Losing our Memory?

The future is unclear...image
The future is unclear…

A commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law was Europe’s answer to fascism. The loss of this European memory presents real dangers amid a resurgent populism.

‘s argument is essentially about the vacuum created by the emergence of new populist right, with their cries fortaking back control’, ensuring that ‘our white race … continues to exist’ and fighting ‘an invasion of foreigners’. 

Memories of total war, and the deprivations wrought by a far right in full military mode have faded. This is the danger he argues.

As a baby- boomer I have no personal knowledge of this damaging blanket of conflict too, but my existence has been fully shaped and tempered by the ’45’ generation, to whom European solidarity and inter-nation co-operation and human rights had been so important.

The leaders of this generation deepened integration through the completion of the common market, the opening of intra-European borders with the Schengen agreement, the creation of the euro and the empowerment of the European Parliament.

Anecdotally, there are plenty of millennials in the media who seem to intuitively feel this shift, but do not, as yet, declare their allegiance to Europe to be against the rise of Fascism.

However, it is not the unspoken feelings of the liberal left that may triumph. It is the stentorian call of the a resurgent, militarised right that may shatter the old certainties.

As

We commend this article to our readers.

 


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

At the Cliff Edge – Part Three

Over Edge Part Three – the New Model (Economic) Army

Addendum – 16th January 2019

Following the devastating defeat for the ‘May Brexit Plan’, the rejection of the futile scheme now means we have gone over the cliff.

As the political consequences tumble from the Westminster table to the floor of the House, we will be left with a representative process itself unable to function, I suspect. It is this calamity that is undemocratic, not the cries from the right of the Tory Party that the previous questioning and seeking clarity has been claimed, in their eyes.

From the wasted, vast public expenditure spent in pursuit of narrow, partisan political ideological aims, to the new understanding by the majority of the population around the consequences and the complexity of misunderstood and ineffective negotiation on our behalf – now is the time to abandon the sly scheming of the Bullingdon Club as national policy and to reaffirm our collaborative, humanitarian commitment to the European project.

Or, at the very least to hold a new referendum to re-assert the will of the people, now a referendum of informed choice, to decide our fate collectively.

Without either, I would argue, there is no hope of a new socio-economic plan, as detailed below, in our increasingly isolated, beleaguered island.


‘…we argue that the UK must now embrace change on a sufficient scale to achieve ‘escape velocity’ from an economy that delivers neither prosperity nor justice, to one that achieves both. We face a decade of disruption ahead, in which doing nothing will drag us further backwards. Change of this magnitude is possible…’

The cliff edge - image
The perilous void approaches in March 2019…

Earlier in 2018 we saw the publication of the Final Report of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Commission on Economic Justice (…extract above). Entitled ‘Prosperity and Justice – The Plan for a New Economy‘ the report outlined several key policy areas to broaden ownership of industry, to make distribution of its wealth more equitable and to seek a new determination of social justice, linked to and driven by our economy.

Prospetiy & Justice IPPR Report - cover image and web link
View, print or download your copy here…

There has been much recent popular debate about whether politicians are as adroit as they used to be. If they were not, then the world would be in utter and complete chaos. It is not of course, is it?

However, if the car crash that is Brexit in 2019 does happen, then in the declared political spirit expressed by Brexiteers of all the mainstream parties, then we should embrace that change and increase management, accountability, economic democracy and community facility, through enterprise change as detailed in the IPPR report.

Make it a cornerstone of a new political morality, to exercise the demons  of poverty, exclusion and hatred of the other. For future historians the Commission’s report adoption could be seen as the transformative Beveridge Report of its day.

Morality is a word chosen with care. We are being told that we cannot have a second referendum, or that the choices we have are ‘where we are’…and so on. To dispute or press for other solutions is anti-democratic. The people have spoken.

The people have spoken against and from within the context of political opportunism, party partiality in Parliament and rigid ideological dogma to satisfy the far right of  a rightist socio-political elite.

We must have a second referendum, precisely because of the flawed, deeply partisan and opportunist nature of the first. Those who decry the end of democracy in this debate are looking down the wrong end of the telescope.

