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LeftishBrit's Journal
LeftishBrit's Journal
August 23, 2013

I think the real issue is...

that many right-wingers spread the view that civil libertarianism and economic libertarianism go together. As one of their sayings goes, 'the freer the markets, the freer the people'.

In the UK in the past, the two were not equated, and indeed different terms were used. 'Libertarianism' generally meant 'civil libertarianism' and economic libertarianism was called 'laissez faire economics'. But with increasing collaboration between British and American right-wingers, the term libertarian is now used in the same way here.

The danger of that is that right-wingers can use it as propaganda to persuade people that 'free market' right-wing economic policies are essential for people's freedom. And this can have negative effects at all levels. Centrists and even centre-leftists may be persuaded that it is possible and desirable to be 'socially liberal but economically conservative' - in fact, this is not even IMO truly possible, let alone desirable, as the threat of destitution is just as coercive as the threat of legal punishment. Anti-establishment leftists may be persuaded that collaboration with anti-establishment right-libertarians is acceptable. Etc. More generally speaking, even people who are not highly political can be affected by the discourse. In the UK, surveys suggest that younger adults are more socially liberal than their elders, but are more right-wing and anti-welfare-state economically - the propaganda seems to have had some effect.

In my view, social and economic progressivism; civil liberties and the social safety net; are really indivisible, and the attempts on the right to divide them have been very pernicious.

In the UK, a lot of the obsession with 'official secrets' and anti-civil-libertarian policies such as the 'sus laws' actually began or worsened under the free-marketeering Thatcher government.

Civil libertarianism is great and has been undermined too much. Economic libertarianism is not and has been promoted too much.

And the real danger of Republicans and other right-wingers calling themselves 'libertarians' is that it's a way of persuading some people that economic right-wing policies are necessary for our freedom.

ETA: Being an economic libertarian or even a Republican or Thatcherite is very regrettable, but is not a criminal offence or an aggravating circumstance in criminal law. The fact that a whistleblower is a libertarian or Paul supporter is a good reason for voting against them if they stand for political office, but does not justify putting them in prison. And I have been arguing vehemently on this board since at least 2007 against right-libertarianism and any political collaboration of lefties with right-libertarians!

July 9, 2013

I think it goes even beyond the attractiveness of Labour or any particular party...

Part of the problem is that a large number of policymakers, politicians, journalists, and sadly, as a result of all this, members of the public, have swallowed the idea that the public sector is inferior to the private sector at best, totally unnecessary at worst. There has always been a bit of this, especially perhaps as regards education where Private is often automatically seen as Better, but it's become much worse in recent years.

What is needed is people prepared to support the public sector robustly; to take the attitude that the provision of public services is a Good Thing, and that if there are problem with public services, they should be corrected and improved, not de-funded or privatized.

Even in the Labour Party, at least the New part of it, there is a tendency to be somewhat ashamed of the public sector, and to treat it as a weakness, rather than one of our country's great strengths. (And of course such an attitude inevitably means that the public sector will not work as well, thus leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy). New Labour too often act as though the public sector is a necessary evil, while the Tories act as though it were an unnecessary evil.

Personally, even if I had no ideological leanings in that direction, my experiences have convinced me that private organizations, e.g. banks and businesses, are often more confused, inefficient, and generally of worse value than even indifferent public services. I am the proud denizen of one of the worst county councils in the country IMO; nevertheless, the well-reputed firms that I've dealt with have generally been no better than county services, and the average ones have generally been worse.

Which leads back into another of the current problems. There is a popular attitude, both in the public and the private sectors, that the problem with most organizations is 'overmanning'; that there are loads of people being paid just to sit on their bums and drink tea; and that reducing staff as much as possible will make services more 'efficient'. Maybe overmanning was a problem in some areas in the past; I don't know. But nowadays it's just the opposite. Most organizations are understaffed, which may cut immediate costs, but makes them much LESS efficient for the consumer- and no, computers can never quite compensate

April 19, 2013


She may be dead, but her policies are sadly very much alive.

As I posted in the UK forum, with many apologies to Alfred Hayes and the subject of his song, Joe Hill, neither of whom would have cared for Thatcher!:

I dreamt that Thatcher stood right here,
Alive as you and me.
I said, ‘I heard that you were dead!’
‘I never died’, said she.

‘As Osborne cuts the welfare state
And cuts rich people’s tax.
As Hunt sells off the NHS,
You see me with my axe!

Whenever you reward success
By punishing the poor;
When Duncan-Smith strikes at the sick,
You see me even more!

In Cyprus, Greece and Portugal,
In Europe far and wide,
Poor people groan beneath the cuts.
You see I haven’t died!

Obama once had liberal plans.
The Congress told him, ‘No!’
So old age pensions must go down!;
You see – I’ll never go!

From Blair and Bush to Cameron;
From London to D.C.;
Where governments still crush the poor,
You’ll there find Maggie T.!’

April 17, 2013

Attlee versus Thatcher: We need to pick better heroes.

'The selection of our heroes says more about us than it does the men and women of our history books. Clement Attlee was the reserved, collegiate Prime Minister who brought us the Post War consensus. Margaret Thatcher was the bullish, one woman army Prime Minister who brought us the neoliberal consensus. The latter is in the process of elevation to level of deity, the former all but forgotten....

On the death of Thatcher in April this year, Parliament was recalled and twelve hours of tributes were delivered in the House of Commons and House of Lords. Today was the day of her state funeral in all but name. The funeral received full military honours and was attended by the great and the good from around the world, with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh playing their role in the deification.

On his death of Attlee in October 1967, parliament was not recalled. Instead a few small tributes were made in Parliament a fortnight later, with this small column in the Guardian at the time to attest to it. His family held a small funeral and his ashes were quietly interred in Westminster Abbey. A humble end for a humble man....

...We need to pick better heroes. We must not allow ourselves to fall into a state of national mourning which not only deifies the woman, but elevates her consensus above its human value. The abandonment of the Post War consensus has cost Britain dearly. We are a less equal, less compassionate, more inward looking nation for it.

(Much more at link):


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Gender: Female
Hometown: Oxford
Home country: England
Member since: Thu Jun 24, 2004, 06:32 AM
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