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Renegade Retrospective

It’s that time again where we look back at 2019 and ask what happened? Now some of the dust has settled and silly season is over, Renegade Inc. host Ross Ashcroft served up some of the highlights of interviews from 2019.

The Renegade team selected them so to cut through the noise and bias and give you a more balanced insight into what’s really going on.

Weaponizing anti-Semitism

We’ll begin the review at the years end. It was no coincidence that in December the results of one of the most important elections in a generation arrived on Friday the 13th. The Tory party managed to do something amazing. They encouraged working people to vote against their own best interests. But Jeremy Corbyn did something totally unique by uniting the entire British establishment and their courtiers against him on the basis of fabricated anti-Semitism claims.

Political scientist, Norman Finklestein, asserts that it was leading Jews who spearheaded the anti-Corbyn campaign:

“They played the most visible and aggressive role and are the enablers of this concerted conspiracy by the whole of British elite society to destroy Jeremy Corbyn”, says the academic.

Recent analysis underscores the notion that the establishment have indeed weaponized anti-Semitism for this purpose.

Democracy in retreat

It’s this kind of establishment conspiracy that is contributing to an undermining of democracy. We are, in the view of renegade economist, Steve Keen, living in post-democratic world that no longer makes sense. One of the highest profile victims of this retrenchment of democracy in 2019 was the mainstream media itself. Analyst Des Freedman notes that the UK media are squandering the public’s trust and are increasingly becoming unrepresentative of wider society. All but one of the leading Guardian journalists, for example, were educated at elite Oxbridge universities. 

So the media is subject to group think, centrally organized and broadly unaccountable. It is no surprise, therefore, that the buzz word ‘recovery’ became commonplace in 2019 in relation to the UK economy. “This is a kind of torture”, says economist, Richard Wolff, “because you’re telling the people there’s a recovery, but they’re not experiencing it.”

The growth of financialization and inequality

Managing democracy when the economic fundamentals are crumbling is always going to be difficult. But it becomes nearly impossible in the UK, when our economic system is configured to serve finance instead of society.

Author and journalist, Nicholas Shaxson, argues that the impact on society from such a system has been devastating. Over the course of the last few decades there has been an increasing focus away from the kind of old view of companies as servants of society, towards a system of ‘financialization’ geared towards the extraction of profits and taxes that benefit a relatively small number of people at the top of the socioeconomic pyramid.

It’s the financial engineering trick of neoliberalism that drives up inequality within a political system that will eventually have to use violence in order to enforce it. As economist, Frances Coppola points out, politicians across the West have been complicit in this corrupt neoliberal trick. Instead of addressing inequality in order to rein-in the potential for violence, there is no indication the establishment intends to tackle its causes. On the contrary, it seems to want to double down.

Social geographer, Danny Dorling, points out that the traditional way the establishment disguise the problem is through a process of scapegoating the ‘other’ which is inequalities apogee. In addition, the visible lack of infrastructural investment adds to the anger which has helped fuel a reactionary and nativst Brexit.

“We’re heading for an incredibly ugly period”, says Dorling.

Eugenics

Apologists for neoliberalism believe that inequality that give rise to these problems, is inevitable on the basis that only through a market efficient system can top talent be rewarded and that it helps potential wealth creators create more wealth. The claim is that this will eventually trickle down to the masses.

The logical line of that argument leads to eugenics, an ideology that neoliberal ideologues like Toby Young and Boris Johnson have been eager to promulgate. It was the latter who hailed that genes and IQ tests are the best way to measure economic ability. The UK Prime Minister believes that inequality is essential to foster the spirit of envy and hailed greed as a valuable trait that drives economic activity. This in turn, ensures that only an elite few rise to the top.

According to the logic that underlies this theory, the age of Enlightenment in the 18th century was a conspiracy theory in the same way that the government argue that the privatization of the NHS is a conspiracy theory. Neither claim has any legs. In terms of the latter, any bilateral free trade deal with the US in a post Brexit scenario:

“necessitates the privatization of the NHS. That’s how free trade deals work”, said researcher, Tim Coles.

Drinking the neoliberal Kool-Aid

We now have leaders who know the cost of everything but the value of nothing. This is because they’ve drunk the neo liberal Kool-Aid at university and now visit that economic ideology on the masses. These leaders believe there is no alternative to the neoliberal paradigm despite the fact that it doesn’t work for the 99 percent.

New superpowers in the form of China and Russia have emerged to challenge the kind of US unipolar hegemony that gives rise to neoliberalism. Journalist, Ben Norton, argues that proxy wars are being fought to this end.

Creating pretexts for wars

The justification for many of these wars are often premised on lies. But as academic Piers Robinson intimates, political leaders once again seem unfazed as to needing proof or using fabricated evidence to launch military action on sovereign nations, even if, in the case of Syria, they have to lean on a corrupted international independent organization like the OPCW to achieve their goals.

This brings us neatly back to the trust crisis that the corporate ‘mainstream’ media now faces. With a few brave exceptions, they have studiously ignored a whistle blower who raised serious doubts about an alleged poison gas attack in Syria, which led to the UK, US and France bombing Douma.

But if 2019 was a defining year, it was for how the said media have treated renegades like Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. The truth, as we enter a new decade, is that the establishment media in the UK, is deeply embedded within a corrupted political and economic system whose ultimate function is to serve and reinforce power not to bring it to account.

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