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The Politics of the Madhouse

The Politics of the Madhouse

Everywhere you go on the internet you come across free market web sites, the most lavish being the von Mises web site run by the Mises Institute who defend the anti-Marxist Austrian School of economics of which von Mises was a leading member. The Mises Institute was founded in 1982 by Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard (one of the founders of the Cato Institute).

Many of the free market web sites are incestuously linked and usually funded by "Dark Money" from billionaires in the United States (see Jane Mayer, DARK MONEY: THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF THE BILLIONAIRES BEHIND THE RISE OF THE RADICAL RIGHT, 2017). Such organizations can receive unlimited donations from corporations and individuals. In this way, their donors can spend funds to influence government policy, write articles in the media and have MPs advocate their interests in Parliament, without people knowing where the money came from.

For receiving large sums of money from billionaires these web sites are only matched by the free market think tanks which have multiplied like a virus in the capital cities of the world. Many are well known; the Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute in the US and the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Adam Smith Institute in the UK. The IEA, for example, has long been associated with "dark money".

The targets of the web sites and institutes are usually opponents of the tobacco industry, climate scientists and those whom they consider "socialists". These well funded organisations with lucrative salaries, charity status and pompous sounding names for employees, like "research fellow" or "scholar", pump out a steam of policy documents and pamphlets to tame journalists and uncritical Members of Parliament.

Free market supporters of capitalism regard any regulation or incursion of the state into human affairs as "socialist" including the policy of previous conservative governments. The free marketeers form the bedrock of the Tory back-benchers with many believers like Jacob Rees Mogg, Dominic Raab and Elizabeth Truss hold offices of State in the Cabinet.

Is the Pope a Marxist?

It is odd that so many free marketers are Catholics. The belief system of Catholicism is at odds with the dogmatic market fundamentalism of the free Marketeers. Pope Francis recently lamented the failures of market capitalism. According to the BBC NEWS (7 June 2015) the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics has called capitalism: "a source of inequality at best - and at worst a killer". Some of the more extreme market fanatics, like the Catholic free marketer, Stephen Moore, the chief economist at the free market Washington think tank the Heritage Foundation, and himself a Catholic believes the Pope to be a "Marxist".

The problem with utopians and utopian speculation is that it comes up against the hard reality of capitalism. There is capitalism the way it is and has passed through history from one economic crisis to the next, from one cycle of class exploitation to the next and from one war to the next. Contrast the reality of capitalism as we experience it as class struggle with the utopian capitalism of the market fundamentalists who want an idealised capitalism without all the pain, death and exploitation involved. The difference is between chalk and cheese.

Free marketers might just be sordid defenders of capitalism but they also champion a market order without regulations and state apparatus. In their defence of class exploitation they project a utopian fantasy without reference to the real world of capitalism, class division and the private ownership of the means of production and distribution to the exclusion of the majority of society.

These dystopians were written off by Frederick Engels in SOCIALISM: UTOPIAN AND SCIENTIFIC, when he dismissed utopian speculation as:

"a mish-mash allowing of the most manifold shades of opinion: a mish-mash of such critical statements, economic theories, pictures of future society by the founders of different sects, as excite a minimum of opposition; a mish-mash which is the more easily brewed the more definite sharp edges of the individual constituents are rubbed down in the stream of debate, like rounded pebbles in a brook".

The Iago's of the World

Who are these free-marketeers who describe themselves as "Libertarians"? These are the people who thought Ted Heath and Lord Keynes were socialists!! These are the madmen who refer to the NHS as a "socialist institution". These are the people who think the working class in Britain are lazy and unproductive (see BRITANNIA UNCHAINED where we are told "Too many people in Britain, ..., prefer to lie-in to hard work" p. 5). Who then provides the unearned income of rent, interest and profit, going to the capitalist class to allow them to lead idle lives of privilege and luxury?

These political Neanderthals do not want anything to hold up the economy and making a profit even if it means death to members of the working class. They have forced Prime Minister Boris Johnson to put profit before health to gain their political support. When Jacob Rees Mogg, states 'trust the people not the scientists' what he means is that scientists must not hold up capitalism and the profit motive. This is the same madman who blamed the Grenfell dead for a "lack of common sense" by staying in their flats during the fire when told to at the time by the fire brigade.

James O'Brian, the broadcaster, on LBC described how Jacob Rees-Mogg had made a fool of himself, quoting from Othello the bit about who "steals my good name" - trouble being this was from a speech by Iago - one of the Bard's nasty, scheming and backstabbing, characters! Not just one of his vilest creations but possibly one of the worst people in all literature, worldwide - such are the free marketeers' role models.

