Craig Murray: Destitution Capitalism

Ordinary U.K. citizens have been propagandised out of the belief that the state should in any way regulate economic activity for the greater good. 

This man living rough sits on the pavement on the west side of Red Lion Street in Norwich watching shoppers going past, August 2019. (Evelyn Simak, CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Craig Murray

I despair that there appears to be no discernible political debate over economic policy in the U.K. at all, outwith a few left websites and magazines with tiny readerships.

The Labour Party has completely abandoned the mildly social democratic platform of  its former leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and now actively renounces public ownership of utilities, improved workers’ rights that provide greater job security, public spending to stimulate the economy and the use of taxation to redistribute wealth.

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow chancellor, explicitly promotes the Thatcherite doctrine that taxation, public spending and all forms of regulation are detrimental to economic growth. She not only dismisses Modern Monetary Theory in its entirety, she also in her pronouncements makes plain that she does not accept the basic tenets of Keynesian Economics. 

Reeves at the World Economic Forum meeting in January in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. (World Economic Forum, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

I am tempted to say Reeves and Labour Leader Keir Starmer are Thatcherites, but that is not really correct. Their belief that wealth is created by economic giants building vast empires of monopoly, un-trammeled by government, draws on something much older than Thatcher. 

The social consequences of unbridled capitalism are all around the U.K. A whole generation is growing up in which an extraordinarily high proportion have never known job security, cannot aspire to owning property, pay a huge proportion of their income just for rent and heat, are saddled with student debt and have precious little hope of self-advancement.

Starmer in 2020. (UK Parliament, Flickr, Jessica Taylor, CC BY-NC 2.0)

I cannot understand why anybody would believe that this state of affairs is healthy for society or for the economy. Nor can I understand why some of the economic giants dominating this economy are not recognised for the monopolies they are.

In what sense are Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple not monopolies in the same way that Standard Oil was? A company — and let us be frank, the individuals who own it — can reach a position of unhealthy market dominance without having done anything illegal or particularly unethical on the way. 

People in the U.K. have been propagandised out of the belief that the state should in any way regulate economic activity for the greater good, while at the same time being propagandised into the belief that the state should become ever more intrusive in its surveillance of the lives of ordinary citizens.

Jeremy Corbyn’s modest social democratic platform, which proposed merely a few measures to ameliorate some of the worst injustices of this wildly unequal society, was very popular with the electorate. That is why he had to be eliminated using the extraordinary “anti-Semite” scam.

Corbyn, second from left, in Battersea to launch the general election campaign, Oct. 31, 2019. (Jeremy Corbyn, Flickr, Public domain)

But with Corbyn out of the way and the political “opposition” neutralised, there simply is no way that more progressive policies can ever reach the ears of the large majority of people. 

[Related: The Smearing of Ken Loach & Jeremy Corbyn]

The single exception is the odd media interview by rail workers union leader Mick Lynch, who briefly became wildly popular by stating a few pro worker views plainly and articulately, something people normally are not allowed to see or hear. 

Lynch, general secretary of RMT, at We Demand Better march and rally, London, June 18, 2022. (Steve Eason, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

You will note he is seldom on a TV screen now.

Which leads me to the unfortunate fact that most other unions have themselves become power structures manipulated to serve the career ambitions of their own highly paid leadership. 

The election of Starmer as prime minister is not going in any way to help the average worker. Why are the unions still paying over vast sums of money to a Labour Party which has utterly abandoned ordinary people, unless their leadership has also utterly abandoned ordinary people too?

In academia, there remains serious opposition to neoliberal economic doctrine, but this thought does not have any outlet into popular consciousness. Where there used to be some media which gave a slightly wider platform to left wing economic thinking — The Guardian and New Statesman would be examples in the U.K. – these have been entirely captured by neo-liberalism and indeed led the charge in destroying Corbynism.

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010. His coverage is entirely dependent on reader support. Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

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The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

39 comments for “Craig Murray: Destitution Capitalism

  1. John Manning
    August 29, 2023 at 16:14

    This is not a UK problem. It affects the whole western european world and comes from the neo-liberal economics introduced from the USA in the 1980’s. It is also the cause of the demise of the european world. We are all getting poorer, all except a few, who think they will survive these changes. It is not capitalism it is greed. I am a capitalist and I know that my neighbour needs wealth so that I can trade profitably.

    • Ed
      August 30, 2023 at 02:29

      From Australia – #metoo. After all we wouldn’t want to be left behind. It was the Hawke/Keating duumvirate of the Australian Labor Party who gave us the TINA treatment. They effectively smashed the union movement by creating super unions controlled by the ACTU (of which Hawke was a former president) – gave us something called The Accord which effectively made it impossible for unions to act effectively on behalf of their members, got the widespread privatisation movement happening, and even introduced compulsory superannuation which is now 11% of earnings going to financial speculation rather than health, education, welfare etc. Now they want us to spend untold 100s of billions on nuclear submarines to “protect” us from the Chinese.

