The revolution that never was


What Corbyn is trying to do in the Labour party seems like a revolution 7 years out of date.

Let me explain what I mean by this. In September 2008 the British banking system came to the brink of implosion. If action had not been taken immediately to support the commercial banks, the Northern Rock scenario would have spread to RBS and beyond. In a country where everyone (almost) relies on plastic entirely, we would be stuck with the cash in our pockets which would probably buy us lunch and that is it. This humongous failure came at the back of the biggest financial meltdown in history and caused a global credit crunch. I have explained all this in detail elsewhere, so I do not want to rehash the facts here — See here for a summary of the global economic dynamics that led to the crisis of 2008 and its subsequent European contagion.

At that point (end of 2008, beginning 2009) we were faced with the single greatest failure of financialised capitalism (see Lapavitsas -of all people- on the term and its uses). Everything that was wrong with capitalism was laid out for everyone to see. The state had shrunk below the point where it could make sure the economy operated in accordance with a democratic determination of the public good. Inequality in the developed world was rising steeply, with those at the top earning absurd amounts, while those at the middle and lower end struggled. Politics had degenerated into a race to appear market-friendly. The sacred tenets of capitalism, the invisible hand, trickle down of wealth, had all been exposed as the fallacies they are.

Surely we thought, this was the beginning of the end of neoliberal domination!

It was not. The US elected Obama, who then sunk in deadlock over every single bit of reform that might chip away at the neoliberal monolith. Merkel tightened her grip over Germany and dictated an orthodox response to the European debt crisis. Gordon Brown was defeated and replaced by the Con-Lib abomination that offered gratuitous austerity as a lever for implementing an ideological agenda. France elected Hollande, fair enough, but he quickly moved to sideline anyone not in tune with the German status quo in Europe. And then, in 2015, Cameron emerged victorious in the UK with a mandate for further austerity and a referendum on Brexit.

The final nail in the coffin came from the failure of the left in Greece. This blog has been pretty much devoted to the Greek problem and has shown how hope for a sensible left alternative was first chocked by the Europeans, and then ruined by the incompetence, fanaticism and ideology of those who were supposed to save us.

Against this background, we now have Corbyn energising the left in the UK in an attempt to build resistance to austerity and challenge the dominant narrative of the Conservatives. This will not work electorally because he has come 7 years too late. Now that there is a semi-plausible economic success story, Labour cannot win an election, but can try to change the public mood slowly from the left. Electorally unfortunately, even if it wins back Scotland, it can never prevail in the South. The time to ride the wave of dissatisfaction with capitalism was 2008. The radical left has missed its chance. All that remains is to put forward ideas, hoping for a change in the public mood beyond 2020.

don quixote


*Updated 16.8.15


4 thoughts on “The revolution that never was

  1. “See here for a summary of the global economic dynamics that led to the crisis of 2008 and its subsequent European contagion.”

    The lectures are interesting

    Interesting: But perfect to connect these two lectures for us economic/legal nitwits. 😉 The second one on investor arbitration ending with the TTIP is the most interesting, obviously. The first wants one be present at least via camera. 😉

    I wondered a bit about the Slovakian case.

    I am absolutely with you concerning the solar energy issue in Spain. … I seem to be among the exception of the vocal general rule complaining about rising energy prices over here in Germany. Maybe since my only basic demand for a new provider was transparency. I am back to basically the prices I had in 1988 since the market is open. Before that, I am pretty sure my regional monopolist played dirty games. But yes, we had some dubious renewable energy players over here too, state subsidies pull a diverse crowd of players. … I wouldn’t be surprised if my former North-Western-Monopolist was involved in the Spanish renewable energy gamble.

    Concerning Slovakia, yes if they bought goverment debt bonds at reduced price it must be visible in the transactions. The Greece side could demand to see them. Thus, there can only be a decision about real damages, no doubt.

    As it is, I stumbled a while ago (1-5 weeks?) over a US fund-investor, a bigger player surfacing in a larger context/subject I have been following over more then a decade by now, didn’t save the link, don’t recall his name, only recall he lives outside the US for tax reason as native US American, but the last entry on him on Wikipedia was, he actually won a case against the Greek state getting about 400-500 million. Forget the year, but it recall it as a post crisis scenario.

    Now what’s interesting is, that is about the same sum Goldman Sachs got for helping the Greek goverment to find legal loopholes, if I recall correctly. But you hardly ever hear about him. …

    Would it be complicated to find all cases against Greece in this field: Investors versus state? Post crisis? … Not easy?

    interesting to follow you back over the last month via your articles. I guess nothing irritated me more then the “dear Jerome letter”, and the ideas offered therein. How really odd that someone from the left offers a citizen-spying-on-citizen-network scenario. Admittedly, I would have a hard time to find that funny, and yes it make me feel uncomfortable. In the end about the person too. … “although, printer issue?, maybe I was too late”:

    Dear President of the Eurogroup, dear Jerome.

    But I am absolutely with you, this is highly unprofessional and ridiculous. But apart from the self-congratulatory efficiency in the letters header, i don’t at all consider it funny. I do find it a bit frightening, really. He is gambles with with a lot of people after all, not only his offered Greek spies from all layers of lives spying on other Greek.

    Never the less, I think your close observations would make a good book …

    I ordered your book by the way.

    take care Iannos.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s