01 September 2016

The Middle Classes and Neoliberalism

"The middle estates, the small manufacturer, the shop keeper, the artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class. They are therefore not revolutionary but conservative. Nay more, they are reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history." - The Communist Manifesto, 1848.
I think the point here is that the middle-classes resist the 1% only in the interest of preserving their own interests and way of life. They are not interested in over-throwing the 1%. And for Marx and Engels this seems reprehensible. They go on to point out that [in their time] historcial change has been drive by minorities as today it is driven by the 1%. By contrast,
"The proletarian movement is the independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority"
Instead of the proletarian movement taking over the running of nations and the world, it was hijacked by tyrants, fell into infighting, or succumbed to apathy. Instead of the revolution envisaged by the Communists, society is run by the 1% in the interest of the 1% (and even as the catastrophic consequences of this become increasingly obvious they are strengthening their grip on power). Nor was it different in notionally communist countries while those existed. The closest we ever got to government by the people for the people was in the small, relatively classless socialist democracies like New Zealand or Scandinavia during the 1960s. The movement was effectively killed off in NZ during the 1980s, by a Labour government who openly adopted Neoliberal economic policies and set about dismantling the socialist state. I think Scandinavia might have fared better, but not by much.

Some of the more radical economists I follow are suggesting that we are seeing the death-throes of Neoliberalism. I'm not convinced about this. The middle-classes here in the UK seem to despise the proletariat, partly because they fear becoming them (either by falling themselves or by the elevation of workers into their class). The middle-class is now thoroughly indoctrinated by Neoliberal propaganda and now react against suggestions that we could do capitalism differently.

Meanwhile the 1% are handing out £billions in subsidies to corporations who avoid taxes and funnel that money to share-holders who also pay little or no tax anywhere in the world, whilst scolding the poor for not working hard enough and accepting "something for nothing".

Revolution starts to look like a good idea.

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