Lair Of A Squirrel Red

I almost fell off my chair laughing by korakious
March 19, 2007, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So, I was skimming through the BBC news website as I regularly do and came across this. At first I thought I read the subtitle wrong. Then, I reasoned that there had been a mess up. It was just too ridiculous, nay, outrageous, to be true. But it was!

David Cameron has staked the Tories’ claim to be the party of the NHS, pledging to end the targets he says are destroying the service.

Cameron, at his party’s rally, went on to say that only the Tories can save the NHS from the abysmal situation Labour has brought it into. Alright Mr we-must-regain-Scotland’s-trust Cameron, how do you propose to fix the NHS? The same way you fixed the railways? Excuse me, but I’m inclined to take one year long waiting lists for a single examination rather than turning the NHS into a new British Rail.

Anyway, I don’t really want to talk about the NHS at this point. None of the filthy bourgeois parties that are likely to win Westminster or Holyrood elections can bring it close to anything vaguely resembling decency.
What prompted me to make this post is the extent to which bourgeois parties in Britain have become so utterly identical that they do not even respect their token differences that could, until some time ago, provide them with a semblance of ideological differentiation.

Since the beginning of the 90s we’ve often seen formerly “leftist” parties like Labour, PASOK, the French SP etc. moving rightwards, adopting key policies of their arch-enemies and pushing forward the most hideously neo-liberal agendas. Liberals and crap-talkers of all shades usually argue that this is a reflection of the realization, on the part of the “leftists”, that a market powered liberal economy is naturally more efficient and productive than state intervention and “socialism” (for most of them, socialism=taxes). However, I have yet to see a liberal explanation of why traditionally market happy parties would move towards policies that have been traditionally “owned” by populists and social democrats. Why, oh why are Karamanlis and Cameron so interested in ESY and NHS respectively?

As a Marxist, I tend to look at class relations to explain political developments. Thus I am inclined to offer a class analysis of why an absurdity such as the Tory leader being concerned with Green issues and standing in front of an “NHS-YES” banner would ever take place.

We Marxists view political parties (at least most of them) as class vanguards, that is, political organizations representing the interests of a certain class, or stratum. Simplifying, we could say that traditional market happy parties represent the bourgeoisie while populist and quasi social-democratic parties represent the petty bourgeoisie and labour aristocracy respectively. Since we believe that the interests of the working class lie in socialism, we believe that said interests are represented by those political forces that fight for socialism. As I said, that’s a rather simplistic way to look at things as, for one, the workers themselves will most usually follow social democratic and populist rather than socialist forces, while it is equally usual for a self proclaimed socialist party to act in a manner that is completely opposed to the goal of socialism. At any rate, this simplification is still useful when we are examining political developments in the non-socialist camp.

So what’s happening? Well, we Marxists believe that capitalism, by its nature, simplifies class antagonisms the more it develops, due to the tendency of capital to accumulate. As accumulation proceeds, the lower strata of the petty bourgeoisie are forced into the proletariat while its highest tie themselves to the ruling class. Such a viewpoint renders the processes of “post-ideology” politics much clearer. As the bourgeoisie fuses with the highest stratum of the petty bourgeoisie (or “middle class”) it inevitably comes to adopt parts of its political agenda. Similarly, as the aforementioned stratum moves increasingly closer to the bourgeoisie, its own vanguards will move towards the latter’s agenda as well. Political differentiation thus fades away and the dominant parties (vanguards) become representatives of different interest groups rather than objectively different class interests, as has been the case in the United States for years.

On the one hand, this fusion of the bourgeoisie and sections of the petty bourgeoisie makes the former’s political hegemony far firmer. Neo-liberalism appears to be triumphant, as even its perceived arch-enemies have embraced it. On the other hand, the simplification of class antagonisms and the swelling of the ranks of the proletariat opens up unprecedented prospects for a regrouping of socialist forces into one, unified vanguard and thus, for the overthrow of capitalism.


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