Forging a new consensus

by Elias Blum

One of the recurring themes of this blog is that distinctions based on lifestyle, fashion preferences, social attitudes to issues like religion, gender identities and alternative sexualities, consumer preferences, and so forth, are on the whole a distraction from bigger and more important issues. These things divide people superficially into antagonistic liberal and conservative tribes, whose petty squabbles masks the stark reality that 99% of us are being shafted by a rich, corrupt, oligarchic elite, and whose mutual distrust obscures the existence of a common ground that we can probably reach pragmatic agreement on.

My point is that you don’t need to be a horrific lefty feminist with a beard and a cloth cap hand knitted from organic sustainable hemp by a gender queer cooperative in Nicaragua or an androgenous hipster with a fixie-bike, an exotic taste in coffee and mung-bean fetish, to agree on some basic propositions of a decent, humane, civilised social and economic life.

These propositions would include the idea that we need some basic economic security for everyone against the hazards of unemployment, that no-one who works full time should live in poverty, that we should all have access to affordable education and to healthcare when we need it, that the sick and the old should be looked after in dignity, that there’s more to a good society than profit-maximization, that markets need public regulation to prevent abuses and exploitation, that selling public utilities at cut price to parasitic companies who will cost more for a worse service is bad idea, that certain basic civil liberties and human rights should be guaranteed to all, and that pointless expensive foreign wars are best avoided if possible. 

These are things that, I think, hearty, red-blooded, beer swilling, ‘no-nonsense’ conservative minded folks (possibly even those who are slightly racist and a bit homophobic but too polite to mention it) can also get behind.

The only ones who can’t agree with these common principles are pathological oligarchs and a small but well-funded and influential group of doctrinaire libertarian ideologues who are mentally intoxicated by the mostly disproven theories of neo-liberal economics.