UK Politics: The State We Are In
By The Civic Alliance Party: The State We Are In The Body Politic, Society and the Environment, is sick…how we got here. Society, unlike the way it is presented to us, is not a smooth, forward advancing, inanimate vehicle with an automatic gearbox but a living organism subject to challenging movements and lurches of cause and effect interspersed by periods of progression. What inspires these movements and the attendant change in our outlook (of ourselves, our fellow citizens and human beings, society, the world and the universe) is harder to gauge but appears to be a combination of the social, political, intellectual, emotional, occasionally spiritual and the purely visceral.
Early Twentieth Century began a new epoch as the effects of the first fifty years of industrialisation coalesced in economic, social, military, and ultimately, political fields with their attendant emotional, intellectual and spiritual impact on people.
For the first time, freed from the dictates of seasons by industrialisation of production and the prison of day/night by the spread of lighting, humanity felt itself the master of its own universe, able to question old certainties.
This had a paradoxical effect on people; those frightened by the widening challenges this offered sought to find answers in old myths of the ‘great, strong’ man like Hitler, Stalin, Mao and so on who cleverly clothed their ambitions in ostensibly new, populist systems (Communism and Fascism) but in practice they were nothing of the sort. The choice was catastrophic and led to a century of mass murder under the guise of greater human power and control.
Those liberated from past values were initially side-lined but after the Second World War found a Western world more in tune with their way of thinking; socially and culturally very much so, economically a little more, politically slightly less so because the fundamental of democratic power systems being controlled by the few remained in place.
This worked for the majority in the West (us) for approximately forty years, mainly because the Soviet Union provided a counter-balance and our political elite needed to ensure we, the population, stayed onside because we saw our system was better.
The collapse of the Soviet Union destroyed this balance and allowed what we now call Neo-Liberalism; a rapacious, global, anti-capitalist system that works for the power elites against the interests of the majority, economically, socially, militarily and environmentally, to be recklessly unleashed.
The thinking behind this lurch into the past came from the loss of perspective this apparent victory over the Soviet Union gave our elites with their absurd ‘End of History’ thinking. They saw the Soviet Union had been defeated by our deep pockets and not our missiles. They also saw that Soviet centralised government was incapable of initiating an environment for wealth creation so naturally they thought the deeper our pockets got and the less government we had the better things would be and they would have created an unchallengeable system, built to last millennia.
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This euphoric thinking led to the hasty and massive deregulation of the financial sector, and it also explains why it was so important to save it after the financial crash of 2008. What it signified, in fact, was that the financial sector had stopped working for the benefit of society and become the leading geo-political tool of 21st Century wars which now included the domestic. QE, where money was created specifically for banks to build up their reserves while Austerity was imposed on the ordinary population, saw this in action.
Yet, these actions of the elites were a result of a fundamental misunderstanding of how modern government works, and needs to work in the 21st Century. The Soviet Union collapsed not because it had too much government. It collapsed because its citizens had lost faith in the system, having seen that it was corrupt, that it was lying to them, and it had utterly failed them. It collapsed because the Communist system, being ideologically driven (like Fascism and now Neo-Liberalism), did not possess the diversity, efficiency and flexibility all organisms need to survive.
Mankind’s ability to survive is much more to do with adaptability than being hidebound by a supposedly superior system of thought. Systems of thought change, old gods die, while humanity goes on.
Ironically, the collapse of one system allowed our elite to replace it with another equally unipolar, equally dogmatic, equally inflexible, equally inefficient, equally unstable, dangerous system.
Yet that system was not new.
Philosophically, the Western elites put their victory down to re-discovered faith in values (think of Thatcher and Reagan who symbolised them) when the West was dominant and free markets prevailed, environmentalism, worker rights or social concerns were not an issue, and liberal use of gunboat diplomacy backed up by the omnipotent pound and dollar, ironically both tools of government in service to business, ensured it held sway.
These values were firmly located in the 19th Century.
Consequently, Neo-Liberalism was always an old-fashioned philosophy with new clothes that hearkened back to a society and time when the powerful and wealthy enjoyed an unchallenged hegemony to their actions before Communism ostensibly questioned it.
For Neo-Liberals / Neo-Cons (or The Regressives as they really should be known), the previous forty years of social and economic advancement for the masses were not a welcome progression but a diversion in the natural order that needed to be reversed.
