Posts Tagged ‘ britain ’

Brief thoughts on Britain

I keep hearing this weird argument that Scottish independence is not desirable because the real battle is between classes. Variations on this are that a yes vote has to be blindly nationalist, or that the working class of Scotland must not be divided from the working class of England – never mind that Unite the Union organise just fine in Ireland. I don’t buy it.Image

The battle between labour and capital will continue regardless of the borders of states. Neither a vote for yes or no moves us closer to a global democratic socialist society.

However, Britain is an almost unique state. It is an empire that has transitioned from direct rule of one quarter of the Earth’s surface to an immense system of financial piracy. Something like a third of the world’s bank deposits are held in London, crown dependencies, or various ex-colonies that function as a spider’s web, drawing capital to the City itself.

Britain is considerably more neoliberal than any continental country (except perhaps the Netherlands) for this reason. It is in the hands of spiv bankers.

There is no realistic plan on the table to change the nature of Britain.

Meanwhile the greater part of Scotland is an artificial desert, maintained that way to serve as a hunting estate for aristocrats and bankers alike. Its largest native language is widely regarded as “not talking properly”, an uncouth and uneducated language to use.

The working class of Scotland regard Scotland as a country. They have been taught that it is inferior, that they are inferior. That is all that ties them to Britain.

I’ll be voting to end the empire.

What Mark Carney Didn’t Say

Today, the Bank of England announced that interest rates will remain at historic lows, as long as unemployment remains above 7%. Mark Carney was careful to communicate that reducing unemployment was “not a target” – the target remains inflation, and if inflation starts to rise then so will interest rates.

Our masters in the political and business elite always prefer to talk about us as consumers, rather than producers, because it obscures the real structure of power. Nowhere is this more apparent than in discussion of inflation. To a consumer, inflation is a measure of rising prices – but to a producer, inflation is a measure of rising wages. The two are always closely tied.

From the Great Depression to the late 1970s, British governments accepted that they should target full employment. By the 1970s, this caused a new crisis – if you know that there are plenty of other jobs you could take, you will not hesitate to demand better pay, better conditions, and more respect. Strikes were common and inflation was high.

Their early solution, under Thatcher, was to target a certain level of unemployment, to keep wages down. That language wasn’t very popular, so by the 1990s central banks took to targeting inflation – with unemployment as an “unavoidable” consequence.

Readers of a certain vintage may remember that back in 1998, then-governor “Steady” Eddie George was astonished by widespread outrage at his comment that “lost jobs in the North are an acceptable price to pay to curb inflation in the South”.

What Mark Carney told us today is that the current 7.8% unemployment rate is too high, but that 7% might be as low as we want to go. He’ll wait and see what effect that has on wages.

Thanks, Mark.

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