The spectacle of representative democracy is fully underway in the UK, and what a ride it's been so far! Declaring low taxation at the heart of his political beliefs (no shocker there), David Cameron has come up trumps with his frankly laughable comments on high tax being “morally wrong” and there being “no such thing as public money”. Nigel Farage managed to up his campaign of hate and racism with his thoughts on "health tourism" and the NHS, centering his focus on HIV-positive migrants (killing two birds with one big hateful stone there, I suppose). Meanwhile, over in camp Labour, the jury's out on whether Ed Miliband can convince the public with his “Hell yes, I’m tough enough” routine. Perhaps that wasn’t his first choice of catchphrase, but that’s the magic of live TV. And all cower behind Nicola Sturgeon, maybe the most dangerous woman in Britain.
In light of this we present a reading list featuring leading voices and books dealing with the key issues in British politics today. As an election present from us to you, they're all 50% off until the election, with free shipping worldwide, and bundled ebooks where available!
Marxist geographer David Harvey recently spoke with il manifesto about the contradictions inherent in capitalism, the possibilities for its undoing and where Syriza and Podemos fit within its opposition.
At 79 years of age and fresh from publishing a new book (Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, Oxford University Press), David Harvey is still reading social change with one eye on Marx and another on the social movements.
The political economist and author of Buying Time argues that 'the unified capitalist economy is destroying European diversity' and that in order to save this ideal, 'the monster of monetary union must be unravelled'.
If everything goes well, then what has been happening before our eyes in the last few days is the beginning of the end of the European monetary union. ‘If the Euro collapses, then so does Europe,’ said Chancellor Merkel, when it was a question of selling to the electors one of the horrendous ‘rescue packages’ for the European banks. Now we have the very opposite. The Euro is in the process of destroying Europe. If the Euro collapses – and let it be soon! – it may be that Europe actually doesn’t collapse. The outcome is certainly not clear; the wounds that monetary union has inflicted are too deep.
Last week Jacobin published an interview with Syriza MP Costas Lapavitsas, by Verso senior editor Sebastian Budgen. In this comprehensive discussion of the situation in Greece, Yanis Varoufakis's self-proclaimed "erratic Marxism", and the "Grexit", Lapavitsas reflected on the Greek social movements and the international Left's part to play.
Sebastian Budgen: A question then about forced exit and its consequences: the Plan B that you describe in some detail with Flassbeck seems quite statist. Would it be enough to withstand the shock of devaluation and autarchy?
If not, what are the Greek movements and Syriza doing to develop what we can call a Plan C — a plan of resilience, of commons, of solidarity, that would organize social reproduction where the state cannot satisfy people’s needs? What role would such strategies play in fending off the temptations of authoritarianism?
Costas Lapavitsas: That is part of Plan B. That is very much part of Plan B. Plan B — the way we’re talking about it, the way I’ve talked about it and Flassbeck and so on — is obviously a plan that happens and should happen at the level of high politics in the first instance, because that’s where the crisis is. And we need intervention at the level of high politics and the level of state.
Of course, any kind of strategy that is in the interests of working people — any kind of transitional strategy — must incorporate precisely what you called Plan C. And when we talk about the public and the state and so on, what I’ve got in mind is the collective and the public sector generally. The idea of the state taking everything over is an old-fashioned idea that died a death with the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. That’s not really in the cards anymore.
What we’re talking about is public and collective solutions. Yes indeed we need the commons. Yes indeed we need activity from below. Yes indeed we need contributions and actions by the communities. But first we’ve got to sort the macro questions out, sort the state questions out. Unfortunately communities cannot do it at that level.