Fearing success

It’s not that “all attempts at socialism in the rest of the world have failed“. It’s just that any attempts at progressive reform which fail are labelled ‘socialist’ by people like Michael Fry. It’s an easy cop-out. It saves them having to explain why the political and economic system they favour militates so strongly against progressive reform. Or, more pointedly, why they favour a system which makes progressive reform so difficult.

It remains a matter of amazement to me that the disasters of capitalism seem to have prompted not a single second thought on the part of at least one rightward-leaning Scottish newspaper columnist. But Michael Fry and his ilk have an easy cop-out for that too. When capitalism fails catastrophically, as it does repeatedly, they simply say that this was not ‘real’ capitalism. Or that it was the ‘wrong kind’ of capitalism.

Add to such self-serving semantic sleight of hand the ludicrous hyperbole used in describing the policies of a pragmatically left-of-centre administration and what results is a distinct impression that Michael Fry’s greatest worry is that the Scottish Government’s progressive policies won’t fail.



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9 thoughts on “Fearing success

  1. In don’t know why you bother reading the bizarre verbiage that Mr Fry tries to pass off respectable prose. The caption beside the photo of today’s effort was enough for me with no qualms to ignore it. Apparently there are, “even today … Tory MSPs who would … abolish the Scottish Parliament”! Really Michael? Who knew?

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    1. I like that The National publishes different perspectives. I like that there is space in the Yes movement for people like Michael Fry. I like to keep my mind open to alternatives views. Doesn’t mean I agree. But those different views are frequently thought-provoking.

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      1. I agree absolutely that there must be room even for Tories in the independence movement, and I applaud the National for making space for such. But they could do a lot better than Mr Fry. Nothing he writes has yet provoked my thought. There must surely be more articulate commentators of that ilk out there 🙂

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  2. Unfortunately anything that keeps the wealth of this country in the hands of the wealthy is the name of the game. Anything that shares wealth more evenly is socialism. We would call it fairness, and any stupid nonsensical story that perpetuates the reign of the British empire is deemed newsworthy and printed. And lackey lick-spittle guys like this will do as they are told. I remember the days when some journalists actually had some integrity.

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  3. We know, from bitter experience that the old lie of privatization being better and more efficient is just that – a lie. There is no earthly reason why public services and utilities should not operate efficiently, and, indeed, most of those sold off during the Thatcher era for bargain basement prices to what can only be described as ‘carpet baggers’ of the private sector, were profitable. Tory ideology is simply dogma given class by the types who support it for the very simple reason that they benefit from it. A balanced economy of both capitalism and socialism, reflected in our laws and social practices, with human rights at its core, is essential, I believe, for social harmony.

    No proof exists to show that unrestrained capitalism is better, conclusively, than any other dogma; indeed, it is possible to show that it is often a great deal worse. However, capitalism which contains, and is constrained and restrained by, morality and principles of equality and democracy, not to mention human rights and legality, is far more conducive to human happiness than state-imposed socialism.

    For a very short time in the UK, we had that, or as near to that, as we have ever come, but, as usual, the Tories deplored anything that might help those lower down the economic ladder, and were desperate, from day one, to put a stop to it. That short period occurred just after the war and into the early 1970s. Ordinary families were able, slowly, but surely, to see ahead and see something good for them: their children could be educated to the highest standards from within the state sector; university beckoned for the brightest; and people began to be able to afford modest cars and holidays.

    Neoliberal capitalism, imported from The States, gradually put paid to that slow betterment of the lives of ordinary working-class people, courtesy of the Tory elites who had never been comfortable with those they deemed their ‘lessers’ having very much at all. The ordinary working-class, of course, s**t in their own nest by calling strikes that held the country to ransom, often for rather dubious reasons, on occasion, giving the Tories and New Labour the opportunity to stamp down on them. What we are witnessing now is the end of the Tory Thatcher economic and social experiment, and the governments we are seeing now are to the right of Genghis Khan, which is why, when I hear the likes of Michael Heseltine and Ken Clarke whine about Johnson and Farage, I want to shout: you bloody started it; you allowed it to happen; you enabled this.