Messages on the side of a bus, based on flawed data, the fear of another illusory ‘straight banana’ crisis, all coupled with the lack of intellectual weight of those making the original proposition mean that, now the obscuring veil of mis-reality, mis-understanding and mis-direction has been lifted – then now is the time for moral courage to be freed and to say we got it wrong and must revisit the question.

That is in the interests of the people. I find it hard to believe that the people of my generation who voted leave were casting their paper for soldiers on the streets, medicine hoarded at borders or the crisis that will surely overtake our business/research matrix, hospitals, schools and food distribution networks. It is seventy years of European peace that is at peril.

Indeed, in the previous two segments of this three part article (Brexit and Poverty) I have already been clear, and deeply saddened and angered, at the political processes that have sought such elite opportunist change, which for me and others, have been entirely in the wrong direction for our country and communities.

What politicians need, arguably, is a clear road map. One that is both linear, yet segmented into distinct policy areas that will illuminate process and outcome at a synergetic arrival point.

This aggregated outcome must be non-revolutionary, yet ground trembling enough for society at large to recognise that both process and outcome convene in a clear societal good, in which they are included.

The economic structures must retain adherence to some traditional rules of capital, so as not to deflate or redirect existing energies, yet that will alter the production/finance matrix enough to re-channel wealth and ownership without creating systemic fear of the change itself.

No mean feat, you may say? It is my hope that in reading the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice deliberations, you will recognise the suggested cartography.

We have to ‘hard-wire’ justice into the economy, not treat it as an afterthought…” says the report. Calamitous change is upon us and here is a framework for management.

This is an elegant echo of the thinking of Professor Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, published in his ‘Statement on a Visit to the United Kingdom‘ in late November 2018.

The professor, looking at the political wrangle over Brexit, for example, saw politicians considering the well being of individuals and communities as a afterthought, or somehow, a minor consideration which hampered the effect of political ideology at play. In the Professor’s report the word ‘austerity’ could easily have been substituted for ‘spite’, without any loss of efficacy in the argument.

The IPPR report also beggars the veracity of all the political swagger…

‘…behind the figures for growth the picture looks even more worrying. Across a whole range of economic indicators, the UK economy exhibits serious underlying weaknesses. On investment, research and development, trade and productivity, we perform worse than most of our European neighbours – and have done so not merely over the last ten years, but for much of the last 40…’

Reporting an insightful analysis if the UK economy, as it exists, the Commission go on to make a number of recommendations for policy change. Changes, which if executed, would transform prosperity, production and profits for all. They are…

  • Reshaping the Economy through Industrial Strategy
  • Securing Good Pay, Good Jobs and Good Lives
  • Turning Business towards Long-Term Success
  • Promoting Open Markets in the New Economy
  • Raising Public Investment in a Reformed
  • Macroeconomic Framework
  • Strengthening the Financial System
  • Spreading Wealth and Ownership across the Economy
  • Designing Simpler and Fairer Taxes
  • Ensuring Environmental Sustainability
  • Creating a New Economic Constitution

Although there are, clearly, policy activist organisations working to achieve the types of change called for in the report, it is the meta-narrative, the over-arching vision of the IPPR report that is its key distinction.

Prosperity and justice: A plan for the new economy – The final report of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice

We commend the report to our readership, marking it as a defining sign-post for a new socio-economic national landscape. Get your copy and persist with the detail. Bring it up at branch meetings, write to the newspapers and tell the children that yes, there is another way.

If I never make it with my projects to Estonia, I shall go over the cliff with my family into a dark future…waving my IPPR Report copy aloft as we fall into the abyss.

 

 

 


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

As we hurtle towards the edge of the cliff…

The future awaits...train crash image
The future awaits…

This statement is all about party political management of the factions in the Tory party – the national interest is a very poor second. What an utter shambles‘… Oct 15

In a sense, in the midst of a gargantuan flow of promises, policy revision and idealogical selfishness, then it doesn’t really matter what the statement mentioned above is all about. Umunna’s tweet is a metaphor for a wider socio-political discontent.

History is the important context, or rather, a lack of it and a missing sensibility to previous disastrous political outcomes.

