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  • chris walsh

what ever happened to optimism and progress?

One of the great things about being a baby boomer is that when we were living through the 60s and 70s everything seemed to be winnable. Things were both getting better for ordinary people, with a Keynesian approach to economics and a wide political commitment to Beveridge's Labour post war welfare state meaning that wages increased in real terms and as a percentage of national product. As working people spend what they earnt there was a positive economic v cycle which produced growth on a fairly equalitarian model.There were strong trade unions which met with government and business leaders while membership was widespread and there was a strong sense of community. Work was readily available and even the Tories were committed to both the welfare state and full employment. University and further education was free.

At the same time as young radicals became more aware and more empowered there was a feeling of change for the better, with the birth of pop music and teenagers, the start of awareness of the need to challenge racism across the board ( from Powell and some of the dockers plus the National Front) as well as the start firstly of the sexual liberation and then the women's movement challenging entrenched sexism.

Globally this was the era of the ending of Imperialism, through national liberation and revolution, and the rise of anti war movements and an internationalism which was neither pro Moscow nor Washington.

So it was a great time to be alive if you were progressive and young and the many challenges against the establishment, reactionaries and the ruling class being just that - challenges for us to overcome.

Now just over 40 years on from the triumph of neo liberalism and globalisation we seem on the road to hubris and hell, with the world's economy run by and for global elites, with 0.01% becoming multi millionaires and now billionaires having the same wealth and income as half of the world. The resulting economic crisis has made asset, housing and investment bubbles as the rich do not spend much they just speculate and accumulate. There is not just little fight back and accountability, the new reactionary economic ruling classis now trying to take over or subvert democracy leading to a world run by and for oligarchs, and showing that Berthold Brecht was right when he showed that the basis of the capitalist state is the seizure of power by the brutal and criminal.

The spectre of fascism which we thought was defeated for good is now triumphing across the globe -from the authoritarian racist nativism of the US to Brazil, through to the triumph of the kleptocracy of Putin, the religious fundamentalism covering corruption and repression in India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel and across the Middle East and a vicious and China going the way of all Leninist states into authoritarian corrupt state capitalism.

Covid has not just killed millions, left tens of millions with long Covid and left the poor reeling and impoverished while freedom to dissent, to oppose, to fight for a better world is being closed down across the globe including 'democracies. The environmental crisis which could have been avoided is now looking to be the next and maybe final nail in the coffin of a decent life for all on this planet

We used to say that it was a struggle between Socialism and Barbarism, unfortunately brutal barbarism has for the moment triumphed and who knows how bad it well get for how long before the other tendency of humans to care, to share and to fight for your rights and a better life comes back.

It is so sad to see your own and other friend's children now saying they don't want to bring their own children into this world. There must be a better way, there is and many know it and a sizeable minority are prepared to fight for it, but it looks at present that the first fight is against the rise of fascism with its modern face

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