New Politics are Old Politics

I really hate to say it, but even though he’s no stranger to making incomplete, shrill, populist arguments in order to get his point across, this time John Pilger is right. Central to his argument is that Blair’s achievement is that Britain is now a single-ideology state, that neo liberalism is now utterly unchallenged in British civil society and politics, and that we are all suffering for it. The war in Iraq is an end result, the ‘War on Terror’ is an end result, our surveillance society is an end result. Just look at the three political parties and try to differentiate them in substance! We are in a time where our politics is reduced to tinkering, benefiting the few when life is becoming ever more unequal for the majority. As he says, even the mainstream media is complicit in reinforcing this narrative. Is the BBC investigating war crimes by the Americans in Fallujah? No, they’re agreeing the ‘surge’ might be ‘working’ (for whom of course is the unspoken question).

But what are the alternatives? How do we get out of the impending disasters which will befall us, with energy conflicts already having begun, the energy needed to sustain an unsustainable consumerist lifestyle? Are we even able to reorient our behaviour so as not to destroy the earth? Our purchasing is continuing on a mountain of debt – what happens when that caves in? Is the solution electoral reform? An angry third party? An angry population? That clearly hasn’t happened, or is at least fragmented. Two million people went to the streets in 2003 to protest a war we all knew was inevitable. Probably about the same got involved in Live 8 to protest developing world poverty and the negative effects of globalisation, yet real change didn’t happen. As Dr David Starkey broadly points out in his ‘Monarchy’ documentary, the answer might be in tying moral civil society together. With political life now beholden to one ideology only, the gap which is increasingly filled by extremist solutions could instead by filled by charitable organisations, NGOs, and small interest-based groups. Bill Clinton has proven that as a social entrepreneur he has more power than his wife might have should she be elected President in November. Indeed businessmen such as Bill Gates as entrepreneurs exert enormous power where neoliberal governments fear to tread.

Starkey believes tying this together will be the job of a future, reconfigured King Charles (George?) monarchy. Yet this isn’t a step far enough – the internet and international travel make this idea redundant. There is an abundant need, as Mary Robinson has in the past pointed out, for some new form of world governmental system guiding this level of organisation. Her suggestion (unsurprisingly) has been via a new echelon of the UN, which intriguingly co-funds The Elders, of which she is a member. Is this a beginning to a solution? If so, particularly in the internet age, how to democratise it?

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