      • J D
        August 30, 2023 at 21:35

        But think of all The Americans that will have jobs building them!

  2. Polk Culpepper
    August 29, 2023 at 15:03

    The same historical process has been playing out in the States (at least since the 1920s) when the National Association of Manufacturers devised the “Big Myth”and methods of communicating it that have left the American people convinced of the sacred magic of the Market and the rightfulness of deregulation. For more on the history, see The Big Myth, Oreskes and Conway, 2023.

    • Stephen Berk
      August 29, 2023 at 21:47

      Here in the US the Biden administration and its corporate allies distract a great many Americans from economic inequality not seen since the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century by focusing through a compliant media on social issues like the whole ideology that has arisen around a novel concept of gender. In the past people could only be so distracted until the economic bite really begins to sink in and impoverish a significant number of people. Some indication of that has just occurred in the remarkable mass response to Oliver Anthony’s stirring blue grass complaint about the sad state of affairs among the common folk in the US. It went viral, drawing millions of sympathetic listeners on You tube. Have a look.

    • Frank Lambert
      August 30, 2023 at 12:08

      Polk: I haven’t heard or read anything about the NAM in over fifty years! The late George Seldes wrote about them extensively in his classic book, “Never Tire Of Protesting” published in 1968.

  3. Carolyn L Zaremba
    August 29, 2023 at 14:33

    So, Craig, you have finally realized that the unions work as overseers for the corporate slave owners. The Socialist Equality Party has known this since time immemorial and has staged many efforts to oust the corporate unions and create rank and file committees of the actual workers. There has been a huge battle in the United States over the leadership of the UAW. Go and read the last few years articles of the World Socialist Web Site and stop acting like this collaboration of the unions with their corporate masters is something new.

    • Rafael
      August 29, 2023 at 23:27

      a. it hasn’t been true since time immemorial. Example the UK miners’s strike.

      b. to the extent that it is true now, the unions are reaping the fruit of their (not uncoerced) decision to throw their lot in with “their own” ruling class in opposition to the working people of the Global South.

    • torture this
      August 31, 2023 at 09:37

      Your arrogance is appalling! Murray’s job is to tell others what they need to know, no matter how long he’s known it. SEP hasn’t fixed anything so there’s not any reason to put faith in them or the WSWS. I think you’re the one that ought to shut up, moron!

  4. CaseyG
    August 29, 2023 at 13:37

    Maybe the elected in the USA should read up on the French Revolution.

    The PEOPLE took the awfulness for awhile—-but it does seem in every group or nation—that when the people are dissed, ignored or forgotten —something happens to humans which make them decide that the world is wrong and in disarray.

    When that happens, humans become very angry— In France they did things like ripping up the graves of dead kings and queens—and dragging the corpses from their graves. When dead people are dug up—that’s when humanity goes bonkers. Although America doesn’t need guillotines—we need real leaders, because the PEOPLE can achieve that idea of actually having a “more perfect union,” We haven’t gotten that yet But then , America did have an FDR that was able to accomplish much. Surely people will at some point recognize this: Maybe reading the ideas of Mr. Tom Paine, will help. A lot of people still have not read what he wrote. Maybe it’s time.

    • Valerie
      August 29, 2023 at 16:28

      I keep saying it CaseyG, that like the French Revolution, people will not rise up until there is no food. (Or cake.) And look what happened over the “toilet paper” fiasco during the plague.

      • Bart Hansen
        August 30, 2023 at 18:13

        Don’t forget the baby formula shortage. Wasn’t the main producer’s processing found to be filthy?

    • Frank Lambert
      August 30, 2023 at 12:25

      Very good, CaseyG: Tom Paine is well worth reading, but look what the British did to him. Oligarchs part with nothing and basically have scorn for the average person.

      FDR was the last president to do anything for the common people. Unfortunately the Repulsive Party and the DemoRAT Party play good guy/bad/guy (and gals) theatrics fooling the public one election cycle after another. People are over their head in debt and remain submissive rather than rocking the boat to get a piece of the pie they helped create rather than the crumbs from it.

      Thatcher of Britain was a monster and did her share in destroying British labor unions. Unless people around the world join together and implement the 7 Magic Words – “Take To The Streets, Withhold Your Labor” until our needs are met, conditions will continue deteriorating for the average person and a return to the days of serf and master.