Umunna’s opinion captures a general sweep of unease with both major parties – over Brexit, the political operational vacuum at the heart of Westminster because of it, and all the ancillary debates, gesture politics and posturing that diminishes compassionate, effective government.

As I emerge from my period of grief over the Europe debacle, I look back in a deeply personal reflection across the current landscape.

Post the ‘Referendum of Mis-information’ and having taken the family to Europe, France and Holland, to explore new places to live and new bases for our small  businesses, they have taken the opportunity to decline relocation as a solution to my European malaise.

I remain deeply pessimistic about their future, and that of their children, as a result of a party political ‘manoeuvre’ of the deepest national and international significance, a word described in the dictionary as ‘...to move skilfully and carefully‘. In this case, history here may not be kind.

In the here and now, I find it interesting that both church leaders and humanists are clearly voicing disquiet regarding the activities and expectations of an ideological Right. The history matters here.

‘The European Union is one of the greatest human achievements. A continent which had been at war for centuries is now at peace. It’s not just about military alliances, it’s about countries opening their hearts and their borders to their neighbours. Preserve it!‘   

In the future? Well, I expect that the clarion arguments of a European peace, guaranteed by secure political alliances, will mean nothing. We risk, yet again, our own ordinary people becoming, quite literally, victims to political expediency.

As I write, I am dusting off my copy of Sun Tzu, The Art of War, to better understand the interplay between politics and military aggression, which has left my life untouched so far, but which devastated the generations of my father and his father too.

It is interesting, I would argue, that as we approach yet another commemorative date to remember both profound loss and absolute bravery, that no current politician, of any party, seems able to entwine these historical political consequences into their current thinking, whilst still bearing appropriate reverence for the fallen. The Menin Gate should haunt us all.

There is a lack of intellectual grasp, about society, politics, economics and history – a monumental failure of perception – that lies at the heart of mainstream elite political debate and sound-biteism over Brexit.

The consequences for me, in the now, are a sense of betrayal, a denial of internationalism as an inherently good thing. Not in a capitalist shade, but in the efficacy of governmental co-operation and social utility that has seen so much historical investment in the UK, from Europe, and a melding of socio-cultural ideas that have enriched our society for the better..

Splendid isolation, as a political driver, results in a hardening of negativity towards the other. It makes the consequences of state violence both remote and unheard in the home state

These consequences, social and economic, of the Brexit divide are irrelevant to an ideological elite, I would argue, secured by private funds, private education, overseas investment and a property portfolio that would stagger George Soros.

In the future? I shall remain European first and English second, as I have been my whole adult life.

At the office, as a board, we are debating a paper to facilitate a change to Estonia as a base for our operations. We have always, in the day job, worked as a collective across international borders. Any move which denies us having to break this core mission, for us, is the right move.

For me with what time I have left, even if I remain only a virtual European in Estonia, I will, as one small voice in a social landscape rendered asunder,  have taken a stand, of good conscience, against monumentally misguided, politically opportunist ideology.


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

And so to France…

Exploring France Image
Scanning the European landscape for opportunity…

In Europe recently looking at both projects and for places to live.

When looking for information on business services, buildings and local opportunities, the distinctiveness of the Mairie and its conditioning power in small local communities, was a powerful example of how local democracy, decision making and regard for both history and civic presence can be created in one building, regardless of the size of the community.

History is important in France. Travelling from the city of Arras towards the coast created an opportunity to stop for coffee and a short walk. Just off the main road was a plot of land, about the size of a generous community football field. In it stood over eleven thousand grave markers for French men and women. Individuals who had fallen during The Great War.

Driving on, in a few minutes passing similar places dedicated to nearly forty thousand German souls, others for Indian nationals who died, and for Polish combatants too in another. A jumble of conflicts and immaculately kept memory, dotted across the landscape.

In the village centres and small towns were memorials erected to British Generals, regiments and individual soldiers, all paid for by popular subscription. Concrete evidence that France, lying at the heart of the European idea, must be as mystified as I am about the English notion of ‘leaving Europe’, post-referendum.

Having travelled across France many times in a lifetime, this journey was haunted by the spectre of betrayal. A notion that the lives expended in the creation of the European idea are seen as nought, when the evidence in the rolling landscape offers up the weight of a sacrifice to freedom that we ignore at our peril.

