Richard Murphy’s peaceful revolution

2 Aug

Richard Murphy: What the Financial Times gets wrong about Scottish independence | The National

I admire economist, tax specialist and Modern Monetary Theorist Richard Murphy.1 This despite my deep suspicions of MMT (often derided as “magic money tree” not only by Chicago School, Thatcherite, Reaganomic and other stripes of neoliberalism but by a Marxism which – correctly as best I can tell – sees in MMT a defiance of the law of value.)

I nevertheless respect Mr Murphy for his pithy writing style and no-nonsense approach – from which I have learned a thing or two – to fatuous BTL comment by folks who clearly didn’t read the posts they saw fit to comment on. But mostly I subscribe to his RSS feed because his calls push to the limit the ability to do the right thing of a British State there, whether he knows it or not, to adjudicate, manage and above all advance the interests of capital. Finance capital in particular.

Take his post of March 18, 2020. Given the enormous economic implications of covid lockdown, it set out a list of demands which include this:

… funding to banks to ensure their survival, on condition they are nationalised without compensation …

Does Mr Murphy know – he is nobody’s fool – that this is something no capitalist state can do? Which, objectively speaking, places the demand in the tradition of one Leon Trotsky. In light of the “false consciousness” of Western workers; hurt and angry to be sure, but also deluded as to the true nature of their situation, he proposed a ‘transitional programme’. It would pierce the illusions of Xmas-voting turkeys by formulating demands which met the concrete needs of the hour, but which no bourgeois state could concede.

I’m confident Richard Murphy had not, by March 18 2020, become a Trotskyist. In fact he has explicitly rejected revolution as a solution to what he freely and refreshingly acknowledges to be capitalism’s serial and fundamental failures – or at any rate those of its British instantiation.

I too reject revolution, though unlike Mr Murphy I am not a Quaker. Nor a pacifist in the sense of one who regards all violence as by definition wrong. I reject revolution as envisaged by Marx and modified by Lenin because, in the West at least, that ship has sailed. Seizing state power is not going to happen for two reasons. One, the industrial conditions so ably depicted by Marx and Engels no longer hold. With manufacturing exported to the global south, the proletariat has lost both its muscle and the conditions whereby its exploitation was experienced en masse.

Two, the British and all other Western ‘democracies’ are armed to the teeth, versed in the black arts of counterinsurgency – honed on the streets of Belfast and Gaza – and above all equipped with tools of surveillance beyond the wildest dreams of the twentieth century totalitarianisms.

Cue for Mr Murphy’s blog post yesterday, We need a peaceful revolution. 2 It begins:

Gary Neville says we need a peaceful revolution. It’s not the usual call for a Manchester United player now a football commentator. But is he right? 

I am not by inclination revolutionary. But we need to change our head of state. And we need to be rid of the House of Lords.

Worthy causes to be sure. But let’s be clear here. Of the planet’s four most rapaciously lawless powers – Britain, France, Israel and the USA – only one has a monarch 3 and unelected ‘upper chamber’. For the British State, both have their uses but are dispensable without a revolution, peaceful or otherwise.

We need electoral reform – because first past the post is nothing like democracy now.

Agreed. But a negation far more lethal than FPTP to the idea of Britain as democratic was given in my post back in May, Britain Decides!

 I can think of no more cogent argument for insisting that Western democracy is ninety-five percent bogus than that (a) democracy implies consent, (b) consent is meaningless if not informed, and (c) informed consent implies truly independent media. That last we do not have when they are [pace Chomsky] “large corporations selling privileged audiences to other large corporations”.

We need to respect the right of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to choose their own futures.

Yes – these things are necessary but, as recent abuses of the law in Scotland show, insufficient. For its part, “Northern Ireland” isn’t a nation at all. It is a gerrymandered entity whereby six counties of Ulster Province (the full nine would have weakened the built in Protestant majority) could remain under direct British control, and Ireland as a whole under indirect control. 

“Amen” – followed by “a necessary but insufficient condition” – is in fact my litanic response to every single item on Mr Murphy’s very peaceful shopping list, as set out in his post yesterday.

