In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Jeremy Corbyn and the new political centre

Posted by seumasach on August 15, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

15th August, 2015

The Blairites may be right in claiming that a Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn won’t win the 2020 general election. But they are missing the point : by that time we can expect the most pressing issues in British politics to have been resolved. The next five years are crucial in setting the direction for a new, post-imperial Britain and Corbyn as Labour leader buoyed up by the mass movement that will put him there will play a crucial role. The Blairites have misread this badly denouncing Corbyn as throwback to the past when, in fact, it is they who hold that position.

British politics is in a state of flux and it will be become more and more evident that things cannot be understood within the framework of the old left/right divide. The significance of the recent developments in Greece has been missed : pragmatism prevailed over ideology. The contradiction is that ideological rigidity and sectarianism  seems more entrenched than ever, at least, in certain quarters.

Last night’s Corbyn  rally in Glasgow bore out that point : it was very much a rally of the faithful in an atmosphere of revivalist enthusiasm. All the leftist shibboleths new and old were itemized: global warming, identity politics, even the old warhorse “class”, nationalization, socialism and so on. Of course, Corbyn has to press all the right buttons but I maintain despite that that he will prove to be a pragmatist. Otherwise, what was someone like myself who has long dissociated himself from the left doing there?

I was there because I anticipate Corbyn playing a strong hand concerning the most pressing issues we face and because I don’t expect these issues to be resolved by the victory of either the left or the right. I expect them to define a new center ground in British politics which can draw support from left or right or neither.

The first of these is the renewal of Trident. Corbyn will oppose it vehemently and hopefully the British people will take tp the streets in their millions to the same end. The left have always opposed it on moral grounds and have claimed, to counter the right, that it is not effective as a deterrent. Actually, it is very effective as a deterrent : would Russia still exist as a unitary state without it? The left’s longstanding opposition is, however, no longer the point. What clinches the argument is that the Cold War is over and Jeremy Corbyn seeks constructive cooperative relations with Russia. He does this as a pragmatist despite his ideological difficulty with what he chooses to see as a homophobic government. The simple fact is that Russia has no aggressive intent towards Britain, quite the contrary, and since there is no other nuclear threat in sight there is no need to cough up 100 billion for Trident. Apparently, many in leading military circles also hold this view and not many of them will be Corbyn supporters.

The cost of Trident is anyway prohibitive for a country in the kind of financial state we’re in. The left has developed a complacent view on the debt since there has been no run on UK bonds or on sterling despite QE. They fail to see that this because the Chinese have agreed not to ditch sterling assets. The Chinese have instead sought a deal with the UK government evidence for which can be found in the rarely noted Comprehensive Geostategic Partnership we have signed with China and the fact that we are issuing UK government bonds in RMB. To Corbyn’s credit he does not share the prevailing left view that the debt doesn’t matter and that we can simply go on for ever borrowing money from people who don’t want to lend to us or simply go on devaluing the currency to monetize the debt and then force feed it to China and others in exchange for their exports. Without actually explaining this he admits that the budget has to be balanced. Actually, the principle is also a problem since interest payments are only manageable due to negligible interest rates. Anyway, Corbyn shares with the SNP and the Tories the new consensus view that the debt is a problem and, given that, the ridiculous costs of Trident are also a problem – to be overcome simply by canceling it.

Corbyn’s realism about Britain’s financial plight also extend to the realization that simply cutting the budget won’t work. Whether we like it or not the survival of millions of people and Britain’s social cohesion depends on welfare spending and that isn’t likely to change soon. We need to look at the other side of the equation; income. There isn’t any: we lose massive amounts every month running up our monster trade deficit. Almost everything we consume we import and our exports are limited by a depleted industrial base. We must therefore, reinvest in that base both to boost exports and to substitute for imports. Corby proposes a financial system orientated to this end, some form of national investment bank. How can anyone disagree with this even if the modalities remain to be determined?

