“They f*ck you up, your mum and dad,
Your gran and grandpa, aunty too,
Pensions, housing, jobs: no fees;
And then vote Tory just for you.
But they were f*cked up in their turn,
By Hitler, War and Empire views,
They had Attlee, Bevan’s NHS,
Before Thatcher turned the welfare screws.
Man hands on misery to man,
They do it through the ballot box,
F*ck you children, it’s your fault,
Unless you’re willing to place a cross.
(Apologies to Philip Larkin).
“Around 75% of people aged 65 and over will vote in this election; unless something thunderously radical happens in the next six weeks, only around 42% of 18- to 24-year-olds will do the same. The over-65s coming out to vote and the under-24s staying in has been the norm for the past few decades. This is why we’re now all hearing so much about the pros and cons of the triple lock on pensions, but absolutely nothing about student fees and housing benefit”. (Armando Ianucci).
The best argument for voting is Bevan’s NHS. Kids are seeing the hard won victories of proper Labour being killed off.
George Monbiot is a well known left leaning environmentalist. He writes for the Guardian. So you may dismiss his views or accept them according to your prejudices. “Comment is free but facts are sacred” – make of this what you will. However uncovering secret funding by vested interests should be of interest to those who think democracy should be exercised on the basis of truth. What George reveals in the article is a list of organisations funding right wing, anti progressivist positions. You may check the sources, you may think that this activity is a good thing. You should however at least know what is going on. One example is the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA). This organisation has charitable status and is often quoted on the BBC as if it was independent of right wing funding and policy making. Democracy becomes debased when powerful groups, who can spend billions supporting their cause and often in secret, can set the agenda and the frame of reference for debate for billions of citizens. Like mushrooms, we are being fed shit and kept in the dark.
No, this is not a call to end democratic politics but to acknowledge it’s demise. We must acknowledge our inability to control our affairs, our politics and our social policy. We have sleepwalked into a situation whereby we have ceded power to unelected and barely accountable corporations and markets. The neoliberal state has become the bedfellow for undemocratic power. This is now happening across the globe. The triumph of corporate power exists despite the financial crash of 2008. Rather than pulling the edifice down, corporate power has succeeded in harnessing the resources of the state for its own purposes. Civil society has been silenced or ignored in the process.
The paradox is that while espousing ‘Free’ Market ideology (neoliberalism) which calls for the withering away of the state, corporate power has entailed state intervention on a scale that might make a Marxist blush. Resources and power have been transferred from individuals and civil society to a global elite whose only interest is profit and monopoly capital.
They peddle a false dichotomy of private sector = good, public sector = bad. This is ideology. There is no homogenous private sector, an examination of non government private sector organisations reveals a huge diversity: some highly efficient global corporations, SME’s close to their customers, financial institutions that nearly brought the economic house down, firms using sweatshops, exploiting child labour, firms making shoddy goods, down market cafes and restaurants serving unhealthy and unhygienic foods, building firms that never complete on time, media and satellite companies fighting to monopolise, polluting mineral extracting companies which have had little regard to environmental concerns…there is no such things as ‘the’ private sector about which generalisations about efficiency, quality and customer relations can be made.
In addition, the line between the private and public sector is blurred as Corporations are now involved in the running of public services to such an extent that they are now involved in social policy with little involvement of the public they serve.
So, the state, the Market and corporations form a triumvirate of power usurping the democratic power. The fourth voice of civil society is now urgently needed. We need to call to account, to harass and to investigate the misdeeds and greed of the other three voices. This is to thus acknowledge that in becoming consumers we have abrogated our responsibilities as citizens, and thus we will get the social and political policy we deserve unless we exercise our voices loudly. We must speak truth to power and do so before we are further impoverished and diminished as subject rather than sovereign citizens.
(Crouch, C. 2011. The strange non-death of neoliberalism. Polity Press)