In the latest IMF Finance and Development journal (March 2023), there is an interesting article…
Two films to watch which won’t make you happy …
Best wishes to all for 2020. It is a public holiday today in Australia and I have to catch a plane to travel North. And it is Wednesday anyway and I am training myself off writing blog posts for that day. Earlier this week, I saw the Ken Loach’s latest movie – Sorry We Missed You – which I can attest is a very harrowing experience of life in Britain under neoliberalism. I was going to say under the Tories, but then life under the previous Labour government was also made harder for those in the regional areas, particularly as fiscal rectitude became the norm. You will find the movie hard going that is for sure. I also saw the newly released movie – Where’s My Roy Cohn – which is also a rather difficult movie to watch, given the way it resonates with the way the modern political classes behave in most nations.
Sorry We Missed You
I read a review of it in the UK Guardian (May 16, 2019) – Sorry We Missed You review – Ken Loach’s superb swipe at zero-hours Britain – which gave it five stars.
In general, the review was okay until it decided to pull the Remain card out of the pack and try to suggest that the movie was foreshadowing the grim future that the Leavers will have forced onto Britain as a result of their foolishness.
The reviewer wrote:
Yet my emotions were clouded by my feelings about a certain toxic political issue …
Many people will see this film as a portrayal of real issues facing people – not silly old Brexit, which only worries people in the London bubble. Does the director himself feel like this? I don’t know. But I can only say that the European Union is the modern-day nursery of employment rights, and outside it is where working people will find more cynicism, more cruelty, more exploitation, more economic isolation and more poverty. This brilliant film will focus minds.
Ken Loach, himself is pro-EU with misgivings and acknowledges that it is a “neo-liberal project … It’s a drive towards privatisation and a drive towards de-regulation. The safeguards that are there for workers and for the environment are constantly under attack so it’s not doing us any favours at the moment” (Source – May 13, 2016).
But I found the Reviewer’s claims about the movie and Brexit as being rather odd.
Here we are watching a movie about Britain descending into a cruel, anti-worker, anti-poor state, over many years, during which it has been a fully-paid up member of the EU.
And, yet, the reviewer can claim that the “is the modern-day nursery of employment rights” and Brexit will expose British workers to all sorts of cruelty and exploitation.
The contradiction seems to escape the reviewer.
If the EU has been the protector of employment rights, then Ken Loach would not have had any material upon which to make a film like ‘Sorry We Missed You’.
The sorry tale captures life in the UK as a member of the EU.
Further, just think of what Emmanuel Macron is trying to do in France as an expression of how the EU is the “nursery of employment rights”.
The Morning Star article (December 27, 2019) – French strikes enter 23rd day, beating 1995 record – report a very harmonious state in France, not!
Workers from all over France are striking in protest of Macron’s comprehensive attacks on their pension right, which is supported by Medef (business lobby) and the big insurance companies, who want to screw even more income out of the system at the workers’ expense.
Macron has been trying to divide and conquer the solid worker response – typical neoliberal strategy.
Where’s My Roy Cohn
I also took the chance to see the newly released (for Australia) movie – Where’s My Roy Cohn – which traced the career of the lawyer who helped Joe McCarthy and later Donald Trump.
It is about the way in which class and politics in America mixes and the corruption that is endemic at the highest levels of American society.
Roy Cohn’s approach – never admit you are wrong, never apologise, and win at all costs – describes the way the current polities operate. They have refined his mantra.
Call for financial assistance to make the MMT University project a reality
If I am to get the – MMTed Project (aka MMT University) – up and going to provide formal courses to students in all nations to advance their understanding of Modern Monetary Theory then I need financial assistance.
We have established the – Foundation for Monetary Studies Inc. – aka The MMT Foundation to serves as a legal vehicle to raise funds and provide financial resources for the MMTed Project.
The Foundation is a non-profit corporation registered in the State of Delaware as a Section 501(c)(3) company. Its legal structure allows people can make donations without their identity being revealed publicly.
Some sponsors have already offered their generous assistance.
We need significantly more funds to get the operations off the ground.
Please help if you can.
We cannot make the MMTed project viable without funding support.
Music for today …
Here is some lovely music from one of my favourite post-minimalist composers Max Richter.
It is off the re-released album (May 2018)- The Blue Notebooks – which was originally released on February 26, 2004 on Fat Cat Records.
It was originally recorded as a protest by Max Richter to the Iraq invasion in 2003.
This track On the Nature of Daylight was re-recorded for the new release, with different musicians. The new album is called The Blue Notebooks – 15 Years Edition.
It still resonates after first hearing it in 2004.
That is enough for today!
(c) Copyright 2020 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.
This Post Has 9 Comments
and Good wishes to you, Bill for your work in 2020.
Amd many thanks for another year of your blog posts which offer us so generously, deeply educative and enriching insights into economic thinking, real thinking! Must be my sixth year by now of reading the blog and whatever level of understanding I have achieved would certainly not have been possible without it.
Thanks for all the amazing work you do. This blog is inspirational. Have a great 2020.
SimonC and I are going to do some Labour grassroots MMT campaigning, starting in my neck of the woods Christchurch/Bournemouth. Local Labour education officers are keen and Simon appears to have already found a group of MMTers in Oxford.
Already have plans to ‘inflitrate’ new Labour leadership team. Perhaps some more copies of ‘Reclaiming’ will be required.
