Today, David Cameron gave his final speech of the Conservative Party Conference 2009. Perhaps unlike many fellow socialists, I happen to agree with many things he says. His main theme is that Britain has become a ‘broken society’, and that in order to fix it we need to resurrect a sense of civil society. The means for doing this won’t be the ‘big state’, as under Labour, but rather Cameron’s big three watch-words: Family, Community, and Country.
Superficially, I agree with Cameron that Britain is a ‘broken society’, for reasons too numerous to explain here. Unfortunately, he’s going to implement policies which are antithetical to everything he says he believes in and which will, in all likelihood, aggravate the current woes. I have the time and the space to write about only two of them. Let’s take the most boring-sounding one first: cutting inheritance tax. In the Communist Manifesto of 1848, one of the ten general suggestions for the foundation of a fair society is the abolition of all right to inheritance. This is not because Marx has some pathological aversion to family heirlooms; it’s because when the minority of excessively wealthy people die, they simply hand on their wealth to their children. It is in the interests of rich people that society stay exactly the same as it is now, because if their children were banned by the state from inheriting that wealth, then the rich would have to be proactive in bringing about a better society for their children to grow up in. Cameron says that it is precisely this better society he wants to bring about. Unfortunately, he wants to do this by cutting inheritance tax, thereby making it easier for the small number of rich people to pass on their accumulated wealth to a small number of rich children, and consequently giving them no incentive to change the nature of the current exploitative system. This then increases the poverty of the majority of normal people and plunges them into exactly the kind of social circumstances which create the ‘broken society’ he wants to fix. It’s a bit like saying you want to make a boat less leaky and then drilling a series of twenty-inch holes in it.
The second policy I’d like to consider is that to do with Afghanistan. He assures us that the reason why our troops are there is to ‘stop the re-establishment of terrorist training camps’. The problem is that while the Afghanis are no fans of the Taliban, nor are they keen on having their families and children massacred by coalition forces (usually in air raids) – troops, let’s not forget, who are effectively imperial occupiers. (Imagine how we would react if Iran sent over an enormous army to Britain, carried out air raids on our homes in Birmingham and Chelsea, murdering our toddlers and destroying our livelihoods, all in the name of preventing another US-British terrorist crusade in Iraq). What poll after poll has shown is twofold. Firstly, the vast majority of the Afghani population want us to leave their country immediately (but of course they’re only the local population, so they don’t count). Secondly, our soldiers have wreaked such havoc on their lives that those who were originally against the Taliban and against networks such as Al-Qaeda are now fleeing to join them either to take revenge or simply because they have nothing left. Ultimately, our aggressive militarism, which was designed to eliminate the roots of terrorism, has succeeded – as experts on the region predicted prior to the invasion – in creating the conditions for the radicalising of a new generation of terrorists. So what does Cameron propose to do about this? Respect the grieving locals and withdraw the occupiers? Create conditions of material prosperity for the dispossessed of the Middle East (i.e. the main economic category from which jihadis emerge)? Of course not! He wants to send more troops! The man for whom the Family, the Community, and the Country are ruling values wants to send more of your sons and daughters to slaughter Afghani sons and daughters, only to be slaughtered in their turn, radicalising more potential slaughterers who will – imitating our Western logic – arrive in our Communities and our Country and slaughter us.
So when David Cameron, in those oh-so-self-assured, oh-so-dulcet tones of his, tries to convince you to vote for him at the next election, please be aware that he – like those in power before him – is a maniac.