Articles

Locating capital(ist) interests within the domestic sphere

In Uncategorized on October 9, 2010 by chr1sr0berts

George Osborne’s list of observers that support the govt cuts reads like a list of neo-liberal interests (which of course it most certainly is). But the interesting…or perhaps disgusting thing about it, is the media coverage it was afforded, *and* the tone of said coverage. So, IMF; The Institute of Directors; Bank of England; CBI; Chamber of Commerce; The Credit Rating Agencies (Yes, the very same people that saw the derivatives markets and currency speculation (that subsequently crashed the world economy) as a “good thing”) et al are, because of the long established discursive “logic” and media narrative, presented as mere rational agents of impartial, neutral observation. Note: “economic health-check”; “IMF gives Osborne the ‘thumbs up’” (both from Stephanie Flanders; BBC News economics reporter); and “demonstrating good housekeeping” (Peston, R; BBC News “business” correspondent). These linguistic tropes are important, and they’re in the service of dominant ideology. Locating them in the logic of the domestic – “good housekeeping”; the medical – “economic health-check” and the informal – “thumbs up” frames them as non partisan, rational and at worst, neutrally interested in “our” wellbeing…as opposed to what they actually are which is a collection of neo-liberal interest groups whose only wish is that the system of socialisation of risk and privatisation of profits is maintained and further strengthened.

Compare this reaction to the hysteria that surrounded “Red Ed’s” (a bad joke, made even more sour given his choice for Shadow Chancellor – Alan Johnson) election as leader of the Labour Party. Most media outlets “raised the spectre” of the unions being “special interest groups” and “threatening to derail the recovery/hold the country to ransom” and “Red Ed being beholden to the unions that put him in power”. This should be astonishing but of course it’s not. There has been, and continues to be a media narrative that reinforces the idea that neo-liberal (never called that, most often referred to in glowing terms such as “brightest business brains” “engine of economy”) social organisation is “the only show in town” – the infamous TINA (There is no Alternative). This logic is internalised by journalists and thus becomes “common sense” in the Gramscian sense. In fact, it’s a great example of hegemony in action.

So we’re left with the frankly ridiculous situation whereby the very people that crashed the world economy and are now beginning to, once again, engorge themselves on increased profits, can, without irony be referred to as neutral observers looking out for and after the economic health and wellbeing of the nation. Simultaneously, those most threatened with absolute catastrophic job losses are referred to as “special interest groups, holding the nation to ransom”. This is a clear example of discourse manufacturing consent.

To add some personal context, all this is being played out whilst I am, for the first time, genuinely terrified about my own sector and my own job. I’ve spent over ten years developing my research, and my research profile and now, on an ideological whim, the goal posts are being moved and my work – along with hundreds, maybe thousands of my colleagues – is not considered worthy of public funding. The Brave (Dave) new world of privatised university education means that if one cannot demonstrate an immediate economic return then your work is of no value.

An historical footnote: Public spending as a percentage of GDP is not even historically high

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