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To be capitalist or not to be

And back in Enlgand, the home grown idiotarians tie themselves into knots over capitalism.

Michael Meacher, the environment minister, told BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions:

“We do not believe in capitalism. Capitalism is something that threatens inequality across the whole of society1.”

The responses are fun to follow. Downing street refused to endorse his claims and referred the Sunday Telegraph reporter to the Labour Party spokesman who said:

“Socialism or capitalism is a sterile argument. The world has moved on.”

The comments caused ideological confusion among MPs identified with New Labour giving rise to gems like these:

“I think there is rather a philosophical black hole here. We really need an economist to sort his out.” and “Of course unbridled capitalism is very dangerous but we cannot deliver the advances that we want in equality outside the market economy.” (Barbara Follet, MP and Glenda Jackson, MP respectively.)

The Left-wing MPs were delighted:

“The party is moving away from New Labour back to its roots…”

This may place Mr Blair under pressure to spell out his attitude. In the summer he claimed that “we are moving away from Thatcherism now”. Care to tell us where you are heading, Tony? We have seen the posters

1 = Mr Meacher is, of course, right, capitalism does threaten inequality across the society. It threatens it with prosperity, property rights and individualism. Marvellous!

14 comments to To be capitalist or not to be

  • Chris

    “Capitalism is something that threatens inequality across the whole of society.”

    Well, that’s quite literally true. Capitalism allows upstarts from the lower income strata to become rich, thus threatening the status of chattering class mavens like Meacher.

  • Charles M. Romer

    It’s a spoof, right?! I got to this occultish site from NRO’s The Corner and then clicked on the Posters link and — no, I do not believe this is for real — but it is amusing. The poster looks a lot like a cover off a 1920’s pulp scifi mag. It is or was inspired by such, right? It is really a cool poster. How about a wallpaper download, eh?

    Charles Romer
    Houston, Texas

  • Why doesn’t Meacher give away one of his thirteen houses if he is so worried about inequality?

    The whole argument is hilarious: like the Kinnock days of Labour or the Steel/Owen days of the Alliance. If New Labour can’t even agree that it supports capitalism, what does it stand for?

  • That’s easy – taking my hard earned dosh and pissing it up the wall.

    Next question?

  • Well indeed, but I got the impression they prefered to do that within a capitalism they didn’t realise they were wrecking.

  • sheilah

    Just found your site via NRO Online “The Corner.” What fun! Re – the comment by the Labor minister about capitalism – I wonder if the folks who make comments like that have ever really studied economics.
    One thing for sure – they don’t know much about human nature. I’m reminded of the old Marxist slogan – “From each according to his ability – to each according to his need.” Given that most humans have the same basic material needs but wildly divergent abilities – they might have been on to something if they had only altered it to read “From each according to his ability – to each according to his ability.” One small phrase and a world of difference.

  • Auguste

    for these peoples to understand capitalism is to admit the world will work fine without them. such people can never admit that and so cannot embrase capitalism for their own damaged psychological reasons. people are children to them and they are the parents. in truth they dispise the peoples they claim to want to help.

  • David Gillies

    Whenever I see Michael Meacher I am reminded of the small child who, on spying some politician or other, cried, “Mummy, what is that man for?”

    I have never quite been able to work out exactly what the purpose of a Michael Meacher is. But that holds for half the Commons, I’m afraid.

  • Joe Glandorf

    Equality? I answer the left’s need for “equality” by saying, okay, let’s divide all the wealth in the world equally. How long will it be before inequality appears? Most dumb people will make some dumb choices and fall back below average. Some smart people will make dumb choices and fall below average. Some dumb people will make “good” choices, somehow, and beat the average. Consequently, there is only one way to perpetuate “equality”; constantly strip the successful back down to average or mandate ever single thing people would possess or enjoy. If “equality” is the Holy Grail of leftist “thought” how else can true equality be achieved? Continuous “equality” is a notion only the most ignorant can seriously entertain.

  • Joe: I’ve known a fair number of poor people in my life, and they’re not all dumb or lazy (though some certainly are). You’re quite right, though, that equality requires oppression (by most definitions, and IMHO all the reasonable ones), but leftists will tell you that inequality is oppression. Not seeing the other side’s point of view causes leftists and rightists to talk at each other rather than to each other, which is very harmful to the creation of a successful dialogue.

    Sheilah: Right on. The human nature argument has always seemed to me like the strongest one against leftism. Leftists point to various small societies which approach some kind of communist norm, but these societies are invariably small, agrarian, and not very technologically advanced. Often they have a religious aspect to them, and people who don’t cooperate are expelled from the community. It’s impossible to find a successful industrial society along these lines, because the innovation and individualism required to have an effective industrial society is incompatible with communism.

  • A_t

    Heheheh… Meacher’s in a right muddle!

    But still, for all your points, most left-leaning people today are not trying to bring about this fictional ‘equality’ that you speak of; the revolution’s been put off indefinitely, and most people have realised this type of communist idealism just isn’t realistic.

    What IS important, at least to me, and touched on in the last two posts is equality of *opportunity*. You speak of dumb poor people etc. I’ve known plenty dumb rich people. Plenty. I’ve also known many very smart & motivated poor people.

    The main difference between them seems to be where they started from, socially.

    On the evidence that’s around me, and thinking it through, I refuse to believe that, in the purest of capitalist systems, where private education etc. rules, the smartest/most motivated will rise to the top. Even within the present system, where in most Western countries, poor kids effectively get a far better education than their parents could pay for, your background has far more effect on where you end up economically than how clever you are.

    Certainly in Joe’s fictional model of ‘equality’, I’m pretty certain the ones who ended up richer wouldn’t be exactly the same group as presently hold hold the wealth. Having said that, levels of education and expectations would still very much reflect where people had come from, and would probably have a strong effect.

    What I’d like to know is how this inequality of opportunity could be overcome by pure market capitalism operating in most social spheres.

    Or is it just that you have to go ‘sorry son, born in the wrong place’ to some people? That we’re never likely to see any more fair (with reference to this issue in particular) situation than the present one, and that’s fine?

  • A_t: And you reckon state can provide ‘equality of opportunity’? Nuff said.

  • molly

    The way I see it, the state provides ‘equality of inpportunity’. It screws things up for everyone.

  • Mark

    Well, whether they are against capitalism or not, anyone who has owned an English car can tell you that they are against labor – uh, labour…