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Paul Mason's Postcapitalism is proof that the left is out of ideas

It's in a long left-wing tradition of consolation and self-reassurance in the face of economic reality

1 August 2015

9:00 AM

1 August 2015

9:00 AM

The literary emissions of the left are hardly ever enjoyable, but they can be instructive. Last year Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century became one of the biggest-selling political books of the year. Like a thousand-page Soviet report on tractor production, it hardly seemed intended to be read. The point of its success was that it could be said to ‘prove’ the left’s argument. They could then hit their opponents over the head with it and move to the next stage. Last year they questioned some premises of capitalism and now Paul Mason, the economics editor of Channel 4 News (and Spectator diarist), is here to say that capitalism is in fact over.

The central argument of his new book Postcapitalism is that ‘neoliberalism’ — which he characterises as an entity designed to destroy the working class and the welfare state — has reached the limits of its capacity to adapt. In gathering evidence for his argument, the reporter travels from Moldova to America by way of Greece. And if anybody feels concern about his central claim, then they can take comfort in his certainty that whatever comes next will be fairer and more just. If anybody thinks they have read all that before, it is because they have. For decades.

At least since the 19th century, whole libraries have grown up making the claim that capitalism has had its day. Most of these works have been written in a spirit of hopefulness that has come to nothing. And not just because they are so grudging about the fact that capitalism has raised more people out of poverty than any other financial system in history. Nor just because they remain deaf to the beautiful irony that capitalism remains the only financial system in history so benevolent that it makes even its most feverish critics rich.

The unspoken source of the problems — and the cause of the prolific book production — is that if capitalism is such a dreadful system, why has it kept trumping all their alternatives? A whole left-wing literature of consolation and self-reassurance has tried to speak to this conundrum. And always, but always, there is the hope that if we dive back into the prophet’s work we might find the missing clue. Which is why there is always a chapter, as there is in Mason’s book, asking ‘Was Marx right?’

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Yet from Marx to Mason, the most striking thing about this seam of literature is that it always underestimates its opponents while overestimating its own increasingly byzantine theories. It is perhaps forgivable that Mason’s road map for what happens next is vaguer than his ‘how we got here’ portion. But it is illustrative that this puts so much emphasis on what has fuzzily become known as ‘the sharing economy’. This is the idea that entities like Airbnb — a website on which you can rent out rooms or whole homes — will change the way in which we make transactions, making things more personable and peer-to-peer. The left are putting a lot of hope in it. They shouldn’t.

I have a friend who lets her spare room on Airbnb. Every week she checks the price of hotels in her area and offers her spare room for a few pounds less. There is nothing wrong with this, but it is not ‘sharing’: it is simply undercutting existing service providers. Entities that are successful at this will eventually float on the stock market and make their inventors rich. In the meantime, some of us will get cheaper accommodation as hotels and Airbnb compete, while some of us will remain loyal to places we just like. But all this is not a demonstration that capitalism has lost its capacity to adapt, rather that it is still adapting — as it always has done — in new and innovative ways.

However, Mason and his readers — whom I met at a Guardian discussion we did together last week — do not want to hear much of this. They prefer apocalypse to boom, so long as the apocalypse proves them right. And there are very few concessions to reality along the way. So whereas only a maniac from the right would pretend that the behaviour of certain banks did not contribute to the present global downturn, a diminishing number of figures on the left seem willing to concede that excessive personal or national debt (with very little to show for its accumulation) were another cause of the same. Bad banks driven by bad capitalism are the only causes of our calamity.

Then there is Greece. Mason’s reputation has deservedly grown in recent months through his interesting and animated reports from the epicentre. But his diagnosis is all wrong. He blames the Greek crisis on neoliberalism and capitalism as a whole, while seeming oddly unbothered by Greek corruption or the faulty construction of the EU and eurozone as causal factors. This is much like reporting a drink-driving accident but blaming the crash on the invention of automobiles.

Elsewhere, we stumble on the now traditional left-wing bogeymen. So we read of places where labour can be got for free, ‘as in the American prison system or Nazi death camps’. And later Mason writes, ‘In Gaza, in August 2014, I spent ten days in a community being systematically destroyed by drone strikes, shelling and sniper fire.’ Nothing about Hamas rocket-fire or any context about a long-running war. Instead he describes this apparently naked aggression as an example of ‘how ruthlessly the elite will react’ to defend modern capitalism. But why would anyone bomb Gaza to do that? As well as holding many of the other worst views in the world, are Hamas also in possession of a particularly devastating critique of late capitalism?

Oddly enough, the recent batch of left-wing doom and conspiracy books, from those of Russell Brand and Owen Jones to the more serious and informed Mason, point to a unified worldview. This sees human beings in democracies not as people with free will and unimaginable potential, but as inanimate beings to whom things are done. If you have over-borrowed, then some mean lender made you borrow. If you are an individual, a loan company will have been to blame; if you are a nation, then the fault is Germany’s.

After digesting all these tomes which keep getting ahead of their own arguments, it seems very much to be the politics of the left, rather than capitalism, which are coming to the end of their ability to adapt.

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Show comments
  • Sholto Douglas

    Great article. Churchill famously quipped that democracy was the worst system in the world apart from all the others. It is unknown if his definition of democracy encompassed capitalism, but it certainly should have. All efforts by the left to find a better alternative range from dismal (e.g. UK under Old Labour) to disastrous (everywhere else).
    Even the ‘nicer’ Marxists could apply weapons-grade ruin to an economy. In my younger back-packing days I hitch-hiked through S.America. In Pinochet-era Chile I was told about the time of his predecessor Allende, a chatterati icon. One tale was about chickens, yes chickens. He declared that at, say, 30 pesos (can’t remember the figure) they were too dear and commanded that they be reduced to 20 pesos. No one could produce them at that price so they disappeared from the shops overnight, after which they could only be obtained on the black market. As this market carries a risk, its prices factor in a premium, so they now cost 60 pesos. So instead of being freely available at 30, they were now scarce at 60.
    Beware lefties bearing economic theories.

    • Abie Vee

      Beware myopic capitalists. Since 2003 my Thames Water rates have increased by 74%. Scam? Hmm. How about all the other utilities? Or train fares?

      Businesses are giving too much money to shareholders and not investing enough. The Bank of England knows it, the government knows it, the shareholders know it too. Firms are eating themselves from within by favouring shareholder dividend payouts over investment. Only a few years ago the average shareholder held a share for six years; today that average is six months.

      Short-termism, “gaming”, the flight of capital and profiteering will see the end of it soon enough. Then what?

      • global city

        If you check your water company’s yearly profits I bet they will not have risen by 74%? Massive forced investment and a constant stream of regulation are the main causes of increasing water bills.

        You may see that as a good thing, or a bad thing, but to basically complain about the rises and assume this is ‘grasping capitlistm/sts’ is incorrect.

        • Abie Vee

          I did. They have. In fact they doubled (while their tax has fallen).

          Thames Water’s profits climbed 79 per cent in one year (2013) alone, but once again the London utility paid no corporation tax despite making a pre-tax profit of £259 million. Their finance director thought it unlikely that they would pay corporation tax for perhaps ten years!

          Privatisation has allowed Thames Water to shift ownership to Luxembourg and avoid tax. They are hardly alone… they’re all at it! We live in an age of kleptocracy.

          • Owen_Morgan

            Presumably, it is paying Luxemburg tax. If UK tax rates were competitive, it would have stuck with them. I expect you have also had a water meter installed, so you may now be paying a sum commensurate with your usage.

          • Abie Vee

            I have had a water meter this last ten years. And I recommend them to anyone. There’s an implicit fairness in paying for what you use, rather than paying for guesstimations.

            But that isn’t the point. Over the ten years my usage has actually fallen slightly, whereas my bills have doubled! I call that profiteering. I call it theft. I call it a disgrace that so much profit should be earnt from the vital necessity of life itself: water, without which we die.

            What next, a charge for the very air we breathe?

          • UKSteve

            It’s called the Carbon tax, and they’re peddling “climate change” as the justification for it.

