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Crisis for the State or Crisis of the State?



The Conservative-Liberal Democrat government's policy risks turning the financial crisis into a crisis of the state. This article argues that the current trajectory of the British state risks exacerbating the very social antagonisms which it has fought so hard to contain in recent years. It contends that the crisis (2007–09) was a crisis of neoliberalism and yet, paradoxically, neoliberalism—in the form of further depoliticisation and a new politics of debt—is being re-invoked to deal with the post-apocalyptic condition of the British economy. The article suggests that the state lacks the necessary political discourse to secure popular consent and—as a result—is resorting to a more coercive form of political management; and that the effects of austerity are being offset through an increased indebtedness of the British public. Both risk igniting social conflict. In the conclusion several points are indicated for an alternative political agenda.