Saturday, 11 October 2008

Anti-capitalist or anti-capital?

It is not just creeping out from under the woodwork it is positively oozing. All the bitter, small-minded hatred deep in the blood of Old Labour is paraded before us daily and presented as vindicated by the present financial turmoil.

What is it that the sad old Trots are saying? What is their way out of the current difficulties? What is their constructive proposal for making the world a better place? Only one thing. Tax the rich. That is it, really it is, their only answer to economic meltdown is to impose punitive taxes on the few who have a lot of money.

Particularly strange is that they are happy to see the banking world collapse, with all the misery that will cause when businesses go bust for lack of working overdraft facilities. Everyone knows that socialist command economies lead to economic stagnation, the point is not really open to debate because all the evidence points in one direction. Everyone knows that socialist state control leads to personal misery on a grand scale, the point is not really open to debate because all the evidence points in one direction. Everyone knows that increasing income tax above about 40% leads to reduced tax revenues, the point is not really open to debate because all the evidence points in one direction. Yet they want to destroy the capitalist system, but not as much as they want to prevent anyone being rich.

When I studied economics at A-level (many years ago) one of my teachers was a dedicated Trotskyite. Every lesson included some attempted brainwashing as well as some education. The great sadness was that he was a very talented teacher but he just could not help himself. In order to make his political arguments he relied on all the usual tools such as re-writing history, qualifying principles with anecdotal evidence and distorting facts to fit his cause. One of his regular topics was the wicked way in which the south east of England dominated personal wealth to the detriment of the rest of the country. To illustrate this he would draw a rough map of Britain and superimpose lines to identify where the vast majority of personal wealth is to be found. Those lines formed a triangle with the south-western point of Wiltshire at bottom-left, the south-eastern point of Kent at bottom-right and a point above to complete the triangle. The point he chose was the north of Liverpool. To prove the concentration of wealth in the south-east he included Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and all points in between. When challenged about the accuracy of this triangle as a description of the south-east of England he asserted that it is the correct definition as a matter of standard usage in economics. It was plain and utter nonsense but without the nonsense he could not illustrate his point. The reality was that, in his own mind, it was more important to condemn wealth than it was to state facts.

And so it is with the obsessive lefties given so much exposure over the last few weeks by the BBC. The occasional remark is made about the inadequacies of capitalism and there are even a brave few who try to argue that socialist economic theory can lead to prosperity, yet the vast majority have nothing to say other than there should be no rich people.

I am swiftly coming to the conclusion that they are not really anti-capitalist at all, they are just anti-capital.

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