          • Abie Vee

            Don’t shift the goalposts. You tell me, how much of my Thames Water bill is Carbon Tax? i don’t know and I can’t find out. There’s no indication on my bill.

            The answer though is surely either nationalisation or competition. Why hasn’t water competition been applied like in the gas and electricity industries? I suspect politicians find it convenient to force utility companies to carry out much needed public infrastructure spending on their behalf. For example, the astonishingly extravagant £3.6 billion super sewer project by Thames Water. If the Government was to pay for it via tax increases, there would be political pressure to abandon it or scale it back to something more cost effective. However, as it is, the hope is that customers will blame Thames Water for the resulting higher water bills.

            Thames Water are also happy as it allows their bills to increase and their profits to increase – it is easy money. We are being mugged-off.

          • Alexsandr

            I assume they are the same as Network rail whose charges are set against their regulatory asset base. As they invest more and more money in infrastructure, they are allowed to charge more for the improved infrastructure. Thats how the investment is repaid.
            maybe you want cheap water bills, and events like hosepipe bans, streets running with water from burst mains, sewage spewing in rivers, collapsed sewers closing streets etc?

          • Abie Vee

            The old, old, reductio ad absurdum yet again? Surely you get tired of such juvenile rhetorical mumbo-jumbo?

            No? Then you’re obviously easily pleased.

          • UKSteve

            Goalpoats? Again, you know not of what you speak. I think it must be time for your meds!

            Electricity is loaded with 16% renewables tax, and gas 8%.

            As for that tax on water, I don’t think there is any. Here, have a read.

          • Abie Vee

            You don’t think there is any? Funny that, neither do I.

            Which why I thought this comment was just an excuse for Thames Water’s obvious profiteering: ” It’s called the Carbon tax, and they’re peddling “climate change” as the justification for it.”

            I suppose it all depends upon who “they” are, and what “it” is?

          • Pacificweather

            The fact that gas is traded 8 times between well head and consumer has no effect on the price but adds considerably to the value of the product to the consumer.

          • Pacificweather

            The need for investment was the reason for privatisation designed to make you angry with the water companies not the government. It seems to have worked. What is more strange is that you think the energy companies are in competition with each other.

          • Abie Vee

            I ran away with myself there. I should have written “alleged competition” of course. It’s quite obviously an illegal cartel.

          • Alexsandr

            maybe the regulations have got more onerous. Water charges are regulated. Why not quiz the regulator as to why he allowed the increases.
            and have you checked out Thames Waters investment. If they have invested heavily they will need more profit to justify the investment.

          • wudyermucuss

            Capitalism isn’t perfect.
            But its opponents usually think their nirvanaistic vague alternative is,or will be.
            It’s a bit like religion.

          • Abie Vee

            Capitalism isn’t perfect. Indeed. And far from it.

            The question is, what are you going to do about it? Passive acceptance is surely not an option.

          • Alexsandr

            capitalism isnt perfect. but its way better than socialism.

          • Abie Vee

            It’s too soon to say.

          • rj

            Too soon to say?
            10-15 years of working hard and paying taxes is usually enough.

          • Leftyliesrefuted

            Human beings aren’t perfect. Indeed. And far from it.

            The question is, what are you going to do about them? Passive acceptance is surely not an option for a socialist like yourself.

          • Alexsandr

            she can post on blogs and do some tweeting.

          • Johnnydub

            And fantasise about when the hard left is in power she can add to its 200 million plus deathtoll.

          • Abie Vee

            It isn’t possible to improve upon the evolutionary process of the human organism. Or the Lord’s work, if you prefer. Whereas, it is eminently possible to improve upon human constructs.

            It happens every day.

          • wudyermucuss

            Capitalism’s imperfection doesn’t equate with mindless leftism.
            I don’t have stocks/shares.a mortgage and dosh in the bank,unlike most of the so called leftists/socialists I know,so I’m ahead of most of those massive hypocrites to begin with.

          • Abie Vee

            There’s a peculiar myth that socialists have to be poor. Whereas, the objective of socialism is the opposite: the improvement of everyone’s circumstances (rather that just those of the top 10%-ers).

            And that is not to propose that we must all be the same, or that we must all be impoverished. We seek a less biased and skewed distribution of wealth, a strong and supportive public sector, and equal opportunity and equal treatment under the law for all. In a single word, fairness.

            Common sense will tell you that it isn’t at all wise to let unsupervised fat-kids too near the chocolate cakes.

          • wudyermucuss

            You can seek what you like,socialism fails,from Greece to Venezuela to Cuba to Russia to China.
            And it is not a myth that many socialists are very comfortable bourgeoisie.
            Just like their Marxist forbears who operated a middle class elite telling the masses,the poor,how to live (ie,how to suffer).

          • Jingleballix

            You don’t need to list the ‘disaster areas’ to show that socialism utterly fails……….the examples of the UK, US – and in particular France, show it up for what it really is……….just a theory used as an excuse by people who can’t create anything, to get power and influence.

            I loathe socialism……..and loathe big ego’d, big idea’d, big mouthed socialists too…….then we have their gullible ‘foot soldiers’ like the SWP and student activist bozos, and the fog-horn pseudo-intelligentual poseurs like Mason and Jones.

            Mason is like a socialist Donald Trump……….Jesus he must be an absolute crashing bore at dinner parties……seeking to convert his theories into applied realities.

          • Pacificweather

            Capitalism isn’t perfect which is why it needs some leaven in the lump.

          • Johnnydub

            Ah.,. the frankly tired leftist argument of “we don’t have a spending problem, we have a tax collection problem”

            That proposition is simply bollocks.

          • Abie Vee

            For once, you’re right.

      • Grace Ironwood

        Power bills too, Abie. Why is this so?

      • flydlbee

        Take the Socialist approach: refuse to pay and let them cut your water off. Then make all your friends and neighbours do the same. The water company will go broke, you will have successfully destroyed capitalism, and you won’t mind at all when your friends and neighbours democratically lynch you.

        • Abie Vee

          A Pyrrhic victory don’t you think? Typhus, cholera and pestilence all over the land… coming to a house near you.

          It would be far simpler, and a lot cheaper, to nationalise the ownership and supply of all the utilities (or at the very least take a state-owned golden share in each).

          I find the idea of generating massive private profits from the most vital necessity of life, water, obscene. I have no other words for it.

          • flydlbee

            Go down the village pump and draw your own, then.

          • Abie Vee

            What village pumps remain in Greater London (population 8.5 million on a quiet day) are non-functioning artifacts purely for show.

          • flydlbee

            You’ll have to make do with gin.

          • Abie Vee

            Beer is preferable. And safe.

          • flydlbee

            Beer makes your socks smell funny.

          • Abie Vee

            In which case, try sitting down.

          • wudyermucuss

            Ah,alcohol and leftism.
            Two classic escapes from reality.

          • Abie Vee

            Reality? A delusionary mental state caused by a deficiency of alcohol in the bloodstream.

            I’ll leave the rather obvious charges of your false inductive reasoning and loaded language for another more serious time.

          • wudyermucuss

            Oh dear.
            Just have some gin and read the groaniad for a bit and you’ll feel better maybe,for a bit.

          • wudyermucuss

            I find paying about £1 a day for limitless clean water anything other than obscene.
            The other word I would have for it is reasonable.
            The alternaive is nationalization.
            Do you remeber how that actually worked out?

          • Abie Vee

            I do. It worked perfectly. And a sight cheaper. I find the notion that ultimately the state should own nothing at all of our infrastructure quite absurd. What country in its right mind would happily sell all its vital assets to foreigners (mostly at fire-sale prices)?

            For all their talk of free markets and free movement of capital, I don’t notice the other EU member states rushing to do so. That might not tell you anything at all, but it screams DANGER-DANGER to me.

          • mohdanga

            “It worked perfectly.” That’s the laugh of the day.

          • vieuxceps2

            But, Abigail, does not everything non-socialist “scream” DANGER -DANGER to you? Even paying for your water?

          • Abie Vee

            Are you, er, under the weather Finbaaa?

          • Abie Vee

            To elaborate: I find the idea of generating massive private profits from that most vital necessity of life, water, obscene. Especially when those profits, bloated by creative accounting and financial prestidigitation, are sucked out of the country into the gaping maws of overseas investors free of UK taxes.

