Neoliberalism

Thatcher's economic legacy

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When Thatcher was elected in 1979 the fortunes of British capitalism were lagging behind its competitors after decades of poor performance. Her economic policies as a package reflected the desire of the British ruling class to break the power of the workers' movement in the workplace and, through higher unemployment, to increase the profitability and competiveness of British capital.

Under the banner of so-called "supply side" economics her economic assault to restore the competitiveness of the British economy was three pronged. First, trumpeting the virtues of free markets, privatisation was the centrepiece of her policies. By value, almost half of the stock of public assets was transferred to private ownership during Thatcher's term of office - including utilities such as telecommunications, gas, electricity and water and flagship firms such as British Airways.

States and capital, the banks and the bailouts

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Right wingers usually argue that the state should get out of the way of private capital - that economic problems are caused by an overbearing state or regulation. Jack Farmer argues that the state actually serves to prop up the private sector, a role confirmed by the way that capitalism has evolved in recent years

Tories often say that they don't like the state. They say it's a drag on the economy, dampening the risk-taking creativity of the private sector.

Ireland

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Brian O'Boyle considers the growing militant anti-austerity movement in Ireland

The Irish economic crash has been almost without parallel in Western Europe. Having previously been held up as a poster boy for neoliberalism Irish capitalism went into freefall in late 2008, as hundreds of thousands lost their jobs and the banking system rapidly disintegrated. The Celtic Tiger "miracle" turned out to be a mirage and it was the particular rhythm of Irish neoliberalism that can best account for the boom, the bubble and the disastrous bust.

2012: the fire this time

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2011 will come to rank as a year of turmoil, upheaval and revolution alongside 1830, 1848, 1919-20, 1936, 1956, 1968 and 1989.

At its centre stand the Arab revolutions, with the year ending with new clashes between protesters and the ruling military council in Egypt, a strike wave in Yemen, continuing strikes and sit-ins in Tunisia, deepening protests against the Assad regime in Syria and a rash of strikes in Kuwait, suggesting that even the Gulf states may not be immune to revolt in 2012.

Degrees of marketisation

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The new Higher Education White Paper marks a step change in the neoliberal transformation of universities. Jim Wolfreys looks at the ideology behind the government's plans, what it will mean for students, staff and the nature of teaching, and how we can resist

The government's Higher Education White Paper will disrupt and potentially break up the existing system of higher education in England, deterring poorer students from university, subordinating teaching and research to the logic of privatisation and competition, and paving the way for the closure both of courses and of entire institutions.

It makes claims about putting "students at the heart of the system" and "excellent teaching back at the heart of every student's university experience" that are flatly and comprehensively contradicted by the entire content of the document.

The welfare stakes

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The Tories want to do a lot more than just slash public spending. They want to fundamentally recast the nature of the relationship between the state and society. Charlie Kimber looks at what's at stake in the government's plans for the welfare state

The slogan "Stop the cuts" is absolutely natural and correct for the demonstrators on 26 March and after, as it was for those who besieged town halls last month. The battle against the £81 billion of public spending cuts is the central issue for all of us.

Same old ideology

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Economist Graham Turner gives his assessment of the austerity plans and their wider significance.

George Osborne's spending review does not pull any punches. Page 13 of the document outlines the "scale of the fiscal challenge". He argues that "the spending plans in the 2007 comprehensive spending review were based on unsustainable assumptions about the public finances". It goes on to say that government attempts to tackle the "structural deficit did not begin to take effect until 2010, by which time the impact of the financial crisis had made an unaffordable situation unsustainable".

An assault on us all

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Joseph Choonara opens our coverage of the spending review, arguing that George Osborne's plans expose the lie that "we're all in it together".


Photo: Guy Smallman

The Osborne Axe has fallen. The chancellor's spending review heralds the deepest assault on the public sector since the Second World War. George Osborne's key lines of attack give the lie to his claim that "we are all in it together".

Tories declare war

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The Con-Dem coalition has launched an all-out assault on the public sector and the welfare state in the name of reducing the budget deficit. What will be the impact of these austerity measures? Judith Orr looks at the risk of a double dip recession - and the possibilities of resistance.

It started with the banks going bust and ended up with closing playgrounds. Or as Tory education secretary Michael Gove put it, "Play has to make its contribution to tackling the deficit." Today the economic crisis is being played out in the lives and meagre budgets of millions of ordinary people in Britain as the sheer scale of attacks planned by the government starts to become concrete.

Economic growth - the meaning of numbers

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Economic "reforms" for increased growth are often justified by the ruling class as being good for everyone. But what is the truth behind the statistics?

Adair Turner, head of the Financial Services Authority, hit the headlines when he called for control on financial transactions through a tax. Not so widely noticed was his comment that much of what finance does is "socially useless".

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