Jeremy Hardy thinks… about the state

'Not the state we like, which is about schools and hospitals, but the other one'

September 6, 2013 · 2 min read

I will admit to having drawn a morsel of comfort from the defeat of the last government. I foolishly hoped grumpy libertarians in the Tory fold might consolidate their blossoming romance with Liberty and team up with the Lib Dems to restrain the ever-growing state. Not the state we like, which is about schools and hospitals, but the other one – the one that spies on us, beats us, curtails our right to protest and treats the criminal law as a plaything.

In fairness, Theresa May is no more authoritarian than Jack Straw or John Reid. Indeed, she didn’t have their Stalinist origins. Tankies change, but their methods don’t always. State capitalists become market capitalists, but retain their affection for secret policemen. For those enamoured with the Soviet Union, the problem was never that the British state was oppressive but that it was oppressing the wrong people. In an ideal world – one run by them – the state would have been spying on enemies of the Party; instead it spied on CND, anti-apartheid activists, radical vicars and even Labour governments.

Some old commies have moved so far to the right that they pretend those things never happened, or quip that it was just cold war public-school silliness, and that nothing like it happens now. Most of them embraced the New Labour project of restraining the state by putting it entirely at the service of capitalism, whether in subsidising low pay, marketising public services or battering anarchists. And here we are, with capital and government pooling their resources to crush anyone who pops up to resist war or climate change or poverty wages or gangster banking or the security apparatus itself. A right state we’re in, as I was bound to say.



Jeremy Hardy thinks… about Lexit

'The left case for Brexit was an interesting exercise, a bit like a Marxist review of The Very Hungry Caterpillar or one of those games where you work out whether it would be better to have no arms or no legs'

Jeremy Hardy thinks… about the language around Corbyn

'After winning an open contest with massive support, Corbyn has been accused of "seizing power"...'

Jeremy Hardy thinks… about Trident

'Nuclear weapons cannot be seen purely as a source of jobs'


Jeremy Hardy thinks… about solidarity

'Not many people would stand by and watch someone drown if they had the chance to rescue them, but that is what Europe’s governments are doing'

Jeremy Hardy thinks… about the Labour leadership

'The highlight began when it looked as though Corbyn could win, and continued thereafter'

Jeremy Hardy thinks… about Tony Blair

'No, it’s not time to rehabilitate Tony Blair.'