            Oh yes, you could well say I’m disgusted by it.

          • vieuxceps2

            Tell you what,Abigail, why not collectivise the supply of water ,that necessity, same as you did food, that necessity? Then comrade, we can die of starvation AND thirst as we did in Russia…..er …Tsovarisch

          • Abie Vee

            Ah me… the old reductio ad absurdum yet again. Will you children never tire of such nonsense. Seems not.

            You’re too slow to be playing Knock-down ginger aren’t you?

          • vieuxceps2

            And you answer with Oratio elenchi.Check your Boys’ Own Book of philosophy again (sighs wearily).

          • Abie Vee

            Oratio elenchi? Didn’t he have a kebab stall outside the Arsenal?

          • vieuxceps2

            Sed,pecunia non olet-( Exemplum gratia:Oratio elenchi).Try Millwall.Essex girls like it there.

          • Pacificweather

            In one sentence you have removed the entire EU and North American farming subsidy. UKIP would be proud of you.

          • vieuxceps2

            My comment, addressed to Abie Vee, was intended as irony or even sarcasm if you will,since said Abie is an insufferable leftie and revisionist. If these descriptions apply to you then hurrah! two birds with one stone.If not, then I see no point in your observation.

          • Pacificweather

            I think that is the point. The one you do not see.

          • wudyermucuss

            Just try to relax;deep breaths,you sound virtually hysterical.

          • Alexsandr

            er
            its not just clean water
            its also getting rid of your waste water. and probably your roof runoff too.

          • Pacificweather

            Very 1980s that. Pipe your surface water separately and charge you for it whilst using some of it to maintain the correct flow in the foul water pipes.

          • Alexsandr

            yes they are really going to dig up thousands of drives to put in separate foul and runoff drains

          • Pacificweather

            But only after the road has been recently resurfaced.

          • Pacificweather

            It worked extremely well until the politicians became to gutless to take the hit for the investment and developed a desire to increase the party coffers. You forget that 19th century capitalism used local government to build the reservoirs and pipes that, in the main (pun intended), we still use.

          • FootballFan*

            You write to many reply’s it makes you look far more invested in a mere article than you should be.

        • Pacificweather

          You timid socialists are all the same. Nationalisation without compensation is the way.

      • Arthur

        Because without shareholder investment many businesses are just shells ready to collapse.

        Money into Banks may become a problem too. As a young man starting out I could afford to get married, take on a mortgage and put a little away each month as savings. Of my four children only one is a home owner and if any of them manage to save anything in the course of a month, I doubt it is very much.

        Banks use savers money to lend to business. If year on year and into the future it becomes more and more difficult for young people to save the pool of money that Banks have to lend must diminish making it harder for businesses to thrive.

        • Abie Vee

          The business case for the privatisation of the UK’s nationalised utility companies was never properly addressed. It was pursued for ideological reasons…. ideology and greed. As for the banks, they should have been allowed to fail in 2008 and then picked-up cheaply and run by the State.

          But for the moment at least, we have to live with this kleptocracy.

          • Alexsandr

            privatisation is not done for greed. Its because the nationalised industries were starved of investment. By privatising them the borrowing they needed was not government borrowing any more. Away from the straightjacket of the Treasury they have the borrowing clout to enable them to invest and grow the businesses.

          • Abie Vee

            They have clout: our clout forcibly extracted under duress. While you’re doing nothing, compare this borrowing and investing of thiers with the tax-avoidance, the obscene wages of CEOs, their profits returned to shareholders as opposed to their workers and/or customers or the countruy.

            Kleptocracy on agrand scale.

          • Johnnydub

            Yeah Putin and his fellow oligharchs are so magnificently poor aren’t they?

          • vieuxceps2

            “run by the state”-Was there ever a more chilling phrase?

          • Abie Vee

            To you; common sense to many others (not all socialists by the way).

        • Pacificweather

          Have you considered the possibility that you did not bring them up with the concept of thrift. You even have the exception to prove the rule.

          • Arthur

            Possibly Pacificweather. But I’m confident their mother would have.

          • Pacificweather

            Hmm. That sounds like the start of a 20th century tale.

      • davidofkent

        Thames Water has inherited many miles of Victorian pipes and sewers which are all getting a bit old and must be renewed. It’s quite useful to know a few facts about a subject. Here’s another fact: the big shareholders such as pension companies do move their investments around to get a decent return for pensioners, but small private shareholders tend to keep shares rather longer and often, too long. Averages are not always very helpful.

        • Abie Vee

          Not quite, what Thames Water inherited was a handy built-in excuse to hike prices. The government could have accepted full responsibility for the pipeline infrastructure, it chose not to do so. It chose to transfer that obligation onto the backs of the consumers. Thames Water don’t pay these costs, we do!

          The facts remain; over the decade my bill has doubled, as have their profits. Indeed, their profits rose by 79% in just one year, 2013! And as far as I can tell, during this period they have paid no Corporation Tax at all.

          I know a scam when I see one. I’m far to long in the tooth to be receptive to baffle-gab.

          Averages are not helpful? Especially so when that average has fallen from six years to six months, right? Helpful it may not be; informative it is. It points squarely to the destructive short-termism of today’s get rich quick shareholders.

          • mohdanga

            “It chose to transfer that obligation onto the backs of the consumers. Thames Water don’t pay these costs, we do!” Err, consumers would have paid the costs of infrastructure updates regardless of whether privately or publicly run.

          • Abie Vee

            So privatisation is a form of surrogate taxation? A regressive form of taxation at that? I KNEW it all along!

          • Alexsandr

            why is paying for something you use taxation? Is it taxation to pay £2.40 for a flat white in costa?

          • Abie Vee

            Depends where the money goes, eh? My parking charges, my Congestion charges, go to local government or TfL. That’s direct taxation. My utility bills now go to privatised industries instead of the government; the government taxes the suppliers’ profits… the suppliers increase prices to maintain their net profits (by simply passing on their tax losses to the consumer): that’s surrogate taxation.

            See how it works? A scam.. It’s called Soak the Poor!

          • mohdanga

            There could be a variety of reasons why they paid no taxes, as long as they are following the law then what is the problem? After all, you’re all about the Law being for everyone, right?

          • Abie Vee

            At this point I’m not in a position to say that they are breaking the law. In due course that may well be proved to be so. I wouldn’t be at all surprised. They certainly wouldn’t be the first.

            OFGEM has already called for more transparency from the Utility companies, saying their accounting procedures are “Opaque”! A diplomatic word wouldn’t you say? Look it up.

            Indeed they are worse than that, as much is hidden abroad, far from the prying eyes of HMRC.

          • mohdanga

            If transferring funds offshore is legal then they are entitled to do it. If what they are doing is illegal surely they would have been charged by now?
            As they are public companies their financial statements are audited and anyone can see them. Perhaps the accounting rules are ‘opaque’ or they are in cahoots with the auditors in trying to hoodwink the regulator? Or maybe the regulator is not smart enough to figure the statements out.

          • Abie Vee

            If transferring funds offshore is legal? Sometimes it is.

            “By now”? It can take many years to uncover an institutionalised, systematic, and creatively planned accounting fraud.

            You’re a class act no? Textbook stupid.

          • mohdanga

            Yet your so-called fraud has never been discovered by either the external auditors (who are arm’s length) nor the regulators who supposedly know how the industry works. But you’re the expert so you know what is what. Moron.

          • Abie Vee

            They are the experts? hahahaha… you people make me roar! (1)Entire government’s have the wool pulled over their eyes.
            (2)Ofgen impotently wails that the Utilities accounting techniques are “opaque” while (3)Tories fret and bluster and do NOTHING about it! (4) HMRC is not fit for purpose due to slashed budgets, staff losses, and general all round incompetence for years. While (5) those odd one or two cases that ever come to court can now pay a small fine and walk away laughing all the way to the Bank. And (6) most of the Utilities have their headquarters abroad in secretive low-tax havens like Switzerland and Luxembourg, and the UK hasn’t the authority there to audit the accounts.

