Thursday, May 27, 2010
I apologise for getting everyone here under false pretences, but the fact is I haven't actually written a book about David Cameron. That struck me as a bit boring, so I thought I'd write about politics instead. To get a grip on the meaning of Cameronism, it is necessary to understand the dilemma that we are all bound into, the dilemma that neoliberalism imposes on us.
Allow me to hit you with some numbers: approximately 70% of people own their house, almost 10 million households being tied into a mortgage; average household debt is almost £9,000 excluding mortgages; almost £60,000 including mortgages. Much of the private debt, moreover, is secured against home ownership. This means that most people are tied into an economy based on speculation and debt – household consumption depends upon property values as determined by the real estate market and the robustness of stock markets more generally, because the more your property is worth, the more you borrow against it. Future consumption is also tied into speculation. At present, the British State Pension is worth 15% of average earnings. When there was a direct link between the state pension and earnings, it was only a fifth of average earnings. This means that anyone not wanting to experience a sudden, drastic fall in income would have to prepare for retirement with a private or occupation pension scheme, whose value depends on the stock market rising every year. Most of us are tied into a debt/speculation economy, with the specific exclusion of a minority who own no house, no vehicle, and that fifth of households who have no one in employment. This, by the way, is the sociological reality underpinning talk of “social exclusion”.
People didn’t ask to be tied into a debt/speculation economy. Given the chance, the majority have consistently tried to vote against it. But, this state of affairs means that barring a fundamental paradigm shift, a deep change in the pattern of economic growth and accumulation in this society, most people will continue to depend on a robust financial sector to support consumption. On top of this, because of systematic underinvestment in manufacturing and export industries, Britain has maintained a consistent balance of payments deficit which is only made up for by the surplus drawn into the UK by the City – in a way, fulfilling its traditional imperial role. Successive governments have depended on the City to generate employment and growth, while then old manufacturing strongholds have been steadily eroded, along with the trade union-based communities that they sustained.
The current government is as committed as New Labour were to maintaining this state of affairs. The bail-out, and temporary nationalisations which they all supported, will be paid for with deep cuts in public spending – which the FT estimates will amount to 22% in all non-ringfenced spending. Thatcher, who merely managed to suppress spending in some departments, looks meek by comparison. Some people took the interventionist measures to signal a departure from neoliberalism. In fact, they consolidate neoliberalism, and specifically the hegemony of the financial sector. Keynesian stimulus measures were no more than crisis management, a prelude to an accelerated attack on social democratic aspects of the state, especially welfare and pensions, the consummation of a massive transfer of wealth and public resources to the rentiers. This, surely, will not pass without severe crisis, upheaval, rebellion and, inevitably, repression.
This being the case, it might seem inapposite for the government to come to power with irenic phrases suggestive of social peace and harmony. They pledge to commit themselves to progress, to fairer taxes, and to greater civil liberties. Rhetorically, in some ways, they would seem to position themselves to the left of New Labour. Cameron’s appeal to “liberal conservatism” would seem to have been concluded in an ideal political alignment with centrist liberals who enable him to sideline the reactionaries in his own party and ultimately realign parliamentary politics. But I have said that they mean war, and if they mean war, how can they talk peace?
I want to suggest that the grammar of progressive conservatism, so-called, can be understood proximately by understanding New Labour, and more distantly by understanding certain tendencies in conservative ideology itself. I approach this through three commonplace tropes: apathy, meritocracy, and progress, each of which I will now expand on.
1. Apathy. We are told today that people are basically apathetic about politics. To caricature the argument a little, they are too busy with lottery tickets and Lambert & Butler cigarettes to worry about such piffling issues as taxation, or the Private Finance Initiative. If they are roused at all, we hear, it is out of fear of some unwelcome outgroup, be they paedophiles or immigrants – or, to be more accurate, migrating terrorist welfare sponging house-price depressing paedophiles.
