for any of this. We have been lied to at every turn. Lied to by politicians, lied to by the media, lied to by neo-liberal economists.
This is unjust. This is unfair. This can not be. This will not last. Change will come. When it comes, the last will be first and the first will be last. But we must make the change. We must go on the political, ideological and moral offensive. We must boldly uphold the vision of a society where no one is exploited, where no one suffers unnecessarily, where a basic decency and humanity are extended to all, where public services are run as a public good, and where all pay into the common pot, in accordance with abundance they have received, to relieve the burdens of their fellow citizens.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6.2)
The offensive campaign of the People against the Oligarchs must be three-fold:
(1) for Democracy, which is the equitable distribution of political power, such that public decisions seek the common good and that those who govern are held accountable to the people;
(2) for Social Justice, which is an equitable distribution of economic resources, such that none are enslaved by poverty, ignorance, idleness or squalor, and that those who are sick, aged or disabled are cared for with as much compassion and generosity as we can muster;
(3) for Sustainability, which is the recognition that our actions must leave the planet no worse than we found it, and must fulfil our obligations both to future generations and to the ecosphere of which we are an intrinsic and dependent part.
All specific reforms – from the development of a new democratic Constitution to the mutualisation of the banks, from the extension of trade union rights to investment in public education – can be encompassed under one or more of these three headings.
There needs to be a great Levelling.