It is often said that “No matter who you vote for, the government always gets in”. Many people do not know that it was actually the title of a song released by the Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band in 1992. The words of the song reveal a cynical resignation to politics, and it is probably fair to say that things have gone downhill from there over the past 30 years.
In BC, despite their apparent differences, both BC Liberal and NDP governments have embraced some surprisingly similar policies.
The simple reason is that the roots of their economic and political philosophies are the same. All are grounded in neoclassical economic theory (i.e. the economics that is taught in universities and colleges around the world), and to a greater or lesser extent have employed extreme liberal/capitalist prescriptions when in government. This is often referred to as “neoliberalism”. In other words, the stories that guide their understanding of the world, their policies and actions, are the same.
Neoliberalism began to take hold in the late 1970’s and has been practiced by just about every jurisdiction in the world to some degree. Then came the crash in 2008, when its fatal flaws were exposed. Yet, in the absence of a widely accepted alternative paradigm, neoliberalism limps on, chastened a little but refusing to go away.
Many of today’s problems can be directly linked to neoliberal policies. The fingerprints of neoliberalism are everywhere, from environmental destruction and global warming to social inequities and political divisiveness.
So, here are five good reasons why we need a “new politics”:
- Liberal, NDP and Conservative economic policies are based on flawed economic theory.
- Neoliberal prescriptions are destroying the planet and social cohesion.
- Establishment parties are more concerned with getting elected and staying in power than doing the right things.
- A vote for NDP or Liberals (or conservatives) is a vote for the status quo
- Infinite growth is not possible on a finite planet.
Thus, Monbiot’s call for a new and hopeful “hero story” to replace neoliberalism in his book “Out of the Wreckage – A New Politics for an Age of Crisis”, inspired a conversation about what this might look like.
- George Monbiot, Out of the Wreckage – A New Politics for an Age of Crisis 2017