At The Financial Times: on being Ganeshed, a comment by Almost Marx

To be Ganeshed is to be subject to the attacks of a polemicist, of a professional Neo-Liberal Apologist, he ‘reads’ the ‘history’ of the past tailored to ideological need, in the political present. He is Dr. Pangloss berefed of his sunny disposition but animated by a pressing need for political vindication, achieved rhetorically.

Headline: The time to rail against the elites was the 1970s

Sub-headline:  Populists credit our rulers with an omnipotence that makes them culpable for all failures

The first paragraph is framed in the triumph of Thatcherism before Thatcher, enabled by the IMF. And the announcement of the death of the ‘Keynesian consensus’: does the name Piketty ring a bell?

Later, from the safety of retirement, Denis Healey would call it a “Pyrrhic defeat”. The International Monetary Fund loan to Britain in 1976 came with fiscal conditions that a Labour chancellor of the exchequer could accept only with a grimace. Behind the hammy remonstrations, he relished the political cover for cuts he had tried to press on colleagues. The retrenchment, and his commitment to monetary targets, put an ailing Keynesian consensus out of its misery. Three years would pass before Margaret Thatcher became prime minister but Thatcherism, in some of its essentials, had begun.

Then appears the villains: ‘co-governing with trade unions’ :  a question occurs, do all citizens and their organizations, being part of a  vital civic democratic polity, act as co-governors? One  finds the usual Thatcherite scapegoating in the name of Neo-Liberal Rationalism. The slandered ‘Third Way’ is New Labour i.e. Thatcherism in New Labour drag.

And so had a period of sound government that may still be with us. In the 1980s, the state unclogged the economy and stopped co-governing with trade unions. In the 1990s, inflation was lastingly tamed and the euro elegantly dodged. In the noughties, investment closed the gap between private affluence and public squalor. With its blend of looseness and generous in-work benefits, Britain’s labour system, so dysfunctional in the 1970s as to raise questions of national governability, is now the surviving glory of a slandered Third Way.

Following this and other enumerations of the blessings that the codified  Neo-Liberalism has produced, he equivocates just enough to qualify as not utterly myopic to the plight of the lower orders.

And so had a period of sound government that may still be with us. In the 1980s, the state unclogged the economy and stopped co-governing with trade unions. In the 1990s, inflation was lastingly tamed and the euro elegantly dodged. In the noughties, investment closed the gap between private affluence and public squalor. With its blend of looseness and generous in-work benefits, Britain’s labour system, so dysfunctional in the 1970s as to raise questions of national governability, is now the surviving glory of a slandered Third Way.

Like all good conservatives ‘National Decline’ becomes a featured player in the Ganesh Melodrama

Failure in the particular does not, however, establish failure overall. We know what that looks like: 20 per cent inflation, industrial pandemonium, and a per capita income substantially lower than the average of France, Germany and Italy. The time to tar and feather our rulers was the 1970s, when many in the troika of government, big business and organised labour really were insouciant about national decline as long as it preserved them as the corporatist powers in the land. Since then, Britain has seen a recovery in wealth and prestige that looks inevitable only in retrospect. David Smith’s book Something Will Turn Up, published last year, charts the change and shows how much it owed to provocative decisions and the hinge decade of the 1970s.

Yet one wonders where Mr. Ganesh has been in terms of this sobering report on poverty in Britain:

More than one million people in the UK, including 312,000 children, are living in destitution, according to research by a leading British charity.The report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on Wednesday said that migrant groups were the most at risk from extreme poverty, but most of those living in the worst circumstances were born in the UK.The organisation, which is politically neutral and conducts research into the social problems facing the country, defines a person as destitute when “they cannot afford to buy the essentials to eat, stay warm and dry, and keep clean”, for a prolonged period of time.The key factors pushing people already in poverty into destitution included debt repayments, benefit delays or sanctions, and high living costsMigrants in particular faced difficulties due to the low level of benefits they received, as well as difficulty getting jobs.The charity put the number of households living in destitution at 668,000 containing 1,252,000 people.Single men aged between 25 and 34 were the demographic group most likely to be affected by extreme poverty.

Coping strategies

Researchers said those living in destitution adopted a number of approaches to reduce the impact of their conditions on their children.Of those spoken to, 76 percent said they had gone without food, 71 percent said they did not have suitable clothes, and 56 percent said they had not been able to heat their homes.Some said they regularly skipped meals so that their children would not go without food.The foundation said addressing the causes of destitution required action on the root drivers of poverty, including unemployment, low pay and high living costs.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/04/million-live-extreme-poverty-uk-160427143528526.html

His apologetics are put into the high gear of his polemical gift, in the next three paragraphs, in which he scolds and shames the critics of the dismal collapse of the Neo-Liberal dispensation as nostalgics for the political shipwreck of the 70’s. The last two sentences of his essay turn to the most tepid of apologetics:

Politicians, bureaucrats, central bankers and their institutions have done a reasonable job during the lifetime of the median citizen, who was born in 1976. Britons must face the truth about their elites, however pleasant it is.

Almost Marx

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7a67d4d2-57c3-11e6-9f70-badea1b336d4.html#axzz4GPLCTLYx

 

 

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer.
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