            Corruption and cronyism from top to bottom. You’re being rightly mugged-off and you’re too kin dumb to know it!

          • mohdanga

            And yet the UK, Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the rest of the developed world are under the auspices of the IFRS as prescribed by the IASB, standards which cover utilities. So if UK water utilities are ‘pulling the wool over our eyes’ then so are the utilities of every other country in the world (aside from the US which has yet to adopt full IFRS). Being that years are spent on developing these accounting rules, with the input from the industry, gov’t, regulators, independent accounting bodies, academia, accounting experts, accounting firms, etc it would seem to be a fairly large conspiracy.

          • Abie Vee

            I have no opinions upon what the rest of the world does (though I suppose I’ll have to bone-up on it at some point, since that’s where that nice Mr Fridge wants to take us all on a cap-in-hand magical mystery tour.)

            As regards the UK I’ll stick for now with the negative views of Ofgem and others. The National Audit office, for instance, who had this to say: Government projections put the real-term rise in energy bills at 18% by 2030. However, there is no government projection for water [why NOT I ask myself] but industry forecasts suggest 28% over the same period. And I BET my arz those are deliberate under-estimations.

            Four of the big six energy suppliers are foreign owned. French and German companies use our market as a cash cow to boost their profits because their own citizens are protected from massive rises by stricter legislation than ours.

            EDF is essentially the French state; E.ON is based in Dusseldorf; Npower’s parent company is the German giant RWE. Scottish Power is owned by Ibedrola, a massive Spanish utilities company.

            It doesn’t have to be like this! In the USA energy prices are subject to public hearings (GET THAT… PUBLIC) in every state! In many states vertically integrated utilities are forbidden (the ownership of the means of generation distribution and retail supply). California’s a good place to look.. they have some of the lowest energy prices in America as a result.

            The Americans reckoned that Iberdrola were ripping them off and froze their price increases for a DECADE!

            “A large conspiracy”? Yes, and many of those august bodies you dragoon to your support, and most of the public too, agree with that. The UK is being mugged-off. You’re just to stupid to realise.

          • mohdanga

            Yes, all those leaders of the accounting bodiess are involved in a massive conspiracy to rip off unsuspecting consumer. What a dolt you are.
            Wow, a 28% increase in rates over the next 15 years….which works out to a little under 2% a year, less if a compound rate is used. If inflation runs at 1 or 2% a year, the target of the central banks, then this increase is just keeping pace with inflation. Or are you too stupid to realize this?

          • Abie Vee

            I’ve already said that the projections are deliberate under-estimations. Do I have to repeat myself? I was being kind. They are lies.

            READ THIS AGAIN and a LOT slower: The water industry suggests 28% over 15 years. Hahahahahaha… Over a ten year period my rate doubled (and yours too I’d expect, if you’d even the wit to look) and the suppliers profit also doubled over the same period , 2003 – 2013. In 2013 alone, their profits increased by 79% over the previous year. My electricity bill has gone up over 70% in nine years.

            Cut it how you like, I KNOW I’m being mugged-off, and so do 70% of the population. YOU are the only DOLT on here!

          • mohdanga

            And you have access to the water companies’ projection calculations do you? Idiot.

          • Abie Vee

            You really CANNOT read can you? How strange.

            I was directly quoting from the NAO’s report (if you remember). And, um, no… I do not have access to the waters industry’s own projections. D’oh! Idiot yourself.

          • mohdanga

            Here’s your quote, numbnuts: “The National Audit office, for instance, who had this to say: “Government projections put the real-term rise in energy bills at 18% by 2030. However, there is no government projection for water [why NOT I ask myself] but industry forecasts suggest 28% over the same period.” And I BET my arz those are deliberate under-estimations.” So, a gov’t agency chooses not to publish its estimate of the increase in water bill rates…yet you say the industry rate is not correct (no evidence given to support this) then infer that the NAO’s report supports your non-evidence assertion when it clearly does not. Time to brush up on your logic, dumb dumb.

          • Abie Vee

            No dear, do try and follow the thread… this is SO tedious. It’s like trying to explain that there’s no Santa to a four year old.

            Shall i break it down for you? (1) The NAO said “…government projections put the real-term rise in energy bills at 18% …”

            With me so far? Good. They then went on to say, “… there is no government projection for water…” . To which I interjected, in brackets to let you know [why NOT I ask myself]. Indeed, why isn’t there a government forecast for water, when there are government forecasts for all the other utilities? A very good question.

            That should be clear enough. They continued with, “… industry forecasts suggest 28%…” That is to say, that the government, so far, has had nothing to say on the matter.

            It isn’t for the NAO to supply the government with forecasts. It is their job to audit (as it says on the label) government figures…. not industry’s! They have their own auditors. In due course, HMRC will audit those.

            The NAO is a quasi-independent authority. The Comptroller an Audit General leads the NAO. He and his staff are independent of government, they are not civil servants, and they do not report to a Minister.

            Are you familiar with this country at all ? If you are interested to begin, Google ” NAO Home ” and beaver away. Think you can manage that dear?

          • mohdanga

            Err, the lack of a gov’t estimate on future water rates does not equate to your conspiracy theory of them being more than the 28% increase proposed by the industry. I would have thought my point was fairly clear in pointing out your obtuse logic but obviously your stump brain can’t comprehend. Carry on, Mr. Mensa.

          • Abie Vee

            28% over 15 years defies logic and history. 100% over ten years is the actual recorded amount 2003 to 2013. That is known as a FACT.
            I can’t even begin to address your naive and childish proposition that the corporate kleptocracy is full of noble people.

            It’s too laughable for words. They are thieves.

            Every week the government hands the three biggest water companies £144 million in tax rebates! On the government website GOV.UK they have a report 07/07/2015 ” CMA sets out case for energy market reform.” which says quite clearly: Electricity prices have risen by 75% and gas prices by 125% over the last ten years! I have all my bills going back ten years: that’s what I made it too!

            28% in 15 years? CUCKOO.

          • mohdanga

            “I can’t even begin to address your naive and childish proposition that the corporate kleptocracy is full of noble people. It’s too laughable for words. They are thieves.” Yup, those same ‘thieves’ that invented the computer you use, the oil companies that refine the oil that allow you to use your car, power the internet that you make blinkered comments on, etc, etc. Why don’t you live in a sod hut in order to stop funding these ‘thieves’??
            Again, just because past rates went up X over 10 years does not mean the same will hold true in the future and you have no evidence that they will. Go back to 2000….how many experts predicted that interest rates in 2015 would be 1% and in some cases, negative??? A decline of 80% in interest rates would have been unheard of and laughed at.
            You scream that the gov’t is saying electricity went up by 75% in ten years yet give no credence to their prediction of an increase of only 18% in the next 15.

          • Abie Vee

            You logic is truly bizarre.

            I have evidence. The evidence of history… the evidence of my own household bills! And that is the reality. I have the evidence of damning Ofgen reports on “opaque” accounting and pricing practices. I have quotes from HMRC ant the NAO. You have nothing but faith. Faith in crooks and profiteers.

            Bills are up 75% electricity; up 125% gas; up 100% Thames Water over ten years. That’s good enough for me. Theft!

            Of course, prediction is very difficult. But your argument that I cannot know the future doesn’t seem to apply to you, in some miraculous way: you just “know” that the government is right. And you back up that proposition by proving yourself wrong! Incredible. “experts would have been laughed at”.

            This week is announced that George Osborne is going to overshoot one of his own targets by 15 years! Instead of 2020… 2035! Not bad eh? A kid could do better. In fact I’d go as far as to say the government forecasts usually are wrong.

            Have you actually bothered to try and read the official sites I have given you? NO you haven’t. You’re too comfortable in your own fantasy world… you couldn’t handle a rude awakening.

            Your slavish toadying is faith-based. It isn’t based on intellect.

          • mohdanga

            Yawn. Where did I say that I could predict the future or that the gov’t is right? Please use your brain before engaging in adult discussions. Because a company increases its profits doesn’t mean it is stealing from you.
            If you feel that electricity, water and gas providers are thieves, crooks and profiteers then get off the grid and supply your own, no one is stopping you. Yet you continue to support a system that you obviously despise. Odd.

