Leading Tories are fighting an open battle to defend capitalism.
Last week Theresa May hailed the free market as the “greatest agent of collective human progress”.
This week chancellor Philip Hammond used his Tory party conference speech to attack Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Hammond warned that Corbyn’s left wing policies would lead to food shortages and poverty similar to that seen in Cuba, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. He dismissed Corbyn’s ideas as “outdated”. He didn’t, however, follow the advice of May’s former adviser Nick Timothy.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph last week Timothy said the Tories “must do something they have not had to do for 30 years.
They must make the case for capitalism.”
Hammond made no positive case whatsoever—perhaps because there isn’t one to be made. Capitalism is a system based on competition and profit and fails the majority of people.
In Britain homelessness is rising. More people rely on food banks to get by. Wages have fallen in real terms by an average of 10 percent since 2010 for public sector workers.
On a global scale, hunger is rising for the first time since the turn of the century. Yet there’s more than enough food for everyone—if it’s shared fairly.
Hammond attacked Corbyn’s “failed policies”. In reality it’s capitalism that has failed—except for the rich. That’s why Corbyn’s promise to take on the “rigged system” finds an echo. The Tories know that more people are questioning the system, but they want to keep it going.
May has previously criticised some bosses over bonuses and tax avoidance. But as Timothy said, this is not “anti-capitalist”. It’s what needs to happen if “we want to maintain support for free markets”.
Meanwhile the Tories viciously attack Corbyn because any challenge to their system, however small, must be treated as unthinkable.
Contrary to Hammond’s claims, Corbyn has not proposed “Marxist” policies. A Corbyn-led government would not make Britain a socialist country.
But millions will have been cheered by his pledges to tax the rich, renationalise industries and put more money into services. And he has helped reignite a debate about whether we can run society differently.
Capitalism has created vast wealth and the potential, for the first time, to meet the needs of everyone on the planet. But its drive for profit stops that from happening.
Attempts to simply limit capitalism’s worst excesses leave in place a system that enriches bosses at the expense of the rest of us.
If we go beyond that, we have the potential to build a world that really works for everyone.