PRIVATIZATION OF THE STATE
With revolutionary rhetoric, the British government forms a more just society by minimizing the state
By Florian Roetzer
[This article published in the German-English cyber journal Telepolis 7/12/2011 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.heise.de/tp/druck/mb/artikel/35/35102/1.html.]
It sounds beautiful when the British government coalition strives to become an open government [British government emphasizes open government (1)]. According to the credo only the small state is a good state, it tries to privatize all services offered and guaranteed by the government. With the small state, the liberal ideology promises a greater freedom for the citizen who is released in personal responsibility and handed over to businesses that want to make a profit and react quickly to consumer desires [British government promises “power revolution” through the concept of the “Big Society” (2)]. After the escapades of indebtedness and bank bailouts, the pressure to save spending on the broad population lurks in the background of the beautiful sounding slogan of the strong society replacing the strong state (big society instead of the big government). This is necessary if the rich and speculators are not called to account more strongly [Solving crisis through privatization? (3)].
Privatization is often the magic formula among liberals and conservatives for how everything can be turned to the good. The market sorts everything out that the strong state messes us. The strong state heaps up debts and chains the free unfolding of creative forces, even though the debt situation was first caused by the all-too-free financial market and risky gambling for profits. In Great Britain, free rein was first given to the financial markets under the Labor government. Only too gladly the red-green government in Germany follows this imaginary “third way.” An honest liberal or conservative would certainly not defend this.
In a White Paper (4), the head of the British government Cameron of the conservatives declared he would trim the state through decentralization and openness. Citizens will be able to choose better among the greater options. Cameron’s rhetorical flourishes are really discredited by nearness to the Murdoch Empire and the bugging scandal. Privatization is a revolution of “people power” instead of bureaucratic control. Cameron praised what is really only liberal unimaginativeness that the uncontrolled market automatically brings salvation, as “more freedom, more options and more local control.” (5) Centralized public services are still the “backbone of the country” but will obey a philosophy of “take what you are given” and a top-down logic. However the gulf between the rich and poor regarding quality of life cannot be closed. Cameron argues that the state bureaucratism damages people and the land. But instead of breaking this open, everything should become better through privatization since people would have the choice of deciding for the better possibilities (naturally there is no mention of the cost).
There are only better possibilities if many options exist, that is if free competition prevails. It is all the same whether something is offered by the state, a business or a nonprofit organization. The main thing is that the offer is good. It sounds good, Cameron promises everything will be better. Therefore privatization should now have priority while the state monopoly must be justified. Finally, the poor would lose if the state has things under control. Why businesses should be immune from corruption and produce equal opportunities remains the secret of the storyteller Cameron who imagines himself on the progressive side while only relying on an old ideology that ultimately has a religious character. Eliminating conscious interventions in market events becomes a salvation promise because society cannot act rationally.
“In the old way of doing things, you’d go along to doctor who might send you to a hospital to have a scan and operation. Now y8ou can look online and check the hospital out. If you’re not happy with the performance there, you can choose a different hospital… an NHS one or one run independently – anywhere that’s registered as safe and charges the NHS going rate.”
The world would be beautiful and just if only the freedom of the market prevailed. The poor would not be disadvantaged any more. “It won’t just be the rich who get the best services. Access to excellent hospitals and schools should not be the privilege of a few but the entitlement of everyone.” Does he really believe that or is that only the insidious utopia of neoliberalism with which the prosperity of the rich is legitimated as the chance of the poor to share in that? Still the military, police and administration of justice should not be privatized. Safeguarding the rump-state and protecting property are the only necessities. The seeming liberality of leaving everything to gambling ends here. Rules and oversight are obviously necessary to produce a desirable order.