          • Abie Vee

            Doesn’t it? It sounds like thieving to me when inflation is at one percent and a company’s profits go up by 79% in that same year. Easy=peasey when your a monopoly, eh?

            Prk.

          • mohdanga

            Hmmm. Costs could have decreased, efficiencies could have increased, items such as depreciation and amortization could have decreased, all things leading to increased profits.
            Idiot.

          • robertsonjames

            Since the UK has lower domestic energy prices than most European countries, with retail gas prices lower than in either France and Germany, your claim that we are being used as the “cash cow” by energy suppliers based in those countries frankly sounds suspiciously like the standard socialist gambit in economic argument which is to rely on your own pet anti-capitalist conspiracy theory rather than the hard numbers. Here are the real figures, courtesy of your beloved EU:

            http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Energy_price_statistics

            It’s incumbent on anyone who favours re-nationalisation to explain how they’re going to keep our domestic energy prices as low as they currently are by international standards or else to admit that they would be quite happy to see them rise if that’s the price we have to pay for achieving their ideological objective of state ownership.

          • Abie Vee

            Our prices for gas ought to be lower than those of those non-gas producing examples of yours. The fact is they are not. Read on, I’ll enlighten you.

            Electricity: if you look again at your own figures, you will see that the basic price of electricity (i.e that which is charged by the electricity companies) is among the very highest in the EU… in the top three. The fact that the gross figures comes out in the middle -range is simply because the UK does not tax it with such high levels of VAT and other levies as other EU countries do. And of course, needless to say, that is nothing whatsoever to do with the suppliers! Our net price is as high as anyone’s!

            The same goes for gas.

            As regards profits, a better judge; electricity company profits have risen by 75%, Water by 100% and gas by 125% over the decade. That, my friend is profiteering. Cut it how you like.

            WE will take a golden share in each these companies (say 25%) to make sure they are not channeling excess amounts of profits to shareholders. It really is that simple. We may also break-up their vertically-integrated structures whereby they generate, distribute and retail supplies. Such structures are illegal in many states of America, California for example (which has one of the lowest tariffs in the States I’m told). I would check that out but it’s late.

            But thanks for the figures, it’s JUST as I thought. A scam.

          • Pacificweather

            What were Thames Water’s annual political contributions?

      • TomV

        Which country run by the left is a success story ?

        Compare it with Venezuela, a iPhone runs for 46.000$ and toilet paper is hard to get 🙂

        Check out Greece, people have to stand in line to withdraw 60€ from an ATM.

        On the contrary GDP of UK 41.000$ and HDI no 14, doesn’t sound so terrible. Another factor, how many people would love to live in the UK, how many are migrating to the UK, especially from countries run by the left. It’s called VOTING WITH YOUR FEET 🙂

        http://uk.businessinsider.com/venezuelan-inflation-leads-to-a-47000-iphone-2015-6?r=US&IR=T

        • Coffee Connoisseur

          Try very hard to imagine the concept that there are more options than just left vs right. It’s a brave new world out there.

        • Abie Vee

          At various times, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, France, Eire, Spain, The United Kingdom, er, New Zealand, Australia, Germany and Peckham.

          • TomV

            I don’t see that those countries have changed to the worse, most of them are doing much better nowadays.

            Take Germany or the UK during the 70s with a more socialistic approach, the economic and social situation was much worse.

          • Abie Vee

            Britain was far from being a ‘failed state’ in the 1970s. That’s just the usual Tory bollocks. A survey by the New Economics Foundation based on social inequality indices, investment in public services, levels of pay and other benefits to ordinary workers, found that 1976 was the ‘happiest year’ in the period 1945 to date. Furthermore, the 70’s were record years for beer production in the UK! We were rolling in money. I was earning £12 k a year by the end of the decade… that’s nearly £62 k today. Not bad for a bludger. I wouldn’t mind that now.

          • Pacificweather

            You are right. 1976 was an excellent year for me and I am glad it was for others. Someone here was moaning about it the other day but refused to say what was wrong with it.

          • Abie Vee

            It was probably the haircuts and The Bay City Rollers that put them off. And “loons”.

          • Pacificweather

            Gosh, I had forgotten loons. But the thing to remember is that women were still thin enough to look good in them and even better without them.

    • Cornelius Bonkers

      OK, but beware of ALL lefties. They are not only economic fantasists. In academia they also control the minds of the young politically, sociologically, psychoanalytically, historically – I could go on but you get the point…

      • Jean-Claude Cameron

        Paul Mason was rightly ridiculed by Max Keiser only yesterday, the latter who compared the former’s feeble thinking to those expressed by Star Trekonomics.

        That sums it up, at least for me.

        • Cornelius Bonkers

          I was reading Mason’s book in Waterstone’s today; it did indeed have the smell of someone who thinks he has something important to say – feeble describes it well. I think it’s written for teachers, civil servants and folk like that. How does the phrase go? “shit in shit out” – that sums it up for me…

          • Abie Vee

            I too took a course in speed reading. I too read a book in Waterstone’s today. It was called War and Peace. It’s about Russians.

          • UKSteve

            You? Read?

            Su-u-u-u-u-u-re.

          • Abie Vee

            Sense of humour bypass Stevie? I suppose you had the charisma bypass as a job lot.

          • UKSteve

            I thought it was a suitably cheap humorous aside. Ah well.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Did you note the “Stevie”? Fake familiarity contrived to belittle you. He does it with everyone who doesn’t share his views. They all do it.

          • Abie Vee

            As in Moutard.

          • UKSteve

            Yes, completely agree, good Colonel.

            They are indeed all the same. Abie here has been launching all sorts of insults and nasty asides, and the cries “ad hom” as soon as a reply hits home.

            I find it funny the way he throws out alls sorts of references as a pretence to learning, and rarely has a clue about any of them.

          • logdon

            Well spotted.

            It’s the little details that add up in their armoury of control.

          • Pacificweather

            Spot on Musy.

          • Standish79

            Not just Russians but also the interesting subjects of war and, indeed, peace. A great book for someone confined to hospital.

          • Abie Vee

            Gosh. This is HARD work.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Don’t fucking do it then. You won’t be missed.

          • Abie Vee

            Language Moutard!

            Kindly confine your barrack-room argot to the barracks! There is mixed company on here. I thought you were an officer and a gentleman. I was obviously mistaken. You bring disgrace to the Regiment.

          • grimm

            That’s an old Woody Allen joke (and it wasn’t even funny when he made it).

          • Rbeastlondon

            Sorry Mr Grimm , did not notice you beat me to it.

            ‘I can walk to the pavement from here’ is funny though.

          • Abie Vee

            The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.

          • Alexsandr

            best cure for insomnia is the realisation its nearly time to get up

          • Abie Vee

            I thought it was. Grimm? Shouldn’t that be Glumm?

          • Cornelius Bonkers

            Ah, very good. OK here we go again. When I said I was reading Mason’s book that’s precisely what I meant. I didn’t say I READ it, meaning I completed reading it. Is that OK? If you’re going to practice pedantry I suggest you take more care. In Waterstone’s I was in a transitory reading situation for which the English language provides syntactical resources. I don’t mind a bit of criticism but keep the Spectator standard up to scratch- please don’t lower the satirical tone…best regards

          • Abie Vee

            And on the basis of a confessed flip-through in the hurly-burly of a Waterstone’s store, you’re able to post a considered opinion ( the percipient and informative “shit in shit out”.) Did you take notes?

            But of course, I was making the point that you read the book in the same way as Woody Allen read War and Peace: superficially. As you confirm.

          • greencoat

            Ha! You don’t need to read one word of this tripe, in Waterstone’s or anywhere else.
            One look at the title tells you all you need to know.

          • Abie Vee

            You don’t seem to need to know much, do you.

          • Cornelius Bonkers

            I would say good try. But my “flip through” is informed by more than just the “flip through”. At this stage I don’t always have to make notes to “smell” what’s going on. And as I said, I didn’t claim to have “read” the book – you can’t have it both ways. Successful pedantry is far more difficult than you seem to think. So, keep practising. I’m always here…

          • Abie Vee

            Ah, a mysterious and heretofore undisclosed escape hatch opens: “… informed by more than just the “flip through”! More than?

