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(en) Britain, SolFed*, DA #30 - Sustainability: market vs. society

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 1 Dec 2004 08:01:03 +0100 (CET)


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In world where market forces are attempting to trash the notion
of society because it does not fit in with its vision of a world driven
by individual greed, anarchism offers an alternative view of humanity...
The Thatcher free market revolution was at least partly driven by
the perceived failure of state control. The 1945 Labour
government had brought whole swathes of the British economy
under government control, and by the '70s, nationalisation
was widely seen as inefficient, overmanned, and a drain on the
taxpayer to the tune of billions of pounds each year; in other
words, it had failed. Thatcher seized on these feelings,
announcing that the future belonged to the free market, which
would deliver both efficiency and choice. The rest is history.

What started out as little more than Thatcher's homespun
corner shop prejudices were gladly beefed up as economic
theories by the free market extreme right, and swept the globe. In
the process, the Marxist-inspired ideas of state control were
marginalized to the extent that, even today, the majority of
communist and socialist parties have now dropped state control in
favour of a slightly more human version of Thatcherite free
market dogma. In some cases, such as New Labour, former
parties of the left used the so-called 'third way' to
extend market 'principles' (sic) to areas where even
the Thatcherite right feared to tread. As a result, the provision of
education, health and welfare are now being subjected to the
rigours of the free market.
back to basics?

Yet, perversely, there are signs that Thatcherite dogma has run its
course. The 1997 Labour landslide election victory was certainly a
sign of popular rejection of the free market idea, and culturally,
there is a growing realisation that shopping until you drop is no
compensation for permanent economic and social insecurity, ever
greater inequality, social dislocation, isolation, and loss of any
sense of community. We are realising that self-expression
through the latest consumer gizmo to be enjoyed alone in the
'security' of our 'own' home (unless
some thieving bastard should break in and steal it, or we get laid
off and the house repossessed) hardly compensates for the
alienating nature of the world we now all occupy.

The majority of us have tired of the sheer nastiness of the free
market philosophy that rewards only greed, and dictates that
money and the ability to pay is the only basis upon which human
beings can interact with each other. People have experienced the
deeply polarised, fraught and 'ill at ease' society that
the free market produces, and they are slowly rejecting it.

Just as Thatcher's narrow, embittered vision of the world is
rejected, there are also signs that people recognise Labour's
'third way' alternative as little more than Thacherism
repackaged. Blair can prattle on as much as he wants about
'harnessing the drive of competition' through greater
choice in health provision by allowing 'the public, private
and voluntary sector to compete for patients within an overall
NHS frame work', but people recognise it for what it is; the
same old Thatcherism. Blair's vision of the public sector
driven by market principles is being rejected, because people
recognise that it that it will only lead to yet more inequality and a
more dehumanised society, in which even the right to health care
will be based on ability to pay.
back to the past?

In the rejection of Blair's proposals to marketise public
service provision, there is a growing desire to create a community
based on common experiences and common values. Opinion polls
are showing an overwhelming majority favouring the collective
provision of public services delivered in the local community.
People fully understand, even if the politicians do not, that
ill-heath is traumatic at the best of times, and it is crazy to
advocate a system where ill people would be expected to travel to
the other side of the country (or, for that matter, under
Labour's proposals, the other side of the world) for
treatment. It is obvious to all sane people that ill people should be
treated in their locality with the support of friends and family, in
surroundings that are familiar, and in a hospital that forms part of
the community that they identify with.

Similarly, if schools are ever to become anything more than
education factories simply to ensure training and middle class
access to jobs, they have to become community-based living
social spaces, where children can develop all aspects of their
individuality, both during and after school. Even the middle
classes are growing tired of a education system in which to get to
a 'good' school, their children spend hours each day
travelling to places totally divorced from the locality, only to return
late to lifeless streets and spend their evenings in isolation at
home.

It might be thought that this rejection of the dehumanising market
society, and the desire for some form of collective community
approach, would boost the popularity of our arguments against
capitalism, and bring to the fore more

Direct Action is published by Solidarity Federation, the British
section of the International Workers' Association
==============================
* Solidarity Federation is of the anarcho-syndicalist spectrum


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