This is a scandalous slur, a conscious deflection from the real issue which is that increasingly, people feel unrepresented by parliament. The secular tendency is for voters to stop voting; disproportionately, these are working class voters, and Labour voters. The psephologists are not totally useless in this respect – studies by pollsters like John Curtice and Anthony King tell us that between 1992 and 1997, Labour lost 5% of its core working class vote, adjusting for depressed turnout (the lowest since WWII). Between 1997 and 2001, the party lost a further 3 million votes, especially in manufacturing centres of the north-east and the Midlands, as turnout reached an historic low of 59%. Another million were lost by 2005, when Labour scraped to victory with a worse vote than that which it lost with in 1992; and yet another million, approximately, cost it the election in 2010, although in this case it was working class voters who saved Labour from the devastating defeat that it had every reason to expect. Essentially, the problem is that New Labour, in assiduously courting middle class swing voters, and the support of big business, ceased to represent its core vote, offering only occasional, sometimes contemptuous and usually highly compromised reforms for their benefit – almost always hedged with moral authoritarianism toward those very voters.
Previously, non-voting was seen as an expression of political apathy, and it was not concentrated among working class voters – as, for example, it was in the US. But in the last two decades, a tendency has developed into a stark reality – abstainers are not only disproportionately working class but they now, in contrast to the past, give political reasons for refusing to vote. It’s an act of dissent, though not necessarily a good one.
To understand why this is, we have to ask what is the point of voting. A couple of economic historians working from MIT have looked into this. They noted that democratic reforms in Europe tended to be followed by a redistribution of wealth, with welfare systems, higher taxes on wealth, trade union rights etc. They wondered why the ruling classes would go along with such reforms, given all that they had to lose, and concluded – perhaps controversially, given the gentrified national histories that line our bookshops – that it was motivated by the threat of revolution. Now, the point is that the purpose of gaining political power was to wield economic power – or, in the Marxist idiom, class power. And in the United Kingdom, the promise of representative democracy, the state’s very reluctant and hard-won willingness to embrace the elective principle, was that it would be possible to achieve fundamental social transformation entirely by peaceable, legal means. Only moral persuasion was necessary to obtain reforms. The majority of the working class, for a considerable portion of the 20th Century, looked to the Labour Party to deliver first an unavailing reformist road to socialism, then a social democratic settlement, capitalism with a human face. Sadly, now, they offer only neoliberalism with a visage that, if it is recognisably human, closely resembles Thomas Gradgrind.
Significantly, the post-war social democratic compromise has acquired a normativity that is not justified by the history of capitalism – in fact, it was highly aberrant. And though its achievements are not in doubt – the socialisation and partial democratisation of some of industry, the welfare state, and most especially the NHS – it is a period which demands a more critical scrutiny from the Left. Indeed, the collapse of that consensus was preceded not at first by the rise of a New Right, but by a New Left, exemplified by people like Ralph Miliband and Alasdair Macintyre, who pointed out that such nationalisations as did occur were basically socialising economic failure; that public services were delivered in a high-handed imperial fashion modelled on the Indian Civil Service, with undemocratic worker-management relations retained; that the corporatist state was used as much to repress the working class, suppress pay claims and break strikes as to accommodate working class demands; and that all of this came with a vicious imperial streak, from the suppression of anti-colonial rebellion in Malaya to the secretive embrace of nuclear weapons.
But that critique was not matched by powerful enough social forces to displace the hegemony of the Labour Party as the main vehicle through which workers could attain their goals. This meant that while, in response to the growing economic crisis and wave of union militancy, Labour moved left, in government it found its radical reforms foundering against the hostility of the capitalist state, particularly senior civil servants, and the obduracy of its right-wing. It ended up embracing monetarism and fiscal austerity, and spent its last miserable years in office battling the unions and trying to form a pact with the Liberal Party. Meanwhile, the critique of the post-war settlement fell to the New Right, the Thatcherites. Their political philosophy was neoliberalism, which has its roots in the thought of Friedrich Hayek. Hayek, an Austrian economist influenced by Ludwig von Mises, was horrified by the encroachments in the post-war era of the social democratic state. Like his mentor Mises, he had argued that the Great Depression was not caused by free markets, but by the excessive bargaining power of the trade unions, and by state intervention. Mises had applauded fascism for having saved European civilization – he did not think that fascism a viable form of state, but he saw in it a form of emergency rule which would protect the vital kernel of liberal social relations (that’s capitalism) from the encroachments of socialists and communists. He had supported the Dollfuss dictatorship in Austria, particularly in its battles with organised labour.
