16 March 2009

Thirty years of market fundamentalism was the wrong path

Undoubtedly the political impasse of the 1970s characterised by intensified class and other conflict did not represent the ideal society. Neither left nor right claimed that it did. What was unfortunate, I believe, was that Thatcherism emerged as the so-called solution to this crisis.

In essence, Thatcherism was about centralised authoritarianism which was used to weaken democracy and smash working class power. Inequality and poverty soared in the new framework of unbridled capitalism; and it was this model that has been continued and deepened by New Labour.

The thirty years of market fundamentalism after 1979 were not ones of joy, security and abundance for many. Britain became a society increasingly scarred by an insecure flexible workforce burdened with debt. While the poor rotted on crime-ridden junk estates, at the top the rich lived a life of luxury giving Britain a socio-economic profile like the countries of Latin America.

Today even the service and finance sectors (the sole economic achievement) have imploded with Britain having little left to show for all the pain of Thatcherism. I believe that had Thatcher never existed and had Tony Benn won a couple of elections in the last thirty years, Britain would be a better place today.

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