Labour’s love of voodoo economics

17 Oct

With every prospect of a Labour government in Britain in 2024 – and if the Tories have the nous to play the long game, a whole lot sooner – let me begin with the two quotes which ended my post yesterday, Two ways Hunt can “balance the books”.

The first was from the World Socialist Website …

Truss’s replacement will be expected to restore confidence in the UK economy by savaging the working class. And if the Tories cannot fix their mess to the satisfaction of the financial oligarchy, the Labour Party promises to step in …

… the second is from a BTL comment by bevin on this site:

The natural political division in the UK right now is between Blairism and Socialism. Truss is not the first Tory PM to dissolve on contact, she is the fourth in less than a decade. The Tory ‘brand’ is no longer fit for purpose – Blairism serves the ruling class far better. And when it is opposed by Toryism it is unbeatable because the only alternative is a clumsier version of itself.


Now let me replicate yet another post from Richard Murphy. It appeared on his Tax Research UK site yesterday. While the professor never goes far enough in his critiques of a rotten status quo – not to my satisfaction he doesn’t; nor to that of WSWS and bevin – the ground he does cover usually gets my vote. Indeed, I’ve said in the past, only half jokingly, that this Quaker who eschews revolution – as do I, though for reasons more pragmatic than principled – sometimes advances demands of which Leon Trotsky would approve.

Here’s Professor Murphy yesterday, on Labour’s toxic love affair with voodoo economics:

We can do much better than this

posted this on Twitter this morning, in response to the usual supposedly left-of-centre anti-MMT crowd who think it their job to point out that the left must be beholden to markets by whom Labour seems to have been captured. Their attacks have been aimed at both me and [BBC financial journalist] Andy Verity.

Supposedly left-of-centre economists are queueing up to prove their pro-City credentials on Twitter right now, making implicitly clear that they have no idea how to tackle the crises we face and must instead bow to the City and accept austerity and homelessness.

Nothing surprises me about this. If you accept that bond markets must be obeyed, as they do, of course they think they must jump to the City’s tune.

They accept the rule of the bond market because they refuse to accept QE cancels government debt, when it undoubtedly does, and that this puts government money creation in the economic driving seat.

Instead, they buy the Treasury line that QE is just temporary bond holding by the state, which is nonsense, the world over. As a result, these people will blow in the wind the markets generate, even if that means austerity.

My fear is that these people have the ear of Labour, who seem to already share these views. Their lack of willing to think outside the conventions of neoliberal economics, to which they subscribe, will as surely condemn us to austerity as the Tories do.

If anyone thinks I am going to live with this madness any more than I was willing to live with the madness of Tufton Street, then they are seriously mistaken. Austerity from Labour will be no better than Tory austerity.

If austerity is what these people will deliver (even if they say that’s not their aim) I will oppose it because we do not need it. The left has to do much better than this, as does Labour. If they don’t millions will suffer.

And I promise, we can do much better than this.

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9 Replies to “Labour’s love of voodoo economics

  1. “Their lack of willing to think outside the conventions of neoliberal economics, to which they subscribe, will as surely condemn us to austerity as the Tories do.”

    Is this because lots of labour people have, after carefull research and due consideration, come to believe that the conventions of neoliberal economics are the way foreward or is it because of the undue influence of those who benefit from those conventions?

    • I think you pose, tongue-in, a no-brainer. Of course “lots of labour people” have not done careful research! ‘Twas ever thus.

  2. Can MMT provide the basis for ‘transitional demands’? I think it can, but such is the neo liberal ideological hold on us it is a hard argument to make – however rational a position, even within the capitalism paradigm, it clearly is. It is a way to make capitalism fairer – but then that’s not what capitalism is about – is it?

  3. It all comes back to Labour not just the “Party”, in the form of the Blairite dictatorship, but, much more importantly, the expelled and rejected.

    We have seen a reprise on a micro level, in Labour, of the same sort of idiotic folly performed by the United States during the past twenty years. It became so obsessed by the notion of its own ‘indispensability’ that it systematically drove all the powers that could have saved it by alliance-China, Russia, Iran, and now it seems the Gulf States, India, Indonesia- into coalitions against it. Thus it has transformed a position of almost unassailable hegemony into an imperial death watch.

    Something similar is happening on the left in the UK: possessed by hubris, Evans, Mandelson, Starmer and the NATO axis have driven layer after layer of critics into a position in which they cannot fail to put aside their differences and, Broad Churchmen to the last, cobble together a coalition to put foward alternative policies at the coming election.

    What elements are there to comprise such a coalition? First there are about half a million party members and supporters who have been shut out of influence and shut down in the CLPs. Then there is a Hall of Fame of experienced campaigners -Chris Williamson, Ken Livingstone, the better part of the Scouse party, yesterday Maurice Macleod from Camberwell, today Emma Dent Coad from Kensington. And them of course there is Jeremy Corbyn and, back in the wings, George Galloway.

