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Work and prosperity
30 March 2012

Conservatives and the future of capitalism

This week, British politics has mostly been about pasties. Fortunately, we have the likes of Charles Moore to divert us with such trivial matters as the future of capitalism. Interviewed in the European, Moore politely introduces his fellow conservatives to the elephant in the room:

  • “Marxists have always said that the idea of the free market is a fiction created by capitalists to justify a system that benefits them and makes everyone else suffer. It appears as if that is what happened.”

As a result, he says, “conservative ideas have to be articulated differently”:

  • “Markets should not be controlled by the capitalists because their interests are not the same as the public interests.”

So, how should markets be controlled? That, Moore argues, is the question:

  • “There is a period where everyone needs to work out what a new situation is. I am just old enough to remember what that was like in relation to state power in the late 1970s. It takes a long time to see why something is really wrong, and what to do about it... We can all see that there is a sickness, but we haven’t properly diagnosed it yet, so we are still waiting for a cure.”

In terms of the British Conservative Party it is hard to see where he expects the answers to come from. Not from the right, it seems…

  • “The mistake of Thatcherites is that they did not pay enough attention to market failure, because their experiences were mainly with state failure. We are all products of our time, after all.”

…nor from the left:

  • When I hear David Cameron speak, I think that he is a very able and sensible man, and the best leader we could currently have. But I don’t see him as a visionary.”

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