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.
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.
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- 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.
- 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.
- 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.