Monday, January 30, 2012

"Capitalism in its current form, has no place in the world around us"

Economist Klaus Martin Schwab
Not the words of an Occupy protester, but the founder of the World Economic Forum who hosted the recent Davos meeting for world business and political leaders.  He's the German economist Klaus Martin Schwab, age 73, and on 22nd Jan the AFP news agency (Agence France-Presse) quoted him saying :

"We have a general morality gap, we are over-leveraged, we have neglected to invest in the future, we have undermined social coherence, and we are in danger of completely losing the confidence of future generations … Solving problems in the context of outdated and crumbling models will only dig us deeper into the hole.  We are in an era of profound change that urgently requires new ways of thinking instead of more business-as-usual … Capitalism in its current form, has no place in the world around us." (Reported on Yahoo News Canada)

Something interesting is happening when anti-capitalist rhetoric has become mainstream. We need to be aware that it’s rhetoric. But it’s still interesting.

Another example. At about the time Schwab was making his speech, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney was under attack for “vulture capitalism”. Again, what makes this interesting is that the attack came not from the left but from other Republican candidates.

And it’s prompted a backlash from Republican leaders; for even if they have not endorsed Romney, they nonetheless take fright at this type of attack on a fellow conservative. To them it amounts to an assault on capitalism and the free market system which lies at the heart of the Republican Party’s ideology. For example, South Carolina Governor and Tea Party star Nikki Haley, warned :

Republican contender Mitt Romney
"It’s a sad day in South Carolina and across this country if Republicans are talking against the free market."

Reported on BBC News 20 January, Is capitalism under attack in the 2012 Republican race?

Meanwhile in the UK, the right-wing Freedom Association dedicated to individual freedom, limited government and a free market economy, feels obliged to heap scorn on the notion of a fairer capitalism. When it’s lefties or Ed Milliband promoting the idea, they don’t mind. What bugs them is that even Conservative prime minster David Cameron has promised to clamp down on excessive pay, and is promoting belief in better or fairer capitalism and promising to curtail “crony capitalism”. The Freedom Association derides such ideas as “brave new capitalism” whilst moaning that conservative politicians, to court popularity, score a cheap point by pandering to the belief that the successful have won unfairly.

For more see the Freedom Association website

Analysing this

Writing in the mildly leftwing American magazine The Nation, William Greider analyses the vulture capitalism attacks on Romney as opportunistic cross-dressing by conservatives. There are no candidates in this year's politics, he says, “witless enough to stand up and defend the most bloodthirsty tactics of rapacious capitalism.” And he suggests this opportunism reflects a deeper confusion of purpose and an insecurity in the Republican Party.

His article is Why are Republicans attacking 'Vulture Capitalism'?, January 24.

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