    • Vicky Cookies
      August 31, 2023 at 15:35

      You may be right, Trot, but, as always, the attitude and posture of a lecturer will win few to your cause. Also, the author is covering UK politics; it is unlikely that the struggles of the diminished UAW has any relevance to them. A suggestion: pretend to some humility, as it may endear working class folks to your position.

  5. shmutzoid
    August 29, 2023 at 13:08

    There is a full assault on people/planet by capitalist liberal democracies around the world. The neoliberal economic agenda is accelerating to sustain the “logic” of capitalism. If the planet must burn and all the people put in chains to increase profits, so be it.

    There are NO solutions to be found in electoral politics. It is only the unity of the international working class – the greatest social force in the world – than can lead the way to transition out of capitalism and in to socialism.

    for a meticulously researched book on the many decades long efforts of big business to propagandize the public in the US, I highly recommend a book by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway. title is something like, How Big Business Got US to Hate Gov’t. and Love the Free Market.

  6. Paulo Henrique
    August 29, 2023 at 11:38

    There is no hope… without driven to socialism including revolution from the botton…

  7. August 29, 2023 at 10:25

    Welcome to U.S. style economic policies.

  8. Drew Hunkins
    August 29, 2023 at 10:08

    Hey, at least you UKers have national single-payer healthcare coverage (Medicare-For-All).

    You should see the train wreck we have here in the U.S. — people committing suicide bc of medical bills, folks living a lifetime of extraordinary debt bondage bc they had the audacity to have a health problem, people being denied crucial medical procedures bc they cannot afford to pay. Then you have people who can’t retire or look for more meaningful work bc of the health insurance they might be lucky to enjoy via their employment.

    It’s a real nightmare here.

    • August 29, 2023 at 11:08

      The tories and labour have an usa type agenda for the UK NHS .The NHS has been forced to have new hospitals built paying mind boggling sums to the privateers.Who at the end of the 30 year payments the building will still be owned by the private companies, they call it PFI.Only a socialist revolution can deal with these blood suckers.

      • Carolyn L Zaremba
        August 29, 2023 at 14:36

        Many hospitals in the UK have been closed and demolished, as well.

    • JohnA
      August 29, 2023 at 11:26

      Not for long. The British politicians of both parties are heavily funded by private health insurance companies from the US. The NHS is being deliberatedly starved of money to destroy it. Commercial radio ads these days are full of ads from health insurance companies. People can see the US health system is disgusting, but like most things bad about America, they are either already here, or on their way.

      • Carolyn L Zaremba
        August 29, 2023 at 14:37

        Thank you. The illusion that Americans have about the NHS are very sad. A health service that was created immediately after WWII, when the UK was bombed to shreds and broke, somehow cannot be afforded in the 21st century when there are lots of billionaires in the UK.

    • Margaret O'Brien
      August 29, 2023 at 11:41

      Hi Drew. Yes we currently have the NHS which is free at the point of need/use, but for how much longer? As in the US, we have two right wing parties vying to see who can come up with the worst shit to throw at us. Conservatives and Labour. Take your pick but don’t expect anything different from either. Labour have got Tony Blair pulling their strings ffs! He’s saying we’ll have to start paying for treatment, when we’re already paying for it through taxation and what’s called National Insurance but which is just another tax on earnings. And all these politicians taking donations (bribes) from the vultures in the private blood sucking “health” sector.

      I really feel for my fellow humans in the US. I had major surgery last year. Didn’t cost me a penny now (I paid for it throughout my working life) but for how much longer that will be the case. who knows?

    • Observer
      August 29, 2023 at 11:47

      For years now, right-wing capitalists and their political mouthpieces inside and outside Britain have been undermining and working on privatizing the National Health Service, so it may be not long before the situation will approach that in the USA

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      August 29, 2023 at 14:35

      The NHS is falling apart for lack of funding. If you don’t know that, I don’t know what to tell you. The NHS has been whittled away for decades.

    • Frank Lambert
      August 30, 2023 at 12:27

      Absolutely true!

  9. Francis Lee
    August 29, 2023 at 08:47

    The Long Goodbye to Social-Democracy

    The ongoing process of political deterioration which has been happening in the UK Labour Party is basically part of a deep-going movement which has been taking place in all the ex-left-of-centre social-democratic parties in Europe. In political/ideological terms, they have been swept away by the rampaging neo-liberal globalist forces – circa 1980 onwards and have, like good little boys and girls, trimmed their sails to the globalist agenda.

    This, straight betrayal, has been justified by the usual TINA cliche. The roll-call of the sell-outs has included the SPD (Germany) the PS (France) Pasok/Syriza (Greece) the old ex-communist party of Italy, (now rebranded as the Democratic Party) PSOE (Spain) not forgetting the Democratic Party in the US. This historical betrayal has given the militant right a chance to attack the very real sell-out of the centre-left parties and publications which includes the Guardian, New York Times, Economist, Washington Post,. L’Express, La Figaro, Der Spiegel – the list is extensive.

