The Reeves’ Tale

12 Mar

Yesterday I visited my friend and steel city reader, Dave Hansell, a denizen of Stocksbridge so almost a Sheffielder. Dave, who knows the Labour Party inside out, has a thousand tales to tell of dirty tricks and flat out incompetence at grass roots level.

Like me he expects the square root of fuck all from the Labour Government we’re almost certain to see, barring major upset, by January 2025 at the latest.

Which leads me to one of Richard Murphy’s posts this morning. Bear in mind that the concepts of ‘austerity’, and an economy with a fiat currency ‘running out of money’, are no less absurd to him as a modern monetary theorist than their catastrophic policy implications are repugnant to him as a Quaker and humanitarian.

I’ve emphasised my favourite bits.

Why is everything so difficult for Rachel Reeves?

I watched some of Rachael Reeves’ interviews over the weekend. I have seen many before. A recurring theme is that she will not hesitate from ‘the difficult decisions’.

Reeves does not define what these are. That is typical of Labour’s approach to any issue at present. If it cannot prevaricate, nothing is said.

More telling is the continual reference to difficulty.

Is she trying to claim she is very clever, so only she can do these things?

Or that she is a normal mortal, so what is required of her is hard ? It really is not clear.

Maybe there is a third option I have not thought of, but whichever it is, this perpetual claim is deeply unappealing.

Is she saying it is hard to decide to underfund the NHS, and so kill people, when that is what she plans to do?

Or that it is hard to deny people the education they deserve?

Or the social care they need?

Or justice for those who have suffered from crime?

Alternatively, is it that it is hard to impose significant levels of taxation on those least able to bear it, whilst allowing much lower levels on those with the capacity to pay, which is exactly what is happening in the UK at present, about which she is refusing to do anything?

Or maybe she is just saying it’s really difficult to make any decisions when you lack a moral compass, a political philosophy, and any rational explanation for why you seek the power you so obviously crave?

My suggestion is a simpler one. If you really think that being Chancellor is going to be so difficult you have to talk about it all the time, then you’re not up to the job.

With that last, and what follows – read at source – Richard loses me, as he so often does. But I enjoyed the Reeves’ Tale up to this point. What d’you suppose, the Miller might have to say?

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8 Replies to “The Reeves’ Tale

  1. I’m really surprised at Richard’s interpretation of why Reeves says being chancellor is going to be difficult, when to me it’s been sickeningly obvious for christ knows how long, that when politicians churn out the “difficult decisions” bollocks, always with a look of fake concern and sorrow, they’re claiming we haven’t got the money to pay for nice things (no problem finding the funds for weapons and war of course) and it means one thing only, screwing the poor and vulnerable in our country. Fucking obvious.

    Although I never watch or listen to Rachel Reeves, I doubt she’s capable of even fake concern or sorrow. Cold bitch.

    Sorry – quite the potty mouth today.

  2. From the POV of this Wincobank* Chuff (because even when you’ve lived in Stocksbridge for forty odd years you are still considered an ‘incomer’ if you can’t trace you local family lineage back to day Sammy Fox entered the valley to open his factory) the Miller in this tale has to be Michael Hudson who, unlike Richard Murphy, can at least apply general principles in a consistent manner rather than too often falling pray to the Gell-Mann effect:

    Even a proportion of the readers posting BTL comments on Murphy’s site don’t seem to get it. Arguing for the need to follow The Official Narrative because it’s too hard to win an election and to educate the electorate to reality. As though anyone with a operational brain cell is going to fall for the notion of a LP under the junta of Herr Starmer is going to say one thing to get into office and ditch the failed and collapsing Western paradigm if and when elected.**

    Here’s Hudson getting to the heart of the matter……

    “I realized that the idea that debts couldn’t be paid was unthinkable to most people. They couldn’t imagine debts not being repaid. They could imagine the autumnal drain. They could imagine a business cycle of bankruptcy. They could imagine farmers not being able to pay periodically. But they couldn’t imagine that the system itself was bound to collapse.”

