The independent London newspaper

Beware the ‘atomisation’ of societies

14 December, 2018

• IT should be obvious to anyone now that if you install, across borders, a single market with the four freedoms – the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour – and go on to exacerbate the situation with a single currency, then you will end up with all the capital moving one way, passing the poverty going the other.

It may be that this was the result of a wicked conspiracy, but I rather think it was an unintended consequence of this late development of capitalism, much as the majority of our capital now is used to inflate the price of capital assets, rather than creating jobs for people making the things we need.

As Joseph Stiglitz writes in The Euro: And its threat to the Future of Europe, the 2008 global financial crisis morphed seamlessly into the 2010 “euro crisis”. In 2015 Greece went through the trauma of trying to negotiate with the troika.

As the problem is systemic we should not be surprised that in 2018 we have seen the democratically elected Italian government’s budget rejected by Brussels and now riots and deaths on the streets of French towns.

In Postcapitalism: A Guide to our Future, Paul Mason explains how the overriding aim behind neo-liberalism is “atomisation”, the destruction of labour’s bargaining power. More broadly, we have been told that “There is no such thing as society” and we are all being reduced to individuals, isolated consumers.

Is it an unintended consequence of this “atomisation” that President Emmanuel Macron has found that the rioters would put forward no leaders and that they have only been brought onto the streets by that ultimate manifestation of “One Market Under God” – the algorithms of social media?

Tollington Park, N4


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