It was in the small, the local and the particular that the best information was to be had about generating new ideas, and not in the grand sweep of international politics and bureaucratic management of economies.

It is in the same context that European communities and businesses will respond to the new ‘English isolationism’.

Philip Rooke, an English entrepreneur, based in Berlin recently wrote in the journal VentureBeat about how the damage to trade and commercial relationships has already begun post-referendum. Although writing from a ‘tech’ development and business operations viewpoint, Rooke’s article illustrates well how the consideration of the local and particular will affect market development and access, regardless of the current mainstream political view in England.

In a clear exposition as a practicing business person in Europe, Rooke argues that he can already ‘…see companies heading to Berlin, Dublin, Amsterdam, and other European hubs‘. That is instead of coming to London or the UK as a whole.

‘Our corporate headquarters in Leipzig in the former East Germany is a microcosm of the benefits of a dynamic inclusive workplace powered by open borders — we have more than 20 nationalities that work together. I am sad that many of the UK voters did not appreciate what this environment adds to the knowledge, skills, and enjoyment of working in a mixed culture’.

Source: http://venturebeat.com/2016/07/30/brexits-damage-to-startups-has-already-begun/         Accessed: 16.08.2016

Rooke makes a tellng point about America, an important market for him. The USA has long been a federation of states, and Brexit he argues, is comparable to California, whose economy is similar in size to the UK, choosing to leave the United States. He argues that this would collapse the California technical marketplace as businesses and people chose to move to other cities in the US. Individuals making a rational choice to foster their interests by disengaging from a spurious political belief in independence, in order to preserve and cultivate their own businesses and careers.

It is a telling argument, but one that relies on understanding the unwritten and undeclared acts of the individual business player. A sort of conflict about the role of enlightened self-interest. In one case philanthropic, in another selfish perhaps. Themes which are never part of the political discourse and populist clamour about, in our case, European unity.

In closing his article Rooke counters the argument, sometimes heard from UK politicians about modelling the future on Norway or Switzerland. In practice, Rooke opines, these two countries have to work much harder, fill in more forms, pay additional taxes and wait longer for responses than mainstream European businesses. Rooke argues that his own multi-national prioritises development strategies away from this sort of market, in order to maintain growth and revenue.

Leave the club, he says and disincentives to growth and development abound, when so many other opportunities, which are border free, are just over the neighbouring horizon. None of these limitations are categorised, prescribed or noted in the current debate on Europe without England.

Although we would never close our Partnership office in Cambridge UK, over the years our projects have become international, even as a micro-business. Whatever the emotional energies or political views of our partners, the Rookeian notion of having a multicultural, cross national presence on mainland Europe makes sense even to us.

It is interesting to think that, in memoriam for all of those individuals, buried in the landscape so recently traversed, it may be that a form of enlightened, social capitalism is, in effect, the last bastion of defence for the European idea in the Twenty First Century.

Another sentence, from my political viewpoint, I never imagined writing.

CollCon page icon  - image


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

Vale Angliae

ruralLandscape
A darkness descends…

I was driving to my office in Cambridge on Friday morning (24th June 2016), from Suffolk and across the land of a large estate owner.

The early morning sun was shining through the trees and looking, I saw the deer and pheasants abroad in the verges, seeking their early breakfast.

Having an historical sensibility I was reminded of that warm, sunny day I had read about, in the July of 1914 when war was declared. The one which became known as The Great War.

As then, after a climactic announcement, nothing seemed to have changed. There were still scones for tea and sport to be undertaken the next day. Yet then,within four years of complete military, social, economic and cultural destruction, millions were to lie dead from Flanders Fields to the harsh, dusty landscapes of the Middle East and Africa.

There was something of that ‘phoney war’ sensibility about the post ‘Vote Leave’ result. Nothing seemed to have changed, yet as the weekend progressed the markets and our currency were in freefall, we had lost a Prime Minister and within the Labout Party the Shadow Cabinet began to fall on their swords, in order to ferment a revolution in the palace.

The majority of the polity had voted, we were told, to endorse a strange ‘Faragist’ notion of good people declaring themselves against the ruling elite, big banks and an imagined anti-democratic Europe.

