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The Collusion of the Left in the Neo-Liberal Agenda

The original article by Alistair McConnachie was published on the web-site in September 2006.

There were fears of a new wave of clandestine migrants from eastern Europe last night after Poland announced it is opening its doors to workers from outside the EU.

In an attempt to ease labour shortages, people from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus will no longer need work permits to enter the country.

With thousands of its citizens flocking to the UK, Poland finds itself short of skilled workers.(Unaccredited, "Poland in new migrant alert",The Scottish Daily Mail, 2 Sep 06, p.55)

Irony of ironies! Poland is short of skilled workers because they're all flocking to Britain because, allegedly, we're short of skilled workers!

Such is the absurdity of neo-liberalism – the term which has come to refer to minimum government intervention in the economy, or government intervention intended to ensure complete freedom of movement of capital and labour.

This article demonstrates that neo-liberalism is upheld by those on the Left as well as those on the Right.

On the question of free movement of labour, the free-marketeers and capitalists on the Right meet the anti-capitalists and anarchists on the Left in complete agreement.

The reason the free-marketeers uphold a central pillar of neo-liberalism – free movement of people - is their desire to make a lot of money.

The free-marketeers cannot speak out against free movement of labour because that would require them to re-assess their commitment to free movement of capital.

It's unfortunate that some anti-EU groups simplistically advocate "free trade" without thinking it through properly and realising that the full implications may often be the antithesis of their professed belief in national sovereignty, both political and economic. After all, even if we left the EU, cheap labour would still come here, unless there were restrictions set on this particular aspect of "free trade."

The reason the anti-capitalists uphold a central pillar of neo-liberalism – free movement of people - is their desire to promote "equality".

In this regard, the Left emphasise "international workers' solidarity". This can often be a very good idea.

Constructive solidarity and politically perverse ‘solidarity’

For example, I realise that if my job is shipped to Mexico, the Mexican worker will probably have a pretty crummy job working for low-wages in poor conditions.

I can accept that the system is screwing us both.

We all benefit when living standards and working conditions rise in other countries. It means there is less chance of an employer in this country bailing out and going abroad to exploit cheap labour and poor working conditions, and there will be less of a migration push from these countries.

I can understand that if I can help the Mexican build a better economic system for his own country, then maybe in time there will be less incentive for the system to ship my next job out there, or to force his family over here.

In this sense, solidarity with workers internationally is an appropriate and fine thing, to be encouraged. Sovereignty carries a slogan on its back page, with every issue, which advocates "Solidarity with Farmers Internationally."

However, the idea of "solidarity" becomes a very bad thing if it is misused as a rhetorical device to neuter my opposition to having my living space invaded, or my work and wages undermined, or my environment destroyed, or when I'm expected to condone unlawful behaviour in its name.

For example, when we're expected to show "solidarity" with the massive influx of immigrants, especially the illegal ones – which the Left like to call "irregular" – and bogus asylum seekers, and to put from our minds the political, social, economic and ecological consequences of this immigration invasion – for the greater notion of "solidarity".

In that sense, "solidarity" is simply a slogan being used to undermine my rights and to prevent me articulating them and to stop me standing up for myself, and my group's interests. It is in this politically perverted sense that the Left today almost always use the term.

The driving ideology of ‘equality’

Why do the Left insist on doing this?

Why do they seek to geld opposition to neo-liberalism from the working class by misusing the idea of "international solidarity" when it is not appropriate to the circumstances, nor the interests, of the people to whom they are speaking?

The reason is because the Left's over-arching ideology of "equality" demands that they put "equality for all" before the interests of any specific element of the working class.

Therefore, if working class people in England are being displaced from apprenticeships, or jobs, by already qualified Eastern Europeans, or Somali refugees, then the Leftist will not stand up for the English indigenous working class because his doctrine of "equality" mandates that he cannot and must not "discriminate" between people in any way.

Therefore, he will argue that the Somali has a right to this job too and that the Englishman needs to see himself, not as part of a national citizenry, but rather as part of an amorphous "international working class" in which he is "equal" with this Somali and shares "solidarity" with this Somali "working class person". Viewed this way, the Englishman can only lose.

To promote "equality", the Englishman is expected to deny his interests, forfeit his rights and cede his space in the name of "solidarity" with someone he's never met, who is likely not a citizen, and is probably a law-breaker!

As a consequence of its ideological obsession with "equality", the Left cannot and will not oppose free movement of labour and so it must try deliberately to pervert and misuse the idea of solidarity in order to neuter any working class opposition to the open-borders of neo-liberalism.

The Left's obsession with "solidarity" can sometimes have its amusing manifestations.

I had a conversation with a Lefty in Buchanan Street this month. He was standing beside a stall and wanted me to sign a petition showing "solidarity" with some Cubans who, for reasons he was not able to explain clearly, had been thrown in jail in Miami!

