Let’s not repair parliament

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The Palace of Westminster needs £4bn in repairs, and will probably get them. It’s another reminder of the thoroughgoing rubbishness of the case for austerity.

For years, the message beamed down from Whitehall has been that past governments spent too much. The country was in too much debt, and, as a result, there had to be massive cuts in public spending.

In fact, austerity has always been about the neoliberal power elite restructuring society in its own interest. The cuts overwhelmingly fell on services ordinary people depended on – and that rich people could make a lot of money out of if they were privatised.

The much-banged-on-about ‘deficit’, the gap between what government spends and what it brings in in taxes, is about £69bn. That sounds like a lot of money. But between 2009 and 2015, the wealth of the richest thousand families in Britain rose by 112% to £547bn. ONS figures from 2014 put the UK’s total private wealth at £11.1trn – and estimated the richest 10% of households owned about half of that. The same year, Bank of England economists estimated UK corporations were sitting on £500bn that they were refusing to invest. Continue reading “Let’s not repair parliament”

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A Short History of British Non-Democracy

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The Diggers

Plato to Mrs Thatcher In About Five Minutes

It’s a fairly established position of this irrelevant internet blog to argue that the UK isn’t a democracy. It’s not a fascist dictatorship by any stretch of the imagination, and it’s probably one of the least worst countries to find yourself living in. But it’s not democratic at all in the proper, original sense of the word. It’s this analysis that underpins our whole outlook on British electoral politics – including our view of what principled, pragmatic left-wingers should do in next month’s general election (short version – acknowledge it’s all an anti-democratic sham, but vote anyway).

Wikipedia/the infantilisation of everything means you don’t even have to bother getting a book out to look up democracy and its origins anymore. A fraction of a second on Google will tell you that D-word stems from the Ancient Greek term demokratia, itself a combination of ‘demos’, Greek for people, and ‘kratia’, Greek for power or rule. Democracy is ‘people power’, or ‘rule by the people’.

Nowadays we tend to divide democracy into direct and representative democracy – the former being a situation in which the general public make the political decisions themselves, the latter being the one that exists in practically every self-hailed democracy in the world, where the public vote in representatives who make the decisions for them. But the Greeks wouldn’t have seen Type 2 as democracy at all. Continue reading “A Short History of British Non-Democracy”

Bem Bulletin #4: February 2015 -We Don’t Live In A Democracy Special, starring Lord Fink, Peter Oborne, Jack Straw, Malcolm Rikfind and Capitalism

democracyThis month: we wrote something outlining what for the moment we’re calling Modern Socialism, an attempt at a non-dogmatic, ecologically-sound twenty-first century redefinition of radical Left politics. It’s really what this blog was started for, and it only took us four years to finally get round to it. And that’s about it, because we spent most of February helping someone recover from major heart surgery, so here’s a list of fairly recent posts for you to peruse instead.

Fantasy fascism: how to enjoy action films, despite the politics

Podemos and pragmatic radicalism

Bemolutionary Mix-Tape 2014

Doing It For The Kids: The environment, the future, and whether they have one

The NHS in ‘The Apprentice’ society

That said, given that it’s been such a glorious month for British democracy, we still found the time for an extra-specially long Bem Bulletin to celebrate.

Music: Jimmy Witherspoon & Robben Ford; Paco de Lucia (on the first anniversary of his death) with John McLaughlin


In this month’s Bem Bulletin:

  1. Tax Avoidance for Everyone
  2. Peter Oborne and the Corporate Media
  3. Cash for Access
  4. Taking Liberties
  5. I Married ISIS

Continue reading “Bem Bulletin #4: February 2015 -We Don’t Live In A Democracy Special, starring Lord Fink, Peter Oborne, Jack Straw, Malcolm Rikfind and Capitalism”