    These people have two alternatives, to settle back and await oblivion or to come together and grasp the historic opportunity of advancing a socialist programme, not as an interesting set of ideas but as the only alternative to social oblivion and massive immiseration across the nation.

    Will it happen? It looks as if Starmer, after all from the same Trilateral Commission that supplied the inspiration for the US Empire’s descent into the sewers, is determined that it must: no sign, and less likelihood of any cessation of the purge of the Party and the restoration of Blairite purity to the PLP. It has only just begun.

    • In terms of the process as described, along with the hive mindset of the approach driving it, of what has taken place in the US over the past thirty years and more recently in the LP there exists a valid argument, supported by substantive evidence, that these are merely two examples of a wider phenomena.

      Writing in Newsweek, of all places:

      ….venture Capitalist David Sacks hits the nail on the head of where the dominant discourse now lies within much of the political ‘left.”

      “What makes the “I stand with Ukraine” version of the Twitter mob unique is that it brings together two forces that used to be sworn enemies of one another—the woke Left and the neoconservative Right. It turns out they share many of the same loathsome ideological and personality traits, and have a similar “slash and burn” approach to political engagement. It’s a new political marriage……

      …..This shift is disorienting, but on a purely tactical level, it makes a certain amount of sense. Neocons invented the cancellation game before there was even a Twitter board on which to play it. Neocons arrogantly dismiss the other side’s point of view as argued in bad faith and not worth considering, and label anyone who dares question the cause as a heretic or traitor.”

      Echoing a point I’ve argued previously.

      And you can see this approach at work not only in the way the LP under Starmer has cancelled anyone within the Party who deviates from The Official Narrative – be they Jewish members of the JVL or members of the BAME community – as well as the the gung ho jingoistic enthusiasm of the much of the woke ‘left’ for what is a Neo-con imperial project across Makinder’s Eurasian heartland.

      A complimentary position, vis-a-vis the Neo-Con foreign policy, to that taken by the same self identifying as ‘left’/’progressive’ groups towards Neo-liberal economic orthodoxy. A position which which has been the subject of much dismayed recent commentary.

      And therein lies a major stumbling block in terms of ‘burying differences’ on the left.

      Examples abound.

      Ester Giles, who featured on this blog a while back, represents just one case in which this now over-influential and over bearing intolerant section of the ‘left’ acting as useful idiot shills for the right constantly de-rail such initiatives. Booked as a speaker at an event organised by LP members against being cancelled and de-platformed by the Party, Giles was herself deplatformed in short order from the event for having defending the free speech rights of another member who expressed GC views.

      You just could not make this shite up.

      More recently, we have this nonsense:

      Which will make for a really bizarre contest in Sheffield Central should Eddie Izzard win the Labour PPC nomination. With a sizable number of GP Sheffield Councilors, along with GP members likely to vote Labour whilst GC LP members vote either for someone else or None of the Above.

      In similar vein the same organ, Bright Green:

      ….reports the Scottish greens have broken ties with the English and Welsh GP because they are not woke enough.

      Point being that with this factor in play it is becoming more difficult by the day to see how the process involved under the label ‘burying differences’ would not be strangled at birth. Such is the cultural zeitgeist.

      The (late) systems analyst Russell Ackoff often referred to complex systems as a “mess.” If he were still with us he would likely look at the present situation and decide he would need to go away into a dark room to spend some time thinking of a new word to describe the multiple-clusterfuck which is taking place across the entire Western sphere of operations.

  4. You are very likely right Dave. Except that it really strains all credulity to believe that, when people are starving and freezing, when jobs are hard to find and barely worth having, and the schools, hospitals and social services from pensions to benefits are barely worth the paper they are issued on.

    When catastrophe is staring people in the face, are they going to demand general subscription to the demands of a tiny minority desirous of swapping their genders and being lauded for their ‘courage’ in doing so?

    Surely all this nonsense about cancellation and woke ideas is just the fluff that a society with nothing better to do and determined not to deal with bread and butter issues, produces?

    Or are we to believe that in a country where the waiting lists for urgent medical treatment are constantly lengthening, the public is going to insist on facilities for sexual transformation surgeries and hormone ‘therapies’ not simply be provided but that their provision should be of the highest priority.

    As to the non platforming and cancellation of heretics, that is something that very quickly takes care of itself: where critical thought is banned, stupidity is enthroned. And stupidity’s first characteristic is its inability to look after itself.

    • … stupidity’s first characteristic is its inability to look after itself

      So true, though it has a way of doing untold damage before being consumed by its own absurdity.

      • Amen to that (as Bonhoffer might also have echoed).

        Looks like we could well find out the answer to the reasoned observation bevin makes in the not too distant future. Like much else, the ultimate outcome depends very much on achieving the necessary critical mass of people (with the sufficient levels of expertise and experience and in sufficient numbers) to make the necessary course adjustments.

        On that matter I am with Bonhoffer inasmuch that it will need a very significant externally supplied jump start.

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