Trying to avoid doing any work the other day, I came across an article from the economics magazine Moneyweek called ‘The End of Britain’. It makes some bold claims that the British economy is going down the pan, because of unsustainable welfare spending on poor people and suggests that “sensible investors” can avoid being robbed by the government by subscribing to Moneyweek and putting all their money into tax havens. I’m paraphrasing, but you get the gist. Oh and inflation is a worry and could be the end of the world, but there’s no need to adjust any scaremongering graphs to take it into account.
I’m not going to do a major debunking of the arguments in the article, other people have done that from within a perspective of a less brutal vision of capitalism. But I think it is interesting that so negative a portrayal of the economy and the doom that awaits us all, picks up so many positive reports from the far right and the conspiracy theory community. One of the debunking blogs report that the article was actually produced by the marketing department rather than editorial and the content is clearly in Daily Mail scaremongering territory.
But what most struck me about this was that this is a paper aimed at the relatively wealthy, that can be so ideologically blinkered and ignore history. It makes it out that the expansion of the welfare state was something
that was a bit of benign behaviour from the rulers, giving a few crumbs to those workers lucky enough to live to pensionable age. It wasn’t – it was a conscious ploy to avert revolution. If you read the pages of contemporary radical papers in the 1900s, you find articles weighing against any form of welfarism as it is a sop to derail militancy. It talks about a general strike in the 70s and has no idea of any different perspective; perhaps if there had been one we might not be in the mess we are in this country. It concludes by talking about ways to protect your wealth from the government and civil unrest in the forthcoming collapse of western capitalism as we know it.
Now I’m perfectly prepared to think this is just a marketing man’s expression of his inner Daily Mail, but what if it really is what sections of our ruling class think? I remember there were real jitters among people I knew with connections to the City when the crisis broke in 2008. Jitters along the lines of Gordon Brown’s comments recently revealed by Damian McBride, that there would be anarchy on the streets if cash-points ran out of money, to the point where he wondered whether troops would need to be deployed. Is capitalism really likely to collapse because of a bit of inflation and debt? The answer is no, obviously. But it should also concern us that if it really was on the brink, how ready would we be?