    Both capitalism and socialism, if not reined in, if not hedged around by legal and social mores, can end up as totalitarianism and fascism, just as much as nationalism. People are at the heart of every system, and it is people, not systems per se, who cause problems. Nature strives always for balance, and extremes of anything are dangerous

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  4. Was neoliberal ideology not invented by Masden Pirie and his acolytes during the 70s at St Andrews University’s ill-titled Adam Smith Institute? As I recall, Thatcher was quite happy to take the credit for destroying working class culture on these islands and to claim the nutters in St Andrews as “intellectual” influence.

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    1. Indeed, DS, it was, but it arrived fully formed in the UK from its application in America, where it was taken up and honed to its modern destructiveness. Thatcher was not quite a neoliberal, but those who followed her were, and that included New Labour. Like you, I’d suspect that Adam Smith will be birlin in his grave at the thought of such a right-wing think tank being called after him. He was probably the father of capitalism, but he was also humane, not something that you could call most neoliberalists. The greatest problem for most capitalists is that they are capitalist only insofar as things work out for them, and become socialists overnight when things go wrong. The banks and bankers are typical of that kind of dual economic persona.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you very much for your thought-provoking comment.

        This could be the beginning of a very long conversation. I take a slightly different view of capitalism from you I think; I see its origins in history and not a result of ideas.

        Certainly though, I would agree that Adam Smith as well as David Riccardo, Adam Ferguson, Francis Hutcheson and maybe even David Hume, all had a hand in articulating the ideas that the new economic relations of capitalism were making possible/necessary. But only in Scotland and the British empire. In the Netherlands, where I lived for many years, the ideas engendered by the mercantile variety of capitalism that arose there were articulated by the philosophies of Descartes and Spinoza. In France they also had a so called enlightenment where Voltaire, Rousseau and their ilk put in their oars. Capitalism arises when people no longer have any control over the means of their own reproduction, when they are disconnected from the land that can sustain them and have nothing left but their labour power. This may be familiar.

        I agree too that Thatcher was no neoliberal; she was almost the epitome of nasty, small minded, prejudiced, little England conservatism. I don’t think she was nearly clever enough to understand an economy more complex than a grocer’s shop – which is why presumably she reduced the state economy down to its bare minimum. It was indeed Tony Bleugh and clever bastards who so passionately pursued the neoliberal agenda. Thatcher was just a prejudiced old bitch who had a hold over the Conservative Party in some loathsome, sadomasochistic power game. Her pogroms against working class culture and her emasculation of the trades unions had less to do with ideological conviction, and more with plain snobbery.

        And I also agree that capitalists will happily accept state subsidies and bail outs. Capitalism will take whatever it can get. It does not care about whether or not it makes sense. The typical example of which being the Scottish and “British” versions of the Sun having contradictory headlines. It bothers Murdoch not one fuck; he goes with the headline that will attract most interest and make him most money. Capitalism is rapacious, venal, duplicitous and violent. Personally I do not believe it is possible to compromise with it; but I do not hereby believe that it is no longer possible to do business, nor conduct trade. It is simply a question of sharing surplus rather than accumulating profit.

        At which point too many issues arise to be remarked upon without further thought. Thank you once again. I shall think further about these things and welcome your response.

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  5. I don’t think we are very far apart, DS, as I also believe that capitalism is an historical facet of human nature that was given ideological form by the ideas of the various Enlightenments. Even before industrialization, serfs did not own their own labour or means of production, and slaves, of course, never do. Capitalism, if left to its own devices is rapacious, venal, duplicitous and violent, but constraints and restraints save it from itself. Adam Smith, I believe understood that, and I find it reprehensible that he is used to justify the most rapacious and venal systems of government. It is when these constraints and restraints are removed that its real face emerges and the veneer of civilized discourse falls away. All isms have the potential for violence and human degradation if allowed a completely free rein, and I believe we all require to be vigilant all the time.

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