Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Capitalism 'provides' - the myth of the market

. We live in historic times. Suddenly it's ok for everybody from Archbishops and Conservative Shadow Chancellors to disgruntled leftists to bash the market; arguing variously that the market has the wrong priorities or should 'accept responsibility'. Barely a day goes by without a 'defence of capitalism' appearing in right-wing newspapers like the Mail and Telegraph. This in itself should say something; obviously, nobody would feel the need to defend capitalism if serious questions were not being asked in the first place. For the first time in decades people are turning round and questioning what is going on and if the total lack of public support for the rescue plan in the US is anything to go by they are also increasing unwilling to spend their money on saving the system.

Still this doesn't deter some people; on the blog below Anonymous says:

"I think capitalism generally works fairly well in terms of its ability to identify peoples' needs and wants and service those needs."

Maybe the poster in question should look at the BBC website this morning. It reports;

"Millions of children in the UK are living in, or on the brink of, poverty, a report claims.

The Campaign to End Child Poverty says 5.5 million children are in families that are classed as "struggling" - 98% of children in some areas."

How has capitalism provided for these people? It's an obvious question but one that should be answered by the defenders of the system. My work involves knocking on peoples doors and the number of times people say with all sincerity they haven't got a dime is untrue. How has capitalism and the market provided for these people?? The current crisis has also lead to an inability for capitalism to provide for those at the top; it can no longer provide profits for the "greedy scumbag bankers" that the same poster lashes later in his post. In all fairness to the 'scumbags' they were only following the logic of the system we live under; that is they were seeking to maximise profit at the expense of long-term stability and of course those who are now mired in financial limbo, the people they sold credit too.

Liberals make the mistake often of confusing the democratic liberty of the individual with the liberty of the market to rampage how it pleases; it is the 'liberty' of the 'scumbags' that has plunged the system into chaos and will now impoverish billions. Furthermore, the market is not an individual; it is a thing, a creation of the capitalist method of exchange. Would you afford a chair or table the same 'rights and freedoms' you accord to human beings?? The market should serve the people, it should indeed be a place where people's 'wants and needs' are met but it isn't. It is a vechile for the enrichment of a few at the expense of the many and now it is the agency of the wide-ranging collapse of capitalism as a whole.

One of the most pernicious myths is that the 'freer the market, the freer the society'. The children and the people mentioned above are not free in any true sense of the word. Neither are the leaders of the collapsing banks who are now subject to the whirlwind of forces they themselves unleashed. This myth is partially given credence between the descent of the left into statism; the move of the left away from it's radical agenda of the economic and political empowerment to stultifying bureaucracy. It wasn't always this way, there was a time when the right's clarion call for empowerment was the left's with the caveat that the left realised that voluntary association for the collective benefit was the route to freedom. It's time for the left to roar again; it's not Britain that is broken, it's the whole market system and a reinvigorated left can fix it.


Barrie Wood said...

Great post - good to see another left leaning Liberal on board ;-) I'm not against market mechanisms, but am very aware of their limits, not least in respect of public services.

Maybe it's time to bring my blog out of retirement again now !

Darrell G said...

I think you should go for it Barrie, the more left-leaning liberals there is about the merrier i say ;)