Agreement of People website

Sign here if you support the campaign for a real democracy

Our blogs


AWTW FacebookAWTW Twitter

Your Say



Using the C word to prop the system up

Suddenly it’s alright, if not de rigueur, for the political elite to talk about capitalism – so long as you end up praising the system rather than burying it.

Yesterday it was prime minister Cameron’s turn. He came out against “turbo-charged” capitalism, declared that City bonuses were “out of control” and said the Tories favoured “social responsibility”.

Naturally, the leader of Britain’s most significant ruling class party was not about to propose a radical alternative. In fact, Cameron insisted that the “real solution” to the system’s current problems was “more enterprise, competition and innovation”.

Open markets, he declared, were the “the best imaginable force” no less for “improving human wealth and happiness” and could “actually promote morality”. Believe that and you’ll believe anything.

The question is: why is Cameron so desperate to preach the alleged virtues of capitalism and markets at this particular moment? Why did Clegg call for a John Lewis co-ownership model of capitalism? What made Miliband distinguish between “predatory” and “good capitalism”?

What unites them is their role as political custodians of the capitalist system, sharing out the management of the wider state’s responsibility for its development. Just as importantly, their job is to sustain the system’s legitimacy in the eyes of the majority, which it requires if the 1% is to stay in control.

And that is what is under pressure, as every survey reveals. Trust in and support for mainstream politics and politicians, as well as the operations of big business and banks, is ebbing away.

The parliamentary democratic state system is rightly viewed as partisan for siding with corporate interests in the crisis, bailing out banks while taking it out on ordinary people. In practice, it is undemocratic. A million young people are out of work; living standards have been savaged; many require two or more low-paid jobs to make ends meet while key public services are being wrecked.

Enter Cameron, Clegg and Miliband. Together they are critical of “corporate greed” and other features but carefully avoid any censure of the fundamentals of the capitalist system let alone suggest there might (or ought to) be an alternative. Even Cameron’s criticism of New Labour’s “Faustian pact” with the banks (on which he is right) is another diversionary attack.

For it is neither corporate greed (capitalists down the ages have practised this) nor the excesses of banks and bankers (also not new) that lie at the heart of the present downward spiral into global depression on a scale scarcely imaginable because it has no parallels.

The financial system provided the credit (and its twin, debt) for a globalised economy that is required to grow year on year to sustain profit levels and satisfy shareholders. Going into reverse, destroying production and sacking people, is what happens when debt overwhelms consumers.

Banks collapsed because bad debts began to mount, calling into doubt the questionable value attributed to all sorts of assets that looked good on paper so long as they earned an income. Meltdown II is now on the cards. A new credit crunch already exists and the debt crisis overwhelming the eurozone is a reflection of the recession.

Reining in City bonuses or curbing executive pay will make not a jot of difference to how this crisis unfolds. This is merely the froth of capitalism as a system of production and exchange. Creating an alternative system which does not depend on constant expansion in search of profit is the basis of a sustainable, rational alternative.

Inevitably that means taking ownership and control of capital out of the hands of the reckless minority and placing it under democratic stewardship. That is what distinguishes us from Cameron, Clegg and especially Miliband.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor
20 January 2012

Bookmark and Share

Your Say

Dylan says:

Great blog. The C word spoken by politicians. Rare indeed. They know the public are asking a lot of questions to themselves & doing some soul searching.
Capitalism is now catch22. It is cutting its own throat for many reasons due to its insane need for 'growth' when the public can't help cause they've got less. Plus competition means ever smaller returns. AWTW taught me well!
Don't believe the hype! Politicians have no intention of changing the system. They couldn't even if they wanted to, unless they join the revolution.
Now is check mate against capitalism unless there's a big war. Because like the end of a murder mystery, the game is up and the truth has been revealed for too many people now.

Comments now closed

We do not store your name or email details, but may inform you if someone responds to your comment.

If you want weekly update messages please indicate and we will store your details in a secure database which is not shared with any other organisation.

Your name

Your E-mail
(we will not publish your E-mail)

Do you want Updates?

Anti-spam validation:compare< Please enter these letters>