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Two Charts Which Explain J.K. Rowling’s Love of Blairism and Hatred of Corbyn

2016 September 2
J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling

So, the author of the Harry Potter books has come out hard against Jeremy Corbyn, and for Blairism. She has defended the Blairite legacy, and she has some good points: There were more nurses and teaching assistants, for example.

One could note that Blairism, as with all neo-liberalism before the crash of 07/8, was unsustainable. It was based on bubbles. Though it is true that Blairites did distribute more money than Conservatives have past the bubble: Insane austerity was not yet the guiding principle of the day.

Unsustainable means “helped cause the crash.” It’s true that Blairites would be less cruel than Conservatives, and it is also true that almost every MP who opposed Corbyn also abstained from voting against Welfare cuts, for example.

I don’t want to get too down on Rowling. As very rich people go, she’s a pretty good one. She doesn’t dodge taxes, she supports social welfare spending, and so on. “High” UK taxes are why she’s no longer quite a billionaire. (Quite; you needn’t worry she’ll be on the rolls again.)

But I think to understand Rowling’s love of Blairism one should understanding three things. First, she got welfare and doesn’t seem, again, to have noticed that the Blairites she loves are now anti-welfare.

Here are the other two things which might be important to understand Rowling’s love of neoLiberalism:

1)

Top Tax Rates

Top Tax Rates

Whatever else is true of Corbyn, if he becomes Prime Minister, he will raise taxes on the rich.

2)

UK one percent share of income to 2005

UK one percent share of income to 2005

Blairism is kinder-gentler Thatcherism. It is neoliberalism, and rich people have done very well under neoliberalism. Though this chart doesn’t show it, the top .1 percent do even better, the top .01 percent even better, and so on.

I don’t doubt Rowling’s good will, or her concern for those who have less money than she does. She’s put up by paying taxes she could have dodged. But that doesn’t alter the fact that neoliberalism has been very good to her, and she’d have been a ton less rich if the policies Corbyn favors, as epitomized by tax rates after WWII, plus far less generous copyright protection, had been in force.

Blairite neoliberalism, like Clintonianism, is the policy regime that lets rich and upper class people feel good about themselves. They get most of the benefits of neoliberalism without having to watch a boot stomping a face over and over again, as under Cameron.

That doesn’t alter the fact that neoliberalism is a cruel, unsustainable policy regime based on exporting British manufacturing, favoring “the City” and the financial industry over all others, and on pushing income and ownership of assets towards a small number of people. Nor did that change under Blairite Labour.

Rowling, of course, also thinks that Corbyn can’t win. Maybe he can, maybe he can’t. It’s certainly true that Labour infighting has seen the polls move heavily against Labour. It’s not clear, however, that this is Corbyn’s fault, or that it will be true come election time, or that a Blairite leader could win election either. Labour has been losing, and its collapse in Scotland did not happen while Corbyn was leader, nor probably would have, as it was driven in part by anger at austerity policies which Labour refused to oppose.

All this, however, is neither there nor that. The bottom line is that being a Blairite, Clintonian, or other third-way type, allows the rich and well-off to have their wealth and their tax cuts, and feel good about themselves.  Rowling may be 100 percent motivated by the milk of human kindness, but she is still supporting a regime that has done very, very well for her against the possibility of a change which would damage her financial position significantly.


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33 Responses
  1. Eattherich permalink
    September 2, 2016

    Rowling is the past. Just like Clinton. The boomers are done. People are waking up. Finally.

  2. Barry Fay permalink
    September 3, 2016

    JK Rowling – isn´t she the one who wrote that boring children´s book for the infantiles?

  3. September 3, 2016

    I am always with you regarding reducing the income gap, and also in the UK (and US?) the regional gap. I just don’t think Corbyn understands enough to bring it about successfully.

    On a related but slightly different topic you may like my new post “Do I believe in Free Trade” at jepoynton.com.