* * *

  1. I gather that not all MMT enthusiasts see in Mr Murphy a True Believer. If so, that only endears him to me further. I too have a touch of the heretic about me.
  2. Given my coverage of the jailing of Craig Murray I recommend, below the line of Richard Murphy’s post, the thread begun by DunGroanin, a commenter known to me from his many offerings below OffGuardian pieces. In the olden days, when I engaged BTL at OffG, he and I sparred. Here I back him. When Richard Murphy responds with a terse and for once point-missing dismissal, AliB comes in with a succinct laying out of what Richard was not getting.
  3. Mr Murphy’s reference to “head of state” is ambiguous. Does he mean BoJo or Lizzie? Bojo, I suspect. Few republicans call for a different face on the throne. That said, he does say head of state, not of government. He surely can’t mean Charles. Another King Billy then? That’ll be good for a few laughs in The Bogside and on Falls Road.

6 Replies to “Richard Murphy’s peaceful revolution

  1. “… deep suspicions of MMT … a defiance of the law of value.”

    I read the ‘Developing Economics’ link, thanks. But your suspicions, based upon its conclusions are ‘straw man’ since MMT posits no claim to derive or critique value. At root MMT is only a mute lens onto central bank spread sheet operations. The “unit of account” part. Nothing more. MMT economists such as Bill Mitchel point this straw man error out over and over again.
    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=41399

    MMT does not try to explain the “broader functioning of money as measure of value, which is certainly not within the power of the state.” But even this quote from the ‘Developing Economics’ link, is not really accurate, since politicians as part of the “power of the state” make value judgements about what to spend such spread sheet created money on, or not.

    Since MMT does not set itself up to be a theory of value, the statement from the ‘Developing Economics’ link that “Money is a creature of commodities and not of the state” cannot be a logical criticisms of MMT. It is a statement akin to saying ‘we use money for social and commodity transactions, but we’ll render invisible the fact that money is originally created and destroyed (taxes) by government controlled spread sheet numbers backed by the courts and contract laws – this way we can lie about resource availability by pretending that money creation in and of it self is impossible’.

    Money is NOT in and of itself a commodity in the sense that commodities are limited, whereas numbers on treasury account spread sheets by definition can never run out if there are resources – real commodities – available to purchase elsewhere in the economy. At best you can say money is a shadow of commodities.

    As such MMT simply exposes who would lie that there is ‘not enough money’ for government expenditure when sufficient and appropriate resources are available. Such simple insight does not venture into forming any ‘law of value’ other than to expose liars trying to justify ‘austerity’ as rational government policy option.
    https://tinyurl.com/atomichumanism

  2. [Tried to post this comment yesterday, but its not been published? Hope it makes it today – please let me know if there is a problem with what I have written? Thanks]

    “… deep suspicions of MMT … a defiance of the law of value.”

    I read the ‘Developing Economics’ link, thanks. But your suspicions, based upon its conclusions are ‘straw man’ since MMT posits no claim to derive or critique value. At root MMT is only a mute lens onto central bank spread sheet operations. The “unit of account” part. Nothing more. MMT economists such as Bill Mitchel point this straw man error out over and over again.
    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=41399

    MMT does not try to explain the “broader functioning of money as measure of value, which is certainly not within the power of the state.” But even this quote from the ‘Developing Economics’ link, is not really accurate, since politicians as part of the “power of the state” make value judgements about what to spend such spread sheet created money on, or not.

    Since MMT does not set itself up to be a theory of value, the statement from the ‘Developing Economics’ link that “Money is a creature of commodities and not of the state” cannot be a logical criticisms of MMT. It is a statement akin to saying ‘we use money for social and commodity transactions, but we’ll render invisible the fact that money is originally created and destroyed (taxes) by government controlled spread sheet numbers backed by the courts and contract laws – this way we can lie about resource availability by pretending that money creation in and of it self is impossible’.

    Money is NOT in and of itself a commodity in the sense that commodities are limited, whereas numbers on treasury account spread sheets by definition can never run out if there are resources – real commodities – available to purchase elsewhere in the economy. At best you can say money is a shadow of commodities.

