‘just as a priest can’t do his job unless he believes to some extent in God.’

Views from the left (3)

Final one for today comes, on a sort of lighter note, from Mark Steel.

So where does Marx come in?

But just because the Government is taking over banks, that doesn’t mean it’s socialism. Certainly none of the founders of socialism, such as Karl Marx, appear to have written anything along the lines of: “Workers of the world unite! It is time to pay every penny on the planet to bail out bankers who’ve cleaned the world dry with greed, and make sure they get a few million quid pay-off as they must be quite upset. Only then, toiling masses, will you have broken your chains!”

But someone should have been reading Marx, because then they wouldn’t have declared almost every day: “There will be no more boom and bust.” There might not have been 100 articles a week exclaiming “THIS boom built on speculation can’t POSSIBLY crash like the booms built on speculation in the past, because those booms were in the past and crashed, whereas this boom is happening now, so it CAN’T crash.”

So imagine getting up at the shareholders’ meeting of Bradford & Bingley or some Icelandic company three years ago, and declaring the bank should lend less money, slow down the property boom, stop speculating and be responsible to help prevent a crash. The rest of the board would have called an ambulance and insisted you were sectioned as you must be hearing voices. Because if their bank didn’t cash in on the boom, all the other banks would, leaving them to fall behind and probably get taken over.

Why did it go wrong?

So all these inquests about why the banks have failed society seem pointless. They didn’t fulfil society’s needs because that’s not their aim. Their aim is to make as much profit as possible for their shareholders. You might as well ask a sportsman why he failed to defend the near post at corners, and wonder why you get the reply “Because I’m a tennis player”.

Just click the link above to read the full post.

  • Greenflag

    Mark ,

    Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man and Communism is vice versa .

    The present mess is more a crisis of capital than of capitalism i.e the financial services side of capitalism in the broadest sense .

    Take 20 people off the street who have little or nothing and give each 100,000 euros to invest, spend , whatever and go back after seven years and see how each has done . You’ll find that 80% of the total assets owned by the 20 will be in the hands of 4 of them i.e 20 % approx . The reason for this is not ‘capitalism ‘ but ‘human nature ‘ People are different while also being the same .

    No political system devised by man to date has ever found a permanent solution to the inherent ‘inequality’ among men when it comes to managing ‘money ‘ – businesses – drinking alcohol or some smoking their way to an early death .

    The best we can hope for is to create a fairer society which gives equal opportunity to all to develop whatever talents they have in the interest of both themselves and of society at large . We are all each other’s keepers even if this means as in the USA having to pay taxes to keep 3 million people under lock and key .

    Capitalism will be modified by this experience and hopefully something will be learnt from it .

    But it did not begin one year ago or 8 years ago or even 30 years ago . It’s been going on since man became ‘civilised ‘ and moved from a hunting gathering state of existence into a much more socially stratified industrial and post industrial society . Banking has been an essential part of that development and without ‘banking ‘ we would still be closing our front doors with wattled wicker 😉

    It’s early days yet to see how ‘capitalism ’emerges ‘ from this challenge . We may be slowly moving back to a kind of State mercantilism which seems to be favoured by the emerging countries of China and India among others . The Anglo American model is not entirely broken but in or around 2010 when the ‘peak oil’ crisis begins to impact then an even greater challenge will emerge . For the western world controls less than 25% of the worlds fossil fuel supplies and the USA/UK have been twiddling their thumbs for the past decade or more at developing an alternative energy policy .

  • Yvette Doll

    There is some real hardship out there. I was speaking to one of my former colleagues the other day, and he complained that the days of a six figure kite in his Christmas card may be drawing to an end,

    we are talking about selling the condo in Charlotte and leasing out the modest pile of bricks in Carmel, in many respects a London or Frankfurt posting is like Beirut, how can you watch your back there?

    It is the lack of compassion and empathy that hurts most, we are talking about people who gave parts of their busy lives attending upon the kind of global capitalism that made the world such a nice place, it’s like Starbucks telling its fair trde patners, go starve!

  • abucs

    Good post Greenflag.

    Personally i think also the financial system HAS to be heavily regulated in a global cross border way.

    If other groups won’t play ball then the EU should be more pro-active designating risky investments where huge amounts of EU money are at risk and the subsequent restrictions of all EU groups in investing in them.