Jeremy Corbyn gets into the leadership play-off thanks to the last-minute backing of some fellow Labour MP’s who think a leftie should have a moment in the Party’s sickly sun. Hustings reports suggest hostile responses from the floor to the other three Blairy candidates.
At the Anti-Austerity demo last Saturday Len McCluskey, leader of trades union biggie UNITE, who backed Labour’s austerity and NHS privatisation-lite Election manifesto, lines up alongside Corbyn and another leftie Green MP Caroline Lucas, both consistent opponents of austerity and both supporters of the NHS Reinstatement Bill to fully renationalise the NHS.
Does this hint at a sense that Labour’s Election defeat wasn’t simply down to ‘Red’ Miliband’s anti-market tendencies as the Mandelblairsons have leapt to convince us? That, since the debt bubble which sustained a City-sugared Labour Party burst in 2008, it could be more, not less, of those tendencies that are needed if Labour is to regain its lost supporters, both swing voters and trad Labs? Or is this straw clutching?
Whilst it was good at the demo to hear Corbyn advocating public spending it was disappointing that he should resort to the shopworn carrot of ‘prosperity’ as the aim. The Greens seem far more switched on about the kinds of value changes needed than the old Left. Was Lucas getting the loudest cheer among the speakers at the demo another straw in the wind?
But Greens and lefties like Lucas and Corbyn haven’t yet addressed the debt question in the trenchant way that is needed if popular resistance to the privateers is to be fostered to real effect. It’s a vital question that can mainline into the arteries of public disaffection with the price being paid to bailout out a corrupted financial order.
Along with the steamrollering of labour it is debt is that has kept the developed world’s capitalist ships afloat since the emerging economies of the East in the latter 1960’s – the Koreans with their cheapo shipbuilding; the Japanese with their cut-price cars and electronic goods – first threatened the West’s supremacy.
It is debt, using people’s homes as its stranglehold, that sold the prosperity dummy to the public during the Boom and has helped dumb popular dissent since the 2008 Bust. And it is debt that is being used by the ever-wealthier elites in banking and finance to commandeer the political as well as corporate apparatus, seize the public sector and eliminate the rights and values for which our predecessors fought.
The free-marketeers’ measures so far taken – Quantitative Easings, Troubled Asset Relief Programmes etc – all maintain the debt strangle. The problem is that the cost of debt servicing is preventing economies from growing sufficiently to sustain their debt mountains. Cassandras – realists? – see a ‘bang’ moment when investors lose faith in the mountain’s sustainability and flee the bond (debt) markets, which go belly-up and a massive debt meltdown occurs.
In the meantime all the measures being taken are simply putting off this evil day in the illusory hope that they will somehow engineer ‘escape velocity’ – the massive increase in growth – needed to successfully abseil the debt mountain.
The liberal leftie alternative of a massive increase in public spending harks back to the post-War success of the Keynesian strategy where in the UK there was an even greater debt Everest than today, spurred by WW2 spending. But at that time debt wasn’t globalised like it is now.
This time around massive debt is spread across all the major economies. As it adopted the capitalist way China joined the debt giants, ‘printing’ money not just to grow, but also to cheapen its currency and the cost of its export goods. In the face of Western economies resorting to money ‘printing’ to bailout out their bust banks, thus cheapening their currencies, China has become top dog money minter in order to maintain the cheapness of its exports.
But China, like the other emerging markets whose burgeoning has propped up the developed world’s maxed-out economies, is now contracting. It, too, is confronted by a potentially unsustainable debt mountain. The Great Recession could be spreading, making the ‘bang’ moment more than just a Cassandra’s spectre.
In September 2011 one of the world’s major business consultancies the Boston Consulting Group published a report pointing to the failure of the measures (ie Quantitative Easing) taken by the authorities to get on top of the debt crisis.
The report hypothesised an organised international slate-wiping of debt, a ‘jubilee’, of almost 50% across the indebted economies to restore nations’ liabilities to manageable proportions. Plus a one-off tax on the wealthiest to refinance the banking system.
Such a debt ‘jubilee’ would pull the rug from under the privateers’ strategy of continuing austerity, public spending butchery and their whole privatisation bandwagon. Which is why Greece, the canary in the bowels of the debt mountain, matters. If the song on Greece’s streets becomes an irresistible ‘Can’t Pay! Won’t Pay!’ then what price that not spreading elsewhere across the indebted world?
That’s what the banksters fear and why they are being so intransigent. And that’s what my movie project The Crunch foresees. Just a deluded movie fantasy? Or the raising of a question which all those opposed to the privateers’ juggernaut, particularly public service campaigners, should now be seriously addressing?