    Who was behind this all pervasive counter-revolution? My guess would be Blair and Clinton.

    • vinnieoh
      August 29, 2023 at 10:36

      Blair and Clinton weren’t behind it – they were the fronts for it. Ever since the early 20th century apex of socialism and socialist leanings, and the mild to moderate reforms resulting from the crash and great depression, deep wealth has clawed its way back to a position of power and privilege that seems almost unassailable.

      During the 70’s and 80’s, though I didn’t understand what it all meant then, I watched with great unease the steady and accelerating concentration of wealth; the hostile takeovers, the mergers and consequent jettisoning of workforce and social responsibilities (pensions,) the populating of multiple boards of directors across divergent industries by a relatively small but powerful cadre of oligarchs (Hillary Clinton included.)

      By the time that WJ Clinton came on the scene it was obvious that great wealth could purchase as little or as much of the US government it felt necessary to rule with impunity. James Carville et. al. just acknowledged the nascent reality – it you can’t beat them, join them.

      • Frank Lambert
        August 30, 2023 at 12:29

        You nailed it, vinnieoh!

    • JohnA
      August 29, 2023 at 11:27

      You can add the Social Democrats in Sweden to that list. As neoliberal and globalist as all the rest. Ditto in Norway.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      August 29, 2023 at 14:39

      In the U.S., the counter revolution began in earnest with Ronald Reagan in 1980. Clinton was merely the useful servant of the counter revolution.

    • August 29, 2023 at 15:06

      Ah yes Francis Lee, an apt reference to William J. (3 dollar Bill) Clinton and his fellow closeted CONservative globalists and their financial services industry enablers writ large. One wonders what is it about the results of this practice of “Privatize the profits and socialize the losses” that is so confusing to so many ostensibly intelligent sentient beings?
      Hats off to Craig Murray for holding the line on truthful informed discourse?
      As Usual,

  10. J Anthony
    August 29, 2023 at 06:40

    Same problem across the pond. Tens of millions of my fellow citizens and working people parrot the same nonsense that billionaire CEOs and rich politicians squawk out, that there’s only ever a “free-market solution” to any problem. That only by allowing some rich a**hole to exploit and profit off of a catastrophe, can anything change for the better, or any problem be dealt with. It’s the most insidious and obscene propaganda ever to be foisted upon the populace, and it seems to be working. Too many buy-in to the falsehood that using the mechanisms of government to create policy that benefits the average person is a “hand-out” or some form of dependency that is shameful. Even at the same time that the very rich enjoy their own version of government welfare. It’s the ultimate mind-f***.
    Forgive my use of language but this is most anger-inducing. It makes no sense to me that after the last 20+ years of consequence and calamity that are a direct result of elitist, rich-man policy, so many people cannot see the forest-for-the-trees.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      August 29, 2023 at 14:40

      Socialist revolution. Time is running out.

    • Valerie
      August 29, 2023 at 16:17

      “Forgive my use of language but this is most anger-inducing.”

      That’s putting it mildly J Anthony. Sticks and stones and all that. But i believe people can see the forest. They just don’t know how to combat it. We are so divided on many levels.

      • J Anthony
        August 30, 2023 at 07:29

        Perhaps you’re right, it is more a problem of not knowing how to go about changing it all. After all I do have many conversations with family, friends and co-workers and all seem to agree that this is happening. Just that there are still so many who still believe that “better capitalism” can solve the problems created by “crony capitalism”, and I am not one of them. I agree with Carolyn and others commenting here that a socialist-transition is the only way through to a possible, more stable future. But, I also have no idea where to begin, aside from continuing to have these important discussions with my fellow working-class, be they of a liberal or conservative bent, as much as I wish I can commit more time to activism, like most of us, I cannot. But everyone doing what they can, it would snow-ball into a larger movement. Like you say, we are divided on so many levels it almost seems impossible, which causes a lot of people to throw up their hands in resignation.

  11. August 29, 2023 at 06:39

    The Bolsheviks under Lenin and Trotsky had a newspaper called Pravda with a relatively small readership but with right manifesto was able to win the power .Corbyn with a modest socialist agenda was extremely popular, so the dark state had to use all there power to run him out with fake accusations of antisemitism. All this does is like a dam the water being the working class will one day soon smash the holding wall and come flooding out.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      August 29, 2023 at 14:40

      I hope sooner rather than later.

    • Valerie
      August 29, 2023 at 16:10

      Pravda is still going strong:

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