the left and the financial crisis
Economic policy has been unfashionable on the left (in its broadest sense) for more than a decade.
New Labour has never been very interested in developing a critique of the way the economy worked. Despite real efforts to relieve poverty through tax credits, the minimum wage and other measures, it has always wanted to be the pro-business-as-it-actually-exists-today party. It has never had much of a vision of different ways of doing business or alternative models for running the economy (and I mean more social-market in style, not untried utopias).
On the extra-parliamentary left the dominant issues have been international. The big campaigns that have mobilised people have been in opposition to US foreign policy, such as Stop the War – or with a more diffuse constituency – pro-development through Make Poverty History.
This neglect has a lot to do with the relative economic success of recent years. But it is still puzzling why there is not more interest in the distribution of wealth within the UK. The TUC supported End Child Poverty’s march and rally on October 4th will test how many can be mobilised around what should be a key issue for anyone vaguely progressive.
But the left’s lack of attention to economic issues in recent years has left it unprepared for the current ‘crisis of capitalism’ (longed for perhaps by some, but actually pretty damn scary for most people, particularly if you work for HBOS).
This at least is where the blogosphere comes into its own, where those plugging away on yesterday’s unfashionable issues – from whatever economic or political perspective – can suddenly be thrust centre stage.
Adam has already plugged Paul Mason – so I won’t say any more.
Here are some other useful articles:
But many of the mainstream left of centre blogs seem to have little to say about the huge economic events going on around them. This is not to knock them as they all have their strengths and you can’t expect every blog to cover everything, but Liberal Conspiracy, CentreLeft and Harry’s Place have little or nothing to say about the crisis. Labour Home and the new Fabian blog Next Left is mostly interested in its short term political effects, though Tom at Labour and Capital does it better – and of course he has always dealt with the economy.
Again I stress that this is not any kind of cheap dig, simply a sad reflection that the mainstream left seems singularly ill-equipped to deal with events of such massive importance. For once ordinary people down the pub will be talking about political and economic events. Too many of us are not.