Whatever form it takes it is clear that foreign investment will play a major role in the recapitalization of Britain. The deal with China probably concerns this and ,in fact, it’s already happening. However, were Britain to withdraw from Europe this investment would be threatened. The recent Greek crisis saw a surge of anti-European and anti-German feeling and, most notably, a shift on the radical left towards a eurosceptic position. Corbyn has already come out for the EU in principle and has thus provided something of a corrective to left’s Little Englander drift. The fact that born-again eurosceptic Owen Jones is sharing his platforms illustrates this. The anti-European left and right will then hopefully be marginalized by the time of the referendum and they will have been by a new pragmatic consensus.

Corbyn’s promise to renationalize the railways looks highly ideological but he certainly knows what he;s talking about on this question. Privatization has been a disaster which has seen a natural monopoly milked and undermined by private interests. Adam Smith wouldn’t have any problem with nationalization in this case. In the end it may just come down to a form of words : the mess has to be sorted out by the state in the interests of the nation. Is that or isn’t it nationalization? How many London commuters find the remedy just as sweet by any other name. One could say the same regarding the disarray in the utilities or the education system. Does any state simply leave these things to hobble along anyhow or assume that the market will for some obscure reason sort everything out? Only, Britain it would seem. The utilities only work at all because they’re being run by people like EDF, a state run company – although the state ,of course, isn’t Britain. But maybe the British state can have at least some say. After all, we’re British!

The simple reality is that the required program for Britain is fairly obvious and we can expect to find it insinuating its way into the manifestos or discourse of the most unlikely bedfellows. We’ve understood that we don’t want any more wars and must now turn our attention to the mess on the home front.(Does that mean it has to be like Dad’s Army?) Ideology, however, still reigns and it’s only right and fair that the most passionate adherents of the various secular faiths should have one last chance to insult each other in a frenzy of self-righteous indignation before going quiet in the face, hopefully,  of the  concurrence of the mainstream on simple pragmatism.

Posted in british economy, end of empire | Leave a Comment »

The left’s anti-European turn

Posted by seumasach on July 19, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

19th July, 2015

Just before the Greek referendum George Galloway tweeted:

“Greek Partisans will vote NO in Sunday’s referendum. There is European life after the Euro. No more bail-outs for bankers. Go for growth!”
Galloway would , of course, have been equally vehement in his opposition to the bail-out of the City of London in 2008. Well, actually, no. In statement made at the time he said:

“In the midst of this financial crisis which threatens us all, at last the government is taking action which may begin to shore up the banking system. I hope that it is not, as many in the City are saying, “too little, too late”. “It was essential the government propped up the banks’ capital base, it had to provide lending to banks that can’t borrow money from others to pay their debts. And we had to have a guarantee of bank debts, if we were not to see a full-scale financial panic and the collapse of the whole debit and credit system. But having put the money in, the government now needs to force the banks to pay the public back in return.”

Leaving aside the piety at the end this was simply a full endorsement of the bail-out. In an extraordinary but characteristic bit of sophistry Galloway was able to spin the bailout as a break from neoliberalism, as a break “from the outdated dogmas of free market economics.”

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Posted in Battle for Europe, british economy, Financial crisis | Leave a Comment »

Greece triggers the global crisis

Posted by seumasach on July 7, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

7th July, 2015

Coming at the end of a week in which the Greek people overwhelmingly reasserted their desire to remain in the Eurozone, the “No” vote can only be a result of Tsipras’ ability to convince them that their position in the Eurozone is safe, whatever happens. That now looks like a very shaky assumption and, I expect,  a brazen deception on Tspras’ part. It is particularly pertinent  to recall, at this point, that it was German Finance Minister, Schauble himself, who first proposed a referendum on proposals for Greece back in May and that this same Schauble had been arguing for Greek withdrawal from the euro in the face of the position of Angela Merkel. Merkel now looks on the way out if the latest take down on her by Spiegel is anything to go by. Could it be that, after a murky and convoluted process that has left everyone perplexed, Schauble has won?

