WITH the prospect of a renewed and savage programme of Tory austerity we are once again being softened up with the repetition of Thatcher’s mantra that there is no alternative – a quite ridiculous claim unless you accept that there is no alternative to free-market economics.

In addition, we are being alerted to the real possibility of the privatisation of the NHS.

Now, I do not wish to give the impression that I have gone quite mad and taken up religion, but there is a very interesting passage from the Bible that I wish to use as a metaphor for the dominant model of free-market economics, and I am doing this because the situation we find ourselves in as a result of our dominant free-market model is moral and political as well as economic.

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In chapter 11 verse 31 of the Book of Daniel, we read, “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate”.

The Jewish Encyclopedia tells us that this verse refers to a historical incident in 168 BC when on the 25th day of Kislew (Nov–Dec), under orders from the Greek king of the Seleucid Empire Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Temple of Jerusalem was desecrated when “the abomination that maketh desolate” was set up on the altar of the burnt offering and the Jews were required to make obeisance to it.

The word “abomination” in Daniel 11.31 comes from the Hebrew word “shiqquts” which means abominable, a detestable thing. This particular abomination was reputed to be a statue of either Zeus or Jupiter. Thus, the abomination that maketh desolate was an idol, a false god that brought desolation to the very core of a people’s culture and directly attacked their fundamental belief system. It was designed to humiliate and subjugate them under an alien set of beliefs and norms, to destroy their existing society and culture.

Thus, to the Jewish people this representation of a false god at the very heart of their most holy place was a pollutant, an abomination, a detestable thing, designed to render the Jewish way of life desolate.

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I find this description of a historical catastrophe for the Jewish people a very suitable analogy for the desolation caused by the abomination that is modern free-market economic and political theory and practice.

The free market is an idol, a false god that has attacked and transformed traditional British cultural norms and values, and was an instrument for the destruction of the form of collectivist and welfare-based society that the Tories detest.

It is a pollutant that was designed to corrode and eat away at our modern sanctuary of strength, the welfare state, with the ultimate goal of destroying it with particular emphasis on the NHS.

It is an ideology that has brought desolation to the post-war Beveridge inspired society that Thatcher and her successors determined to destroy, leaving a remnant collection of individuals and families with little or no social ties to each other, with no meaningful norms and values other than those prescribed by the political and economic elite and who are motivated solely by the selfishness and greed that is promoted by a particular type of market individualism that elevates injustice to a moral imperative.

But there are alternatives, there are always alternatives, as we in Scotland not only embrace but implement, and one of those is that our welfare system and NHS must be put beyond Tory control. That is an imperative. It requires independence.

Peter Kerr