Sunday, 15 February 2009

It's Not the 1930s as Long as We Have a Policy Re-brand Option

In the last fortnight or so Ian Dale has slyly set off a no doubt intended brouhaha in the left blogosphere by claiming that Socialism and Fascism were kissing cousins; the dread Nick Cohen further fuelled this with a review of some book which absurdly claimed that Liberal America shared intellectual roots with Fascism. Lots of the left have lined up to disabuse them of this silly conceit. A moment’s thought – actually, a moment in a GCSE History class – shows the reason why: Fascism was a rightwing response to the challenge Socialism and the growing power of organised labour posed, a century ago, to the rule of capital. Insofar as it shared some policy features with the left it did so to defuse the challenge, and re-found the rule of capital on what was intended to be a more secure basis. It didn’t work out like that, obviously, but that was always the intention.

Anyway, both Fascism and, somewhat later, the challenge of labour faded. Free market ideology ruled the intellectual roost. Till now. Suddenly we find quite a lot of what appear to me to be serious devotees of capital suddenly accept that bank nationalisation may be the immediate way forward. There is no currently visible ‘challenge from labour’ in the sense Europe experienced such a challenge in the years around WW1. There is no viable way out of this* crisis which doesn't involve a re-founded capitalism because there is no significant body of opinion anywhere on the globe demanding that there should be. So the advocates of the rule of capital probably don't need a formal political movement like Fascism which aped Socialism in a nightmarishly warped manner in order to undercut and destroy it.

No: all they need today is re-branding. The so called Swedish solution - temporary nationalisation of the banks, the setting up of a bad bank and resale of 'good' assets back to private sector - isn't really nationalisation at all. Oh no - its 'pre-privatisation'.

*I’ve not given up hope for the next crisis, though. People’s views will change as this one bites.

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