Another influence on Hayek was the Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmitt, from whom he derived a significant portion of his ideas about the role of the liberal state, and particularly his critique of pluralist party-political state, and of welfarism and social democracy which he believed bound up the state in a network of special interests that undermined its autonomy and sovereignty. This mimicked the later critique of public choice economists who, basing their argument on market-driven conceptions of human behaviour, argued that the welfare state and high public spending just created a network of special interests whom state leaders would end up serving – thus, it was necessary to cap public spending, privatise where possible, and introduce market-based mechanisms for service delivery such as internal competition.
Ultimately, Hayek was only a fair weather friend of liberal democracy, believing that it would be better to take fundamental legislative decisions out of the hands of regularly elected parliaments, who should merely be entrusted with technocratic resource allocation and decision-making. The fundamental decisions should be made by an upper chamber that was elected only once every fifteen years, and then only by an electorate composed of people of a certain age who would vote only once. The Constitution of Liberty, Hayek’s key text, grudgingly conceded that liberal democracy was better on balance than dictatorship but only on the provisional grounds that it would facilitate gradual change and the education of the public against socialist ideas.
Hayek was sympathetic to Pinochet as was Thatcher, who only noted that it would be inappropriate to import the dictator’s methods into the British setting. Instead, the neoliberals set out to reform relations between labour, capital and the state – collective bargaining was over, trade unions were to be broken up, Keynesian demand management and full employment was no longer a goal of policy – instead, counter-inflation was the emphasis. This is a class issue, since according to the doctrine of NAIRU, high levels of employment tend to strengthen the bargaining power of labour, thus driving up wage claims, and producing inflation. Service delivery would be re-modelled on market lines, welfare would be reduced as far as possible since that created a special interest known as “welfare dependency”. A new model of statecraft was introduced, in which growing areas of the state would be operated along market lines, preferably by experts from the private sector, and – of late –using private finance.
The long-term effect is to hollow out the state’s public, representative capacity, since such democratic aspects are held to corrupt the autonomy of the state. And of course, last but not least, as the manufacturing sector was attacked as a base for labour-intensive unionised industry, recalcitrant and hostile to neoliberalism; and as wages stagnated relative to profits, or fell, the financial sector was unleashed, and consumption was increasingly supported by debt and speculation. This is then political-economic model that New Labour embraced, not out of psephological necessity, but out of a recognition, as one strike was defeated by another, that the organised working class was not a viable electoral base and any programme they wanted to introduce would have to be approved both by the middle classes whose income was supplemented by speculation and debt, and by capital.
2. Meritocracy - This is a language of class rule. We are told that, barring some social exclusion, and some hangovers from the old school tie networks, we are a meritocracy. People succeed and fail by dint of their native abilities, and their efforts. Once, meritocracy was a revolutionary ideal – careers open to the talents, was the French revolutionary cry; an aristocracy of talent, was Benjamin Franklin’s summary of the outcome of the American revolution. No longer would rewards follow simply from birthright, but from striving and accomplishment. But today, it has become a commonplace of conservative ideology. We hear a lot about “excellence” in conservative tracts. The ideology of excellence, holds that there is a contradiction between quality and equality. From Burke to Nozick, embracing everyone from Nietzsche to Rand in between, conservative political philosophy has been concerned above all with protecting the idea of privilege as a natural corollary of innate differences between human beings – indeed, as the valid expression of human diversity. Their great fear, if egalitarianism prevails, is that there will be stagnation, as the rewards necessary to stimulate excellence, and the resources needed to create a cultural elite, are redistributed among a populace most of whom would make less of it. Sociologically, the political Karl Mannheim suggests, this is an idea that would be most appealing to those whose class position leads them to think that their achievements are the result not of long-term cooperative effort, but of sudden, discontinuous moments of inspiration and genius – who would undoubtedly be the petit-bourgeois and nouveau riches who provided the bedrock of Thatcher’s support in the 1980s.
And Thatcher, above all, was a ‘meritocrat’. In a major speech in 1975, she insisted that the Butskellite post-war consensus, married to some vague idea of equality, was a failure. “What’s more desirable and more practicable than the pursuit of equality,” she said, “is the pursuit of equality of opportunity”. “Let our children grow tall, and some taller than others if they have the ability to do so.” This, she argued, was the only appropriate social order if a society was to enable people to reach their full potential, rather than repressing that potential. I won’t argue that Thatcher ever created a meritocracy – it’s a chimeric idea – but it certainly moralised the ostentatious opulence of the rich, as well as the accelerating rates of poverty since, implicitly, withdrawing the excesses of the welfare state and breaking the trade unions had ensured that people would only be rewarded according to their merit, rather than their ability to extract rent from the state or form special interest groups.
