When Ed Miliband became leader of the British Labour Party some two years ago, a large chunk of the 'liberal left' held out hope that he represented an opportunity for Labour to find its lost social democratic soul. Ed was declared, by union bosses and Labour aligned pundits, to be a fully subscribed member of the soft left. That opinion was reinforced by the corporate media who dubbed Miliband 'Red Ed' and delighted in emphasising that Ed's father was the influential Marxist sociologist and activist, Ralph Miliband.
Those of us who don't have any illusions about the western social democratic parties dismissed Miliband as another political dead end and another disastrous distraction to hinder the development of a more progressive politics. But the reality that the western social democratic parties around the world have simply become vehicles to advance the neoliberal cause was apparently going to be ignored in the rush to embrace 'Red Ed' as the saviour for those who found socialist politics just 'too left' for the wine bars and the theatre outings. And it clashes with the carpet.
Here in New Zealand the Labour-aligned The Standard commented that Labour could now 'move on from the Brown-Blair era and fight back against the Tories' and columnist Chris Trotter also came out in support of Miliband.
But in a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph Miliband doesn't suggest that he is about to reject the interests and influence of neoliberalism anytime soon.
While the British working class was being assaulted by David Cameron's increasingly vicious austerity policies, Ed was on holiday in Greece (of all places) having 'a big think'. I'm tempted to make a rather rude joke here but I won't.
The results of that 'big think' are grim but not surprising.
Miliband has no emancipatory vision. He says that capitalism is the best system we've got and he wants to create a 'responsible capitalism.' Social democrats used to believe they could politely reform capitalism out of existence but now capitalism, engaged in vicious attacks on working people all around the world, is the best system we're ever going to get.
Rosa Luxemburg wrote that humankind's choice was stark - socialism or barbarism. Ed Miliband has picked barbarism - but it'll be a 'responsible' barbarism.
What would Miliband tell the people of Greece and Spain presently protesting in the streets of Athens and Madrid? Sorry folks, this is the best you can expect? So put down the placards and go home? Nothing to see here, move on?
I think there was another prominent British politician who said there was 'no alternative' to capitalism. That's right - it was Margaret Thatcher.
But its not enough for Miliband to be a defender of neoliberalism and capitalism. He caricatures socialism along the way.
According to Miliband socialism shouldn't be a 'rigid economic doctrine' but 'a set of values'. If you accept Miliband's muddled thinking then everyone's a socialist because who wouldn't say they were for equality and justice? And socialism isn't 'a rigid economic doctrine' anyway. He insults the memory of his father with this kind of rubbish.
But, wait, there's more. Unfortunately. Ed thinks we can have market economy but without the market society. How does this work exactly? We can have capitalism and not have capitalism at the same time? We can have our cake and eat it too?
In Britain the goal of the Com-Lib government is to destroy the welfare state, privatise the National Health Service, bring the profit motive into education and continue attacking the living conditions of millions of working class people.
Miliband's answer? Capitalism without capitalism. What a joke.