  4. V. Arnold permalink
    September 3, 2016

    I’ll tell you what did it for me; I just couldn’t get past the unreality of her books; I could never accept Rowling’s terminologies in her Harry Potter’s world.
    But what did it for me, was the adoption of her world by people of my own age (50+); talking as though Potter’s world was real and the characters as real.
    I love The Hobbit, Star Wars, and many others which escape me at the moment; but Rowling just never resonated with me.
    It’s interesting you use her for this subject…

  5. Guest permalink
    September 3, 2016

    I don’t know that her vast fortune is such a big feature in her attitudes. I know lots of middle class self described liberals who listen to NPR and PBS news who are completely brain washed by the neoliberal agenda. They all accept unquestioningly that the 70s completely discredited Keynesian economic, not that they even understand what KE actually is. Somehow if we try to regulate business or fight the forces of the so called free markets, we will be doomed to stagflation and English style housing estates, or cabriti green projects. You try to explain anything to them and they write it off because it just doesn’t jive with anything the hear on NPR or the news hour and so it must be crazy talk from someone infected with blog thinking. Not within the bounds of recognized serious opinion.

  6. Eattherich permalink
    September 3, 2016

    I think Ian made a point a while back that when the oldsters finally die off ( 70+ crowd), we will see change. I’m 50. I hope to god that I will see it. The Queen of Chaos’ ascendancy is really the last gasp for the hard right neoliberal boomers and the moribund Democrat Party. Young people nowadays are basically socialists . The boomers can’t do a damn thing about thwarting socialism when they are ten feet under.

  7. DMC permalink
    September 3, 2016

    If I were “not quite a billionaire” I’d likely find Blarite/Clintonian Neo-liberalism quite appealing as well.

  8. Bill Hicks permalink
    September 3, 2016

    So you’re saying that a “writer” who has gotten rich producing endless reams of mindless escapism for the dumbed down massed supports politicians who have made their careers screwing over those very same dumbed down masses? Color me shocked.

  9. Guest permalink
    September 3, 2016

    I thought they were children’s books. My neices were tearing thru them by first grade and as I recall they were hundreds of pages long each. At that age my cohorts and I were reading dick and Jane and hop on pop. I’ll have to give her credit for that much. I have yet to meet an adult into the books or movies. I saw the first movie cuz I had nothing better to do. Not bad for a kiddie movie, I guess. I might have liked it a lot if I was a kid. Besides, isn’t the money in books all about the movie rights? Except the text book scam, of course.

  10. johnm33 permalink
    September 3, 2016

    I thought she was writing about the public [us=private] school system and how the vilest stupidest most visionless idiots could prosper with a general populace who were wondering about oblivious to the ridiculous advantages of the ‘connected’.

  11. Hugh permalink
    September 3, 2016

    Just because someone is very good at X doesn’t mean they know or understand anything about Y. People like Soros and Buffett are very successful investors but they don’t understand (or want to understand) anything about the economy. Yet they are often cited like they do because hey, they made billions. Same with another predatory capitalist, Bill Gates. He made tens of billions and then created a large tax-dodge/family foundation. That doesn’t make him a humanitarian.

    What people remember about a period is how they felt during it, even if they were being crassly manipulated. A lot of people in the US would forgive Bill Clinton almost anything. Why? because 23 million jobs were created during his two terms and a stock bubble was going on that made many feel good times had come or were just around the corner. Way back when I was one of those people. I used to think that Clinton was last adult President. Then I came to the web and started educating myself. Later still I got into economics. And I found that despite all those jobs, wealth and income inequality grew faster under Clinton than under Reagan. Clinton had worked out a deal with Alan Greenspan for an easy money policy at the Fed in exchange for a tight budgetary policy in government. This largely financed the dot.com bubble while sticking it too poorer and middle class Americans. Clinton and Larry Summers also were responsible for signing off on the deregulation of derivatives and the end of Glass-Steagall (which had kept insurance companies and regular banks from gambling with their depositors’ money). Together they laid the foundation for the meltdown in 2008.

    But if all your memories of Clinton are jobs and a bullish stock market, you might still be nostalgic for the Slick Willy era.

