Friday, 14 October 2011

Orwell and the embryo of Neo-liberalism

To get a handle on the state of the global economy, the roots of its current woes and the neccesity of Occupy Wall street, you could do a lot worse (ie- watch Fox news), than taking a shufti at this post by author Damien Walter. He finishes with the below paragraph, summing up thirty years of the laisse faire market experiment with-

'You can’t build a strong economy on the basis of fucking each other over. What we are watching now is the inevitable collapse of our attempt to do so. The response to this collapse has been for the richest to work ever harder at fucking over the poorest. And of course, this has set-up a positive feedback loop which has sent us spiralling ever quicker in to collapse. And thats the direction we will continue to go in, until we shift our perception, away from ever more strenuous attempts to fuck each other, and on to finding better ways to trade, share, and cooperate with the tremendous wealth we have made in the world, while we still have it.'

Perhaps Damien (and a host of other level-headed people who've lived almost entirely under the wrecking ball cash junta and, indeed, you) wouldn't have to be paying the tab if more book reviews in 1944 had been written like this-

'But he does not see, or will not admit, that a return to 'free' competition means for the great mass of people a tyranny probably worse, because more irresponsible, than that of the state. The trouble with competitions is that somebody wins them. Professor Hayek denies that free capitalism neccesarily leads to monopoly, but in practice that is where it has led...'

The book reviewed is Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, beloved of Thatcher and Reagan. The reviewer is George Orwell in The Observer.

Fascinating, isn't it? To watch a philosophy thats become the dogma of the free world's elite being x-rayed and assesed for its viability whilst still in the womb. While still a thought and not a weight upon us. One has to remember that in '44, a labour government and nationalised health care were a year away and that, in such a climate, Hayek's theories were a voice in the wild and not an Ur-text. Makes you wonder what might have been. The scope for alternative world novels is staggering.

Orwell, whose gift for prophecy was roughly equal to his prediliction for absurdist moustaches, finishes his review with this-

'Capitalism leads to dole queues, the scramble for markets, and war. Collectivism leads to concentration camps, leader-worship, and war.
There is no way out of this unless a planned economy can be somehow combined with the freedom of the intellect, which can only happen if the concept of right and wrong is restored to politics.'

And that is a conundrum the OWS generation- with its internet, smartphones and a host of other global village matters that would have flabergasted both Orwell and Hayek- are fully aware they've inherited.


  1. The rhetoric of "up against the walls" and the language of war being used by many people makes me want to run away and hide. Until that language and the use of binary opposites so freely is abandoned then nothing will changes for the better. Power will only be transferred to a new minority.

  2. 'The animals looked from banker to protester and none could tell the difference'- to paraphrase Georgie boy. Man, that would be a cruddy way for it to end up.

    That said, I think the protesters have easily kept the moral high ground (not exactly hard)in terms of language. Right wing nabobs, such as Anne Couler and Glenn Beck, have been happy to compare OWS to Nazism or the reign of terror.

  3. Well we on the left have made some appalling comparisons with the tea party and our own right wing parties to Nazisim. Do you remember the language used about George Bush?

  4. I think my broad analysis is that this is not about what is right and wrong. We are all tainted by and culpable in the irresponsible behaviour of corporations, governments and our societies. Framing this as a crisis of morality doesn't change those behaviours. It only antagonizes and entrenches those who are called immoral. Responsibility needs to be taken instead and the greed of the 1% needs to be used to change them into the 100%.

  5. I see what you'rer saying about slurs against the tea party but, in their defence, the wall street squatters have yet to use the term 'nigger' on their placards.

  6. I hate to say it, but beneath my lefty liberal sensibilities there's a bit of me that thinks we're in this state at the moment not down to the antics of a small elite, but the aquiescence of many, at least in the West. People tolerate getting fucked over because they hope that in the future they'll be the ones doing the fucking- its the same loathsome cocktail of cynicism and optimism that makes people buy scratchcards.
    Most people don't seem to want to live in a world where everyone has a Ferrari, they want to live in a world where they have a Ferrari and their neighbours don't.