Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Middle class Marxists

This is rather off-topic, and not (as you might assume) about the SWP. I spotted this piece in The Grauniad a few weeks back about some scenario-planning done by the Ministry of Defence Development, Concepts & Doctrine Centre, so I thought I would track down the report. You can download it here.

The bit that interested me is the idea that there might be a resurgence is support for Marxism, or other revolutionary ideas like anarchism. On the one hand this is because some groups, who do poorly out of globalisation, might see it as a way of 'fighting back'. But more interesting (to a man with a mortgage) is that idea that the middle class might embrace Marxism in a big way, and even try and organise as a class. The report suggests that mineral water-drinking types like myself may feel squeezed between a violent underclass and a super-rich elite we can never join.

I have to be honest and say I do have some serious pangs of antipathy towards people higher up the scale these days, despite being a fairly moderate lefty. If you spend any time looking seriously at executive pay it does that to you. You just get the feeling that these people will pay themselves ever-increasing amounts of money whilst simultaneously cutting back decent pension schemes for their employees and off-shoring jobs.

Perhaps it is not surprising in this context that private equity it taking so much flak as it seems to epitomise the acceleration of these trends - higher pay for execs, tighter control of labour 'costs', less public accountability.

So maybe there is something in what the report says. Worth a read anyway.

Finally, another bleak note in the report (which is not the most postive document) is the potential for inter-generational conflict:

Declining youth populations in Western societies could become increasingly dissatisfied with their economically burdensome ‘baby-boomer’ elders, among whom much of societies’ wealth would be concentrated. Resentful at a generation whose values appear to be out of step with tightening resource constraints, the young might seek a return to an order provided by more conservative values and structures. This could lead to a civic renaissance, with strict penalties for those failing to fulfil their social obligations. It might also open the way to policies which permit euthanasia as a means to reduce the burden of care for the elderly.

Again I can see this starting to happen. I know a few people with techy knowledge of pensions who react quite badly when they hear people with decent occupational pensions who retired early complaining about their lot. In the future we are going to have to work longer and pay more to get less. I can see it becoming a friction point.


John said...

Heh - sounds like someone at the MOD got JG Ballard's Millennium People for Xmas!

Tom P said...

Haha - looks good! Might have to buy it!