If you think for a moment that all the narrow minded, xenophobic, little Englander sentiment is neatly wrapped up in the UKIP party you would be very wrong. The Conservative ranks are full of such stuff as is the Labour Party and the accompanying trades union movement. And the least said about the fascist British National Party, many of whose supporters have quietly decamped to UKIP, the better. No, UKIP does not have a monopoly on such reactionary and inward looking ideas. Such ideas permeate all sections and social strata within British society. Maybe it's a throwback to the days of Empire or more likely a hankering for the return of that empire. To have to doff the cap to German industrialists and financiers must be an indignity indeed for the British Ruling classes and those lower orders that managed to secure a few crumbs from the imperial table. The toxicity of empire has not been fully exorcized from the British psyche and the rise of UKIP is a stark reminder of that fact.

 

UKIP, and all those who wish, openly or privately, to sail with her, hide behind that well used facade of 'good old British common sense'. We are a small island, they claim, with limited space and finite resources. We aren't against foreigners per se, it's just that we can't allow ourselves to be swamped by any old Tom, Dick or Harry looking for some unearned state benefits at the British tax payers expense. It all sounds so seductively correct. And the Tory press pump out this bile 24/7. But scratch behind the toxic headlines and a very different reality emerges. Apply even a cursory dose of logic and the 'British common sense' position immediately starts to unravel, leaving behind nothing but a pile of reactionary nationalist nonsense the kind on which European fascism was able to establish itself in the 1930's. 

So what are the facts? Firstly, and underlying all else, is the obvious fact that capital has slipped its national borders and gone global. From this one all-consuming reality, everything else flows. If the movement of capital is global so too must the flow of resources and people. You can't have one without the other. Whether this global movement of capital acts in the interests of the ninety nine percent of people or the one percent is another question. Clearly the obscene self-enrichment of the world's elites would suggest otherwise. And all the indicators tell us that the gap between the one percent and the rest is getting wider not narrower. This is precisely how we should expect capital to operate. In the age of finance capital, any revolutionary potential of capitalism has long since exhausted itself. But global capitalism is what we have and retreating into an imagined national idyll, as UKIP advocate, is just plain stupid. The CBI knows it. The saner sections of the Tory elite knows it. And the more astute voices in the Labour and Lib Dem parties know it.

The solution for every country, every region and every trading block is not to retreat behind national borders and national myths, but rather to confront global capital square on. Capital needs to be tightly regulated, transparent and accountable the three things that we have so far singularly failed to achieve. The regulation of capital needs to be so tight, so severe, that capital itself becomes socialised. That is and can be the only meaning of socialism in the 21st century, a direction that the UKIP leaders have no intention whatsoever of pursuing. They don't even know how to pose the right questions let alone come up with some viable solutions.

So what are the appropriate questions that all political parties, including UKIP, should be asking themselves? There are umpteen ways to frame the single problem that we all face: how to socialise global capital? But first we must ask some immediate questions. For example, can bodies like the European Union, the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the world's five hundred largest corporations ever be socialised? Are they already beyond our control? Must they be destroyed rather than reformed? And flowing from these immediate questions the more fundamental one: can any national political party or movement stand up to global capitalism? (Interesting to note that when Australia and Chile made just such an attempt in the 1970's they were both ruthlessly dealt with by international capital).

Possibly the one man in mainstream British politics today with enough political intelligence to lead Britain in this perilous but necessary direction is Ed Miliband, but does he have the balls for the battle? Probably not. If he sticks with the old lieutenants of New Labour then expect more of New Labour's cringing 'light- touch regulation'. And we know exactly where that led. But in any event one national party, be it British, Greek or Scottish, has absolutely no chance of successfully taking on global capital. By definition, you'd be fighting with one hand tied behind your back. An international coalition of progressive forces is the essential minimum to even win the odd battle let alone the historic war that lies ahead. 

There are no easy paths to tread. UKIP offer only a populist mantra of an isolated Britain standing against the world. It's a Churchillian fantasy whose days are long gone - and a good thing too. The world we inhabit today is one of increasing interdependence and global trade networks. Everything is global; pandemics, environmental degradation and of course economic meltdowns. It sounds a horrific scenario for those rooted to a bygone world but it's a scenario that is pregnant with possibilities as well. Global capital is dragging humanity to the precipice in its relentless pursuit of short term profit maximisation. But it is precisely at the precipice that we will be able to see starkly the choices in front of us. Yes, it sounds like a tacky one-liner from a Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster but the precipice analogy is apposite.

What will the precipice look like? The global economic system will implode again and again with no resources left to bail out either the banks or the corporations. War between global trading-blocks will threaten mankind with nuclear Armageddon. The gap between the ruling one percent and the destitute masses will become so great that riots and social disorder will break out across the entire planet including in the so-called developed world. And meanwhile the global eco-system will unravel still further and threaten human life itself.

What has UKIP and its fellow travellers got to say about any of this? Nothing. They are and will remain a complete irrelevancy in the face of the challenges and possibilities posed by globalization. But it is better that UKIP exist in the open for they draw to themselves all that is rotten and reactionary in the British politic. Let the nationalist pus come oozing out all the better to forge a more healthy, more constructive perspective.

End JPK Copyright 2/11/14

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Last Updated ( Monday, 21 May 2018 08:58 )