What of the MP, Joy Morrissey who dismissed the concern of scientists as wanton "socialism"). She believed that the Tories surrendered the country "to the medical-socialist state".(GUARDIAN 16 December 2021 Morrissey is another free-market fanatic. She was the Boris loyalist parachuted into Beaconsfield - a very special Tory seat, associated with Disraeli - after Dominic Grieve was defenestrated for dissent and disloyalty over Brexit. Grieve was not a lickspittle Brexit conformist and thought the politics of the madhouse was about honour, trust and integrity. He was wrong. Like most of these free marketeers Morrissey will have no sense and little spine!

These free market anarchists thought Brexit would deliver them a turbo-charged capitalism. Lord Frost, late of Johnson's cabinet, thought Brexit would yield a "lightly regulated, low tax country". Not so. The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts it will leave trade 15% lower, bring £1000bn annual hit to national income and cost £40bn in lost tax revenue. At the high tide of Brexit Johnson told business to go forth and multiply. It has.

Then there is the free marketeer Nigel Farage and his attack on the Royal National Lifeboat institution. Farage accused the RNLI of saving lives at sea. Not any old lives but those of refugees: desperate men, woman and children trying to escape from war, violence and poverty. He managed to get a few Ukip members to hurl abuse at the Lifeboat crews, which carries on to this day, but his political hatred was buried under a wave of a 3,000% increase in donations to the RNLI.

Freedom to Exploit

What of their credentials as lovers of "freedom". The DAILY MAIL once let the cat out of the bag by stating that freedom for supporters of free market capitalism only meant freedom for business men and women to do what they wanted. There was to be no government regulation tying them back to health and safety. Well-paid hacks like Richard Littlejohn constantly deride the work of the Health and Safety Inspectorate in the same way as his predecessors did on behalf of early 19th century capitalists who came up against the factory inspectors. The death and injury of workers carries little weight to deregulation. Profit is everything.

And why are the free marketers called "libertarians"? They are market anarchists, "selfish bastards" who live by the mantra "I", "I", "I", "Me", "Me", "Me" and "I Want", "I Want" "I Want". All their freedom amounts to, is the freedom to buy and sell without regulation and government interference. All that matters is the class interests of those they represent: bankers, financiers, hedge fund managers and property speculators a section of the capitalist class who now dominate the Tory Party.

However there is a contradiction. They want freedom of movement but not of Labour. They want freedom of speech and dissent but not freedom of speech or action for their political opponents. They lose no sleep in voting for anti-trade union legislation and preventing protest. To be consistent free marketeers they should want freedom of movement of labour but it is a vote loser. Cowardice comes to mind.

Capitalism: "A source of inequality at best - and at worst a killer"

Of course it does not play out well for those affected by the profit motive. New or refurbished flats met deregulated fire regulations, particularly around sprinkler systems, fire doors and means of escape in case of fire. The lessons of previous fires to flats as well as the introduction of inappropriate fire resistant cladding materials led, on the night of 14 June 2017, to the Grenfell Tower disaster and 74 dead and more than 70 others injured.

The architectural practice, Studio E Architects, (now in administration) who refurbished the flats did not consider the building regulations important enough to be read in detail and in depth and were unaware of issues around the combustibility of aluminium cladding panels, while the lead architect who worked on the actual design was ignorant of all the fire safety advice for tall buildings.

At the enquiry the QC acting on behalf of the tenants dismissed the architects as "inept" and said the construction industry was "too willing to please commercial clients at the expense of ensuring appropriate safety standards". Martin Seward QC, representing the Fire Brigades Union, told the hearing that "ultimately, the profit motive prevails over safety and quality (Building Design 14 September 2021).

Under capitalism the profit motive does prevail over safety and quality. Just like the predecessors led by Leonard Horner whom Marx praised in the first volume of Capital, there are too few Health and Safety Inspectors will too little resources coming up against the well-funded commercial interests of the construction industry, developers and property speculators, well represented by the free marketers in Parliament.

This is the system of death and destruction Rees Mogg, the Tory back benchers and the capitalist political parties from Tory to Labour defend. The profit motive will never be called into question. Individuals and corporations and businesses will be blamed but not the profit motive; not capitalism.

Nevertheless the architectural practice, contractor and sub contractors all made handsome profits. As a consequence of this incompetence and disregard for regulations the entire architectural profession is to be examined by its regulatory body on health and safety and the new fire regulations on pain of expulsion. It is too late for the dead.

Capitalism inflicts this politics of the madhouse. The only way to get rid of these politicians is to get rid of the social system that generates them. That means the working class taking democratic and conscious political action to replace the profit system with socialism.

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