... and why it is vital to get massive support from the British people
Speaking to Sharmini Peries and the Real News, Michael Roberts who has been working in the City of London for over 30 years, described briefly how the forces of the neoliberal regime will fight against Jeremy Corbyn in his attempt to implement socialist policies in favor of the majority of the British people.
As he said:
These measures will be a big step forward if they're implemented by Labour government in the future, things like making sure that NHS is operating in the interest of taxpayers and the people working in it and the patients and not just being leeched on by the profitable companies which are leaking out that system and reducing it. All these measures will be a tremendous step forward, and they're not very radical. They're very modest measures to restore our transport system, our utilities, our hospitals, and our National Education Service, which he's proposing. All that's very modest, and I can't see how anybody could really oppose it, but interestingly, such modest proposals are now very difficult to get through the powers that be, the capital, big business, and the City of London, who oppose them all the way down the line, and the conservative government too.
Maybe 30, 40 years ago, such measures were regarded as pretty modest and were standard in many countries, particularly in Europe, but even in the US. Now, to return to such, what used to be called a social democratic or welfare state is regarded as really radical. That shows how bad things have deteriorated for the average person.
It's going to be a major struggle. If we have a Corbyn Labour government, say in the next year or two, or three, attempts to implement that will be a major struggle to get that through, and there'll be tremendous opposition by the media, by international capital, not just the City of London and the banks here. Also, down the road, the real problem, I think, is that, will the British economy not suffer as big business and capital tries to take its money abroad and cause an economic crisis?
First observation here is what Roberts describes as a dramatic shift away from socialist policies in the last 30 to 40 years. Indeed, what has been taken almost for granted 40 years ago - social state, free healthcare and education, etc. - in all the Western democracies, has now been described as 'radical' by the apparatus of the neoliberal establishment.
Corporate media propaganda managed to transform the minds of entire societies, especially in the West, through logical leaps that pictured the state as an evil force. Anything related with public ownership has been connected with communism, or even authoritarianism. The forces of financial capitalism were promoting privatizations in every field by buying the corrupted politicians in power. The big irony is that these politicians were using the state institutions to rescue the financial mafia, every time that a major crisis erupted, always at the expense of the working class.
But the story is not that young. The US plutocracy would erase Franklin Roosevelt from the collective memory if it could really do it. That's because Roosevelt is one of the most successful presidents in the history of the US, since he managed to restart the economy against the corporate interests after the big crash of 1929. Roosevelt did it through public investments, something that is considered almost a sin today by the neoliberal priesthood, worldwide.
Back in 1933, when FDR got elected, he had to face the attack of the corporate establishment, which was trying to fight his initiatives to put the state in the front line for the restart of the US economy. FDR was aware of this type of propaganda by the corporate establishment and the associated political elite. A quote from a Roosevelt's speech is characteristic: “A few timid people, who fear progress, will try to give you new and strange names for what we are doing. Sometimes they will call it 'Fascism,' sometimes 'Communism,' sometimes 'Regimentation,' sometimes 'Socialism.' But, in so doing, they are trying to make very complex and theoretical something that is really very simple and very practical.”
Despite its imperfections, Roosevelt's "New Deal" created millions of new jobs and new infrastructure for the benefit of all American citizens, boosted some sectors such as agriculture, strengthened social security and boosted the economy in general. The response of Roosevelt, "of course we spend money", to his opponents, captures the perception of his government, giving importance to the prosperity and relief of people and not to the strict austerity for the sake of economic indexes. Indeed, while in 1933 the national debt was 20% of GDP, by 1936 this figure almost doubled, but what mattered for Roosevelt was to relieve American citizens and give them hope and perspective.
It seems that, today, we are experiencing a second big ideological turn towards moderate socialist policies, even inside the motherlands of neoliberalism. British people have seen the failure of Reaganomics in almost every aspect, and seek a real change through another New Deal to be implemented for the UK.
Indeed, as Roberts describes:
Recent polls have shown, for example, that 70 to 80% of people asked are in favor of bringing back into public ownership the water utilities, the electricity utilities, the gas utilities and that there's massive support for getting the profit motive and the market out of the NHS. 90% of people are in favor of making sure that that happens. There's even up to 50% of people asked are in favor of taking over the major banks in the UK, which have been shown to have been totally rotten and unfit for serve a purpose over the period of the last 10 years, speculating in derivatives and all kinds of other exotic and dangerous, what Warren Buffett used to call "financial weapons of mass destruction," rather than providing a public service in loans and deposits for households and businesses. These measures that Corbyn and the Labour Party are advocating have massive public support, and that's always a powerful weapon against the desired and motives of just big business and the elite. As long as we have a parliamentary democracy in the UK and Labour has a majority in Parliament to carry these things through, then they can and will be implemented.
Therefore, as the neoliberal apparatus senses that it starts losing the ideological battle, Jeremy Corbyn should expect a fierce and dirty war by the forces of the big capital inside and outside the UK, as described previously by Roberts. Through decades of neoliberal politics the private big capital has taken all the power, controlling almost every aspect of the economic activity. The UK financial oligarchy will use that power to crush the economy once Corbyn will 'dare' to start implementing even moderate socialist policies. The Greek case could become a useful example for Corbyn, not to make the same mistakes as Tsipras did.
Recall that, the Greek political establishment collapsed with the rise of SYRIZA in power, and the ECB was forced to proceed in an open financial coup against Greece when the current PM, Alexis Tsipras, decided to conduct a referendum on the catastrophic measures imposed by the ECB, IMF and the European Commission, through which the Greek people clearly rejected these measures, despite the propaganda of terror inside and outside Greece. Due to the direct threat from Mario Draghi and the ECB, who actually threatened to cut liquidity sinking Greece into a financial chaos, Tsipras finally forced to retreat, signing another catastrophic memorandum.
The biggest mistake made by Tsipras and SYRIZA is that they didn't have a plan to drive Greece out of the monetary union, what is called, Grexit. Such a plan would require two critical conditions: first, the overwhelming majority of the population would have to support the new national currency, and, second, the central bank would have to become exclusively a public institution, under the complete control of the Greek state.
While for five years the banking-media dictatorship in Greece brainwashed the middle class with a propaganda of terror in case of Grexit, Corbyn doesn't have to worry about such a matter. The UK has its own currency, and in fact, the British people defied already a similar propaganda launched by the neoliberal globalists and 'dared' to vote even to leave the EU, what is called, Brexit.
Therefore, the most crucial move by Corbyn would be to nationalize the central bank. Such a move should be done methodically and fast, leaving little room to the oligarchy to respond. Imagine if both Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders proceed in such an action. The rapid destruction of neoliberalism will start in its motherlands. Above all, the most crucial factor will be the public support. It is true that Tsipras in Greece didn't get enough popular support as he was forced to co-operate with a minor right-wing party to form government. So, Corbyn and Sanders should be overwhelmingly supported by the British and the American people in the next electoral opportunity in order to confront the neoliberal regime with good chances.
With a rising Jeremy Corbyn and a declining Angela Merkel, Brexit has been upgraded to play a much more critical role