            In which case you were probably seeking confirmation bias only (consciously or unconsciously) for your previously held “informed” opinion rather than, say, a Damascene conversion.

            Well why didn’t you say so in the first place?

            ps You said “reading”. How much, or how little you “read” is now to become the focus of the debate is it, rather that what you read? Feeble describes it well.

          • Cornelius Bonkers

            Well, none of is a tabula rasa are we? And so if anyone disagrees with a thesis then they are read to confirm their own opinion? I take it back; you ARE a successful pedant – too much for me. Best regards

          • Abie Vee

            Anyone? As in any person at all!? Reductio ad absurdum. Or is it faulty inductive reasoning? Hmmm… so much to do and so little time.

          • Cornelius Bonkers

            Reductio ad absurdum? Me? Well of course! I think you need to examine your own utterances too. But I thought I was having an informed exchange of views with a sensible person of good will! I’d hoped logic seminars were a thing of the past. But I’ve looked at your others comments, declare myself defeated and now have to put the rubbish bins out…

          • Hermine Funkington-Rumpelstilz

            Those who agree with you in form of an upvote are not exactly the kind I would invite round for tea, dear. You must try harder to leave a lasting impression. Ta-ra.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Well I wouldn’t p on you if you were on fire so the feelings are mutual.

            As the S*x Pistols once said:

            “I bet you don’t hate us as much as we hate you”

          • Hermine Funkington-Rumpelstilz

            I am not sure why it is you feel the need to tell us about your toilet habits or what goes on between you and your partner, I addressed Mr Bonkers and find your rather mindless interfering quite ennuyeux, sir.

          • Coffee Connoisseur

            Time to evolve people. You live on the same planet flying through space and have the same basic needs.
            You are even the same race. The human race.

          • Pacificweather

            Doubtless you read The Book Thief there too. Snuck iin every Wednesday afternoon until the well fingered book was unsaleable?

          • Rbeastlondon

            That’s a Woody Allen joke.

          • Abie Vee

            Of cough it is.

          • sfin

            We don’t often agree…but take a point for making me chuckle!

          • Gilbert White

            Just walk out with it. If questioned just say all property is theft.

          • Cornelius Bonkers

            As a conservative gentleman I couldn’t possibly commit a property crime of this kind even to get my hands on, say, Houellebecq’s new book – let alone Mason’s…

          • Pacificweather

            You could at least have read it in the public library rather than depriving Waterstones of their meagre profit. Don’t they have enough problems with Amazon without Mr Bonkers as well.

          • Cornelius Bonkers

            Dear Mr Weather, you are of course correct to direct me to a public library. Two points: 1. I don’t know of one worthy of the name; and 2. if there were one in Essex where I live the chances of Mason’s book being on the shelves within the next 6 months are very small. Regards…

          • Abie Vee

            Fancy going all the way to Hampstead to flip through a book you already knew you weren’t going to like! Mind you, I had much the same feeling when I went to Clacton.

            ps there’s always The Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell. You could have a fortnight’s holiday in there not liking stuff.

          • Cornelius Bonkers

            Yo Abs, thanks for the advice. Given the Corbyn affair and the rise of the new-new left maybe I’ll try Marx just one more time. Best regards

          • Abie Vee

            There’s better pubs in Clerkenwell too. ‘Ampstead’s ‘ad it.

          • Cornelius Bonkers

            Gawd bless yer Abs – you’re a toff. “There’s better pubs”????? (mmm!)

          • Abie Vee

            Champagne certainly gives one wery gentlemanly ideas, but for a continuence, I don’t know but I should prefer mild hale.

          • Pacificweather

            Essex? Say no more squire.

        • PARVUS

          That’s right. He’s also the sage who gave us: ‘I don’t want to be English – and neither should you, you ghastly little hobbits…
          ‘ See:
          http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/10/snp-english-national-identity-class-cultural-divide..

      • greggf

        Well Cornelius, while “it seems very much to be the politics of the left which are coming to the end of their ability to adapt”, someone has invented Zombie-Capitalism and it’s step brother Too Big To Fail…….

        • Cornelius Bonkers

          My brief encounter in Waterstone’s with Mason’s thesis suggests to me that this is another piece of postmodernist charlatanism. As Post modernism defines our times as something which they are not, it lapses into non-sense. Similarly, as I understand it, a zombie is an energy which breathes life into a dead entity – sounds a bit too mystical for me…I think Mason is a wanabee. Honestly, just ‘cos he’s on telly…

      • Ipsmick

        I think you’ll find you’re wrong. Postmodernism is a species of nihilist fascism, and Keynesian economics is no longer taught. The right is terrified of any ideas other than those truisms by which they mediate what passes for their lives.

        • Cornelius Bonkers

          Mmmm!, So what you’re telling me is that lefties don’t control our education establishment any more? Give me strength!And of course Keynes is taught – It’s in the left liberal DNA. And if you want proof just read Anthony Giddens recent book about the European Union. I hate to be offensive but your remark about postmodernism is truly idiotic; the one thing fascism isn’t is nihilist…tut tut…God help us

    • Grace Ironwood

      We’ve had people commanding bread prices to go down and creating famines for hundreds of years before Marx and it appears they want to continue doing it for hundreds of years afterwards as well.
      🙂

      • mdj

        Curiously for such an essential item, I’ve never heard the left call for a National Bread Service.

        • Grace Ironwood

          You’re in the wrong century for that.

      • Coffee Connoisseur

        That problem gets resolved through automation

    • Tom M

      The 16th Century the siege of Antwerp is my favourite. The population didn’t like the increase in prices demanded by those that ran the Spanish blockade to provide food. The city’s burghers decided to restrict the prices to their normal level. The population starved.

      • Abie Vee

        They starved because they ran out of food.

        • Caractacus

          They ran out of food because they tried to control the price of food.

          • Tom M

            Thanks, saved me the effort.

    • Ambientereal

      Exactly the same happenned in Argentina in 2011, where the government, in order to underestimate the inflation rates, declared that a dollar should cost 5 pesos although the market price was 8. The government forbid the free sale of currency between privates, and the value of the currency skyrocketed.

    • greggf

      Did you not read that in Isabel Allende’s (no relation she’s from Peru) novel “House of the Spirits” Sholto?
      I was in Argentina during the generals reign, working, and elsewhere. There was a bit of a progrom of Lefties then and later. Although the only place they got a foothold was in Nicaragua where Daniel Ortega was fooled by the opinion polls, must have been the same lot predicting a Labour victory In May, had a general election and got voted out!

    • Coffee Connoisseur

      None so blind as those who cannot (or will not) see. Mason isn’t talking about socialism and redistribution of wealth instead of Capitalism. He is talking about automating and finding efficiencies in our system so that we can restructure society and do away with unnecessary jobs.
      The future Mason is talking about is far better than the real world dystopia many now face after the GFC. Take a look around its not all roses and wine gums out there.
      Capitalism and the market are failing to deliver basic needs to more and more people in society. This isn’t third world countries we are talking about. It is first world countries and its affecting people who have had a relatively decent standard of living in the past.
      I assume you know why Communism failed? An inability to deliver basic needs. Well time to take a closer look because the very same thing is happening with Capitalism. The difference is the goods and services exist, its just that people can’t afford them.
      Sure we can continue down the path that we are on. But the end result is the majority in low wage roles struggling to afford and thus obtain the basics.
      The market hasn’t adjusted and its not going to. So long as some people can still afford to buy goods and services it won’t adjust. That is a recipe for system failure.
      The question is how painful do you want it to be.

      The crazy thing is what Mason is suggesting has been simply what many in IT have been doing for the past 20 years. The Automation isn’t coming, its already here and it is about to reach never before seen levels.
      There isn’t going to be a recovery. Not now. not ever.

      What Mason is saying and quite rightly so is that we should understand that and design a system around the technology to deliver far better outcomes than we havehve now.
      The question is will we be smart enough to do so.