Faintly amused, I smiled and said I didn't think that was of much relevance to people in Glasgow. Oh, but on the contrary, apparently, it was his group's aim to build "an international movement for working class solidarity".

I laughed out loud. "How are you going to do that," I asked, "when right here in Glasgow, we have the Scottish Socialist Party, who are now split right down the middle, and screaming hatred at each other. If they can't keep it together in Glasgow, how are you going to keep it together worldwide?" He didn't have much to say to that!

The Marxist bogus "greens"

The Leftist and Marxist "Greens" will point out that it is capitalism which drives immigration pressures.

Like all Marxists they will trace whatever it is they claim to be concerned about, to the economic system. They will try to claim that ecological crises are a product of social causes which themselves are products of the capitalist system and its injustices.

Of course, the economic system is often a factor, and one can recognize that without having to be a Marxist!

However, these people are Bogus Greens because the bottom line for them is not ecological sustainability, but like all other Leftists, the bottom line is their fundamentalist religion of "equality" which drives them on destructive routes.

Even if we work sincerely to correct the economic problems of which they complain, even if we work to ensure people want to stay where they are rather than migrate, even if the economics is changed for the better, they would still support ecologically damaging open borders and unlimited immigration – in the name of equality!

In this regard, compare the difference between genuine ecologically-aware advocacy, as found in Sovereignty ( with that of the Marxist Bogus "Greens":

Sovereignty challenges neo-liberalism. We campaign for economic justice for all. To those ends, we advocate building Self Reliance Worldwide (see for example, The Principles and Purposes of Foreign Aid, and Appendix to our Asylum Policy, we support the Cancellation of Third World Debt and we advocate thoroughly throughout this website, the economics of Localism not Globalism.

At the same time we advocate restricting immigration and asylum levels severely, and enforcing the immigration laws. We campaign for ecological sustainability and emphasise its central relevance to the issue of migration.

Marxist Bogus "Greens" on the other hand, put freedom of movement above economic justice and ecological sustainability because they are fixated on their religion of "equality" in every field of human life.

This ideology demands that there must be no laws which "discriminate" in any way towards any particular person for any reason whatsoever. Thus, immigration laws are inherently anti-equality and "racist" and must be torn down and there must be open-borders.

Moreover, they try to justify this in economic terms because they believe that freedom of movement is a necessary tool to achieve their economic goals in the first place.

They believe that only when we can all move about unimpeded will the world economy stabilise at a level which is the same for all. Only then, as a result of this economic equality will the social problems caused by inequality be sorted and ecological sustainability achieved.

Of course, in reality this free movement of people will be politically, socially, economically and ecologically damaging and unjust to many areas and peoples of the planet – but that is of little concern to them.

The Marxist Bogus "Greens" will destroy the planet in their efforts to achieve "equality".

See also: How mass migration has devastated the social fabric of Britain.


Thanks, Tim for publishing this.

Whilst I take issue with some of what I read on Alistair McConnachie's web-site, he is spot on here. As one who still wears the label 'leftist' It is uncanny how the far-left has, in the last three decades, at least in industrialised nations been ineffective in its opposition to the neo-liberal counter-revolution or, worse, seemingly colluded with it. Whether this happened as a result of their stupidity, their short-term self-interest or because of outright corruption by provocateurs within their ranks, I may never know.

On another issue on the neo-liberal agenda, namely privatisation, it is notable, how in Australia, far left-parties never attempted to seriously oppose the Hawke and Keating 'Labor' governments' privatisations of QANTAS, and the Commonwealth Bank, as far as I could tell. Had they done so, even given their relatively small numbers, I believe it could have been stopped, because the case for privatisation was so obviously deeply flawed, that the broader public would have not tolerated it, had any serious effort been made to point this out, even by Martians, let alone by them.

I distinctly remember reading in the late 1980's an article by one left-wing intellectual Brian Toohey, whose views I respected at the time, in the now discontinued National Times weekly newspaper that it was of no great consequence whether or not these enterprises were owned by the public. It was these kind of views that probably convinced many who would have otherwise tried to do something to stop it to remain complacent. As a member of one far left party, I recall being told on a number of occasions of how the 'exploitation' of British coal miners was allegedly increased following the post-Second-World-War nationalisations of the coal mines. The implication I assume I was meant to draw was that nationalisation (except when the working class is about to take power from the capitalists) was either inconsequential or bad. On other occasions I was told by members of this organisation that privatisation was not of any great consequence, rather, whether or not workers were 'exploited' was the only issue with which socialists need be concerned.

Earlier this year I put this to a left-winger in an Online Opinion ( discussion and he did not dispute it. (In fact, he completely ignored everything I wrote.)

It seems to me that virtually all of the Australian far left went missing in action on that question since at least before the downfall of the Whitlam Government.

