With utter predictability, a crisis in capitalism comes along, people start looking to solutions from the left, so the establishment starts propagating conspiracy theories…
Robin McAlpine is the director of the Scottish think and do tank Common Weal
Cross-posted from Robin’s blog
And there we go, regular as clockwork, the right wing elite of Britain, realising the peril they are in, are rolling out their predictable, bog-standard McCarthyite crap. It is juvenile, meaningless and frankly embarrassing. But get ready to hear a lot more of it.
What have they got up their sleeves this time? Easy – anyone who wants to reform UK energy markets and take punitive action against the corporations responsible for a projected 75 per cent of people going into fuel poverty this winter are (wait for it…) Russian agents. (You thought I was going to say antisemites, didn’t you?)
The reformers are Russian agents so back to shivering you useless plebs and be grateful for your lot. Ain’t British politics a sophisticated business? “People are going to die because of corporate profiteering and something must be done.” – “Yer maw…”
The first time I saw this was from the pitiful Starmer team. Everyone and their dog can see they are useless and that their war on the party’s left is stupid and destructive. Mick Lynch and people with principle are kicking them around the room. And so, like low-rent Alan Partridges they should ‘aha – see, we told you, Mick Lynch mentioned Russia’.
The second time (sadly) was from the often excellent Iain Macwhirter. Iain asserts that those who are saying that it is Ukraine who is shelling the nuclear power station to regain the attention of European leaders are just the pro-Russian left and should be dismissed.
So who is shelling the nuclear power station then? Russia is inside it (they shouldn’t be, but they are). And why would Ukraine do it? Because they really do need to stiffen the resolve of a West which is quite legitimately asking whether the current strategy is working. If stating facts is now banned, we’re in trouble.
To be fair, MacWhirter doesn’t link the issue to energy prices in this article, but he does link it directly to the only people really fighting the politics of the cost of living crisis. Which means that by far the most laughable example of Energy McCarthyism is corporate-PR-for-hire Andrew Maciver’s Herald article. That’s just embarrassing.
To save you reading it, he pretends to be on the side of the people by saying that all the things the left are calling for are totally reasonable. Then he pirouettes completely and dismisses them all because (a) the poor super-rich are had put upon and (b) reds under the beds and all that. Literally. One wonders if his clients get this level of sophistication in their PR…
Other than climate change there are two crucial matters that must be discussed in the world right now; the serious risk of global military conflict and the omnicrisis in the global economy. Are both conversations really to be suppressed by this playground nonsense? What happened to that whole western liberal thing about the need for open, balanced, accurate information being available to the public (‘lies on a bus about Brexit’) ?
If you think the risk of world-ending global conflict is a silly figment of the left’s imagination, read this from a respected French academic working at an American university or particularly this from a US defence establishment insider. You will draw the conclusion that the chances of current Western geopolitical strategy not leading to nuclear war are slim.
If you think I’m exaggerating, really, read the second article I linked to. Right now the US has left itself no option; if China invades Taiwan the US will be humiliated if it doesn’t come to Taiwan’s defence. Because Taiwan is in another part of the world completely, the US will have absolutely no option but to send aircraft carriers.
If the US sends aircraft carriers to the South China see to attack China, China will have no option but to sink the aircraft carriers (which they will do successfully – in pretty well ever war game the Pentagon has run over Taiwan, China wins and the US loses). But if US aircraft carriers are sunk the US has no option but to retaliate, and without military bases in the area the only option is a nuclear strike. That in turn leaves China with no option but to respond.
And then we’re all dead.
The scepticism about the US and Nato’s strategic geopolitics stretch way, way beyond the left. That scepticism is not just legitimate, it can legitimately be described as potentially existential. Those who do not wish to die in a nuclear holocaust must challenge this utter bollocks about not mentioning anything that doesn’t shine a rosey light on Nato.
But where the path of that first potential crisis is utterly unpredictable, the path of the second is quite the opposite. The crisis coming this winter is certain and imminent. And the imposition of conditions which will impact so severely on people’s lives will raise very serious questions about the system which is imposing them. Very simply, this is the kind of ‘inflection point’ in world affairs where old orders die.
For years you’ve been told that the best possible world comes from global corporations being allowed to operate as they choose with as little restriction and regulation as possible. This has faced systematic failure since 2007 which would have been very obvious to everyone if world government’s hadn’t ‘Quantitatively Eased’ utterly stupendous amounts of free money into the pockets of the corporations concerned.
As I and most others on the left have been pointing out for a long time, that has always been a delaying tactic, not a solution. The ideology of the age has been short-termist, anti-investment, pro-profiteering and anti-democratic. It has been stacking up problems for decades and almost everything that happens now (Covid, weather, supply chains, wage negotiation breakdown, water shortages) exposes it.
There will either be major reform or sooner or later there will be social collapse. Those who have caused this state of affairs know their positions are at great risk. They’ve lorded it over us all for decades now, but they know that has only been possible because we’ve not taken steps to get them under control. Pressure for those steps to be taken may become irresistable.
So they have one remaining desperate play; they need to get a Starmer type in power who will throw money at pretending this isn’t happening for long enough to get them through another cycle of failure – and then slowly recover that money from the population as a whole, not the oligarchs. It is the actual left which is the biggest threat to this plan, and they know it.
The political assassination of Corbyn was achieved via antisemitism smears (though it took them much, much more effort than they expected). They hope they can repeat the trick with the trade unions and other campaigners with exactly the same technique, but by calling them ‘pro-Russian’ instead.
I doubt it will work. I have no doubt in my head that open, honest discussion of geopolitics and economic reform are humanity’s best chance. I don’t doubt that many of the army of neoliberal commentators will do everything they can to inhibit both discussions with smears and lies (I am not a Russian agent and I am not pro-Russian).
The rest of us have to resist this. Luckily if their ongoing attempts are as patently silly as Maciver’s, that might not be too tricky.
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