Ironically, New Labour took the ideal of meritocracy far more seriously than Thatcher ever had. The Commission on Social Justice commissioned by the party, and which formed the basis of New Labour’s approach to social justice in office, argued that equality was a bad ideal, that people really did deserve their talents and therefore any rewards that might accrue from those talents, and that the task was to ensure that no one was excluded from the opportunities and access that other had – specifically to tackle that fifth of households that had no one in employment, and to work to skill up the workforce, improve their productivity, and thereby lower the NAIRU, thus increasing employment. But it meant that they had to accept what Blair boasted were the toughest restrictions on unions in the Western world – BA workers know all about that. It meant that such assistance as the poor did receive came with a tremendous amount of social authoritarianism, with ASBOS, street curfews, the proliferation of CCTV, sanctions for parents whose children bunked off school, etc. Essentially, this was because a large part of what they took to constitute social exclusion amounted to self-exclusion, whether that be in the form of feckless parents improperly raising their children, or workshy and crime-prone individuals needing to be surveilled and coerced, or bad neighbours bringing down the morale in communities. It also entailed a revised conception of class, in which – dixit Prescott – “we are all middle class now”. By the government’s lights, this was sixty:forty society, in which there was a middle class sixty percent majority who were doing okay, a poor underclass – that 20% of households with no one in employment – and a privilege elite, some of whom benefited from unfair exclusions, the old school tie, etc.
But in general, if such exclusions could be removed, Britain would be classless meritocracy, and New Labour happily be a party that was, in the words of Peter Mandelson, extraordinarily relaxed about people getting filthy rich. More than relaxed, in fact, their meritocratic ideology inclined them to be lavishly sycophantic toward the rich – holding them up as models, giving their companies tax breaks, giving them policies, knighthoods, lordships, ministerial posts, extolling the virtues of these magnificent wealth creators to anyone who would listen. After all, they were very special people, whose achievements derived solely from the exercise of their unique abilities. The rich in turn grew so complacent and self-satisfied that a modest increase in employer national insurance contributions, in the context of a recession and a deficit, led them to flounce off to the Tories in a mega-huff, as if they had been violated. Their attitude to the poor becomes ever more Victorian, as when Lord Digby Jones, formerly of the CBI and former New Labour minister, urged the government to starve people back into work, saying that anyone on benefits who turned down three job offers should be forced to live in a hostel on subsistence rations. And New Labour, having encouraged all this, having overseen the highest rates of inequality since record began, having pandered to the rich, and enjoyed their relationships with executives like five year olds on a sugar high, suddenly decided in 2010 that you should vote for them on the grounds that their opponents were in the pockets of the rich!
Meritocracy is, in short, a language of class rule – it says that hierarchy is positive in principle, that in practise such hierarchies as do exist reflect the natural expression of superior talent and effort, and that one can and should only remedy one’s social problems by individual means, by scaling the meritocratic ladder rather than pursuing collective solutions. To be bound into such collective solutions, conservative ideology maintains, is precisely to get stuck in a know-your-place class system, in an unaspiring rut that leaves you to stagnate among people who may in fact be your natural inferiors.
3. Progress – The last portion of the book deals with antinomies of progress. It is tempting to dismiss David Cameron’s claim to progressive politics as just legerdemain, a cover for his reactionary, Thatcherite agenda. But actually, there is a story here, and one that casts interesting light on our contemporary political discourse. First of all, conservatism is often treated as a political philosophy of tradition. This is the image related by conservative ideologues from Burke to Disraeli to Oakeshott: it is a preference for the familiar, for gradual change, for institutions of longevity with accumulated wisdom. Now, Ted Honderich points out that such a conception would appear to defame conservatism, implying that they can’t tell the difference between that which is familiar and good, and that which is familiar and bad, and moreover that they are prepared to approve of something which just some short time ago they despised simply because it has become familiar. Karl Mannheim argues, by contrast, that traditionalism is not necessarily politically conservative, and that the nature of conservative action with respect to traditions, is always dependent on “a concrete set of circumstances”.
