If there is still any debate over whether New Labour has thrown off its socialist origins, the latest proclamation by Business Secretary, John Hutton, should remove all doubt. Hutton argues that British culture should "celebrate the fact that people can be enormously successful in this country". He continues:
It is statistically possible to have a society where no child lives in a family whose income is below the poverty line - 60% of median average income - but where there are also people at the top who are very wealthy. [...]In fact, not only is it statistically possible - it is positively a good thing.[...] So rather than questioning whether high salaries are morally justified, we should celebrate the fact that people can be enormously successful in this country. [...] Rather than placing a cap on that success, we should be questioning why it is not available to more people. [...]We want more millionaires in Britain not less. Our overarching goal that no-one should get left behind must not become translated into a stultifying sense that no-one should be allowed to get ahead.
Translation: any vision we had for the removal of power differentials across class, of an equal and fair society, is no longer part of Labour’s future. In fact, class differential is a ‘good thing’. Yeah, for social inequality! Yeah, for pandering to the needs and desires of the economically powerful! Yeah, for failing to understand that society is more than the economy!! Yeah, for forgetting our Marxist and Socialist origins that made us radical and exciting! Yeah, for becoming what we once despised!
Hutton argues that defeating poverty is about allowing people to "be the authors of their own lives".
Translation: the government isn’t going to help you. In fact, the idea of ‘laissez-faire’ seems oddly comforting. I wonder whether this welfare state is all it cracked up to be.
Hutton also notes:
We were making a more fundamental shift - to recognise that aspiration and ambition are natural human emotions - not the perverted side-effect of primitive capitalism.
Translation: whatever I studied at University, it certainly wasn’t political theory and it certainly wasn’t the history and values of the Labour Party.
Marx would be turning in his grave at the suggestion that a) what we have now is not capitalism at its most primitive and b) that it is NATURAL. If you are going to make a claim for capitalism at its most brutal then don’t embarrass yourself by trying to fit it into a ‘socialist’ framework. We see what you’re doing and we are not impressed; in fact, this attempt at reframing your bourgeois, capitalist ideology as good for society is laughable!
Welcome to the New America!