      You quote Churchill but ignore the fact that we live in a very different world than the one we live in today. He was talking about democracy not Capitalism and rightly so.

      If you actually do proper Systems Analysis on Capitalism it is a very very poor system given our technological capability. But then we are now in the 21st Century after all. Well some of us are.

  • WFB56

    An excellent piece with a killer line, “If anybody thinks they have read all that before, it is because they have. For decades.” Very droll; nothing worse than a self-righteous bore.

  • misomiso

    Doug you’re great; but please please please leave off attacking people on the Left who are becoming more anti EU.

    Paul Mason, Owen Jones and the others may have some crazy ideas, and I know you love eviscerating their hypocrisy, but just hold it together till the referendum is over please!

    Remember Reagan said his rule was to never criticise another conservative? Just hold your nose and apply that rule till the referendum. Let the Left have their little indulgences. To win this, we need all the help we can get.

    • Mr Grumpy

      As a Euro-agnostic I beg to differ. If the case for getting out that I hear is Owen Jones’s I will vote to stay in, period. Bear in mind that we have been here before. In 1975 Powell and Benn tried to present a united front and just made themselves easy meat for the Heath-Thorpe-Jenkins axis.

      • Clive

        The Get Britain Out (GBO) campaign was not destroyed by any subtle line of argument. It was destroyed by lies and money.

        The central lie that this was only about a trade agreement – who could disagree with that ?

        The money came primarily from Big Business. The ‘Stay In’ campaign outspent the GBO campaign officially by 3 to 1 – I believe it was more like 5 to 1.

        Incidentally, I was a member of the Liberal party but I volunteered for the GBO campaign which was organised in Brent by the Communist party and the Labour Party Young Socialists.

        The new central lie will be that we have negotiated better terms. The money will come from the same place as well as the govt and EU. Cameron is trying to ensure that the spending imbalance will remain. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/eu-referendum-david-cameron-accused-of-loading-debate-to-encourage-uk-to-stay-in-union-10302333.html

        • Coffee Connoisseur

          If your a liberal you should take another look at what Mason is saying. The technology will deliver far more Liberalism than the Liberal party ever will.

    • Gilbert White

      At least Mason is not going to capitlize on his tome like Jones did , all procedes go to the to the IR. then to the Bengal Tiger.

  • Fraser Bailey

    Yes, Mason is a weapons grade idiot. It’s a shame, because we need a relentless and intelligent critique of the financialization of our society and the rule by banks, backed up by some proposals for workable alternatives.

    Sadly, Mason and his fellow travellers at the Guardian and BBC etc are too addicted to their hatred of enterprise and their love of the state to look beyond the same old tired, tired messaging. They are at least 100 years out of date.

    • http://moraymint.wordpress.com/ moraymint

      I’ve always found Paul Mason a bit of a – how shall I say it? – plonker. Why anybody pays him a salary for his unsubstantiated cobblers beats me.

      • JabbaTheCat

        Perfectly nailed…

      • Peter Grimes

        I raise you a Stephanie Flanders.

        • http://moraymint.wordpress.com/ moraymint

          Yes, quite pretty, but effing useless otherwise.

          • SalmondFishing

            What’s with the link? Why hide what it is.

          • http://moraymint.wordpress.com/ moraymint

            I always tend to use the tinyurl application to convert web addresses to a smaller URL before inserting the link. I should have preceded the link with the title of the article at the end of the link, namely ‘Osborne’s False Prophet: Why Jim O’Neill Will Never Deliver a Northern Powerhouse’.

            I understand your concern about being linked over to some dodgy website or other; I wouldn’t do that.

    • Abie Vee

      Thank god for the state. It accounts for 50% of UK GDP. 50%!!!

      Thank god for the state; It rescued capitalism from self-destruction in 2008/09.
      Thank god for the state; it hands-out £100 billion a year in tax-breaks to British Industry, hallelujah!
      Thank god for the state, it gives tax-payer’s money to buy-to-let landlords to the sum of £39 billion annually in rents and tax allowances.
      Thank god for the state; where would our banks be without semi-nationalisation and the hundreds of billions of QE given to them to play with?

      A property-owning democracy? Nah… a nation of state-subsidy junkies.

      • global city

        er, corporatism. remember that when it comes to the EU referendum.

        • Abie Vee

          In or out of the EU won’t make the slightest difference. We’re in a neo-feudal age… a corporate kleptocracy. And for now the people are powerless.

          • global city

            The more power we get back then the better the chance to go further still. Being in the EU is fast-tracking the corporate kleptocracy you mention, as well as stripping even more power from the people.

            Deciding that the job is too big is defeatism, the inference being that we have to wait for someone like Mason to come and sweep it all away….which he won’t.

          • Abie Vee

            The idea that the UK can fight global capitalism all on its little ownsome his laughable.

            The inference (as you put it) is that we have to wait. All we can do (even assuming the will is there, and I’ve seen no evidence of that) is to ameliorate its worst excesses in the meantime.

            I’d say running away form the EU is defeatism. The logical thing to do would be to garner allies and change it from within. Deserting the field of battle isn’t a viable option.

          • Mark Bailey

            Its worst excesses being lifting more people out of poverty than ever before – and that’s more as a proportion of the population as well as an absolute number. Ponder that whilst you tap away on one of the myriad fruits of capitalism you ungratefully enjoy.

          • Abie Vee

            You make the IMF sound like a charity!

            I actually enjoy the fruits of technological advancement. But my country, though allegedly enriched, is simultaneously being destroyed. Manufacturing, farming, fisheries dwindle away into irrelevance, zero-hours and slave-wages abound, the middle-classes are reduced to proletarians too while the rich get richer and soup-kitchens and food banks and child poverty reach modern highs… and two million people languish in sub-standard accommodation waiting for affordable rental homes that will never be built.

            Meanwhile the social-cleansing of London gathers apace as the poor, the disadvantaged, the disabled and the dispossessed are shat upon from a great height by right-wing class-warriors.

            You’ve asked for it, and soon you’ll get it.

          • Coffee Connoisseur

            Good to see that some people actually get it.
            You notice that those who disagree will attack Mason himself and at best put up very weak arguments to counter what Mason is saying just as this Author has with his AirBNB example. Expect the attacks to increase in intensity.
            To me it only goes to show that Mason is on the money on this one.

          • blandings

            “the middle-classes are reduced to proletarians too while the rich get richer and soup-kitchens and food banks and child poverty reach modern highs… and two million people languish in sub-standard accommodation
            waiting for affordable rental homes that will never be built.”

            This is self-indulgent guardian reader bull
            The “poor” in this country know nothing of poverty.
            Poor little Abie, reduced to the soup kitchen are you? – only in your masochistic fantasies.

          • Abie Vee

            What do you know of poverty? Do you even know the difference between absolute poverty, relative poverty, and social exclusion?

            You DO! Well there’s a surprise. So which one are you waffling on about this evening?

            [There are millions of visits to food banks and other charitable institutions. Fortunately, I’m not a customer.]

          • Johnnydub

            Oh let me bow down to your unquestionable virtue…

            No actually let me identify you as others have done as a fully paid up Guardian believing moron.

          • mohdanga

            ‘Social cleansing’?? Must be the new buzz word amongst the dopey left.
            You forgot to mention the ‘social cleansing’ of white, indigenous Brits from London because of the tsunami of enriching Muslims and other ‘vibrant’ 3rd worlders. But this doesn’t fit the narrative does it?

          • Coffee Connoisseur

            If you want to dwell in the past I guess that’s you’re perogative.
            Thats not the problem however. The problem is people who have lived in societies such as the UK that are considered 1st world that have an incresing section of society sliding backwards into poverty as the prices of the most basic needs continue to rise to levels that make them harder to obtain by more and more people.
            That is a recipe for system collapse…

          • Alexsandr

            so what are the big bills? housing. over demand caused by immigration. Hwat isiot thought you could import the population of Leicester each year without a massive building programme??
            domestic fuel. well Milibands climate change act didnt help that did it? greenery more important than freezing pensioners.
            road fuel. most people drive to work. but stupid things like fuel price escaaltors dont help. How come diesel is EUR1.35 in germany, so much cheaper than here.

