Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The Commentariat Rearranges Itself

The world shifts: even the Telegraph is moved to suggest it would be nice if someone from the banking world said 'sorry'. Ahh, isn't that nice....and John Redwood - he of the Ming the Mekon stare – busies himself with details of the government's action in stabilising the markets, rather than launching a blood and thunder ideological criticism.

Back in the world of the grown-ups, Polly T, nose-peg hawker in chief and once of the Social Democratic Party for christssakes, tells us,

"Brown needs a severe committee of those economists who were right when he was wrong - people to frighten the City, not to soothe its frightened feathers. Appoint the Richard Murphys, Will Huttons and Larry Elliotts not as City tsars but as City Savonarolas to flush out tax avoidance and evasion, to close down tax havens, to appoint honest non-executives to company boardrooms and institute a regime built on public trust." I take this to mean that the principled section of New Labour is now thoroughly disgusted with the City and, finally - finally – prepared to occasionally say 'boo' to this particular goose.

Chris Dillow continues Stumbling and Mumbling towards a theory of market driven mutual ownership. Will Hutton grimly explains how much remains to be done. Richard Murphy unpacks Hutton's idea of 'putting all the debt in a bad bank' might actually work: interestingly, given his association with the Labour Representation Committee, he does seem to call for a fairly rapid sale of the profitable bits of the banks back to the private sector. So we're still talking, even on the apparent 'extreme Left' of the public discussion, about a rebalanced mixed economy.

Which allows Lenin's Tomb to draw a thick red line between his position and mainstream discussion, based on the abolition of scarcity and workplace, rather than representational, democracy. By abolishing scarcity ,of course, one more or less abolishes the need for any kind of 'bourgeois' economics: it's a long way from agreeing that capitalism creates 'artificial' needs , a view which I agree with, and saying scarcity itself can be abolished...which is perhaps why there is only a very desultory discussion over at Dave's Part on whether Marxist economics offers any particular insight to the crisis.

So, all in all, I think John Lancaster is probably right: capitalism no longer has a global antagonist.

Except, Monbiot tell us, capitalism and the globe may not be on speaking terms for very much longer...

(Hattip to L+C for the picture)

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