Friday, 4 October 2013
It's Deja Vu All Over Again.
The four men pictured above, from left to right, are William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft and Woodrow Wilson collectively know as "The Progressive Presidents" who governed the United States between 1897 and 1921. The political era that came before them was known as the "Gilded Age", one that was characterised by uncontrolled capitalism, political corruption, unregulated finance, monopolistic multi-national companies and social injustice. You would be forgiven, listening to what passes as modern political debate, for believing that the Progressive Era had never happened. Television studios are filled to bursting with earnest news presenters, political pundits and politicians who talk as if our modern political, financial and social problems are unprecedented. They do this because, by and large, they are ignorant and ill-educated. The truth is that these so-called debates are actually old hat and the arguments were won and lost over 100 years ago. How has this happened? It began in the 1980's when the neoliberal economists, ignoring the lessons of the past because it suited their utterly selfish agenda, made an ignorant, ill-educated and amnesiac electorate believe that they had come up with something that was both brand new and utterly amazing. In fact all they presented us with was a re-tread of the 19th century and then, with a smile, they invited the majority of us to slit our own throats. That was the message of the recent Tory party conference which was nothing more than a re-packaging of the same old disingenuous lies and yet another invitation for us in Britain to slit our own throats. The Labour party has little choice under these circumstances but to remind us yet again of the lessons learned in the early part of the 20th century. As Rudyard Kipling once wrote; "If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken, Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools." The point is that we've already had this debate and the selfish, greedy and self-serving lost the argument. As Woody Allen, the great American philosopher, tells us; "It's deja vu all over again."