You have to wonder at the political desperation that gave birth to Mr. Runciman’s essay. Just call it chatter! One could compare it to the Party Line of The Financial Times’ ‘The Rebellion Against The Elites’ which appears in its many guises and iterations, on an almost daily basis. Along with the hand-wringing of Mr. Wolf or Mr. Stephen’s on the fact that Capitalism and its actors are at best thieves: their own worst enemy.
Capitalism and democracy: the strain is showing
Global elites must heed the warning of populist rage
How to save capitalism from capitalists
(‘The delicious first two paragraphs of the Stephen’s essay are not to be missed by the true believers, who read the Financial Times with regularity. A bit of shock treatment? Patience is required by the true believer! Political Observer)
Once in a while capitalism has to be rescued from the depredations of, well, capitalists. Unconstrained, enterprise curdles into monopoly, innovation into rent-seeking. Today’s swashbuckling “disrupters” set up tomorrow’s cosy cartels. Capitalism works when someone enforces competition; and successful capitalists do not much like competition.
Theodore Roosevelt understood this when, as US president, he deployed the Sherman Act against the industrial titans at the turn of the 20th century. Henceforth antitrust, or competition, law has served, sometimes effectively, sometimes less so, to protect the interest of consumers and thereby legitimise the profits of big business. US president Ronald Reagan, scarcely a leftie, presided over the break-up of AT&T.
Yet Mr. Runciman leaps about rhetorically from assertion to assertion, without touching political terra firma, because his is not a critique of Corbyn, per say. But a maladroit defense of the Labour status quo i.e. the Blair Neo-Liberals or ‘Moderates’, represented by Owen Smith, as Liz Kendall’s essay extrapolates on the Wolf/Stephens/Financial Times theme, she is a devout Neo-Liberal, who lards her essay with the hallowed jargon of the trio of Free Marketers: Hayek, Mises and Friedman. Not to speak of her enthusiasm as true believer. This final paragraph makes plain her status as New Labour to the core:
Finally, we must face up to our responsibilities abroad and deal with world as it is, not as we wish it would be. While lessons must be learnt from Iraq and Libya, this cannot mean Britain withdrawing from the world and hoping difficult problems go away. Making these arguments will not be easy but Labour moderates must have the courage of our convictions. It is the only path back to power, and to change the country for the better.
Corbyn is building his political base through a concerted campaign. Just how hard is that to comprehend for a seasoned political observer? Again the reader confronts Mr. Runciman’s muddled propaganda, in the most direct way via the maladroit ‘death by enthusiasm’ trope.