In my view, this made it far easier for the neo-liberal counter-revolution to achieve its sociopathic goals in manners not altogether dissimilar to what has been described in parts of Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine" (e.g. the subversion of parliamentary democracy Bolivia in 1985 under the guidance of shock doctor Jeffrey Sachs).

If, instead, the left had vigorously defended the worthwhile achievements of the Whitlam era and the institutions of Parliamentary democracy that have been largely gutted by successive neo-liberal governments of both the Labor and Liberal variety (read "Silencing Dissent"(2007) edited by Clive Hamilton and Sarah Maddison), then we might well stopped the neo-liberal counter-revolution in its tracks …

Whilst it would be difficult to obtain the evidence to definitively prove this hypothesis, my experience seem to have been borne out by the circumstantial evidence.

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My own view is that the left's failure on these issues can be initially traced back to attitudes that developed out of the counter-culture of the 60's and 70's.

While it aped many of the left's revolutionary ideas and images, the counter-culture popularised ideas about self-actualisation and a distatste for authority that sit uneasily with a collective outlook or State power/ownership. In his excellent book 'One Market Under God', Thomas Frank describes how anti-authority attitudes from this era have been used over time to support arguments for smaller Government. The irony of course is that as state ownership and authority were reduced, the market moved in and filled the void. And while Governments may act badly at times, they are at least publicly accountable through being elected (or not) at regular intervals. Unlike private corporations.

I also believe that with the visible decline of the Soviet Union's economic performance through the 70's and 80's, many on the left quietly came to think that the command economy, and indeed the whole concept of state ownership, was indefensible. While some still believed in the concepts on a theoretical level, more thought you just couldn't win an argument supporting them. So rather than try to explain the causes of Polish food queues, or think about how to improve productivity within a framework of collective ownership (or even sustainability), a swag of left groups just abandoned the idea altogether.

In 1978 the Police released a song which I came to associate with these groups.. the chorus went 'I can't, I can't, can't stand losing'. And to my mind, during the late 70's and through the 80's this attitude pervaded the left's attitude to macro-economic issues.
They could never have supported St Kilda.

To be fair, the New Right was in the box seat on economic matters during the 80's. Even the H.R. Nicholls Society was commonly cited in the media as though it was a credible authority. Bob Hawke was busy de-regulating and the economic pendulum was swinging wildly to the right. It was a hard time to be arguing for anything that could be associated (even vaguely) with the crumbling remnants of the USSR. Business lobby groups and think-tanks were quick to exploit the situation; urging Government to avoid the fate of the Commies by driving economic 'reform'.

So faced with this situation, many on the left simply fled the macro-economic field altogether and concentrated on social issues exactly like the one Tim describes - solidarity with imprisoned Cubans or some such. 'Defend Multiculturalism'. 'End exploitation in the Phillipines'. Even 'Yes to International Socialism, No to Tariffs'. Given that such matters were grist to the mill of the 60/70's counter culture, the increasing focus that they were given continued the trend that had already started; away from public ownership and towards hip social causes.

A few - including John Carroll and Ted Wheelwright - wrote books and articles critical of privatisation and economic rationalism in general, but a hefty section of the left found that social issues provided more wins than economic ones could.

To this day, headlines like 'End the Gaza siege' are more likely to adorn Trot newspapers than 'End Tax Cuts and Build Public Infrastructure'.

In the Socialist Party of Australia (the 71-mid 90's version founded by Pat Clancy et al) there was no doubt that all this was going on. But even there, there wasn't a lot of interest in defending public ownership. Trade Union action was the order of the day and frankly, as the effects of economic 'reform' kicked in, plenty of that was needed. Wages stalled and conditions were going backwards. Support for individual unions was prioritised over any wider defence of public services and infrastructure.

So in my opinion, the left's abandonment of macro-economic issues can be largely attributed to two things:
1. The effect of counter-cultural attitudes towards authority (including the State) and,
2. The perceived difficulty of defending left economics following the decline of the Soviet Union.


Thanks, Dave, for another of your typically informative and incisive posts.

I think your two points may help explain explaining the abandonment of macro-economic issues by relatively honest and sincere members, but thereis a third over-riding cause, that better explains the behaviour by those who guide those groups. That explanation is simply that those who controlled those groups were (and remain) essentially corrupt and, notwithstanding their loud seeming indignation at the injustices of capitalism, are, in fact, on the whole, quite happy with the niche they have found for themselves within the society they profess to abhor.

IMO, they operate in a fashion little different from religious cults and fulfil a similar role in our society. They deliberately make new recruits dependent upon the organisation for their social interaction and, sometimes, for their livelihoods. During my relatively brief membership of one organisation I witnessed or heard testimony of many instances of the leaders cynically and recklessly playing with the lives of its members. Committed loyal members would be forced to leave jobs, prematurely terminate tertiary education sometimes only months from graduation in order to supposedly meet more urgent needs of the cause. The also demanded that new and committed members, move away from home to other cities. Almost inevitably, no sooner had they gained any credibility and started to became to be effective wherever they had moved to, they would be asked to move again.

