Stefan Collini sees little hope for effective and sustained opposition to the power of the financial and corporate elite in 2013. Part of our series of short contributions from writers and activists looking to the year ahead.
The grim prospect for the UK in 2013 is for further areas of life to be subject to the ideological sway of so-called 'market forces'. These, as we know, are not actual economic mechanisms: they are strictly ideological constructs in the sense that, in the guise of being universal truths about 'the real world', they are offered as a justification for doing things that are calculated to further the project of increasing the return upon capital. This is a political project, enforced by political means. For this purpose, the standing of 'pre-capitalist' and non-capitalist values has to be further diminished, and forms of association or human relationships which do not correspond to the imagined profit-maximising model need to be made to do so.
In these terms, the prospects are bleak for our cultural and educational institutions, which have been such notable redoubts of non-capitalist values, and no less dire for the institutions of the welfare state - notably, but not only, the NHS - which have incorporated other ideals of human solidarity. There may be genuine and heartfelt protests against the policies that seek to reduce or change the character of these institutions and practices, but there seems little prospect of well-organised, deep-rooted, effective and sustained political opposition. Inequality will worsen and the financial elite will extend its domination. The absurd claim that everyone's well-being depends upon the continued and increased prosperity of the 'wealth-producers' will be repeated ad nauseam
, while the reality is that the financial interests of the City and and of the corporate elite are less and less tied up with the actual economy of the UK and more and more based on directing capital flows to more lucrative markets elsewhere in the world.
I hope others will be able to provide more optimistic antidotes to this bleak forecast - but at the moment it is hard to see where they might come from.