There had not been many celebratory banners for European achievements, or detailed analysis of the support the European process has tendered UK communities, workers and business. Populism had triumphed over rationalism and the certitude of achievement made clear.

For that triumphant electoral cohort dissapointment is due. There will be no new hospital built every week, £350 million refunds, or an end to entrance at Dover for the imaginary millions of newly joined Europeans.

We also learned that working class communities in Wales, for example Ebbw Vale, devastated historically by the economic politics of the right and with a history of grants in aid from the EU, running into many millions of euros which had transformed the infrastructure and landscape of whole towns and villages… even they too had voted to leave.

The end results for this referendum are that no assault has begun, or will begin, on banks, international corporations or the movement of individuals across borders. It is unlikely that there is any plan to replace EU funding from core UK budgets to continue the enhancement of disenfranchised communities.

That the next Prime Mnister may be another ex-Etonian, Bullingdon Club member, who enjoys an income and personal resources that would stagger ‘ordinary’ people, I suspect.

The most pernicious and subtle long term consequence is that The Tories, for all their One Nation rhetoric, and the Brexiteers in particular, have divided our nation as never before along new lines. Journalists and data scientists have shown us these new fault lines post-referendum.

The old and the young. The university educated and the not. The social internationalists and the not. The compassionate for immigrants and the not. The Europeans and the not. A constituent part of the UK, or not for Scotland or Northern Ireland. These new schisms could make the old fault lines of major party loyalty seem irrelevant.

I have long been a class-warrior for working class justice and equality, but have striven to achieve an education, to build a small social business, the both done in concert with and supported by other generous and compassionate individuals, that focused on cross community engagement and literacy. I have enjoyed a whole adult life of access to European culture and community which has enriched my economic and social existence.

The referendum has put me at deep odds with my neighbours.

It has shattered my belief and pride in being both European and English with, to the date of the referendum, no recrimination for my socialism, internationalism or multi-culturalism.

Simplistically, it is possible to see the conditionality for conflict in 1914, and on into the The Thirties, as prolonged economic depression, the rise of nationalism and the facism of the far right, all coupled to a resentful Germany. The whole propelling a continent, and our island, to war not once in the twentieth century but twice.

The fear and opportunities for racism the referendum campaign has now created will be abroad in our urban centres, where the newly arrived seek their homes and dreams, for a long time to come. The cross border tensions in our own island will open old wounds and emnities I suspect, as the Six Counties and the Scottish Borders contemplate a non-European future. Labour will be divided, instead of being the natural home for the compassionate.

My distinct personal fear is that the referendum will spiral us back into history, to a socio-political landscape that has more to do with the 1930’s than with the dawn of a New Jerusalem.


After Note:

When I began writing this journal about my inner political landscape only recently, I could not have envisaged the leaving of Europe or the tensions and divisions just taking the decision has engendered.

I could not have imagined writing a political journal from the personal perspective of an immigrant.

However, over the Autumn of 2016 we will be looking for a new home on the European mainland.

There will be a wealth of compare and contrast political assessment to come for a long while, as we mark our new  journey here. Copy I never voted to write…

Vale Angliae.

Tim Smith.


articlesignoffImage


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

Clarity in debate: The EU

In the short video below Professor Michael Dougan of the University of Liverpool, the School of Law, offers insights from his professional research on the forthcoming referendum.

This is twenty minutes of exposition truly worth listening to.

In his film Michael Dougan explains how the current, complex and historical engagement with the EU has benefited UK trade and infrastructure. How the tabloid headlines about sovereignty and the lack of democracy are simply wrong and how, in a Europe without the UK, the actual negotiation timetables and lack of formal agreements will stagger UK industrial output and threaten the welfare of workers and citizens.

Leaving the EU would, says Professor Dougan, give the government mandated power from Parliament to effect a root and branch redrawing of the legislatory landscape of our country.

With the right in ascendancy, and no ‘European’ voice of conscience to mediate legislation vested with self interest and the interests of Capital,  workers rights and welfare would be under attack, we would argue.