Loach is right, but the reviewer is wrong. While I haven’t seen the entire film, too horrowing for me, I fail to see how s/he could get this idea from the film.
Your ‘The sorry tale captures life in the UK as a member of the EU.’ should be ‘The sorry tale captures life in the UK while a member of the EU.’ Your sentence can be read as saying the EU is responsible for the UK’s neoliberal outlook, when the responsibility rests entirely on the UK elite. True that the EU didn’t do much if anything to stop it, but that is partly due to Blair who opted out of the Social Chapter, which would have made the position of the workers a bit better.
In saying this, I am by no means suggesting that the EU is blameless. It certainly isn’t. However, ignoring the critic and sticking to the thesis of the film, the drive by this group of Tories is what Loach has said it is, irrespective of what they say in public. In fact, it has been claimed by those who should know that this group of incompetents hasn’t done any governing at all yet. Well, if not now, when? All they have done so far is to overload the civil service. Some have already said that they are ready to leave.
My last sentence is referring to the civil servants. They have said that they have been asked to do things that they feel that they shouldn’t have been asked to do and are being worked harder than they are able to, which is actually occurring across the board.
When I said ‘can be read’, I did not intend that you meant to say that, only that someone could interpret it in that way.
As for Macron. another neoliberal twat. I will leave him for another occasion.
Larry, regarding the ‘Macaroon’, at least the french workers are giving him the finger (or whatever the French equivalent is). Here in old Blighty people seem to love their slavery and precariat status, perhaps it’s all the Red Bull drinking required to keep going and living on an adrenalin high surfing those multiple zero hour contract jobs?
“In fact, it has been claimed by those who should know…
– in other words, by innuendo –
“…that this group of incompetents hasn’t done any governing at all yet. Well, if not now, when?…”
– wouldn’t it be wiser to wait and see? (they only took office a week or so before the Christmas recess)
“…All they have done so far is to overload the civil service. Some have already said that they are ready to leave”.
– special pleading?
Brexit has distorted everything in politics over the last nearly four years. And that’s by no means over yet.
One thing that it has distorted, beginning during the 2016 referendum-campaign, is the “traditional” role of the civil service – at least as conventionally portrayed. One need only look at the role played by the Treasury – lambasted by Bill and others – under Osborne and then his disciple Hammond in promoting “project Fear” to start entertaining serious doubts about the legendary political impartiality of the upper echelons of the British civil service. Some elements manifestly became politicised.
Perhaps if the malcontents do leave a semblance of the former impartiality might be restored?
Special pleading on the part of civil servants? Not the ones I am aware of. Don’t forget the reduction in numbers that has taken place since 2010. And the ones pointing out the funding issues can not be characterized as malcontents. Some are, no doubt, but not all.
Not innuendo; they only wanted to remain as anonymous as they could. In the current atmosphere, this may be a reasonable position to take.
They have only been in office a few weeks? Oh, puhleeze. Johnson has been in office a good deal longer than that. He argues, of course, that he didn’t have a majority, but that hasn’t stopped minority governments ‘governing’ in the past. I don’t diminish the part that personality is playing here. But this is only one factor.
It looks to me as though you are asking for Johnson the his aides to be ‘given a break’, as it were. I will wait and see but I haven’t seen anything yet, and the economic illiterates are knifing him already, claiming such things as: BJ can’t carry out his economic program in the absence of a strong economy, which he doesn’t have. Does he have the information to hand to rebut this nonsense? So far, he has given no indication that he has. So, my expectations are low.
Simon, you may be right about the Red Bull effect. I have no idea. But I agree that they do seem to be rather supine given the situation.
Bill, I’m no fan of the EU’s neoliberal drive, but it seems to me you are focusing too heavily on the EU’s influence on British policy. For sure workers’ rights are under attack in the EU, but they are likely to be pretty much dead in Tory Britain and quickly. When I grew up under Thatcher workers already had restricted rights – as an EU member – which most other EU members didn’t suffer in anything like the same way. This was British policy from a government with a sovereign currency and the choice of fiscal policy freedom. Same story now. I don’t think there is anything really comparable to e.g. ‘Universal Credit’ in the way it has been conceived and carried out.
I’m British, but in the Netherlands, and despite the general austerity here, where I have a low-paid ‘job’, I still get unquestioned and guaranteed rent and health insurance subsidies; without which I couldn’t survive. These are of course bollocks in the grand scheme of things, but I’m not sitting waiting for the leccy meter to run out and cupboards to go bare for 6 months while waiting for disputed Universal Credit. I have some spending money, I can save a little, I can take a holiday. And I’m on the bottom rung.
To my mind it matters not whether the UK is in or out of the EU in current economic terms because neo-lib austerity economies are almost universally normalised no matter where you are. The EU-free Tories aren’t going to alter that (a centrist Labour government just cushioning the blows more). True that places like NL get a better outcome within the EU, but even Spain, traditionally seen as an EU loser, is now looking to be in a better position than Britain at this moment in time. Its health service isn’t at risk of being totally asset-stripped by U.S. corporations.
If we look at the flip-side of that doom argument that ‘Brexit Britain’ is going to be a nightmare, I don’t think there’s a great deal of hope to be found. It’s not like Britain as a nation state outside the EU is ready and waiting to correct its economic thinking and show everyone how an an economy really can be run in a beneficial way. So how is the UK, with its perks of a sovereign currency and fiscal control as an EU member, ‘worse off’ in any meaningful comparison to it being ‘better’ as a non-affiliated nation state right now?