Corey Robin, a political theorist based in CUNY, argues that in practise, conservatism has always been from its inception adventurist, opportunistic, rabble-rousing opponents of tradition. Conservatism as an ideology of reaction – whether against abolitionism, democracy, socialism, communism, the Sixties, the abortionists, etc – is not fundamentally about tradition, but about conserving hierarchy and domination. And whether you read Burke or Maistre, what you find is complete contempt for the ancient regime, because its obvious inadequacy in the face of revolution, and their willingness to incorporate and appropriate the lessons of the revolutionaries – that social orders are manmade, that inequality and domination is manmade, that the “willed imposition of the intellect” upon reality is more efficacious than any cosmic guarantee. Their outlook from the start is modernist. Moreover, if you look at twentieth century conservatism, there are strains that are highly modernist and anti-traditional. The neoliberals certainly fit that bill – look at Hayek’s key text, The Road to Serfdom, in which the only alternative to free market capitalism is one variant or other of a pre-modern social form. Indeed, there is a tendency among capitalists, warmonger, polluters, etc to depict their opponents as reactionaries, as devotees of an unsustainable status quo.
So, the concept of progressive conservatism is not at all as odd as it may seem – it just depends on a peculiar conception of progress which, again, New Labour has championed. When the USSR collapsed, Third Way intellectuals such as Anthony Giddens argued that socialism was dead. The parliamentary road to socialism had never succeeded, and even its modest achievements such as the welfare state were giving way to globalisation, as the authority of national states diminished, and capital acquired greater offshore mobility. The revolutionary road to socialism had proven both utopian and dystopian, an unobtainable ideal and unliveable reality. In these circumstances, the Left had become conservative, forced to defend traditions of welfarism and trade unionism, while the conservatives had become the radicals, allied to the forces of neoliberalism that were destructive of national and ancient traditions, etc. This conception of progress is obviously susceptible to the critique that I’ve just outlined – conservatism is not about tradition, and progress is not about the overthrow of tradition, it is about equality vs inequality; domination vs liberty.
But it was a conception that New Labour was open to. Its founders, Blair and Brown, had been sent on junkets by Kinnock to study Third Way ideas in action in Australia and particularly in the US, where a group of Democratic strategists known as the DLC were organising the most conservative and neoliberal factions in the party to take control of its machinery and acquire hegemony. Their experiences were fairly similar to those of New Labour. The radical left represented by Jesse Jackson, and the old New Deal centre represented by people like Gary Hart, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis, had easily been ground under the Reaganite heel. The DLC maintained that white working class voters were attracted to social authoritarianism, racist dog-whistling, and anti-welfare policies. They maintained that middle class voters wanted market-driven policies and a booming stock market to support their consumption. And they maintained that African Americans and the poor had no other political options. Thus, backing their horse Bill Clinton, they got a presidency that was committed to ending welfare, and replacing it with workfare, to more privatization, to more imprisonment, and of course to imperial extensions and the assertion of hegemony in Russia, eastern Europe, and central Asia. Even Bill Clinton’s mildly reformist inclinations were thrown out before he took office when he was instructed by a claque of neoliberal economists that if he didn’t reassure bonds traders by cutting the public deficit, his presidency would be ruined and he would be out of office come the next election.
By the time New Labour was launched and on the electoral market, that lesson had already been learned. Fiscal stability, prudence, no sudden rises in taxes on income or property, a flexible labour market and sober deregulation were the bases of New Labour policy. No serious policy initiative would be floated if it didn’t gain the approval of the City or the CBI or the corporate press, especially Murdoch. Blair explained the basis of the new dispensation. The class war was over; there was no longer a battle between socialism and capitalism, but between progress and the “forces of conservatism”, the latter including not just the xenophobic right, but especially the shattered forces of the Labour Left, and the unions whom he would characterise as “wreckers” when they opposed his privatization agenda. Progress meant adapting to the realities of globalisation, not attempting to halt or reverse it. It meant more privatization, the down-sizing and rationalising of the state, the introduction of market mechanisms into new areas of government, the encouragement of speculation and financial success, including the use of finance to raise capital for public service delivery. It meant using its dynamics to create the wealth that would assist with combating social exclusion. Most forcefully, however, progress meant a liberal international order, an interventionism in foreign policy that would be guided by the enlightened self-interest of Western states, who would contain threats and where necessary overthrow old regimes and replace them with liberal institutions. This won over a sizeable section of the Left until it became clear that progress of this kind meant embracing secret detention, kidnapping, mass aerial bombing, high casualties and forms of torture outlawed by the Enlightened despots of the 18th Century. And when Iraq divided Europe, Blair’s automatic and instinctive alignment with the American right in the name of progress, also led him to aligning with the European right in the person of Berlusconi and Sarkozy.
