Responding to Paul Mason’s latest essay for openDemocracy, Tomas Hirst argues that globalisation should not be blamed for decades of domestic policy failure. I expected to find much more to disagree with in Paul Mason’s recent essay, “The second trench: Forging a new frontline in the war against neoliberalism”. But after reading the essay, it struck me as measured, interesting and thoughtful on the whole. However, I found it frustratingly vague in its policy conclusions – which I suspect to be a feature, not bug, of the analysis. To start with, let’s recall Mason’s five-point analysis of what has gone wrong in the aftermath of the Great Financial Crisis:
- Rising inequality boosted by the surge in asset values triggered by quantitative easing.
- Entire sectors dominated by rent-seeking monopolies.
- A global financial elite clustered around the defence of its strategic privilege – which is to keep its wealth in offshore jurisdictions and unavailable to the tax collectors of nation states, and therefore immune to redistribution.
- High under-employment and precarious work, as millions of people are employed in what David Graeber calls “bullshit jobs”; real wages failing to keep up with the rising asset wealth of the 1%; and a historically low wage share.
- A global market that has begun to fragment along regional and national lines; the stalling of trade liberalisation treaties; the Balkanisation of finance systems and the information economy; and the beginnings of an open trade war.
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