And it has been, as seen by rampant and insidious corporatism, gnawing corruption, rancid inequality, stagnant wages, destruction of worker and civil rights, strident militarism, mass surveillance, developing environmental catastrophe, the capture of the political system by the few, and ultimately, the resultant controlling of media, the arts, academia and language to create both a sense of inevitability and an unchallengeable static in its favour, just as it used to be in the ‘good, old days.’
And it has made for strange, political bedfellows today. The Conservatives Party and New Labour are united in supporting Neo-Liberalism. Liberal Democrats were the same in power. UKIP think the same. They only differ in degrees. (Ditto Republicans and Democrats in USA.)
This has led to any deviations from its conformity on economic, social and foreign policy to be treated as a matter of betrayal, or worse. Only a system that thinks it is perfect, or alternatively is corrupt at its very core and is afraid of that being exposed, can think another view / the whistleblower is the enemy within (‘Are you patriotic?’.)
The results of all this are clear to see. We are now living in equally epochal times.
The body politic, and therefore society and the environment, is sick.
All these politically-conjoined sides do not understand the lessons of Western history or the collapse of the Soviet Union; fail the people and you will fail. Neo-Liberalism is failing ordinary people everywhere. Quite rightly, this is leading to the questioning of the very basis of our democracy and society throughout the West.
Vitally, we must not lose faith in democracy.
Democracy is an inherently flexible organism because it contains multiple outlooks, allows myriad outcomes in its working, and is therefore the only political system capable of ongoing evolution. To stay relevant in 21st Century and illustrate its strength, it needs to become truly representative.
The ordinary people can never be freed by the freedoms of the wealthy and powerful but by better jobs, less inequality, greater opportunities, a more representative electoral system and a caring, sharing society of which they are stakeholder citizens. It is also better for the wealthy to make and enjoy their success in a society at ease with itself where their greater financial contribution is recognised as an integral part of what makes it worth living in.
It is this need, yearned for by billions of people around the world, that signals that NewLiberalism (locked in its dogma) will die because it is failing system. It will not go quietly. It will not go quickly. It will not go without a fight as it controls all the tools of power. That is its weakness. The end will be long, messy and difficult for us.
A new type of representative government with a more comprehensive and rounded vision of society, and the multi-polar world the 21st Century is, will have a key role to play in this journey towards a better society.
Contrary to propaganda, government today has not withered away under Neo-Liberalism.
What has been abandoned by UK governments over the last forty years is responsibility for the well-being of its citizens. This has been reinforced by increasing deregulation and privatization of functions such as education, health, social services, social housing and utilities which make those areas more answerable to profit than concern for the greater good of society. This is the meaning of small government that has resulted in deteriorating and failing services for all and profits for the few.
That is why Neo-Liberals love small government. It’s like having a friend with a fat, open wallet.
This retreat from its historic responsibilities makes today’s intellectually atrophied government totally inadequate to deal with the key issues facing us just when it is most needed.
In fact, the increasing complexity of the modern 21st Century world means that only government possesses the means to dynamically create a sustainable business, social and environmental framework for the country in the face of challenges including those exemplified by rampant and rising inequality, new technologies, an ageing population and climate change.
However, UK central government cannot continue to work as it has done up to now. Both the Right (Conservatives) and Left (Labour in all its forms) by playing the political game of ‘divide and rule’ have left people and the country down by destroying the symbiotic relationship between the citizen and the state which is why so many of our fellow citizens feel powerless at national and local level.
We must restore, strengthen and enhance this relationship, and between us all as citizens.
Therefore, central government must forge a partnership of equals with devolved governments, regional assemblies and local government and all forms of government must do the same with the citizens of our country. This will ensure that consensual policies are implemented at a local, community level to spread out from there.
This is consistent with our view as the Civic Alliance Party that we must, ‘Think Locally, Act Nationally, Realise Globally.’
With a truly representative, active government in action, Civic Capitalism (because Capitalism as the vehicle for trade rather than financial speculation is still the best system to create a better life for people) and Social Globalisation (where the rewards of Capitalism are shared with ordinary people more equally and globally) will bring a period of unprecedented, consensual, economic prosperity for the world.
However, there is a third element of this approach which is equally important for long-term sustainability.
As our planet is a living organism, Civic Capitalism and Social Globalisation must go together with Accountable Environmentalism (where the ecosystem is part of the equation in business and social decisions) in a conjoined trinity of values so that the world we leave behind to our children, and our grandchildren, but also the world we want to live in, is healthier and better than the world we were born in. If we don’t dream our own dream, we dream those of others.