    ….providing as succinct an abstract of ‘The Collapse of Antiquity” and its contemporary relevance as you are likely to find.

    Point being that the LP have long given up on providing and arguing for the kind of model which actually works. Preferring instead to raise the White Flag in favour of an approach which is well past its sell by date and closer than many realise, as Hudson argues, to its inevitable collapse.

    Any organised political program – along with those associated with it – which bases itself on these practical realities – rather than being tainted with The [failed] Official Narrative approach – will be the only one with any realistic possibility of digging us out of the approaching New Dark Age.

    Hudson, again:

    “There’s a book from Plato to NATO that shows how the reconstruction, the fake history of antiquity, the fake history of Greek and Roman philosophy, was all meant to wipe out the context for what was this philosophy all about? What were the social problems they were dealing with? And if they realized that the natural tendency of economies is to polarize and to become unstable, then you need a deus ex machina. You need someone, a ruler from without to override it and say, okay, we’re not going to sacrifice the economy, polarize it, and bring on a dark age just because we support the idea that all debts must be paid. It’s more important that society as a whole survive than that the richest 1% of the population gets even richer by impoverishing the 99%. And that turns out to be the first 3,000 years of ancient philosophy. Not a word in Western civilization.

    There’s this myth that Western civilization begins with taking all of this economic and financial and social context into a new context without any of this in the Greek and Roman oligarchies, as if the oligarchy founded civilization instead of did everything they could to destroy it. And once you realize that, you realize that today, why is it that China is pulling ahead? Because it’s centralized the money creation, debt creation, banking and credit as a public utility, which it was in Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria, all over ancient society. It’s a whole different concept of how you structure society.”

    What Murphy is picking up on is essentially that the LP, now part of the bought and paid for Political Division of the Western Oligarchical Class, is offering the same product in different packaging.***

    As Hudson observes:

    “But the economists say, no, no, the only market is where there’s no government intervention, no government oversight of weights and measures, no government prevention of monopoly, no government concern for the common idea. Well, this is a rightwing philosophy and quite frankly, it’s neofascist and that’s called neoliberalism today or even worse, libertarianism. The idea of libertarians is you need a centralized economy, a centrally planned economy, but the centrally planners are going to be on Wall Street, not in the government. You have to have it all in the private sector. The banks will be the planners. You can’t have any regulation of the banks. Let them go ahead and impoverish everybody. The neoliberals and the libertarians are on the far right wing oligarchic part of the spectrum. And the socialists have somehow not picked up on this. The socialist parties of Europe have all endorsed neoliberalism as if somehow it’s technological. And so there’s really a blind spot in Western civilization, not only of how civilization really began in the ancient Near East and diffused, but what the basic dynamic is that has polarized Western economies and is leading today to the Western economies polarizing just in the way that the that Rome’s empire ended in a dark age.”

    * Wincobank, a former village to the North East of Sheffield long incorporated into the boundaries of Sheffield and the site of the first Council Estate after WW1. By the 1960’s the Flower estate did not so much have families living there it was more like an extended clan in each house. If you did not have eleven brothers and sisters you’re dad was a wimp.

    ** If a week is a long time in politics a lot can happen in the nine months before any scheduled election. Point being that in the present Geo-political context a possibility not generally considered is that of the global situation deteriorating to a point in which the The Official Narrative deems it is necessary for a ‘Government of National Unity’ rather than an actual General Election.

    *** To paraphrase Henry Ford: ‘You can any colour politics you like as long as its neo-liberalism.’ – Or as Hudson argues, Fascism [or implies, Neo-Feudalism].