    What I have found interesting about the current US Presidential cycle is the number of Hollywood celebrities backing Hillary. In one sense, it shows how out of touch they are with ordinary Americans. In another, it shows, much like JK Rowlings, how they are very much voting their class interest.

    Offtopic: If you look at the BLS jobs report for August, in seasonally unadjusted terms, it was flat, –as I said last month. Only 33,000 jobs created in the private sector. This compares to 15,000 last year, and 175,000 in 2014. The big story remains that 2016 is shaping up jobwise as significantly worse than 2014 and as bad or worse than 2015. Currently, something like 460,000 fewer jobs created Jan-Aug in the private sector as compared with 2014 and 275,000 fewer than in 2015. Even with year end “revisions” and monkeying around with the numbers, the BLS will have a difficult time retroactively “improving” them sufficiently to do anything other than make 2016 look a little worse than 2015, and as for 2014, I expect the hope is that no one will think to look back so far.

  12. johnm33 permalink
    September 3, 2016

    Sorry that was off topic, I guess your perspective changes as you move from being a pennyless writer sitting for hours over a coffee in a warm cafe, to sitting in a centrally heated castle without a mortgage. As far as I can see each of us is delusional in our own particular way, mainly as a consequence of the tumult of the mis/diss/ information stream designed to reinforce our prejudicies, JK can be no exception.

  13. Ghostwheel permalink
    September 3, 2016

    I recently read a Harry Potter novel for the first time, the sixth one, Half-Blood Prince. It was a delightful, entertaining read. Afterwards, I had no doubts that Rowlings is a master of her craft. The lady knows how to tell a tale.

    Of course I’m disappointed to find her on the opposite side of first Brexit and now Corbyn. Nevertheless, I’m still hoping to read the other six books one day. I can’t be only one here who gets tired of all reality, all the time! 🙂

  14. Hugh permalink
    September 4, 2016

    Ghostwheel, I’ve read all the Harry Potter books in English, several of them in French, and the first two, for the hell of it, in Latin. I’m a fan of historical mysteries and vintage science fiction from the 19th and early to mid-20th century in English and French. I have no problem going back and forth between fiction and nonfiction. Of course, nowadays when I’m reading the BLS jobs data tables, a Supreme Court opinion, an Obama pronouncement, the New York Times, the Financial Times, a Trump or Clinton speech, or anything from our punditocracy I get the feeling that all I’m doing is reading a different kind of fiction.

  15. September 4, 2016

    I find this analysis and the suggestion that underlies it a little too reductive for my taste. Even though Corbyn massively leads in polling of voting Labour members, Smith still gets a non-trivial portion of the vote.

    I’ve looked at Rowling’s Twitter feed off and on, she’s clearly one of those people who thinks that the Brexit vote was a victory, literally, for the Death-Eaters. (If you’ve read her books, the analogy between the Death-Eaters and the UKIPpy portion of British politics is hard to miss.)

    There are a lot of these people on the anti-Corbyn side, and not all of them are rich people, far from it. No, it’s no use saying that Corbyn regularly campaigned against for Remain — they were looking for a particular kind of campaign, a full-throated, whole-hearted, passionate defence of UK EU membership and tight coordination with the rest of Remain forces, including David Cameron — to prevent what they see as the slow-motion, present-day equivalent of the shooting of Archduke Ferdinand or something. (You may see this as overblown, but that’s how they see it.)

    I’ve no doubt that what portion of the vote Smith gets, he cements by offering the faint hope that the referendum may be overridden, re-done, or otherwise reversed, before Brexit goes too far.

    It’s sure possible that Rowling is subconsciously motivated by her own wealth position — she’s human, after all. But I think an excessively reductive focus on economic self-interest risks leading pro-Corbyn supporters into think that the other side has no other motivations or arguments.

  16. Mel permalink
    September 4, 2016

    There’s room for a class argument here, I think. She wasn’t born in poverty. We might see her as a British middle-class person who fell on hard times, whose fall was broken by the safety net, and who got herself back out of trouble. We don’t need to think she was a blank slate before becoming poor or becoming rich. Lots of children of college-educated parents think Tony Blair is a leader for our time.

