Monday, 28 March 2011


An estimated 500,000 people turned out to demonstrate against unprecedented cuts that the Cameron government is introducing to reduce the budgetary deficit. The government in London has legitimate concerns that UK is not much better off in managing its public finances than Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium or Spain. After all, UK has one of the world's largest debt-to-GDP ratios and its prospects do not look very good in comparison with Germany.

But the question is where to cut, how to manage fiscal policy that always determines what social class pays the bills and which one benefits. If the answer is to hit the middle class and workers once again as the Cameron government decided, then there is a price to be paid in terms of social unrest and political instability; developments that could destabilize the government and precipitate further weakening of the economy.

On 21 October 2010, I had posted an article on this blog about how the political economy of neoliberalism was creating a sociopolitical crisis across Europe, including England that tends to be less radical than the continent. The article was written against the background of very deep cuts affecting English labor and middle class as well as college students that have been radicalized amid the deepest cuts in the last fifty years.

At the time, I rhetorically asked:  "are we witnessing precursor conditions of social revolution, are we witnessing mere protests by disparate social elements otherwise unworthy to call themselves responsible citizens, or is the whole thing nothing more than a mere social cloud in an otherwise bright sky of a solid political economy that is undermined by social misfits protesting in the streets of European capitals?"

Now that the Cameron government has introduced a package amounting to about (80 billion pounds) $140 billion in additional cuts to bail out finance capitalism, we can say with a good degree of certainty that the English middle class, to say nothing of labor, will have to downsize for the duration. Who took part in the London protests? Ordinary working people teachers, firefighters, the disabled, students, mothers and their kids along with pensioners. This was a genuine grass roots movement that has legs and it will continue.
In October 2010, I explained that "under current social, economic, and political conditions the masses are unlikely to mobilize and rise up to overthrow any government now, but they very well could in the future."

The government in London, as those of Washington, Pairs, etc. have the choice to raise taxes from the top income earners, as there are many studies indicating that the Treasury is losing billions of pounds sterling in revenue from the rich through tax evasion. Fiscal policy designed to redistribute wealth from the bottom to the top has its limits and I believe it is reaching them for the British people who are no longer content to sit home watching on TV and web Arabs in the streets fight against injustice of their own regimes, but they are willing to express their views in Trafalgar Square and central London.

The neo-liberal policies designed to strengthen capital that has caused this crisis are responsible for the existence of grassroots movement in England, just as the authoritarian policies of Arab regimes are responsible for the existence of grassroots uprisings. I am not suggesting that the uprisings of North Africa and Middle East have reached Europe. Just as Arabs have a reason to fight against political authoritarianism, the people across Europe have their own reasons to fight in the streets against economic authoritarianism caused by finance capital and paid by middle class and labor thanks to policies of governments accountable only to finance capital.
Back in October 2010, I pointed out that "social discontinuity is very complex--whether we examine the transition from the ancient Roman era to the Medieval, or from feudalism/manorialism to the modern market economy." I believe that 2011 is not only a turning point for the Muslim countries, but for many countries around the world. Social unrest will continue as social justice is denied to citizens whether they live in England, Tunisia, or the US.

The amazing thing is that governments and institutions like IMF, OECD, World Bank, European Investment Bank, and others, are all working feverishly to strengthen the sickly economy using the exact same neo-liberal policies that caused the illness in the first place. Neo-liberal policymakers and apologists of the world, the specter of grassroots movements for social justice is already upon us!

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