Rethinking Europe

A Misguided Love Affair With the United States

Gordon Brown, presumably a dour Scot, spent all his vacations in the United States and was in love with Clintonism.

Credit: Nicolas Raymond - www.flickr.com

Takeaways


  • Brown made speech after speech extolling the worth of finance capitalism and full-throttle globalization.
  • That there are other countries in Europe that managed to withstand financialization was overlooked in the UK.
  • For all the self-righteousness of the Democratic Party, the financialization of US economy took place when it was in power.

No question, the new Labour purists’ deep-seated frustration is closely related to Tony Blair. Blair lasted much longer than any other Labour prime minister – 10 years with three election victories. He even managed to hand three more years of power to another right-wing Labourite, Gordon Brown.

Gordon Brown at least had seemed to be a much “purer” Labour politician than Blair. The presumption was that the man from Scotland was not as smitten by big egos and famous people as Blair was.

The operational word here is “presumption.”

Starstruck

Gordon Brown, presumably a dour Scot, spent all his vacations in the United States and was in love with Clintonism. He followed the advice of Democratic economic gurus like Joseph Stiglitz who first presided over the rise of inequality in the United States — and then wrote successful books regretting its rise.

Stiglitz is not unlike about Larry Summers, who quite perversely finds courage and insight into what ought to be done for the people at large — and not the hyper-capitalists — only when not(!) in government.

It is important to note that, for all the self-righteousness and presumed principledness of the Democratic Party, the full financialization of the U.S. economy based on de-industrialization, globalization and the de-unionization of the working class to the largest extent took place when it held the reins of government.

Brown made speech after speech extolling the worth of finance capitalism and full-throttle globalization. Like the two Clintons, steady (and richly rewarded) extollers of the virtues of Wall Street, Brown felt that he had little choice.

Two Britains

The changes in the overall economy required a governing left to adapt or die, or so it was believed in both London and Washington.

That there are other countries in Europe that managed to withstand financialization much better is preferably overlooked in the UK and US.

In the process, Britain became two nations. Universities could only survive by opening their doors to countless thousands of students, especially from Asia.

Russian oligarchs swaggered through London buying football clubs and newspapers. Small businesses could only thrive if all their metal and plastic products were made in China and many of their low-pay employees were imported from East Europe.

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About Denis MacShane

Denis MacShane is a Contributing Editor at The Globalist. He was the UK's Minister for Europe from 2002 to 2005 — and is the author of “Brexiternity. The Uncertain Fate of Britain” published by IB Tauris-Bloomsbury, London, October 2019. Follow him @DenisMacShane

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