In another moment of clarity, we hear how the Swiss negotiated their first extra-EU Trade Agreement at the start of the Seventies. Their process is still ongoing. As a counter to the ‘free of regulation, free trade’ proclaimers, in reality many years would pass before we have negotiated our new position with the EU, post leave referendum, with our potential trade partners holding off in terms of their relationship with us until clarity for their interests, not ours, emerges.

The UK EU Referendum takes place on June 23rd, 2016.

Since the end of the Second World War, Europe has been a bastion of civil society development, a cultural and social focus for the proclamation of individual nation state identity and the cauldron of co-operation that has simmered gently for decades to create the single, most powerful, market bar none on the planet. It has been a defense against militarism and a bulkwark against social injustice.

Listen to Michael Dougan’s clear and objective analysis and Vote In on Thursday.

CollCon page icon - image

 

 

 


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

Speaking for Labour In

 

 

In a recent speech Jeremy Corbyn succinctly laid out why those of us on the left should vote to remain in Europe. Connected interests, whether for organised labour, educational organisations, social justice or ethical, market driven enterprise…all are more powerfully able to argue their case collectively, rather than in isolation.

In fact, the very basic tenet of a political party with a distinct and clear emancipatory view of the world. The Labour Party in the UK.

Challenges for people across the globe in the 21st Century are many and will continue to be immense. Jeremy outlined the work thus…

How to deal with climate change. How to address the overweening power of global corporations and ensure they pay fair taxes. How to tackle cyber-crime and terrorism. How to ensure we trade fairly and protect jobs and pay in an era of globalisation. How to address the causes of the huge refugee movements across the world, and how we adapt to a world where people everywhere move more frequently to live, work and retire.

(Source: Speech by Jeremy Corbyn, http://www.labour.org.uk/blog/entry/jeremy-corbyn-europe-speech  Accessed 15.06.2016)

The EU and its workings can, by default, often seem complicated and distant from the lives of ordinary people. If only to protect the interests of workers and to be able to have access to the largest market in the world for British enterprise, we should vote to stay in.

In a recent article, A Long Requiem for Europe, we looked at how the the threat of war with our neighbours is best prevented by co-operation. If your neighbour is responsible for a million pounds of your income, you are very unlikely to set fire to his property, in a civilised and ethically framed world of co-operation.

If war has receded forever from Europe, which many think unlikely we are sure, then the economic advantage, the pursuit of social justice and environmental protections needed for a sustainaible future rely on more neighbourly co-operation, not less. Jeremy said…

Britain needs to stay in the EU as the best framework for trade, manufacturing and cooperation in 21st century Europe. Tens of billion pounds-worth of investment and millions of jobs are linked to our relationship with the EU, the biggest market in the world.

(Source: Speech by Jeremy Corbyn, http://www.labour.org.uk/blog/entry/jeremy-corbyn-europe-speech  Accessed 15.06.2016)

If the labrynthine nature of ‘Europe’ causes despair, the cry of an anti-democratic rule by Europe is hollow in reality.

We elect MEP’s to represent our interests, the governments of nation states within the EU have an immense influence and veto rights on legislation. Being in the club, with a right to sit at the table is infinitely preferable to sitting outside shouting at the door.

There is a clear and refining statement of how the EU central processes serve our interests available on the pages of The Guardian this month, June 2016. It quotes research by the London School of Economics that, under Qualified Majority Voting, the UK ‘won’ legislative arguments 87% of the time.

See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/13/is-the-eu-undemocratic-referendum-reality-check  Accessed: 15.06.2016

It may be that we need, in the UK, to embrace the concept of being European more actively, and support and engage with the European Parliamentary process more deeply and effectively. We need, perhaps, to press vigorously for reform in order to make understanding and engagement with our own MEP’s much more effective.

But you need to be in the EU to press for reform…

…democratic reform to make the EU more accountable to its people. Economic reform to end to self-defeating austerity and put jobs and sustainable growth at the centre of European policy, labour market reform to strengthen and extend workers’ rights in a real social Europe. And new rights for governments and elected authorities to support public enterprise and halt the pressure to privatise services.

