Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The worst has yet to come

I wrote this for Jacobin:

Recently, I proposed a few points about the conjuncture in Britain.  None of these were offered in the spirit of hard and fast conclusions, but the aim was to begin to explain the stability and longevity of the coalition government in the face of quite serious social resistance despite its obvious weaknesses.  One factor that certainly needs to be added to this list is the delayed, protracted nature of the crisis facing the British working class.
It is often said that this government forgot the lesson that the Thatcherites learned: the need to salami slice one’s opponents, taking on weaker quarries first and only moving on to larger prey after a few demonstrative kills.  This government seems to be taking on everyone at once.  Its attacks on the public sector have at times seemed to be reckless, its negotiating stances absurdly hubristic, the sweep of its offensive indiscriminate.  Yet the two parties of government still have a plurality between them; they aren’t attacking everyone at once, they are attacking certain definite social constituencies, which are traditionally core Labour constituencies.  Of course, in the context of the wider capitalist offensive, this means that the vast majority of the working class, and a significant section of the middle class, suffers.  But they are doing so in a staged, multilayered fashion, and that has made a difference...