Over on Comment is Free, Neil Clark writes:
So, we're heading back to the 1970s. Well, at least that what some respected economic pundits are saying. Of course, they're speaking metaphorically, and in fact the nearest we're going to get to the 70s is watching the regular Thursday night repeats of Top of the Pops on BBC4 and the Saturday night reruns of Dad's Army. But if it were possible to travel back in time to the decade of flared trousers, Opportunity Knocks and Fawlty Towers, I'd set the controls of my Tardis to 1 March 1973.
That year marked the high point of 20th-century progressive politics. In western Europe all main parties – of the left and the right – accepted the mixed economy postwar consensus. In eastern Europe the communist countries were becoming less authoritarian. But it was also in 1973 that the forces of reaction – aka the 1% – began their fightback against economic systems that favoured the majority. My mission on returning to the 1970s would be to try to abort that fightback. And I'd hopefully have some fun along the way.
I'd head first to Cheltenham for the National Hunt festival, where I'd have a good, hefty bet on the 9-1 shot The Dikler to win the Gold Cup. With money in my wallet, I'd fly over to Jamaica, to try and get an interview with one of the 20th-century's greatest wits, Sir Noel Coward, before he died of a heart attack on 26 March.
I'd then fly back to the UK and go up to Liverpool to watch one of the classic Grand Nationals of all time – Red Rum beating Crisp (and boost my finances by having another good bet on Red Rum at 9-1).
In April, I'd take a state-owned Sealink ferry (remember them?) to the Channel Islands and head to the bar at the Hermitage Hotel, St Peter Port, Guernsey, where I'd hopefully find one of my favourite actors, Dennis Price, the star of that wonderful black comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets. I'd warn him to watch his step while descending the stairs and try and persuade him to kick the booze (he died after a fall in October 1973, aged just 58).
Then I'd embark on my most important task: to fly to Chile to warn the democratically elected Marxist president, Salvador Allende, about the very real dangers of a military coup. In particular, I'd urge him to keep a very close eye on Admiral Merino, and a certain general called Augusto Pinochet, whom Allende appointed commander-in-chief of the army in August. Nearly 40 years on, it's impossible to overstate the global significance of "the other 9/11". A democratically elected president was toppled, a brutal military dictatorship was installed and the economy radically transformed to favour the interests of international capital and not ordinary people. It was, in the words of Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, "the most extreme capitalist makeover ever attempted anywhere".
Stopping Pinochet from coming to power and preventing the Chicago Boys from restructuring the Chilean economy would not only have saved thousands of lives in Chile, it could, just possibly, have prevented the neoliberal era. For the destruction of Chile's socialist economic system became a blueprint that was copied the world over, including here in Britain in 1979. The inequalities we see around us today, and the massive transfer of political power away from the people to unelected global capitalists, can be directly attributed to the changes which were first introduced in Chile in 1973. Imagine a world where the ideas of Milton Friedman were never put into practice.
Having saved the world from neoliberalism (well, at least for the time being) I'd get back to Britain to enjoy some great television from the medium's golden age: the original Upstairs Downstairs (far superior to Downton Abbey), The Onedin Line and the best Doctor Who of them all – the incomparable Jon Pertwee. And, enjoying the much more convivial atmosphere which bars and clubs used to have before the introduction of the smoking ban, I'd look forward to the imminent return of a decent "Old" Labour government, led by Harold Wilson, Britain's most underrated 20th-century prime minister. It was a Labour government that extended public ownership, reduced inequalities to historically low levels and – just think – the only war they got us involved with was a cod war with Iceland. Happy days.
Well, anyway that's what I would do, if we really were heading back to the 70s. How about you?