BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
Watching the Labour conference is as miserable as it gets. I have found that the only passable way to follow it is accompanied by a select scrumpy, which is not available on the market but which a few Somerset farmers give to trusted mates – after a few glugs of it your words are not what you mean them to be and the Devil has control of your senses. Surprisingly, after downing a pint of this vicious brew, Dawn Butler becomes Machiavelli, Keir Starmer seems somewhat taller and if you dare squint at Emily Thornberry you begin to envisage Kate Moss. It’s the quickest way to venture temporarily over to the dark side. I am convinced it’s the only way to decipher heathen Labour bollocks and – as Momentum types replace the more sound Labour MPs – it should be on tap for Tories in the Commons.
Scrumpy notwithstanding, there was an interesting couching of language on show at this year’s conference. The usual blunt messages of Marx and Gramsci were dressed in new clothes, as if hiding them before the inevitable election might scare fewer voters. So, whose influence could be distinguished from the linguistics? Whose policies were being parroted? In the battle of ideas there are favoured think tanks and those who’d never let themselves be defiled by a Marxist outfit as extreme as Corbyn’s – the Fabian Society has been as quiet as a mouse over recent years.
Meet the New Economics Foundation, which some idiot gave a charity number. Based in Salamanca Place in Lambeth, they’re a well-staffed outfit of dissemblers and co-opters, dressing up Marxian economics and social policy in terms you’d expect to see in the corporate responsibility pages of a try-hard South African mining prospectus. They can be blamed for many of the Labour policies on show – including McDonnell’s 4-day week and aspects of the Green New Deal (car confiscation and an end to foreign holidays can likely be pinned on them too).
The NEF are anti EU deregulation and pro weird, parent-led co-operative nursery models. The NEF boasts “we are the UK’s people-powered think tank. We are the home for new ideas to secure real change in our economy, to enhance the quality of people’s lives and protect our environment.” But scratch under the surface of their shiny videos and “new ideas” and there’s those two blood-soaked red flags again – “Zombie Capitalism isn’t working so we need to implement equality-delivering models via the state”, and “we can change the rules to make the economy work for everyone”.
The only differences between NEF and the Socialist Worker’s Party are finesse and a lack of rape scandals. Take the NEF’s promo film which, like a Scientologist’s opening patter, makes some sense up to 51 seconds of its 97 second duration then sets off the sirens. Watch their Year Zero Marxist face reveal itself:
The NEF uses that surface rhetoric of ‘hope’ to gullible people, tiredly pointing out how grim the world is because of “capitalist elites”, cloaking their message in watermelon green. Same old. Boring. They spent £3.5 million last year on campaigning. They should have used that dosh to invade Transnistria where they could have built their Marxist state and lived out their social experiments until, as with all Marxist economies, they ran out of cash and ended up killing each other.
How on earth can the NEF get away with pushing a greenwashed incrementalist Marxist narrative in the UK in 2019 based on charitable donations? Is the NEF some kind of elaborate food bank based on the fact there are that many dud and unemployable leftist economics graduates out there who need such think tanks to save them from starvation?
NEF’s use of debunked Modern Monetary Theory, as espoused by great luminaries such as the bartender Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – a magic money tree theory that gets around worrying about such tedious matters as ‘balancing the books’ – says all you need to know about this think tank preferred by Hard Left Labour. The NEF’s material makes for some credible soundbites on inequality – which are designed to hit heart not head – but its solutions rely on Marxist ideological big state meddling which has never worked and, whatever AI brings us, never will. The trendy yoof counter-hegemony running through NEF’s output may be in vogue with those blue-haired, nose-ringed Gramscian reds who attend Momentum meetings but the reality is that Gramsci was a deluded conspiracy theorist who felt the world was against him as might anyone who spent his key years in a jail cell being spat at by fascists.
Marx was wrong on so many levels – his numbers never added up – and much blood has been spilt by people trying to implement his ideas. His perseverance with the idea that capitalism drives workers’ living standards to subsistence level is nuts – capitalism relentlessly reduces the price of regular consumer items. The World Bank says that the number of people in “extreme poverty” declined from 1.85bn in 1990 to 767m in 2013. The NEF’s post-capitalist green dreams and concepts of increased leisure are mere Marxist heroin and are designed to be attractive to vulnerable people only capable of short cutting.
It is tragic that we have Her Majesty’s Opposition in 2019 relying on this regurgitated Marxist nonsense, dressed in new cuddly language. Yes, capitalism may be rough around the edges and we may yet need corrections before we can rejig the world economy in the future – as technology replaces human capital in the workplace – but the beauty of how the world has managed capitalism via negotiation and trade-off is one of humanity’s finest achievements. Annoying for socialists like the NEF is how the franchised working class played a major part in those deliberations – they were not excluded and ostracised by some elite as the likes of the conspiracy-promoting NEF portray. Capitalist economic management – so economic cycles can be smoothed and panics contained – has been largely successful before and after Marx’s life, much to the annoyance of Marxists. The only nations that followed the Marx path into sadism and collectivism did so through revolutions which thrust unsavoury sorts to the helm whose price-fixing wrecked their economies – not issues the NEF will ever care to address.
There is nothing new about the New Economics Foundation. It should be called the Year Zero Foundation and its films and publications ought to carry a warning for low IQ gullibles alongside a link to the Samaritans and recuperative free access to the works of Thomas Sowell.
Dominic Wightman is Editor of Country Squire Magazine.