Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Shock Doctrine

Disaster capitalism: the shocking doctrine Tories can’t wait to unleash

One of the most startling aspects of the Brexit debate is the rapidity with which the Conservatives have set it behind them.

Within hours of the result David Cameron was on the steps of 10 Downing Street, describing this slim majority as “a very clear result” and proposing irrevocable steps to set it in motion.

Within days his chancellor, who had threatened a punishment budget only weeks earlier, was falling into line.

The referendum was manifestly won on the basis of misinformation, and puts the UK in an extremely dangerous situation, and there are several plausible scenarios for avoiding it. Yet among the candidates to succeed Cameron, even former remainers are now voting leave.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

” the unfolding crisis will provide countless pretexts for similar emergency measure that benefit business and roll back the state. So there will be no vote in parliament, no second referendum, no fresh elections: just the most massive legislative programme in history within the current parliament, in which the Tories command an absolute majority based on 37% of the votes cast in the last general election. So much for taking back democratic control.”

The prize is a free hand to exploit this mess and roll back the state for good
theguardian.com|By Howard Hotson

“Brexit means Brexit,” Theresa May stated on joining the race on Thursday. “There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door, and no second referendum.” All the bloodshed in the Tory leadership contest masks an underlying consensus: they are all determined to block every exit from Brexit.

Given the enormous dangers and the mood in the public at large, this is a striking fact that demands explanation. One explanation can be found by extrapolating from a pattern evident in privatisations going back decades.

When the railways were privatized, the argument in favour was not merely that privatisation would save money but that it would transform our network by means of a state-of-the-art signalling system unlike anything the world had ever seen.

The experts said it could not be done, but the government pressed ahead anyway. The experts, it turned out, were right. But the over-optimistic argument had served its purpose: the railways were in private hands.

When university finance was privatised after 2010, the same tactic was used.

In order for a higher education market to work, consumers need reliable measures of teaching quality. Such measures, experts repeatedly pointed out, are impossible in principle, and proxies could actually damage teaching quality by distorting institutional priorities. Yet the government pressed ahead undeterred because the real objective was not to improve the universities: it was to continue the process of privatising them.

Something similar was attempted even more recently in school policy.

In the past year the government proposed to force all schools in England out of local authority control and into the hands of private consortiums. Once again, no evidence was provided, because the ostensible objective – as always, to drive up standards – was merely a foil for the underlying aim: to remove the entire school system from public authority and place it in private hands.

Many thought that the near meltdown of the global financial system would prompt a comprehensive rethink of the principles underlying global capitalism. Instead, it was exploited to de-fund social welfare provision on a grand scale, prompting much of the anger wrongly vented against migrants during the referendum.

What then about Brexit? The advocates of leaving the European Union have always claimed that it would be easy and, after a brief period of turmoil, positively productive.

A vast chorus of experts disagreed. The decision to leave therefore delivered an enormous economic and political shock to England, Scotland, the EU and the global economy. Why is the government not doing everything possible to mitigate that shock?

As Naomi Klein argued in The Shock Doctrine, disaster capitalism operates by delivering massive shocks to the system and then using the ensuing period of anarchy, fear and confusion to reassemble the pieces of what it has broken into a new configuration.

This is what was done in the aftermath of the financial crisis, and it is ultimately what is at stake in Brexit. The right wing of the Tory party has succeeded in throwing the UK’s affairs into complete confusion.

The losses may be enormous: the preservation of the United Kingdom in its present form is far from certain. The winnings may, at first sight, seem modest: £350m a week will not be available to save the NHS;

the free movement of labour will have to be conceded; and

Britain will lose its place at the EU negotiating table.

But the potential winnings for ruthless politicians are nevertheless enormous: the prize is the opportunity to rework an almost infinite range of detailed arrangements both inside and outside the UK, to redraw at breakneck speed the legal framework that will govern all aspects of our lives

“If you break it, you own it” is an adage in the United States (propagated by a country-wide pottery retail chain). The right wing of the Tory party has broken Britain’s relationship with the entire world. Its objective now is to own the process of reconstructing that relationship. (The US refused to own what it broke in Iraq)

As Andy Beckett pointed out in the Guardian on Friday, within minutes of the BBC declaring victory for Brexit, the free-market thinktank the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) revealed the plan B that has otherwise remained hidden from view. “The weakness of the Labour party and the resolution of the EU question have created a unique political opportunity to drive through a wide-ranging … revolution on a scale similar to that of the 1980s … This must include removing unnecessary regulatory burdens on businesses, such as those related to climate directives and investment fund[s].”

A week later, and this possibility is no longer merely theoretical: George Osborne has now proposed to cut corporation tax from 20% to below 15%, to staunch the haemorrhage of investment.

During coming months and years, the unfolding crisis will provide countless pretexts for similar emergency measure that benefit business and roll back the state.

So there will be no vote in parliament, no second referendum, no fresh elections: just the most massive legislative programme in history within the current parliament, in which the Tories command an absolute majority based on 37% of the votes cast in the last general election. So much for taking back democratic control.

The paramount need is for an opposition prepared to do its job: to oppose this project of tearing up existing arrangements with a view to rebuilding them in a configuration even more insufferable for ordinary working people.

If, as Michael Heseltine maintains, Brexit has provoked the “greatest constitutional crisis in modern times”, then what is really needed is a government of national unity. Failing that, we need an opposition of national unity, composed of all those who do not want to give Tory rightwingers a free hand.

Related: Margaret Thatcher didn’t cause Brexit – but Brexit will bring back Thatcherism | Andy Beckett

Related: George Osborne looks at corporation tax cut to attract overseas investors

“Egyptians held back by neo-liberalism, not religion”: Isn’t what I said?

President Morsi claims the opposition is an anti-Islamist elite. 

