When Thatcher and Reagan decided to smash the Unions, deindustrialize Britain, and change the West into a financial center, it was because they knew that the exporting nations, meaning Asia and the Middle East, were now on the leash of the US Dollar, driven by greed, desperate to save face, unwilling to lose their gains of the day in US paper.
It is surprising how few people know the history. Up until around about 1970, dollars were convertible to gold, at rates agreed after WW2 at a meeting called “Bretton Woods”. Plus minus 1970 the US had spent all of its gold on wars, like Vietnam. Internally, their military and industry had acquired such a stranglehold over government spending, that by 1970 the US had gone from having 50% of global GDP to defaulting on its gold promises.
This was the critical moment that defines today’s world.
In 2014 the year 1970 might seem a while ago, especially to younger people today, but it’s not. The exact date was the date of The Nixon Shock, when the US just said, “OK from this day forward, everything you ever worked for, everything you sold us, everything your people toiled for…all your investments, all your profits with us, mean nothing in gold anymore….you can accept our paper or not”. For the first time, we got things like floating exchange rates. Until that time, exchange rates were linked to gold, and after Bretton Woods, the exchange rates were fixed to the dollar, which was backed by gold, making the dollar a proxy for gold.
The world might have been thrown into chaos…but the layman was blissfully ignorant of what had actually happened. Behind the scenes, the Anglo-American world recognized their opportunity. The corporations that had so successfully hijacked the industries to their purposes, and bled US financial resources dry, were now happily recognizing that both Asia and the Middle East had no choice but to reinvest those paper dollars back into the USA. After exporting a nation’s worth of crude oil, or exporting a nation’s worth of produce, what you have is a Middle East with massive current account surpluses of meaningless paper dollars. And you have an Asia whose communist leaders cannot afford the unemployment that would arise if those paper dollars devalued. What you have is today’s world. You have an America making sure that the Middle East still wants to sell oil in dollars, and a manufacturing Asia that still insists on payment in dollars.
What’s backing those dollars? Nothing. Except the promise, or expectation, that the world order of today will continue, that the US will make sure that as long as the likes of China and Saudi Arabia keep reinvesting those dollars, then the US will keep printing more. It’s a vicious circle. Ever wondered why talking heads on mainstream corporate media keep reiterating the mantra of ‘growth’? If you have ever wondered why ‘growth’ should be important at all, that is your answer.
In the 1980s Reagan and Thatcher embraced that vision. They did not try to reverse the problem of corporate dominance, they embraced financialisation, they embraced the power that the limitless printing press offered, unfettered from gold, the promise of endless rivers of paper, and the unending Asian and Arab appetite for this green matter, Thatcher and Reagan thought that they had a window of opportunity to become the nerve center of this new globalized world doctrine.
Instead all that happened is that in the name of Globalisation and the Dollar, everyone lost the opportunity to shape industrial manufacturing, lost their jobs in those industries, handed power to the Banks, and started illegal wars in the Middle East to prop up the status quo.
They did nothing but push the inevitable disaster out 20 or 30 years.
They instigated their own revolution, fundamentally removing our core values, taking away everything from honesty and communal pride and supplanting it with neoliberal economic notions of free-market greed, individualism and corruption.
It was an arrogant and destructive revolution. They took away domestic control and handed it to Western corporate elites, to banks and huge firms, who have not acted responsibly. The financial crisis came, the disaster came, the taxpayer had to bail everything out, and still has to bail everything out, and there is no end, recovery or progress in sight. The government does its utmost to mothball the status quo with endless taxpayer funded bailouts, and still defends bank and CEO megabonuses?
The Scottish Independence vote is much more than a choice about devolved power. It is a timely, powerful opportunity for a people who share a culture and history to reject the alienation imposed on them by these ambassadors of Corporate dominance, and base their society on values that they choose, of integrity, of bravery, of strength, values that they, their descendants and the world will be proud of.
These values are not without meaning. Scientific discovery and innovation? Challenge, reject and attack the status quo. Healthcare and energy advances? State projects that empower the people. Even Henry Ford at the start of it all made sure that the cars he made could be paid for by his workers. He created his own market, both for himself and to lift them from them poverty. It was the Union that gave birth to the Middle Class. I hope that Scotland makes its own market too.