That is one of the questions a BBC Radio 4 journalist asked as part of his commentary with respect to the row that has broken out between a UK newspaper the Daily Mail and Ed Miliband the leader of the opposition Labour party here in the UK.
An odd thing to say you might think, but that is what the Daily Mail appear to be suggesting in their article about Ed’s father.
Ed’s late father Ralph was an academic with apparently extreme Marxist views and Ed’s pronouncements on freezing energy bills for 20 months and vacant land should he become the next UK Prime Minister are according to the Daily Mail one way of ensuring that his father’s legacy lives on!
Some of the commentators such as Lord Prescott who knew Ed’s father have spoken out in his defence, precisely that Ed does not share his father’s ideology as stated by the Daily Mail. No doubt this row is set to continue as quite rightly Ed Miliband has vowed to defend his father’s name .
Whilst I agree that it is right to review and criticise Ed’s dad’s work as an academic to attack him in the way the Daily Mail has done is despicable. To suggest that his son has inherited his father’s ideology is somewhat stretching the point.
I think the Daily Mail would have had enough material to criticise Ed without drawing his dead father into the row in this manner
I don’t know much about Marxism but I think we can agree that as an ideology, it is limited because capitalism has proven that it can reinvent itself and grow and we have examples of that in the form of, for instance the 19th century scramble for Africa.
However some form of NeoMarxist theories or structuralist ideas persist and it it worth exploring them
The first is dependency theory advanced by South American scholars such as Henrique Fernando Cardoso, Enzo Faletto, Andre Gunder Frank and Raul Prebisch in response to the state of their countries development and the development policies advanced by industrialised countries .
These scholars rejected the idea that the developing world would eventually become modernized/industrialized by following the liberal free market economy of the West and growing a middle class.
They further argued that incorporating the Third World into a global economic system was to the detriment of the Third World because of the unequal terms of engagement. The Third World was at a disadvantage and could not compete on the same basis as countries that were already developed and industrialised.
Moreover, institutions that administer the markets and transnational companies set the rules of engagement and have continued to coerce labour and raw materials from the periphery. A theory advanced by Immanuel Wallesteion and the second theory that interests me. He called it the World System Theory
The world system according to Wallerstein is hierarchical in that, it is made up of a core (developed and industrialized countries), semi-periphery (neither core nor periphery) and periphery (underdeveloped, not industrialized and mostly trades in primary goods.
The core is said to use its advancement in technology and transport to access raw materials/goods and cheap labour from the periphery whilst at the same time using its institutions to exclude the periphery from its markets.
Writing in the Journal of International affairs, Chossudovsky , considers the inequalities within the international economic system and the role of international institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) within that system.
According to Chossudovsky between them, these institutions have misrepresented the true picture of poverty across the world including the level of poverty in the west.
The IMF and World Bank for their part have imposed practice such as the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) on the developing world and killed off internal markets and industries within the developing world and necessarily increased poverty, unemployment and hunger.
He notes too that, trade liberalization has seen the relocation of firms to underdeveloped regions to access cheap labour, creating unemployment in western countries on the one hand and left citizens in the developing countries unable to afford basics like food and shelter on the other.
However that these facts are conveniently left out of reports such as the UNDP’s Human Development Index and it is unclear why is this.
Although these scholars made these statements several years ago it is my view that in some respects the issues they wrote about are still with us today. Africa remains poor and yet it has an awful lot of resources!
Back to Ed and his views, Is he really a Marxist?
Ed has argued that the Conservatives have stood up for corporations and at the expense of the livelihoods of the man on the street .
To that end he has promised that as Prime Minister he would take on corporations such as energy firms and firms that buy up land and hold onto to it as opposed to making it available for house building.
These are all great sentiments, but I suspect it is political posturing on Ed’s part as to see through what he is promising would involve taking on the World System and in the era of globalisation, firms can work anywhere they like or to put it simply firms can take their business elsewhere if a government threatens their bottom line.
Would Ed want to preside over a government that saw more jobs leaving the British isle and as such an increase in unemployment?
I must say that he not said anything so far that would lead me to the conclusion that he would.
Lets face it if the Daily Mail is right that he has inherited Marxist tendencies from his father such actions would not help British workers.
What do you think?
Chossudovsky M, ‘Global Poverty in the Late Twentieth Century’, Journal of International Affairs, 52: 1, Autumn 1998, pp.293-312
Steans J & Pettiford, Lloyd, et al ‘An Introduction to International Relations: Perspectives and Themes’, 3rd Edition, Longman, 2010