President Morsi is in fact trying to protect the interests of an entrenched elite at the expense of everyone else.

And Morsi is losing support because of his economic policies

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters have tried to frame the current crisis in religious terms, casting opposition to their speedily drafted constitution as the petulance of an anti-Islamist, liberal elite. Media analysis has often replicated this theme:

1. In one corner stands Brotherhood-propelled President Mohamed Morsi who has the supposed blessings of a religious population.

2. And in the other corner, the “secular” opposition, banging on about small details of a constitution that isn’t that bad. (It is very bad, bad, bad…https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/amnesty-international-egypts-constitution-limits-fundamental-freedoms-and-ignores-the-rights-of-women/)

Such wrongheaded analysis prompted Egypt expert Dr HA Hellyer from the Brookings Institution to politely request that western media “knock it off“.

 published in The Guardian, on Dec. 21, 2012 under: “Egyptians are being held back by neoliberalism, not religion…”

“The result of Egypt’s first referendum on the constitution (a second referendum takes place this Saturday, in districts that have yet to vote) has exposed some of the real sticking points.

The referendum had to be split into two stages because so few Egyptian judges agreed to supervise it. And for all its legendary mobilizing powers of the votes cast, the Brotherhood wasn’t able to get more than 57% for its constitution.

Not long ago, the Brotherhood could rely on voter support reaching over 70%. And less than a third of the electorate turned out – though that might be because of the long queues and the difficulty in voting. In an atmosphere of mistrust and mismanagement, allegations of vote-rigging are rife.

Mohamed Morsi

Photograph: Mohammed Hossam/AFP/Getty Images

But if Egyptians are, as results indicate, losing faith in the Brotherhood, it isn’t because the organisation is Islamist, but because it has so far been rubbish at ruling. Many believe the Brotherhood has kept its promises to power, but not to the people.

Crucially, President Morsi’s economic policy has deepened the neo-liberalism that brought so much misery during the Mubarak era and was a key component of the uprising against him.

This economic stamp is all over Morsi’s policies, both before and as a part of the proposed constitution – which was completed in a one-day marathon, by an Islamist-dominated assembly: The Christian, liberal and female members walked out from the assembly.

In early December Morsi announced an end to fuel subsidies – so household bills for gas cylinders and electricity, for example, are set to spike.

Meanwhile, an IMF loan of $4.8bn currently being negotiated is conditioned on what has been described as the biggest wave of austerity cuts since 1977 – when subsidies on staple foods were removed in one crippling hit, prompting the “bread riots“.

Today the plan is to reduce public spending, cut subsidies, increase tax on basic goods, and devalue the Egyptian pound. This package was delayed because of the current turmoil. But why should Egyptians swallow such a Shock Doctrine-style deal, when one of the key tenets of the revolution was a call for social justice?

Meanwhile, the proposed constitution reveals more of the Brotherhood’s conservative economics.

It has a clause that pegs wages to productivity. (In the public sectors?)

It stipulates that only “peaceful” strikes are allowed. (Whatever that means)

It keeps military interests intact and invisible to public scrutiny – in a country where the army is thought to own anything from 10% to 45% of the national economy (nobody knows for sure because it’s all so secret).

It is all more evident that Morsi is not, as he claims, trying to “protect the revolution”, but wants to protect the interests of an entrenched elite at the expense of everyone else.

Indeed, this year a Bloomberg report referred to the wealthy, controlling echelons of this Islamist group as the “Brothers of the 1%“.

Small wonder that the factory-dense city of Mahalla declared itself an independent state, in protest at Morsi’s anti-union laws. Since Morsi came to power there has been a wave of strikes; not just factory stoppages but also health worker strikes and consumer protests at eroding public services.

And Egypt’s rapidly growing independent unions have been mobilising nationally against the constitution, using its trampling of social justices as the hook.

All these concerns have come on top of the constitution-driven attempts to erode personal freedoms, especially for women and minorities, and give religious clerics the final say over legal rulings – all through a process that disdains plurality and vital consensus-building.

These economic blunders, rather than any knee-jerk hostility to Islamists in power, is what prompted such large and widespread protest across Egypt. But while his economic policy makes Morsi unpopular on the streets, it is precisely what makes him acceptable to the west: power-serving economics coupled with a foreign policy that doesn’t rock any regional boats, crucially with Israel.

Using standard paternalistic filters, the US is banking on the idea that the Brotherhood’s religious credibility will underwrite its reactionary politics, thereby maintaining the status quo. In this sense, the American administration doesn’t really care if it’s a Mubarak or a Morsi in power, as long as these interests are preserved.

It is true, of course, that the Brotherhood still won majority support in the first referendum – although that might be as much about public desire to put an end to this constitutional crisis.

But the drop in support for the Islamist group shows that Egyptians won’t be fobbed off any more – and therein lies the power of the revolution. Post-uprising polls reveal that Egyptians are more concerned with work, housing, health, security and public services than with the pantomime identity politics of Muslim Brotherhood versus the liberals.

The results of the referendum show that the opposition, as it grows more focused and more organised, might be able turn popular concern for these issues into real political mobilisation, which could gain momentum in the parliamentary elections slated for early next year.

Then the Brotherhood might find out that with such disregard for the Egyptian people, its credibility, garnered during those hard, repressive years in opposition, can easily be squandered.” end of article

Latest news:

1. The vice president resigned on the eve of the second phase of the referendum, on the ground that his culture as a judge does not match the needed “political skills”

2. The opposition is keeping a black list on judges who resume monitoring the referendum

Note:  Arab renaissance is not linked to interpretation of any religious book…https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/no-connection-with-interpeting-holy-booksarab-renaissance-demands-frequent-mass-meetings-in-tahrir-squares/


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