The most part of the human race/ would move to something better/ that trod upon nobody’s face/and pleased every begetter
We have heard a great deal about “Freedom of Movement” in the context of EU borders over the last eighteen months. In both the way it is expressed by the élites – and interpreted by Remainers – it is by and large cock.
Because most activists on the Left are broadly naive about globalism and clueless about how corporate accountants and bankers really think, they often fail to grasp that while freedom of movement is about labour, it was invented by (and is entirely to the advantage of) capital.
This isn’t Marxist post-constructionism, it’s a fact. In front of some 23 EU FinMins at a closed-doors ECB presentation during late 2014, Mario Draghi clinically explained that wage-value destruction in the European Union was vital if the continent was to compete successfully with the emerging nations and smaller Asian tigers. He bullet-pointed on a chart how this could and would be achieved by austerity, unemployment and freedom of movement.
Because Draghi is a sociopathic opportunist – and very bright – he was quick to spot, long before he inherited the ECB crown, that hastily folding former Soviet satellites into the EU was a potentially destabilising action….but could drag down wage levels if it enabled €15 per hour Eastern European workers to travel unencumbered, and undercut €35 West European artisans at the €20-25 point.
Cleverly, the free movement of labour has been positioned as a liberty….as if beforehand, everyone had been a tied serf. This is both a ludicrous suggestion, and an obnoxious myth: much as I admire the work ethic of skilled Polish, Romanian and Portuguese workers, the obvious result has been further erosion of labour power. As under the Nazi régime in 1930s Germany, Arbeit macht frei if you were an Aryan able to take cheap holidays with Kraft durch Freude in the conquered territories. For the ‘liberated’ country’s citizens, it was a disguised death warrant.
But in the years since Reagan and Thatcher, a more real and – for most citizens – important freedom of movement has been not only lost but reversed: and that is the equality of opportunity to move out of watch-every-penny poverty into a more fulfilling, dignified existence.
Not so much rags to riches as insecurity to independence. Not a rapid, grasping ascent into vulgar richesse, more the hard but level march towards a better quality of life.
The post-war years from 1947 to 1970 were built on this ideal throughout the Anglophone world: the US, Canada, UK and Australia were still community-based pre-globalist societies where the belief in the victory of liberty over totalitarianism was widespread. Growing during Eisenhower’s eight years and then culminating under the JFK/LBJ era in the US, the mixed and planned economy proposed by first Roosevelt and then the UK Labour Party seemed to work extremely well. There was a consensus that more people with more money and more family time was good for social culture.
I’ve posted elsewhere on many occasions at length about how this set off two decades of unprecedented gdp growth via increased labour bargaining power – and then social mobility thanks to largely State-subsidised education. Designed to benefit civilisation as a whole, the model really was a questioning, creative and open approach to what life could be about. Everest was climbed, a mile was run in under four minutes, harmless sexual minority orientation began to be decriminalised, and Man went forth into Space.
Then things went astray. Trade Unions became power bases in their own right, the Pill gave women more power but didn’t instill much sense of responsibility in either gender, Universities became a haven for those who wanted an eternally extended childhood, those still left behind began to cry foul, liberty spilled over into license, and Arabia flexed its well-oiled muscles.
The party seemed to be over after the oil crisis and the Heath 3-day week. Nixon may have departed in disgrace, but Jimmy Carter had flopped. Rock n Roll was here to stay, but Woodstock looked naive. San Francisco had a soft, lilting flight, but a hard crash-landing. Monterey was just plain ugly. Radicals and conservatives came to blows. Labour union greed increasingly seemed to mimic (or even involve) The Mob.
Demographic war was back.
Over a two year period from 1979-1981, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and the gargoyles around them lucked into this dark confusion, seeming to offer a route back towards The Truth and The Light. As their appeal and power grew, both leaders began to assert stuff that had hitherto seemed unthinkable.
There was no such thing as society. There was no such thing as an obscene profit. Companies and banks had but one responsibility – to the shareholders. Greed was good. Wealth would trickle down. The State was not there to save the weak, but reward the strong.
This would, they suggested, lift everyone out of poverty and dependence, and into a new Golden Age devoted entirely to all those willing to work.
Everything had to wash its face, and be earned. School milk, prescriptions, employment…OK perhaps….but also education, healthcare, disablement benefits….er, and, um, State pensions.
No longer would serving the community be enough: we must all use credit in order to consume, for without profitable global mercantilism and massive shareholder dividends plus Board level share options and banker bonuses, the sky would surely fall in.
In forty years, we have come full circle from organised labour perverted greed to disorganised capital infinite greed. During that zero-sum process, every worthwhile plot has been lost.
But the species thing that’s been lost is freedom of demographic fulfilment.
We are living longer, but ageism is rife – and the wisdom of the senior citzenry is being starved into extinction.
We go through a supposedly egalitarian education system, but intellectual and political snobbery is universal – and the talented youngster is dumped on the scrap heap.
We move to a services economy, but the export-earning skills of the artisan are undervalued – and sacrificed on the altar of financialised globalism.
We introduce more and more women into the workforce, but exploit the tradition of lower female wages – and push desperate women into underpaid survival jobs.
Everywhere the fashionable economic model predominates, real freedom of social, economic and political choice is subjugated.
But inflexible Leftlibs would rather soil their ideological underwear in public than face the cacophony of The People’s reality.
Bigger doses of neocon monetarism or commercially infantile socialism seem attractive when packaged into Bloomberg or Corbynista soundbites. They do not even scratch the surface of the mindshift we need.
The future is not bright, and it is not red, blue, green or globalist. The future lies in communities of a manageable size where age, gender and social class cooperate to maximise the artistic and wealth-producing creativity in their midst.
The future must be about creative mutual advantage, not the asserted right of mighty process. It must be about leaving a greater number within reach of fulfilment than there were when we arrived.