‘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”.

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