If there’s one thing the entire Australian Left agrees on right now it’s that “Thatcherism was a very bad thing”. But beyond that, it may be appropriate to ask what exactly it is that people think was a bad thing. The answer to that question rests on one’s interpretation of what exactly was going on in the high neoliberal period of the 1980s, and what followed it. There is an uncomfortable fact that many local progressives are also trying to dance around, one that impacts on their view of the domestic political situation. That fact is that the highpoint of the ALP’s federal political success with the Hawke and Keating governments shared much of its DNA with Thatcher’s neoliberalism, here understood as a political project to shift the balance of forces in the class struggle towards capital, and thereby enact a historic redistribution of wealth and power upwards.
London-based anti-fascist activist KEVIN OVENDEN reports on two aspects of the rise of the far Right in Europe. First, he analyses the high vote for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in the Eastleigh by-election, where they beat the Tories into third place. Following this, a short piece on how the mainstream Right is feeding the success of Golden Dawn and other far Right forces in Greece.
The UKIP vote in the Eastleigh by-election — second with 27.8 percent — portends a dash to the Right in mainstream politics.
UKIP’s central slogan was “Stop open-door immigration” — lumping together the movement of EU nationals with asylum seekers and others through a deliberate sleight of hand into a single racist or xenophobic scapegoat.
Special guest post by KEVIN OVENDEN*
What did people expect? Just over a year ago, during the general election campaign in Britain, I remember George Galloway on the stump warning that the last time the Tories came in to replace an already dead Labour government and pursue full-blooded, class war policies, Britain’s cities went up in flames. That was 1981. Three decades later the Sunday supplement features on Brixton, Toxteth and St Paul’s all situated those events in the aggressive policing, racist exclusion and darkening hopes of the young of the time.
|Mark Duggan, whose killing by police sparked the riots
Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but for mine the most depressing thing about the UK riots is how some on the Left feel the need to loudly proclaim their lack of solidarity with some of the poorest and most oppressed people in society, instead resorting to elite talking points about mindlessness, criminality, etc, and framing progressive politics entirely within the moral panics whipped up by the ruling elites.
Kevin Ovenden notes that such a reaction is anything but novel:
Predictable reactions from the usual quarters — including David Lammy and the Labour front bench. These were the kinds of reaction from those ideological positions to virtually every riot, from the unemployed protests of the 1930s, through the early 1980s to Tottenham and to South Central LA. Are there some inchoate and reactionary aspects of these events? Sure. Is that their motivation or why they happen? No.
It’s not my intention to respond to such arguments here. Others have done and are doing a better job of that.