(Source: Speech by Jeremy Corbyn, http://www.labour.org.uk/blog/entry/jeremy-corbyn-europe-speech  Accessed 15.06.2016)

Vote for the ethical left, vote for an end to tax avoidance, climates of fear and veiled special interests. Vote for social justice and workers rights. Vote for a powerful, democratice and effective collective market place.

‘Vote in’ on the 23rd June 2016.

articlesignoffImage


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...

A long requiem for Europe?

Heading towrds Europe?

 

The European Union, the European experiment, emerged in the Twentieth Century from an unimaginable horror of war and destruction. The notion that England would withdraw from this partnership, and the largest single economic market in the world, is an idea that is fraught with socio-political tension, community fear and yes, even individual emotion.

No short article can encompass the macro-economic arguments and social disengagement consequences in detail. Indeed, neither it seems can current political debate in the UK. What it does strive to do is contextualise sixty years of being a European and the claim that economic history has on that journey.

Then we vote…

In England we have a long history of conflating a fear of others and economic malaise. William Cecil in a speech to Parliament in 1588, spoke ‘…for a Bill against strangers and aliens selling wares by retail‘(1).

Cecil was socially compassionate but economically rigid.

‘…in the person of the stranger, I consider the miserable and afflicted state of these poor exiles, who, together with their countries, have lost all (or the greatest) comforts of this life, and, for the want of friends, lie exposed to the wrongs ans injuries of the mailicious and ill-effected. The condition of strangers is that they have many harbours but few friends…’

None the less, Cecil was petitioning to ban newly arrived ‘strangers’ from retail sales for a period of seven years. An echo of contemporary embargoes and restraints in our own society?

A lack of humanity, or a disregard for it can, when coupled to a thirst for resources, mineral or geographical, propel states into the onslaught of war. The building of the European Union has its roots in an attempt to mediate the materials and processes of war production, in an attempt to deliver stability and peace for the wider community after 1946.

These are not just empty rhetorical devices from politicians. Although not lucidly expressed by politicians perhaps, economic connection and the duality of market development is our best guarantee of never seeing another European wide war.

In the Twentieth Century one only has to look at the example of Japan, with Imperial and expansionist aims, pitching neighbouring countries into devastating conflict to satisfy its thirst for war material and resources, human or otherwise.(2)

The economist J.K.Galbraith, in a later work, looked back at the emergence of Keynesianism after the Second World War, as a politico-economic philosophy. With the advance of Capital he argued ‘...full employment would no longer be considered the autonomous consequence of the competitive economy. The unemployment equilibrium would now be assumed, and henceforth it would be a deliberate purpose of government to break that equilibrium and ensure full employment in its place‘.(3) ( If only that had been true…).

The current debate on our membership of the European Union has continued elements of these three entwining historical strands. The fear of strangers and immigration, coupled to a failure of any one economic theory to master complex economic models in an everchanging world and the seeming ignorance of the imminence of war, as a pursuit of economic gain by other means.

When coupled to the false ideology and mythology of the plucky, independent island mastering its own destiny, these elemental strands might actually pitch us into an economic downturn, a rising tide of extremism from all corners of the political spectrum and a paucity of well-being, human and capital, for our citizens.

It is these skeins of history that bring us to the vote on European Union membership in June 2016. But it is the conditionality of the previous five hundred years of turmoil that serve as the backdrop for the reality, for the humanity, of our current situation.

Belonging to a group, being in a club of any kind, offers members advantages and constraints. Two hundred years ago the French Declaration of Rights defined liberty as ‘…the freedom to do everything which injures no-one else: the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits, except those which assure to the other members of the society, the enjoyment of the same rights’. ( A concept the writer Gilles Saint-Paul now argues is ‘long forgotten’). (4)

Railing against the imposition of constraints, against the imposition of restraint, is not a new thing either.

The philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, in the 1790’s was ‘…scathing about any attempt by European Alliances to impose their notion of happiness despotically on all other nations on earth‘. Herder railed on ‘…the very thought of a superior culture is a blatant insult to the majesty of nature.’ (5)

Whilst some may see an echo of the contemporary argument about the restraint to sovereignty in Herder’s view, it is an argument leavened by the advantage of freedom of movement, entrpreneurial borderless endeavour and democratic representation that lies at the heart of the individual states that constitiute the EU. We are not dissolving sovereignty, we are enhancing broad geographical opportunities in support of our own interests.

