Saturday, 14 May 2011

Cheering on the state as it attacks the people

Today, around 350 people attended the Rally Against Debt in London. I have dissected the ideology behind the event here and here, and I'm going to try and avoid repeating myself too much. However I thought a couple of post-match reflections were in order.

Firstly, we'll let the Institute of Economic Affairs' Mark Littlewood wallow in his own lack of self-awareness;
We won't put up with this. We are the selfless movement. We're not asking for money, we're asking for cuts to make sure our children and grandchildren don't have to foot the bill.
Which in isolation sounds all well and good. But when you consider the real, human impact of the cuts, reveals all claims to selflessness for the vapid bullshit that they are.

The government is attacking the disabled hardest, as the Hardest Hit march highlighted on Wednesday. The Independent Living Fund and the high rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance are being cut. This will leave a lot of people without the support they need to maintain their independence and avoid going into care, or being completely housebound. It also compunds the existing extreme hardship, poverty and social isolation faced by a lot of disabled people.

This is not to mention the contract the government has given Atos Healthcare to throw people off benefits, and that already people have died as a result of being denied funding by that companies health assessments.

At the same time, at least 130,000 people in the public sector are set to lose their jobs. This will directly impact upon the private sector, where at least the same number again will be jobless as a result. As public sector employment (and therefore the cuts) is disproportionately spread, this will devastate the local economies of a lot of areas. It will also leave many people struggling to pay the bills, and their rent or mortgages. The recession saw the number of repossessions increase dramatically, and this year as the cuts started to bite they have risen by 15% again.

Thus, when UKIP leader Nigel Farage says "this is not a celebration of libraries closing or lowly-paid people losing their jobs," it sounds disingenuous to say the least. When people like Old Holborn hold up banners saying "Cut deeper, taxes = slaves," it shows a complete disconnect with reality.

The people who attended this rally claim to be libertarians. But the "liberty" they are defending is the liberty of the ruling class. They are not "against the state" but for it, freeing it of every concession won by the struggle of ordinary people so that it can better serve the interests of capital. This is, in reality, not the "small state" but the strong state - one suited to defending private property without having to face the competing interests of the working class.

If this becomes the case, then not only do we lose the status quo but it becomes harder to push beyond it. After all, as the Anarchist Federation put it, "anarchists don’t argue for a benevolent state, for state-ownership of industry and services" but rather "think we need to go further as a class, to achieve political freedom as well as economic equality." That is why "whilst we are defending what we have, we are also attacking the state, threatening its legitimacy and suggesting to people that we would be better off without it."

But if the right gets its way, both the state and capitalism will be stronger and those opposing them in a much more perilous position. The people cheerleading this today may think themselves "libertarians" and "anarchists," but they are nothing more than useful idiots for the ruling class and the status quo.