  17. Ghostwheel permalink
    September 4, 2016

    @Hugh:

    You can’t read Harry Potter in Latin. The spells would go off.

  18. Eaththerich permalink
    September 4, 2016

    Rowling benefited from the welfare state–and now, apparently, she’s pulled up the ladder on her working class brethren. Not cool, yet unsurprising. In the US, the managerial/technocratic liberals (bourgeois feminists, identity politics crusaders, et. al.) you talk to in daily life are of a different ilk, but of the same overall genus. If that makes sense. They embrace Social Darwinism. They are liberals, not leftists. They love capitalism. That’s why I like Corbyn. He’s not faux left. He wants to make an appreciable change in the lives of the working class. This, apparently, Rowling opposes, as do the managerial liberals here in the US. This is because of social class. In Rowling’s case, she’s a traitor to her class–which is sad, but not unsurprising. That’s human psychology.

  19. markfromireland permalink
    September 4, 2016

    @ Eaththerich September 4, 2016

    In Rowling’s case, she’s a traitor to her class

    What class would that be? Be specific.

  20. Hugh permalink
    September 4, 2016

    markfromireland, Defence Against the Dark Arts.

  21. Eattherich permalink
    September 4, 2016

    Mark,

    If you work for a paycheck, and sell your labor to the exploiting class, you are, thus, working class, regardless of whether you are a blue or white collar wage slave. I know people think they are middle class (bourgeois elitism) when they work in an office, and above it all–but that’s false consciousness. Rowling was working class–until she wasn’t. Until she became a billionaire. She’s decided to denounce, in effect, where she came from, as a lover of Blairite neoliberalism.

  22. Spinoza permalink
    September 4, 2016

    Her books had too much fantasy for my tastes. An English public school without mindless sadism and homosexual rape? Impossible!

  23. Peter* permalink
    September 5, 2016

    I not sure why anyone should care what JK Rowling thinks about politics even if she wrote the best selling children’s fantasy series in history.

    I’m also stumped by the fact that some adults seem to believe in the fantasy of Corbyn becoming the PM of the UK.

  24. markfromireland permalink
    September 6, 2016

    @ Eattherich September 4, 2016

    The usual half-baked economic determinism in other words, thanks for clarifying. It’s good to know that people like you are still stuck in the same old slef-defeating rut.

  25. markfromireland permalink
    September 6, 2016

    @ Hugh September 4, 2016 :-). I’m currently teaching one of my sons Latin using amongst other sources The Asterix books and Harry Potter. Hard put to tell which of them he prefers more.

  26. paul permalink
    September 6, 2016

    JK is a classic liberal.
    I have never read her books ,but i have read,when i was young, many that we’re similar.
    One of my many epiphanies was being stuck on a train watching an overweight youth,goateed ,stuffing mr kipling’s battenburg cake reading one of these books with headphones on.

  27. markfromireland permalink
    September 6, 2016

    @ Spinoza September 4, 2016

    Oh do go away and wrap some more tinfoil around your balls would you? There’s a good fellow.

  28. Spinoza permalink
    September 6, 2016

    @Mark
    Please paddle me first while I pray the rosary and think of the Queen. 😉

  29. markfromireland permalink
    September 6, 2016

    @ spinoza – You’re on. Once your cheque for US$250,000 to the pro-life charity of my choice has cleared I’ll clear a spot in my diary for you. >:)

  30. Spinoza permalink
    September 6, 2016

    @Mark
    Sounds like a deal. Should I write it out to Hilaire Belloc or Engelbert Dollfuss?

  31. Tom W Harris permalink
    September 6, 2016

    Or Father Coughlin.

  32. Solar Hero permalink
    September 6, 2016

    Best comments eva

  33. markfromireland permalink
    September 7, 2016

    @ Spinoza September 6, 2016

    Hilaire Belloc?? Engelbert Dollfuss??? Wimp! I’ve subcontracted your request to Sœur Marie-Thérèse des Batignolles as she’ll be better able to cater to your ummmm …. specialised requirements, just make the cheque out directly to her.

Comments are closed.