These forms of progress have fed into the tapestry of Cameronism. For if you look at their manifesto commitments offered under the rubric of the ‘Big Society’ vs the overbearing ‘Big Government’, they are both carbon copy replicas of previous Tory policies and incursions on New Labour territory. When they speak of efficiency savings by abolishing hundreds of thousands of civil service jobs; when they speak of devolving authority to the frontline in service delivery through market-based mechanisms; and when they speak of reducing the welfare state and relying on social entrepreneurs to recreate community cohesion, they are talking absolute fluent Blairese.
Much attention has been paid in this respect to the amiable crank Philip Blond, a conservative Anglican thinker influenced by Catholic social thought, and associated with a current known as Radical Orthodoxy – a theological current that abhors modernity and seeks a return to medieval and patristic roots. His conception of ‘Red Toryism’ has been used as the peg upon which to hang Cameronite ‘progressivism’. He argues that both market and state have failed, and that communities should be empowered to take on the functions of markets and states through mutuals, cooperative enterprises and voluntary associations. He wishes to disaggregate the global economy, break up the big banks and multinationals, redistribute wealth the better to recapitalise the poor and working class communities, and generally downscale enterprises to individual or family-sized units. He isn’t exactly open about his intellectual antecedents, though it is clear that he draws extensively on a stream of thought pioneered by Hilaire Belloc and G K Chesterton in the early 20th Century, a pseudo-medieval ideology known as ‘distributism’ that seeks to oppose both socialism and monopoly capitalism by restoring an older social order, a sort of antique social structure resembling that of the High Middle Ages. These thinkers were sympathetic to the far right – Belloc was an admirer of fascism – but that is not perhaps as embarrassing as the fact that Blond’s aspirations are hopelessly unrealistic. He is relying upon a Conservative Party elite, most of whom are embedded in the large process of multinational manufacture, service delivery and high finance – most of them are millionaires - to liquidate the very forms of industry and global trade that give them their class privileges, to use the capitalist state which is deeply interpenetrated with industry and finance to do so, and then he expects these same agents having expropriated themselves, their friends and the people who paid to get them elected, to dismantle the state apparatus through which they accomplished such expropriation. It’s an extraordinary fantasy.
Of course, Cameron has no intention of pursuing this, which is why his government is attacking the public sector, looking to impose record cuts, and strengthening the position of finance, albeit within a revised regulatory framework. Blond is merely a soundbite machine for the Cameron machine. Moreover, as far as foreign policy is concerned, the Tories will imitate Blair very closely. Cameron and Hague have worked out a policy of what they call “liberal interventionism”, but have struggled to substantially differentiate that from Blairite policy. Cameron’s cabinet is stuffed with neoconservatives many of whom, like Gove, nurtured a deep affection for Tony Blair. Cameron himself could not help but be awed with Blair’s performance over Iraq, admiring his “masterful” handling of the issue. They all, with some notable exceptions such as Ken Clarke notwithstanding, subscribe a language of ‘progress’ in the terrain of foreign policy in which belligerent American expansionism, by securing liberal institutions – both economically and politically, through the WTO as much as through NATO – becomes the international bulwark of progress.
This, then, is your progressive conservatism, your Red Toryism, your liberal conservative coalition. This is Cameron, the progressive, the meritocrat, someone who promises to restore trust in politics and re-engage voters in the democratic process, who invites them to participate in the government of the United Kingdom. In all, he represents the culmination of a period of reaction, a period of entrenched class rule, and a period in which the democratic aspects of the state have been increasingly impoverished. The very processes by which Cameron proposes to mend these ills, are precisely those neoliberal processes that created the deadlock in the first place. If we want to resist Cameronism, we have to work not merely for the restoration of some social democratic golden age, not merely for Keynesian intervention and welfare spending, but for a radically new political paradigm. But we have to start by building up and revitalising the social forces that have been depleted by the processes of neoliberalism and by the accumulated outcomes of previous class struggles. The appropriate way to do that, for a start, is to form a united front against the spending cuts in the here and now.