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Posted in Battle for Europe, Financial crisis | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

It came in with the bond markets and it will go out with the bond markets

Posted by seumasach on July 1, 2011

Cailean Bochanan

1st July, 2011

We have a sense that capitalism is coming to an end. If by capitalism we mean that system which was introduced into England subsequent to the Dutch invasion of 1688 then that is true.

With the setting up in 1694 of the Bank of England, a consortium of private financiers came to the fore or rather came to exercise their power from behind the scenes of Britain’s political facade. In this original public-private partnership, they lent to the government at interest and used the bonds issued as the basis for leveraged banking. Swift defined concisely this new interest:

“that set of people, who are called the Monied Men; such as had raised vast Sums by Trading with Stocks and Bonds, and lending upon great interest and Premiums; whose perpetual Harvest is War, and whose beneficial way of Traffick must very much decline by a Peace”

Elsewhere he talks of “a new estate” to whom every house and foot of land in England paid a rent-charge, free of all taxes and defalcations” and where “the gentlemen of estates were, in effect, but tenants to these new landlords”

A whole class, “these new landlords” on behalf of whom the entire nation is taxed. Does this not ring a bell in post-bailout Britain?: the whole nation is mortgaged to the banker elite, which for all that their methods have evolved since the early seventeen hundreds, are essentially the same “interest” as Swift was describing and warning us about. At least, in Swift’s day the consortium’s original loan was from their own funds, however ill-gotten: today the banks are lending back to the government the funds they received from the government to bail them out, basic usury as conceived then has become the fraudulent shenanigans of the notorious “carry trade”. Now that there is no longer even the pretence that banking is about investing in business, understood as legitimate business, and now that the various bubbles from the dot.com through the housing market to commodities have exploded in our faces the monied men limit themselves to milking the state for all its worth and the ultimate bankruptcy of the system is the bankruptcy of the state itself. Curiously, the flow of funds into government bonds is being characterised as a “flight to safety”, yet the returns provided fall well short of inflation generated by endless treasury money issuance. Where then is the profit in the profit system? Wealth creation is over and the financiers are limiting their ambition to, instead of creating new wealth, monopolising all that already exists. It’s not at all clear where, if anywhere, the rest of us fit into the picture. We’ll soon find out: the peril of the “flight to safety” is becoming evident and nothing will glitter which is not gold. The burst of the bond bubble and the collapse of the dollar/pound will be dramatic events indeed, the cue for our long awaited awakening or our plunge into the abyss.

Posted in UK economy | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Stop the £11 billion ‘smart meter’ ripoff!

Posted by seumasach on August 30, 2015

Ecologist

14th August, 2015

At an £11 billion cost to energy users, and against all expert advice, writes Mel Kelly, the government is forcing the rollout of ‘smart meters’ repeatedly exposed as expensive, poorly tested and potential threats to our health and privacy. This madness must stop.

Read more

Posted in Ecological and Public Health Crisis | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Russia, Egypt support forming anti-ISIS coalition with Syria

Posted by seumasach on August 27, 2015

RT

26th August, 2015

Russia and Egypt support the creation of a broad anti-terrorist coalition, which would include Syria, to fight Islamic State militants, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a joint media conference with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel el-Sisi.

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Posted in Multipolar world | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The half-dead zombie markets are feeding on the living

Posted by seumasach on August 27, 2015

Eamonn McCann

Irish Times

27th August, 2015

As the China crisis ripples and rumbles across the world, markets everywhere have been afflicted by a bad case of the vapours. And when investors are anxious, they don’t invest. The diagnosis came from a qualified expert on Channel 4 News.

Read more

Posted in Financial crisis | Leave a Comment »

Oil industry needs half a trillion dollars to endure price slump

Posted by seumasach on August 27, 2015

GEAB

26th August, 2015

At a time when the oil price is languishing at its lowest level in six years, producers need to find half a trillion dollars to repay debt. Some might not make it.