We have heard, from the left, the argument that the EU is part of the global, capital conspiracy. The machinations of TTIP are often cited in evidence. However, surely, as part of the European social partnership, we must be better off with the concerted support of colleagues across the continent to ensure that there is no dilution of the safeguards to work practices and welfare, which can be chipped away by isolationist, idiologically opposed elites and pan-global companies? If capital is a conspiracy, are we not safer as a united family?

The ‘anti-democratic’ cry is also often heard. The EU is a parliamentary body, with elected representatives of our communities charged with voicing our interests. The fact that we might imagine examples of elected members to the European Parliament taking expenses and salaries whilst at the same time working to dissolve the very foundations of the body corporate smacks of moral cowardice and opportunism. It is not the pursuit of your interests or mine we imagined. It is not the fight against internatioanal restraints that hold back humanitarian and economic progress we had dreamed of.

Theories of conspiracy and self interest bring us into the realm of political economy. Utilitarian philosophies of state management, Saint-Paul argues, see their intervention ‘…whether aimed at correcting inequalities or externalites, consider the state as a abstract benevolent entity whose only purpose is to maximise the social welfare function‘.

Political economy, for Saint-Paul ‘…realises that the state is a coalition of real people who are equally self-interested. Instead of maximisation of social welfare, policy is determined by interest groups‘, with the application of policy which seeks ‘…redistribution in favour of powerful lobbies and political majorities‘. (6)

It is these two manichaeistic philosophies of interest and outcome that perhaps sum up the current EU debate. Self interest versus utilitarian social benevolence. We would cleave strongly to the view that the European constitution, the European experiment, is vital to maximise the social welfare functions of government. Vital to deliver this agenda in the midst of a maelstrom of free market, self interest and global corporatism.

We leave the last word to economist Mancur Olsen. He recognised in his research the overwhelming effect that a resurgence in entrepreneurship and innovation, particularly in information technology and communications, which was tempered by developmental pressures from intense foreign competetion, gave to the United States economy in the Twentieth Century.

His argument though was developed to encompass capital and special interests as ultimately being the drivers of paralysis, conflict and stagnation. (7)

We would argue that European aggregation of trade, movement of goods and people and the encouragement of entrepreneurship at the European level is, all at the same time, paradoxically, our best defense against special interests and regional economic paralysis.

and then we vote to remain in Europe.

Notes and sources:

1. The People Speak, Democracy is not a Spectator Sport. Ed. Colin Firth and Anthony Arnove, Connaught Books, Edinburgh, 2014, p.14

2. Japanese Economic Development – Theory & Practice. Penelope Franks, Routledge, London, 1992, p.68

3. A History of Economics – The Past and the Present. John Kenneth Galbraith, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1987, p.

4. The Tyranny of Utility: Behavioural Science and the Rise of Paternalism. Gilles Saint-Paul, Princeton University Press, 2007, p.1

5. The Romantic Economist – Imagination in Economics. Richard Bronk, Cambridge University Press, 2009, p.149

6. The Tyranny of Utility: Behavioural Science and the Rise of Paternalism. Gilles Saint-Paul, Princeton UIniversity Press, 2007, Chapter 3, Economics, Last Bastion of Rationality, p.39

7. Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalsim and the Economics of Growth and Prosperity. W.J. Baunol et al, Yale University Press, 2007, p.229

articlesignoffImage


This journal of comment and analysis is devised and published in the East of England...leaning to the left, thinking independently, arguing for humanity...

Editor: Tim Smith MA, FRSA

Now living in rural Suffolk, I have wondered all my adult life why ordinary people like me, would vote to make the policies of the self-interested Right ascendant? I now think, older as I am, that I have pursued entirely the wrong question, despite voting Labour my entire life. Why on earth cannot collaborative socialism make the Left successfully ascendant? This is the new quest.

Tim is a Partner at SmithMartin LLP - a Cambridge based social business working to create projects which tackle inequality.

Collective Conversations is a not for profit, publishing project - the views and interpretations expressed are solely those of the individual contributors to the work.

No endorsement of any party or person is sought or implied...