Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Axeman's Jazz: why cuts, why now, and how to respond

The New Left Project is hosting a week long debate on the cuts, and how the Left should respond. It opens with my article, adapting and expanding on some of the arguments from The Meaning of David Cameron, and is followed by ripostes on successive days from others on the liberal and socialist Left, such as Sunny Hundal and David Wearing. You can start with my article here, and keep track on the NLP website as subsequent articles are posted throughout the week:

This article takes the view that there is no urgent need to pay off Britain’s debts, and that the cuts agenda of the Conservative-Liberal coalition must be interpreted as being driven by the interests of the constituencies (large manufacture, service industries and high finance) that lie behind especially the Conservative Party leadership, as well as by the neoliberal doctrines that have enjoyed hegemony within the British state for a generation. The cuts agenda constitutes: 1) an attempt to cover the costs incurred by the economic crisis by redistributing wealth from the working class to the financial elite; 2) an attack on the remaining institutions of the post-war welfarist consensus; and 3) the further entrenchment of a profoundly anti-democratic praxis at the level of the state. Labour has been unable to offer an alternative to this, because it is committed to the same growth formula, if in a slightly altered admixture. But there is an urgent need for an alternative. The once-in-a-lifetime magnitude of the capitalist crisis, and the ambition of the ConDem agenda for welfare downsizing, demands a thoroughgoing attack on the politics and propaganda of the cuts. A proportionate response would involve breaking with neoliberal ideology, moving beyond the traditional policies of the trade union leadership, and forging unity in practise among those most affected by the cuts, and strategically best placed to resist them.

Btw, I am happy to announce that sales for The Meaning of David Cameron hit 545 in the first month in the UK alone. This, before a single review has appeared in the mainstream press, is rather good. But please bear in mind how desperately poor I am, and buy a few more copies, eh? And if you should feel moved to put some change in my cup (thanks again to those who have already), I promise to be good in future. That is all.