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Posted in Financial crisis | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

What would happen if everyone joins China in dumping Treasurys?

Posted by seumasach on August 27, 2015

Zero Hedge

26th August, 2015

On Tuesday evening in “Devaluation Stunner: China Has Dumped $100 Billion In Treasurys In The Past Two Weeks,” we quantified the cost of China’s near daily open FX operations in support of the yuan. 

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Posted in Financial crisis | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

China can ride out this crisis. But we’re on course for another crash

Posted by seumasach on August 27, 2015

Seumas Milne

Guardian

It may not yet be the moment to get in supplies of tinned food. That was whatGordon Brown’s former adviser during the 2008 crash, Damian McBride, suggested on Monday as stock markets crashed from Shanghai to New York and $1tn was wiped off the value of shares in one day. But seven years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers brought down the global financial system and plunged half the world into a slump, it’s scarcely alarmist to see the financial panic as the harbinger of a new crisis in a still crippled world economy.

Posted in Financial crisis | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The Russian army is beginning to engage in Syria

Posted by seumasach on August 25, 2015

Thierry Meyssan

Voltairenet

24th August, 2015

After having negotiated a regional alliance against the Islamic Emirate which implied Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey, Russia suddenly had to abandon its strategy after the Turkish turn-around. Ankara has in fact decided to break off its ties with Moscow, and has cancelled, without genuine motive, the contract for the gas pipe-line Turkish Stream, created, in partenership with Ukraine, an international Islamic Brigade intended to destabilise Crimea [1]. It has also come to the help of the Islamic Emirate in their fight against the Kurds of the PKK and the YPG.

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Posted in Syria | Leave a Comment »

Central banks have become a corrupting force

Posted by seumasach on August 25, 2015

Paul Craig Roberts

Institute for Political Economy

23rd August, 2015

Are we witnessing the corruption of central banks? Are we observing the money-creating powers of central banks being used to drive up prices in the stock market for the benefit of the mega-rich?

These questions came to mind when we learned that the central bank of Switzerland, the Swiss National Bank, purchased 3,300,000 shares of Apple stock in the first quarter of this year, adding 500,000 shares in the second quarter. Smart money would have been selling, not buying.

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Posted in Financial crisis | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Jeremy Corbyn wins economists’ backing for anti-austerity policies

Posted by seumasach on August 23, 2015

We see the new centre emerging before our eyes and the term “strategic state” may soon be a all our lips.

See also: Jeremy Corbyn and the new political centre

Guardian

22nd August, 2015

More than 40 leading economists, including a former adviser to the Bank of England, have made public their support for Jeremy Corbyn’s policies, dismissing claims that they are extreme, in a major boost to the leftwinger’s campaign to be leader.

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Posted in british economy | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The East India Company: The original corporate raiders

Posted by seumasach on August 22, 2015

William Dalrymple

Guardian

4th March, 2015

One of the very first Indian words to enter the English language was the Hindustani slang for plunder: “loot”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this word was rarely heard outside the plains of north Indiauntil the late 18th century, when it suddenly became a common term across Britain. To understand how and why it took root and flourished in so distant a landscape, one need only visit Powis Castle.

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Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The age of transition and scientism fraud

Posted by seumasach on August 16, 2015

Jay Dyer

Activist Post

15th August, 2015

Ours is the great transition age. For the masses, the glowing assumption is that the transition and transformation age we are undergoing is the work of a long, evolutionary process of “natural” “progress.” Wandering about their bubbles, these presuppositions never go challenged or examined, having dobbed their cafeteria plate lives from a long string of newsbite phrases and empty slogans overheard in establishment schooling. “We are evolving,” and “We live in an era of change,” and numerous other advertising blurbs that underlie modernity’s plastic ideology actually form the basis for most of humanity’s worldview. Yet are any of these assumptions actually true? Are we in living in an era of “progress” and “human ascent”?

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Posted in Ecological and Public Health Crisis | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

 
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