    • In early September last year I wrote:

      Speaking of debt, in 2023 Michael Hudson published The Collapse of Antiquity. It advances a simple thesis. In the early civilisations of Sumer, it explains, a new king would start his reign by cancelling debt. Why? Because interest on debt rises exponentially while wealth production – from which debt is paid – can at best rise logarithmically. The inexorable logic is therefore for power to accrue to a creditor oligarchy. The forgiveness of debt derailed this tendency, but the new king had to be powerful enough to force it through. To put this in today’s terms, he had to be the very thing liberals (labouring under the delusion that ours is a democracy rather than a creditor oligarchy) condemn in a Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping.

      He had to be An Authoritarian. How else could the king break the destructive – and ultimately self destructive – power of the oligarchs? It was their failure to do this, Michael argues, which brought down the civilisations of Greece and Rome: collapsing as they did under the weight of debt which could not be repaid but would not be forgiven.

      Might Eurasia Rising, BRICS expansion and emerging multipolarity furnish the deus ex machina Hudson has in mind? We’re not exactly spoilt for choice …

  3. “The socialist parties of Europe have all endorsed neoliberalism as if somehow it’s technological.” Perhaps they’ve been infiltrated by agents of capitalism so that suitable leaders can be manouvered to the top. Does what happened to the Labour Party resemble what happened to the SNP after Alex Salmond and what happened to the LibDems after Charles Kennedy?

    • Perhaps they’ve been infiltrated by agents of capitalism so that suitable leaders can be manouvered to the top.

      Around the time Liz Truss’s prime ministership was being outlived by a lettuce, steel city reader bevin wrote that:

      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.

      I’ve quoted this a good few times, and will likely do so a good few times more!

      I haven’t followed the SNP’s fortunes all that closely, Johnny, but from what I gather – Craig Murray, Wings Over Scotland – you may well be onto something there too.

  4. Difficulty is in the eye of the beholder. The real question is difficult for whom? It seems she means it will be difficult for a sector of society, and we can play a little game about which sector. My guess is that it won’t be the sector that are doing very well out of the current arrangements, nor those that most generously donate to Labour. Nor those who own or manage the national press. Nor anyone in the City, or in the middle and upwards levels of finance and corporations. Nor the landowning sector. Nor most rentiers. Admittedly if we drew Venn diagrams for all those groups there would be a lot of overlap.

    So who is it going to be difficult for? The rest of us. Those with ordinary jobs, no jobs, part time jobs, precarious jobs, state pensions, non-index linked pensions, on benefits, disabled or sick, renters, and the great majority who do the work, paid, unpaid or underpaid, and caring that keeps the country operating and just about bearable. She is telling us all not to expect her to make any noticeable improvement in services we rely on. Services which have been neglected, rundown, cut or bodged and which are limping along.

    The next question is, why? Does she think that nothing can be done to improve life for most of us? Or is she unwilling to make any improvements because that would upset the sectors currently very happy with things? Or, in her mind, are those two reasons actually the same. She can’t because it would mean the LP would lose the backing of those that matter?

    Remember when they used to ask if it was better for a would be reformer to be inside the tent, or outside it? The answer is always that the only way to make meaningful reforms is from both directions at once. That can be by getting enough people inside that the consensus changes, or by having enough pressure from without that those few within who are willing are able to persuade enough others to make it happen. It’s rare, but it has happened. Sadly it looks as if the current PLP has very few willing or even persuadable among its ranks.

    • Great post, Zoltan.

      I wouldn’t presume to know what goes on inside Rachel Reeves’ head but not for a very long time have we had a Chancellor or Shadow Chancellor I’d consider economically literate, even within the narrow confines of that degraded discipline’s purview. So my best guess is she really has absorbed the TINA mantra and on that basis will continue 45 years of economic vandalism while calling it – more through cluelessness than flat out mendacity – fiscal and monetary responsibility.

      So the rentiers will get richer and richer, while the resources that make a real economy flourish – healthy and educated workers, state of the art transport etc – are condemned to slow and not so slow deaths in the name of the fool’s goal of “balanced budgets” and “not saddling future generations with crippling debt”. As if ensuring their impoverishment was something to be bizarrely proud of.

      It’s beyond depressing.

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