Tories, Friedman and Monbiot

First, a new article. The Tories have been trying to portray themselves as to the left of Labour these days for some time. Not that anyone who remembers Thatcher could seriously believe them. The Tory Shadow Chancellor wrote an article for the Guardian on this which was so staggeringly bad I had to write a response. A staggeringly insane set of assertions by Osborne by any standard!

Although I don’t mention it in the article, this kind of nonsense must have its origin’s in Milton Friedman’s assertion in Capitalism and Freedom that more free market capitalist economies are more egalitarian than less free market ones and, of course, pre-capitalist ones (although capitalism in America is generally agreed to have destroyed its egalitarianism but then Friedman probably thought that a peasant and artisan economy was a capitalist one). Thus free market capitalism results in greater equality – the market does move in mysterious ways! He also suggested that more social mobility makes up for inequality.

Sadly, as I noted in my obituary of Friedman (which I’ve just posted here along with one for that evil scumbag, Pinochet), reality effectively refuted his assertions (and they were assertions, as many of his political positions were). Thatcher, Reagan and Pinochet all produced explosions in inequality and, ironically, falls in social mobility. Strangely, he failed to mention those awkward facts in the preface of the 40th anniversary edition of Capitalism and Freedom. But, then, he seemed to think that the interventionist economies of the Asian Tigers were examples of free market capitalism! And best not mention how statist his beloved Hong Kong was in reality!

I had hoped that when Friedman died back in 2006, we would have heard the last of the evil old ideologue. Sadly no, as the University of Chicago is seriously proposing to establish a Milton Friedman Institute of economic research. But, then, he was saying what the ruling elite wanted to hear so being wrong really does not come into it.

And he was wrong, spectacularly wrong. Monetarism failed big time, turning a recession into the worse one since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Still, the attempt to control the money supply did produce mass unemployment which broke the back of the labour movement and the profit-price spiral (a much better term than wage-price spiral). His arguments that free market capitalism was more equal were refuted when his ideals were actually applied, as was the notion that labour’s share in national income would increase. And best not to mention falling social mobility. And, of course, he did subscribe to the notion that owning property should be rewarded, so perhaps the rise of inequality was not totally a surprise…

Then there are his political ideas. His notions on “capitalism” were confused, simply assuming that a market economy equalled it (a position both Proudhon and Marx had disputed over a century previously). His notion that Chile was “an economic miracle” based on “economic liberty” was a farce -- economic liberty does not equal being able to change jobs, it means (at the very least) being able to strike without a visit from the secret police and (ideally) not selling your liberty to a property owner! Then his assertion that economic liberty produces political liberty allowed so-called advocates of “freedom” (i.e., capitalism) to support numerous murderous dictatorships as long as capitalists were able to act freely.

For all his faults, John Kenneth Galbraith had a far greater grasp of the realities of capitalism and, as such, was by far the better economist. He is still worth reading and anarchists would gain from so doing.

And this seems like a good time to post my article on the roots of privatisation, which were (strangely enough) in Nazi Germany. But, still, the Nazis called themselves socialists so they must have been! Which was, obviously, irony – but a sadly too common “analysis” on the so-called “libertarian” right. And talking of people who know nothing about anarchism but somehow seem keen in exposing that ignorance to the world, here are my two articles on George Monbiot’s unique take on anarchism and neo-liberalism. I really need to write a review of his incredibly stupid comments on anarchism in his Age of Consent. I mean, they are moronic – even worse than the standard Leninist nonsense, and that is saying something!


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