1973 Liberalis Annualis Yippieeus

The best year ever for looney leftists was 1973 according to Niel Price:

In 1973, Britain had a Conservative government far to the left of New Labour, one which had nationalised Rolls-Royce, and whose leader, Edward Heath – unlike Tony Blair – talked openly of “the unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism”.

At the Labour Party conference that year, Tony Benn told delegates: “If we don’t own and control them (monopoly capital), they will own and control us”, as the party endorsed its most left-wing programme for 40 years, one which promised to bring about a “fundamental and irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth in favour of working people and their families”.

Strong trade unions in Britain and across Europe, together with the existence of an alternative economic and social model provided by the Soviet Union and the other countries in the communist bloc, meant that western governments were forced to raise their game. The consensus in 1973 was a leftist one: public ownership, planning and progressive taxation were in; privatisation, deregulation and other “free market” solutions were considered (rightly) as the policies of Powellite extremists.

Due to progressive taxation and other egalitarian policies, income inequalities were at their lowest ever levels in history. Social mobility was also at its peak: in 1973 (unlike today) both Britain’s main political parties were led by men educated in the state sector.

At the same time, governments in the east, particularly in Hungary and Yugoslavia, were showing that communism didn’t have to mean harsh Stalinism. The hope of many on the left that the Cold War would end with the convergence of the western and eastern systems, looked as though it might be realised.

In the US, the New Deal, Keynesian consensus still held sway. American losses in Vietnam had led to a new Age of Detente: it was in 1973 that Leonid Brezhnev became the first Soviet leader to visit the White House.

In many ways 1973 can be seen as the zenith of progressive politics in the 20th century.

Well, here’s a little different perspective thanks to Nosemonkey:

 1973/74

  • Inflation 8.4%
  • Repeated strikes (civil servants, dockers, gas workers, engineers, firemen, miners) in the face of pay freezes
  • OPEC crisis leads to the three day week
  • Terrorist bombs at the Old Bailey, Whitehall, Houses of Parliament
  • Taxes rising constantly (9% increase in National Insurance contributions in October alone)
  • State of Emergency declared after coal and electricity workers refuse to do overtime
  • Fuel and speed restrictions imposed on the roads, lighting and heating restrictions in commercial premises
  • An additional 1.5 million register as unemployed during the course of the year
  • 2007

    • Inflation 2.8%
    • Unemployment 5.4%
    • 25 years of solid economic growth (the longest sustained period of economic growth for 150 years), currently at 2-3%
    • 5th or 6th largest GDP in the world

    That Nationalization of Rolls Royce?  As with all nationalizations, it was a disaster both financially and for employment.  The company is now owned by Volkswagen.  Yugoslavia?  Doesn’t even exist any more.  Neither does the Soviet Union.  Nor does any country except Cuba and North Korea (economic and political powerhouses) believe in nationalization, death by taxing your productive citizens out of existence, nor is the “communist experience” one that free people want to take on of their own will.

    Its hard to think just how bad the world had gotten in 1973, but not surprising that the leftists think that was their shining hour.

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