Had this party been at all sincere in its stated aims, then it could fairly have been said that some of the sacrifices made my some of its members would have been worthwhile. I still believe, even with their idiotic cornucopian 'open borders' baggage and other silliness, they could have still made a worthwhile difference in Australian politics in the 1970's and 1980's when I was a member.

However, instead, they just used their members as pawns. Notwithstanding their professed union militancy, they acted, on every occasion that I observed closely, to undermine incipient trade union struggles. The same is the case for many other non-macroeconomic political struggles.

As a consequence, the sacrifices made came to nothing other than the fact that many members for years filled the coffers of the party with generous weekly pledges, and other generous donations made during various fund drives obtained under moral duress, in order to support the extravagant lifestyles of its leaders.

The above only touches the surface of the corruption I witnessed. Whilst this may all seem a long time ago now, from anecdotal evidence I have heard in more recent years these organisations have not changed, even though they have undergone splits and regroupments. They have certainly never undergone any honest self-reflection as far as I can tell.

Afterthoughts: Having looked at my earlier post, I have realised the above doesn't pay full regard to what I wrote earlier. I should make it clear that I believe that many members of far left organisations have the best motivations. It is also possible that a number of far left organisations are not corrupt, even if I know of some which definitely are. However, every single far left organisation of which I am aware is fatally flawed and of no real worth in the necessary struggle to prevent humankind heading over the abyss.

It is a sad fact of life that the society we live in tends to corrupt almost everything within it. It is extremely hard for individuals and organisations, even with the best of motivations, to resist that influence for long periods of time. Nevertheless, I don't think we should give up the task as hopeless. If enough of us stay on course long enough, we may be able to make the necessary difference. 3 jul 08

Trendy candidates with their $40 haircuts jumped out of sportscars with their tennis rackets to announce their support of legalized marijuana and no-fault divorces and expanded daycare for women to great applause on the sidewalks, then won the acclaim of business editorialists by telling them that public ownership was a relic of the past no longer necessary in this fast-paced age of global competition and government regulation.

Dave's analysis above was exactly what I was trying to say in the mid seventies. To camoflauge their shift to the right on economic issues, the left became militantly "left" on social issues, and the newly emerging identity groups bought the decoy. Trendy candidates with their $40 haircuts jumped out of sportscars with their tennis rackets to announce their support of legalized marijuana and no-fault divorces and expanded daycare for women to great applause on the sidewalks, then won the acclaim of business editorialists by telling them that public ownership was a relic of the past no longer necessary in this fast-paced age of global competition and government regulation. Staid, honest, socially conservative men like the man I campaigned for, Frank Howard, however, were cast aside for their reactionary opposition to those measures. Mr. Howard anticipated medical evidence about marijuana's impact on young brain chemistry by 30 years. Nevertheless he was vilified for his famous remark,,"marijuana is not a candy bar." He insisted that women be paid a salary by the state to stay home and raise children. That is, for every dollar that goes into daycare, one dollar at least should go into encouraging mothers to rear pre-school children at home. In other words, he proposed that British Columbia adopt Swedish social policy. For that he was damned and cursed by feminists and was till he died. But in conjunction with this attitude toward social issues, Frank was a hard line socialist. He believed, as I did, on the retention of the existing proportion of British Columbia's public sector, but its extension. And of course, a regime of progressive income taxes and steep capital gains taxes. As I said at the time, utopia would be a 100% capital gains tax.

What was the problem? Our problem was the zeitgeist. Then as now. It was and is, an unholy mixture of economic liberalism and social conservatism. Right wing economics and left wing social values. Exactly the wrong blend.

It is striking that at almost at the same time that New Zealand was supposedly an international symbol of defiance of US imperialism because Labor Prime Minister David Lange had insisted that visiting US warships reveal to them whether or not they were nuclear armed, thereby causing the US to cancel visits and the ANZUS alliance with NZ as well. NZ was at the same time the world leader in the implementation of right wing neo-liberal economic 'reforms'. They were even ahead of Margaret Thatcher in the UK at the time.

Given that Lange was only half-hearted in his opposition to visits of US nuclear armed warships, as well as to French nuclear testing in the Pacific and that it should have been easy for the US to arrive at a workable face-saving compromise, I have often wondered whether the whole dispute was deliberately staged in order to throw the rest of us off the scent. If it was, then it certainly worked brilliantly, as almost the the whole of the left bought it hook, line and sinker, and the NZ Labour Government and the ensuing government of Jim Bolger, which was even further to the right, were left free to implement their reactionary economic policies without any perceptible opposition from the left.

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