Posts Tagged ‘justice’

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Financial Times uncovers anticapitalist mood

January 26, 2010

Opinon poll, Financial Times yesterday:

Three in four people want the government to go further in its crackdown on bankers’ pay and impose a cap on salaries, according to the results of the latest Financial Times/Harris poll.

Almost four in five said they agreed with the supertax on bankers’ bonuses announced by Alistair Darling, the chancellor, last month. But three-quarters of those polled said there should be an additional ceiling on pay.

Perhaps no great surprises, there. Investment bankers rank somewhere around bubonic plague and anthrax in the public’s affections at present. And it’s good to see such widespread aversion to fat corporate paycheques. Making a few pips squeak in a few bloated lemons with a new, higher rate of income tax would be both fair, and popular.

It’s the result the FT doesn’t comment on that is most interesting, however. From the graphic, thirteen per cent don’t just blame bankers for the crisis – the ‘economic system as a whole’ is at fault. That’s nearly six million voters nationally.

That doesn’t mean they’re all about to rush into the Left’s arms – blaming the ‘economic system as a whole’ is open to wide interpretation, left or right. But it does mean that an extraordinarily large number of people are open to the sort of system-wide critique an organised, effective Left can provide.

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Tony von Hayek and Gordon Friedman

July 15, 2009

Potlatch on New Labour’s sterling defence of inequality:

It’s clear in the political writings of Hayek and Milton Friedman that economic inequality is the guarantor of social and political difference. Far from the state being tasked with reducing it, the state has an obligation to defend and construct the mechanisms which produce it.

It is without any sarcasm that New Labour ought to be recognised for its achievements in this regard. It has defended free markets, competition in education, the valorisation of sporting achievement, the optimisation of London relative to the rest of the UK, and so on. Forget the filthy rich or David Beckham for a moment. New Labour has done an excellent job in defending the legacy of Hayek and Friedman, who at least had the self-awareness and courage to say what they believed in. Either we live in a society where the wheat is distinct from the chaff, or we live in one of potential tyranny; that was the original neo-liberal claim.

It’s interesting to speculate that New Labour was a far more able defender of the neoliberal project than the Tories ever could be. They were able to do something that Thatcher and Major never did: persuade large numbers of people that, even if they did not like free markets, the worship of the rich, and inequality on a spectacular scale, there was little fundamental that could be done about it. This bitter pill could be sweetened a little by making some efforts at reducing poverty – hardly a radical anti-neoliberal claim, given (for example) Milton Friedman’s own support for a minimum income guarrantee.

And New Labour have (or perhaps had) their own little claque of cheerleaders and defenders who convinced themselves that the existence of free markets could be squared with the existence of social justice, conventionally defined.

New Labour’s crisis is so deep precisely because it has now dramatically and visibly failed on both halves of that equation: it can neither defend free markets effectively, nor can it deliver justice.