    As such MMT simply exposes who would lie that there is ‘not enough money’ for government expenditure when sufficient and appropriate resources are available. Such simple insight does not venture into forming any ‘law of value’ other than to expose liars trying to justify ‘austerity’ as rational government policy option.

    I have analysed Murphy’s Green New Deal here
    https://tinyurl.com/atomichumanism

  3. I attend here by chance as I perused your blog yesterday and not only spotted your piece on Richard Murphy but also reference to my comment on Sunday morning as Craig Murray was taking his calvary walk.

    Being angry as any sane person free of MSM/ASM propaganda opinion forming – I felt it necessary to post the CM story at RM’s site in a relevant article there – a political one and left it at that. I try to avoid polluting his concise topics with politics unless it is his choice or there is a comment below which requires attention…

    I have no intention of disrupting the Professor in the immense tasks he has undertaken and is best placed to deliver the paradigms that will finally overthrow the centuries of fairytales of ‘money’ and the fake left/right , Marxist/Capitalist tropes invented to hide the forever Money that they were invented to protect.

    I have the greatest respect for his work and attempts at educating not just us but more importantly his peers. Most of them as wedded to the fairytales as ever.
    His work on the National Debt, the BoE, QE the reality of the Magick Money – it’s not a tree (another lie , probably born as part of the fairytales (Jacks Beanstalk), it is at a stroke of a keyboard.

    I highly recommend the Profs little straight to camera series on YouTube for these who want it in easy to digest, audio visual form, they come across differently to the written style and should be easy enough for anyone to understand why everything they believe about Money and Government Debt is wrong. Including the most expert personages in all fields down to the thickest – all who believe that it is Tax Paid Money that funds Government Spending.

    It is necessary to say that of course I do not agree on some aspects of RM’s opinion – almost all of it on the political front and the hijacking of a GND by various DS actors, but it is his blog site and he must of course do what he thinks is best to get his message through.

    I have ZERO complaints of RM and really hope you and many visit him daily there is so much on Political Economy we all NEED to learn otherwise the status quo will remain. Please promote it and engage with him directly if you don’t understand and be open minded. It is very hard to realise that ones whole life and understanding is based on fairytales created to achieve just these lies.

    As his message is spreading – he is coming under attack from the ii/DS types. I don’t blame him for trying to avoid damage whilst still dropping his ordinance on target.

    Mostly the same can be said of CM’s site.

    As for Off-Guardian , do you still go there? Why? I got perma spam foldered , many moons ago, having mullered the many btl echo chamber crowd, atl agitprop DS graduates with their obvious PR stenography; their remaining two ‘founders’ without history; and of course Nos 1 and 2 who I had to educate into refashioning themselves and actually the sites fake anti-Guardian ‘we don’t censor and respect facts’.

    I occasionally drive by and shoot a provocation into their straight to bin folder. I have been long disappeared from there without a murmur from the supposed ‘freethinkers’ – the suckers being manipulated for the great fascist takeover.

    Some of the choir still show up at CM’s site to do their work and I take pleasure in using their presence to share my experience and analysis of Off-G’s Red/Brown agenda. It is nothing more than a DS offshoot. I believe you once said driven by some very ‘Intelligent’ people?

    Here’s a link to a comment thread at CM’s site from Sunday if you haven’t come across it yet where I hope my ire is explained and seemed to have scrambled a couple of the flying blue monkey trolls.
    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2021/08/keeping-freedom-alive/comment-page-2/#comment-997061

    Keep on learning and trying to be part of the Revolution that is vital to avoid the completion of the fascist project in the U.K. that was avoided by ordinary people who met the proto brown shorts of the Mitford/Mossley golden couple on the Cable streets of our City’s.

    The Cable Streets of a hundred years later are in our heads now with all the modern media.

    • Hi Esther. I’d have liked to come to this but my partner is taking me away for a birthday treat in Chester; two days starting Sunday.

      I’ve just bought Stephanie Kelton’s book, The Deficit Myth and look forward to reading. Will let you know when I’m next coming to Bristol. We could maybe have coffee on the Gloucester Road or in Clifton.

      Hope Sunday goes well.

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