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Their morals and ours

Teaching a fish to ride a bicycle. That’s how even a Daily Telegraph reader describes the pipedream of making the City of London, bankers et al act in some kind of “ethical” way.

And that is a lot more down to earth than Labour leader Ed Miliband, who says that the campaigners at St Paul’s and Finsbury Square reflect “a crisis of concern for millions of people about the biggest issue of our time: the gap between their values and the way our country is run”.

In a patronising and devious way, Miliband implies that the protesters have nothing better to do than camp outside St Paul’s. He opines that the problem is “a system of irresponsible, predatory capitalism based on the short term, rather than productive, responsible behaviour which benefits business and most people in the long term”.

Using the word “values” no fewer than nine times, he calls for “big changes in the way our country works”. But in case anyone is deluded into thinking that Labour has suddenly become hostile to capitalism, he proposes – sharp intake of breath – to “tell the top CEOs that if they are unwilling to justify their rewards – they will not get it”.

So, for the Labour leader, the problem is NOT that there is a huge divide in society between a tiny minority of super rich and the rest of us. The rich have just not worked hard enough to prove that “they are worth it”!

Miliband is simply trying to cash in on the widespread support for the occupations in the City of London and around the world – and to channel it into the safe vehicle of Labour electoral politics. In his dreams!

Along with the CEOs and some bankers, many of whom have admitted they are overpaid, he is worried that things are spinning out of control, ideologically speaking.

The conflicting views amongst those who are supposed to look after morals and values are deepening by the day. On Saturday former St Paul’s Canon Giles Fraser, who resigned over the cathedral’s lack of support for the occupation, said:

"St Paul's Cathedral is built on a deep theological fault line. On the one hand it's set within the boiler room of global capitalism, and on the other it proclaims a theological story that has some pretty fierce things to say about money and wealth.” He was joined by the Archbishop of York of York in denouncing the super rich and unbridled greed.

The history of capitalism in Britain has seen the established church, politicians and the heads of finance and industry working together to keep the lid on discontent and maintain at least a semblance of control over things. And that is why the church and the City are working might and main to “bridge the differences between the protesters and the City”, as Ken Costa, former chair of Lazards International, puts it.

Costa claims that “the market economy has shifted from its moral foundations with disastrous consequences. I cannot recall when public feeling worldwide has run so high.”

Costa has been asked to work on a “form of ethical capitalism”. He has come up with a far more shocking proposal than Miliband could ever align himself with. The ex-banker says that “maximising shareholder value” cannot continue to be the sole criteria or object for all companies.

But making profits is the very basis – the bottom line – of capitalism as an economic system. These are the system’s actual “moral foundations”, its heart. A kinder, more caring, not-for-profit ethical capitalism has never existed – and never can.

Yes we need a moral compass and a set of values. But we should reject as hypocritical and compromised those the ruling elites constantly try to impose on us. An alternative set of values and a progressive moral outlook is to be found in the growing numbers of people around the world who seek a democratic future free from corporate power. It really is a case of their morals and ours.

Corinna Lotz
A World to Win secretary
7 November 2011

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Jonathan says:

Now out of the woodwork come the care for the poor – as if they think that is what it is all about: the Archbishop leads it and up on the inside come Buffet and the long fanged Microsoft man: anything; but keep the copyright. While small capital can't raise any capital to put to motion: with going from pillar to post for a loan the small companies still maintain their confidences and faith in the Tory Party (one woman at the fringe with Paxman said she went to 90 'places' to raise money, while the firm was in good standing, and was turned away again, and again, and on). What will be unleashed by Assemblies are the relationships of these 'poor' – and they will put to with small capital while grabbing large capital and the banks.

This logic is what all, the church, the state, the City fear. It is the surfacing of all this that sets their alarm bells going. It is sick to hear them sing from the same hymn sheet taking two weeks to organise a wimpish response. Were they contemplating as a form of logic? No: they were having meetings, for they truly know the stakes. From the gradual growing over of capitalism out of Feudalism (though, of course, forms of commodity production has existed under much earlier forms) they have built a Power inside the economic relations. Maintaining it, especially the history of British Imperialism, has necessitated developing great negotiating and diplomatic skill: and the use of tactical force.

However, over 700 years putting in place a multitude of layers, surrounding social beings with a compound of form until those born to it at later dates find themselves inside a secure and hermetically sealed body as firm and concrete as any previous mythological shape: and as nurture as strong, becoming stronger indeed, as any DNA impulse – the new world view, first in its intensity then in its extensiveness girdled the earth – but to those in Power (economic and political) it was from the position of dominance – indeed of every greater expansion: for the rest of servitude. To think outside this Box is to think outside our very selves as this suppressed social being.

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