Beating the right and the coming European event horizon
“Event Horizon: (n) A spatial boundary around a black hole inside which gravity is strong enough to prevent all matter and radiation from escaping.”
As the European economy teeters on the brink of collapse, now is surely the time to ask how to make sure we don’t get our arse handed to us like we did after the banking collapse of 2007/8. And, in a sense, perhaps we will have a challenge.
Since the credit crunch, there has been a battle to control the narrative around what went wrong. The left has pointed at banks and/or capitalism. We have used evidence including the collapse of the banks and the fact that they had to be bailed out, etc. The right has blamed nurses. Or, rather, specifically, they have blamed spending too much money on them – and on teachers, and on disabled people, etc. They haven’t bothered presenting evidence, because they are in charge, and he who controls the present controls the past.
And this battle of ideas has been roughly matched. On the one hand, when reminded, people remember the collapse of RBS and Fred the Shred. In the struggle of memory against forgetting, the collapse of our major banks is a pretty decent reminder of what went wrong. But on the other hand, the government has done an impressive job of repeating lies about public spending until people believe them.
It’s been pretty roughly matched – until now. What happens when Europe collapses into a black hole? My fear is that such an event will be so huge, and will impact so much on our collective psyche, that few will look back at 2008 as its starting point. Looking back from 2015, will Lehman brothers be obscured by the event horizon of Greece, Italy, Spain..?
And the risk with this, of course, is that it is a much less simple story to tell. When the banks collapsed, it was easy to point fingers at capitalists and so at capitalism. With Europe, the right have been preparing their ground for more than a year. Profligate spending is, we are told, to blame. Of course, we know this to be a lie. Talk to a left wing analysit and they will give you one of the many reasons: Greece has gone through round after round of austerity in recent years; their economy imploded because of their Euro-inflated housing bubble; there is massive tax dodging – and so on. These points are, of course, all true. But we haven’t settled on one, and none is clear enough to shout through the head wind of corporate and Conservative propaganda.
Of course, the solution to this dilemma isn’t too complex. Politics is about more than a battle of ideas. People are being squeezed, and they can see that the current economic system is failing them. Ponder this ICM Poll:
“You may have seen or heard that there are currently protests against capitalism and the financial system around the world, including on Wall Street in New York and in the City of London. Which one of the following statements do you most agree with?
The protesters are naive; there is no practical alternative to capitalism – the point is to get it moving again: 38 per cent
The protesters are right to want to call time on a system that puts profit before people: 52 per cent.”
That’s right – according to this ICM poll, 52% of British people support the occupations when they are described as anti-capitalist – even when the alternative option given hardly requires you to be a full throated neo-con.
And so here’s my question: As Europe collapses, does the simplistic banker bashing which has been a convenient explanitory window have to be put on the back burner? And as this crisis of capitalism washes into people’s homes, is it time to start naming the beast? After all, 52% of the people of Britain is a pretty powerful coalition.