The economic alternative outlined here is posed as a necessary first step in the replacement of the failed neo-conservative market model. Corporate and financial interests dominate state government and domestic politics; and the Keepers of the Madhouse, their media, validate their power and cow our political parties. It just a simple job pah! The historic crisis of capitalism cannot be reduced to a question of proletarian leadership, but it is not irrelevant. Business closely associated with manufacturing. We can begin this discussion at the next meeting. That's the nature of the capitalist beast.
It presents a different model for business, a restructured banking system, an alternative economic policy, a reconfigured power structure, an industrial policy geared to the revival of manufacturing, a sharply different approach to employment and welfare, as well as inequality in society, and a fundamental reassessment of the handling of climate change. They've had ample opportunity over the last 100 years and fluffed it each and every time. After a distinguished political and academic career, David Marquand has become something of a social democratic seer. Firstly, it explains how things have gone disastrously wrong. Special offer for Labour party members, and readers of Left Futures and this blog: Order at a discounted rate of only £10 per copy. There's an awful lot unexplained. Obviously, The State We Need is a title that places itself in the camp of Will Hutton's reformed capitalism, as detailed in his important The State We're In.
. Like Will's book, Michael accepts that capitalism is the name of the game although Michael chooses to label in 'ethical socialism' - a branding has been keen to revive , and that the immediate task is to make up for lost time. In every other aspect his vision of an open, empowering, participatory state makes this a manifesto well worth reading. The speakers mentioned the investment strike, plummeting and uncompetitive labour productivity and a balance of payments deficit of equivilant size to the fiscal deficit. It is a fundamental change of direction which once launched knows no bounds. How do we create a form of capitalism that benefits the mass of our people, not the few? Government and private business collaborate in the enclosure of the public realm and its assets.
Michael Meacher was a hugely respected voice in Parliament and beyond. This book opens up a whole new vista - one that is radical but also practical. We are told that this is because private companies are essentially more efficient than publicly-owned organisations. No country is an island, not even Britain, so Michael talks about the leverage it could use to rewrite the global rules of trade. His book details schemes for reigning in the banks, engineering class privilege out of the education system, rebuilding public services by severely curbing and reversing marketisation, rebalancing the economy with a necessary stress on manufacturing, lassoing corporate power with the thick rope of democracy, clamping down on tax dodging and the socially useless and value-destroying power of finance, and an vast expansion of green jobs. My own understanding has grown, thanks to them both, although not necessarily in an optimistic direction. I urge you to read it and then agitate for the better world Michael Meacher envisages.
I am afraid that I must cut a swathe through both books for the sake of simplicity. Therefore getting Labour back into government in 2015 is an absolute necessity, but we need the labour movement to build a head of steam behind plans like Michael's. Policy is never a matter of free-floating ideas. Funnily enough, Marquand does preach. Its political economy is thoroughly contradictory and antagonistic - ideas and policies are specific moments in that interminable, restless struggle. It presents a different model for business, a reconstructed banking system, an alternative economic policy, a reconfigured power structure, an industrial policy geared to the revival of manufacturing, a sharply different approach to employment and welfare, as well as inequality in society, and a fundamental reassessment of the handling of climate change. In The State We Need, Meacher offers a consistent blueprint for the future.
Ethical socialism, for example, presents itself as a nice idea and that's it. Michael White, The Guardian Share this book. Too many people feel confused, cynical and angry. The State We Need is a must-read for all radicals. It too condenses the outlook, the collective experience of certain sets of people. From tax justice to fair pay, financial regulation and green jobs, now is the time for radicalism.
He could have added more, many more; for example, the Guardian, the New Economics Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Equality Trust, the Green Party, numerous Labour local authorities… There is a Catch-22 of course. It's more an exercise in institutional design and the enacting of powers. Britain needs to go with the global capital flow and have a much more activist state that will drive investment and provide economic leadership. A strong labour movement pressing for social democracy needs a quid pro quo, a policy compact where new measures benefit working people, ease that deep sense of insecurity and make it easier for the labour movement to organise and grow. The book is an anti-austerity manifesto and can be bought I spoke to Michael after the meeting and he sent me a copy of the book, which he kindly signed.
Marquand quite properly sets out the manifold obstacles in the way of such a transformation—among them the interpenetration of corporate and state elites in power, the over- blown financial services, growing inequality, the popular pursuit of economic growth—and alas, the limited nature and influence of the few platforms of dissent and argument. It delivers a full analysis of the problems facing the British state, and offers the comprehensive, resonating vision of Britain for which we've all been waiting. Michael suggests what Britain needs is a decisive break with neoliberalism and a move to what he calls 'national interest capitalism'. Together though, they make for a coherent package. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, he explains how they can be put right.