Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

The Confusion Of The Modern Left

Economics isn’t everything of course but when we’re discussing the structure of the economy it’s pretty much everything. Which makes the British left rather more than usually confused. For they’ve really not grasped the subject at all:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]There is a dawning recognition that a new kind of economy is needed: fairer, more inclusive, less exploitative, less destructive of society and the planet. “We’re in a time when people are much more open to radical economic ideas,” says Michael Jacobs, a former prime ministerial adviser to Gordon Brown. “The voters have revolted against neoliberalism. The international economic institutions – the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund – are recognising its downsides.” Meanwhile, the 2008 financial crisis and the previously unthinkable government interventions that halted it have discredited two central neoliberal orthodoxies: that capitalism cannot fail, and that governments cannot step in to change how the economy works.[/perfectpullquote]

No, let’s not argue about that. Instead, accept it as their starting point:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The new leftwing economics wants to see the redistribution of economic power, so that it is held by everyone – just as political power is held by everyone in a healthy democracy. This redistribution of power could involve employees taking ownership of part of every company; or local politicians reshaping their city’s economy to favour local, ethical businesses over large corporations; or national politicians making co-operatives a capitalist norm.[/perfectpullquote]

Fine. Whatever. Who cares? Who owns is a subsidiary question. At times the capitalists is the most efficient, at others the workers. But it’s not the big question at all:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The McDonnell ally I spoke to said that whenever the question of the economy’s long-term trajectory came up in Labour discussions, “We avoid that conversation. There is no consensus in the party.” Then he added: “Personally, I’d be quite happy if Britain ended up as Denmark.”[/perfectpullquote]

But that’s a hell of the problem. For Denmark, in common with the other Nordics, is a more capitalist, more free market, society than the UK. So you can’t and won’t get there by having less capitalism and markets, will you?

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Leo Savantt
Leo Savantt
1 year ago

The same goes in the social sphere, leftists in the UK often advocate Sweden as a guide as to what should be aimed for. Free schools, no NHS, fewer workers rights and higher levels of violence against women than in the UK doesn’t put them off, because they don’t know much about anywhere else outside their own echo chambers. It’s not dissimilar with the ardently pro-EU supporter, the merging of corporate interests and government in Brussels and the environmental damage of the CFP and CAP, to name but two areas, doesn’t bother them, because they don’t understand what is happening.… Read more »

Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan
1 year ago
Reply to  Leo Savantt

I imagine the Swedish violence against women is something we are also busy importing.

Leo Savantt
Leo Savantt
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Ryan

I think that we beat the Swedes hands down when it comes to child rape, but they seem intent on narrowing the gap.

TD
TD
1 year ago

The left simply doesn’t think that there should be any economics or that it is merely an excuse for poor behavior. The law of supply and demand can be rescinded like any other law, right?

BarksintheCountry
BarksintheCountry
1 year ago
Reply to  TD

Gravity next.

TD
TD
1 year ago

Think of the benefits to the climate if you just outlawed gravity and told people to float on clouds to where they needed to go.

Jonathan Harston
Jonathan Harston
1 year ago

Again, one of those discussions where you should replace the word “economy” with “weather” and see if it still makes sense.

We want run the weather….
We want fairer and inclusive weather…
We want democratic redistribution of the weather….

Unexpected changes in the weather can cause immediate problems, and we want to set up systems to support people through these problems.

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