Capitalism gets re-branded
It is somewhat ironic that capitalism itself has become a toxic brand. Socialist’s have had to suffer this humiliation for some time. It was craftily dove-tailed with Soviet communism to become a by-word for genocide and totalitarian rule. Even statist social democracy, ‘democratic socialism’ didn’t escape this slur totally because, it was implied, nationalising the commanding heights was a baby footstep away from Stalinism. Fox News in America still perpetuates this perverse distortions – branding everybody from Barack Obama to the Muppets crypto-communists.
Following the financial crash however, it’s capitalism that needs a face-lift. Yesterday, David Cameron offered us “popular” capitalism and for some time Ed Miliband and to a lesser degree The Daily Telegraph have been preaching in favour of “responsible” capitalism. We need to be on our toes – the system has failed and both Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband implicitly accept that – however, if you paint pink polka-dots on an elephant and dress it in a tutu, it is still an elephant.
The system has failed because it is fundamentally structurally flawed. Socially produced wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, this is a violation of democratic letter and spirit, and ultimately what lays at the heart of this crisis. Measures that do not address that are hopeless and will do nothing to turn our economy around. Only dramatic wealth redistribution and the democratisation of capitalist ownership models will save us now.
Socialism has yet to detoxify its own brand fully. Time is part of what is needed to change this. However, a recognition by left that vast chunks of its theory and practice is outdated is also needed. Now more than ever, we need a vibrant and democratic left, fizzing with ideas and a vision to change our world. We need an honest assessment of our past and what has gone wrong and above all we need a clear strategy to return Labour to being the peoples Party. If we can manage all that then we will reap the benefits against an enfeebled and unpopular capitalist system that is totally discredited.