Sunday, 7 May 2017

Lessons of The Local Elections (2) - The Collapse of The Political Centre Is The Collapse of Conservative Social Democracy

The Collapse of The Political Centre Is The Collapse of Conservative Social Democracy

As I wrote in a recent post, we should see a political spectrum that runs from right to left that comprises reactionary, conservative social democracy, progressive social democracy, revolutionary. The reactionary wing of the political spectrum comprises all those forces that seek to turn the clock back to some supposed golden liberal age, where the economy was dominated by a myriad of small capitalist producers, operating within a climate of red in tooth and claw free competition, although often accompanied by nationalistic demands for the nation state to protect these capitals from foreign competition.

The conservative social-democratic part of the spectrum is what has dominated for the last thirty years. It comprises elements of both the Conservative Party, and the Labour Party, as well as the whole of the Liberals, who whilst recognising the real nature of modern capitalism, as being one dominated by large-scale socialised capital, has based itself on assuaging the interests of the owners of that large mass of fictitious capital, and has thereby sought itself to keep all of those asset price bubbles inflated. It played not only to that tiny section of the population that holds the controlling proportion of all these assets, but also to those within the middle and working-class who were deluded into thinking they were becoming richer, as their house price inflated, and who were able to borrow cheaply to sustain their living standard.

The progressive social democratic part of the spectrum comprises those that recognise that this search after rising paper asset prices is a fool's errand, bound to end in tragedy, and that real wealth can only be produced via actual productive investment. Yet, such real productive investment, because it causes interest rates to rise, spells the death of the asset price bubbles. The election of any government that is likely to carry out policies consistent with these concepts of progressive social democracy, therefore, is anathema to the owners of all this fictitious capital, and their representatives in the political parties, and the Tory media.

That is why the myth that the financial crisis was caused by Labour public spending rather than the blowing up of these financial bubbles had to be created, because it provided a solid basis for attacking any Labour government that even hinted at the idea of fiscal expansion, and the development of any kind of industrial programme that might promote real investment. It is why the Tory media went after even Ed Miliband, who offered only a mild variant of such policies, so viciously, and why that meant that the attack on Corbyn would be even more intense. Yet, the reality is that the policies being proposed by Corbyn are no more radical than those advanced by Attlee in 1945, or by Wilson in 1964 and 1974.

Corbyn faces the problem of a Tory media that is stuck in a conservative social-democratic world view, whose time has passed, along with an entrenched conservative social-democratic wing of the Labour Party itself, embedded in the PLP and council chambers across the country, as well as in the party apparatus, whose self-serving careerist ambitions have been tied for the last thirty years, to that ideology, and the success of an economic model based upon the fantasy of ever expanding asset prices, ever greater levels of private household debt, and cheap credit. But, even the large scale owners of fictitious capital have come to realise that that fantasy has run its course.


George Carty said...

Didn't the Tory press have two more direct motivations to fight Ed Miliband so viciously?

a) he had promised to close the non-dom tax loophole: the Rothermere dynasty (owners of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday) and the Barclay brothers (owners of the Telegraph newspapers) were non-doms.
b) he had promised to implement the recommendations of the Leveson enquiry.

And when David Cameron realized shortly after being re-elected that perhaps Leveson did have a point after all, the Tory press lined up behind Brexit in order to destroy him.

Boffy said...


I'm sure the Tory press had many reasons to attack Miliband. But, also I don't think you should underestimate the extent to which the Tory press, particularly papers like the Express, Mail, Sun are also businesses that seek to play to their readership. They know who their customers are. Why do you think the Daily Express, for example, continually has headlines that either talk ridiculously about house prices hitting ever more astronomical levels as though it is something wonderful, or else their headlines are about some new wonder cure for Alzheimer's or dementia, or else are some arctic weather or heatwave?

Its because their readers are old people, people who bought their houses fifty years ago, and are deluded into thinking they have become rich, old people who are concerned about whether they or their spouse are about to suffer the diseases of old age, and who are concerned at the dangers to them from extreme weather conditions. They are also the same old people who tend to have bigoted views, based on their experience of Britain's former glories etc.

If all these people had the opposite views, the Express and so on, would pander to them too, because they need to sell papers to stay in business. As it is they reinforce each others bigotry.

George Carty said...

Isn't the concentration of spending power in the hands of the baby boomer generation (as a result of house price inflation) the reason why the Daily Mail is going from strength to strength while the Mirror (the only English national tabloid that supports Labour, and which was in the Remain camp for the EU referendum) is struggling?

To be commercially successful a newspaper wants to attract a readership that both has plenty of purchasing power (so as to be valuable to advertisers) while also being concerned enough with the world (for non-economic reason of course given the former consideration) to be regular customers. Bigoted baby boomer homeowners are ideal on both these counts!

I also suspect many working-class people prefer the Sun over the Mirror because the Mirror is 30% more expensive, rather than because of its political stance. Perhaps the Sun is cheaper due to cross-subsidy from Sky profits?

Boffy said...

I think the good news is that newspaper dales in general are declining while more people get their news and info online. The media talk about people on social media only talking to their own milieu, but that is what the newspapers have always done, and they have had a monopoly on a very narrow spread of ideas - Overton Window - to reinforce.

Does anyone really doubt that when they see many of the people asked on TV Vox Pops what they think of Corbyn the majority simply give the response they have been conditioned to give because they do not want to be seen to be outside the rest of the herd, and thereby they simply reinforce existing memes, because the media feed that back out again in a reinforcing loop of dross.