          • Alexsandr

            oh. is this absolute poverty or relative poverty?

          • blandings

            “The idea that the UK can fight global capitalism all on its little ownsome his laughable.”

            No more laughable than the idea that the EU could fight fight global capitalism all on its little ownsome. Because you see, little Abie, the viabilty of the EU is itself predicated upon the continuing existence of global capitalism. You don’t understand the basics Abie.

            “The logical thing to do would be to garner allies and change it from within”
            Yeah, when you’ve garnered those allies come back and tell us – we ain’t holding our breath.

          • Abie Vee

            “No more laughable than the idea that the EU could fight fight global capitalism all on its little ownsome.”

            I agree, broadly. But common sense should tell you, a-la Ben Franklin, that we must all hang together, or else we will hang separately. There is strength in numbers.

            We had allies a-plenty in the EU. It is the UK, particularly the Tories under Cameron, who has distanced us from them.

          • blandings

            If you agree with me then, on this occasion, I must be wrong.

          • Abie Vee

            As per usual.

          • Alexsandr

            no. they want ever closer union. they dont value democracy. They are alien to the British way.

          • Abie Vee

            Or, as it actually says on the label, “an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe.” “Peoples” note, not governments. A laudable ambition wouldn’t you say? (as opposed to Panzers on your lawn).

          • Alexsandr

            its NATO thats kept the peace, not the EU

          • Abie Vee

            Yes, every home should have one.

            It is just as easy to draw a statistical correlation between peace in Europe and the wide availability of TVs. Indeed, I’d argue that TV does a far better job of bringing peoples together than NATO.

            Cheaper too.

          • mohdanga

            Yes, those TVs in West Germany would have been a bulwark against millions of Soviet troops.

          • Abie Vee

            But you can’t prove they weren’t.

          • Mary Ann

            The EU was started to keep the peace.

          • Mark Bailey

            You’re loving that word neo, aren’t you. Why does it provide such pleasurable service for you? And feudal. You know that ultra-local form of government and law where you had to provide 1/7th of your labour to the local lord; so much worse than our current 2/5ths to the state.

          • Abie Vee

            Neo-feudal? I like the expression. It accurately reflects how I see the free market corporate-kleptocracy in action.

            Yes we are serfs, what happened to job security? What happened to the notion of a career, a “job for life”? What is happening to our right to withdraw our labour? What is happening to Trade Unions? They are no longer able to defend our rights to work for decent wages and our ability to take our employment grievances through the courts.

            All reminiscent of feudal societies… unequal rights and legal protections for common people and for the rich.

            The BMJ published: For the poorest in our society, up to 35% of disposable income will now be needed for food, compared to less than 9% for the more wealthy. This will increase reliance on cheap, highly processed, high fat, high sugar, high salt, and calorie dense, unhealthy foods. Re-emerging problems of poor public health nutrition such as rickets and malnutrition in the elderly are also causes for concern.

            Zero-hours, minimum wage, insecure jobs, while poverty and malnutrition again stalk the land. Yup… it sound’s pretty kin feudal to me.

            Democracy? Don’t make me laugh. Try Oligarchy!

          • mohdanga

            Junk food is expensive, real food is not. How much do rice and pasta cost?
            “Poverty and malnutrition stalking the land”…hilarious. But why keep bringing in millions of poor 3rd worlders who you are so in love with if they will only exacerbate this mass starvation?

          • blandings

            “We’re in a neo-feudal age.”
            No we’re not Abie, because “neo-feudal” doesn’t actually mean anything – It relates to nothing in the real world. It is just a puerile term behind which you hope to hide your ignorance.

          • Abie Vee

            Hmm, so I hide my ignorance while you trumpet yours? I see.

            You imagine that you are rebelling against something, but in reality you don’t actually know what it is. So in your confusion, and despair, the EU becomes a substitute bogeyman.

            Neo-feudalism: Four classes; the oligarchs (the super-wealthy) with the clerisy at their behest (government , the media elite, and the academia), the yeomanry (the middle class and small-business owners), and the serfs (the working poor and government dependents).

            Before you very eyes, the yeomanry are being eviscerated while the oligarchs consolidate their power, with the willing assistance of the clerisy, as the serfs grow in huge number.

            In a nut shell.

          • Alexsandr

            oh i love a lefty with their labels.

          • Abie Vee

            Surely you’ve more than that in your tiny locker? If not, why bother?

            Dogs chase motorcars, but they can’t drive.

            KnowwhatI’msayin’?

          • Johnnydub

            “Neo feudal” like “neo liberalism” means stuff that lefty authors don’t like.

            Its meaningless bullshit.

      • mattghg

        *Not-taking* money is not the same thing as *giving* money

        • Abie Vee

          Yes it is. Taxes foregone, returned, written-off or not taken are the same thing. The government is voluntarily denuding itself of that income, and the recipients of this generosity are thus better off by that precise amount. Viz. £100 billion.

          As I say… a nation of subsidy-junkies. Thatcher’s ultimate legacy!

          • Mark Bailey

            That’s interesting. So all of my income belongs to the state and any they don’t take from me is a subsidy? Really?

            “£100 billion a year in tax-breaks”, that’ll be tax relief for investment. You know, that thing the left is always demanding more of.

            Did you actually get past page 1 of Economics for Idiots?

          • Abie Vee

            Inductive fallacy. The government has no legitimate tax claim upon all your income. What nonsense. And you speak to me of economic illiteracy? Good grief.

            I didn’t really expect to have to get into detail about this as the facts are readily available in the public domain. The annual £100 billion sum is in the form of tax breaks and direct subsidies. I’ll leave to you to investigate the proportions if you’re that obsessed. I’m not. Neither am I inclined to engage in seemingly abstract arguments on whether a tax foregone represents a benefit. I’d imagine that most people would say it certainly does.

            I’ve also no idea what the £100 billion is all “for”. Nope. And I don’t actually care. That issue is barely even tangential to my point. I don’t speak for “the left” (?)… I seek to draw attention to the identity of the true subsidy-junkies of this land.

            To those who have the most, more shall be given; from those who have little, it shall be taken.

          • oldoddjobs

            You seem to assume that the state owns everything and everyone’s wealth. (It doesn’t.)

          • Abie Vee

            Er, no… you do the assuming here. I know it doesn’t (and never has).

          • oldoddjobs

            If I decide not to rob you of 50 pounds, then I have given you 50 pounds!

          • Quest for Liberty

            ‘rob’ being the key word

          • stag

            The seemingly abstract argument is an important one. Latent, in collapsing direct subsidies and tax relief into undifferentiated state ‘benefit’, is the idea that ‘to give’ is, to all intents and purposes, equivalent to ‘not to take’. I think it is very important that these two aspects of state support for private enterprise (big or small) are kept distinct. Failure to do so leads logically to the conclusion that Mark Bailey reached: when the state neglects to take a proportion of private income, it may just as well be thought to give it as a benefit to the individual or company in question. Although the immediate practical consequences of that conflation may be minimal, the conceptual ground is prepared for all sorts of practical consequences further down the line.

          • Coffee Connoisseur

            I’d suggest you read up on why Communism failed. Then it won’t be a surprise when Capitalism fails for similar reasons.

          • UKSteve

            Your idiocy – Labour’s ultimate achievement.

          • Abie Vee

            Irrelevant.

            When you’re in a hole, hurl an ad hominem, eh? And you talk of “idiocy”? Good grief.

          • UKSteve

            An ad hominem is just a statement of truth that you don’t like.

          • Abie Vee

            An argumentum ad hominem does not have to be true. It probably helps if it isn’t.

          • Anonymous

            Anybody ever told you you’re a stuck up self righteous bitch?

          • Abie Vee

            Funnily enough, no. At least, not anybody who actually knows me.

          • Anonymous

            Well let me be the first, watching you on this thread is like watching a five year old spoilt brat pestering the adults at a dinner party for attention. If you were any more considered in your comments, you might actually have some great points, instead you start pointless flame wars with other numbskulls on here and waste everybody’s time. If you think using this off hand tone makes you look smart, it doesn’t, It just makes you look like a naive, arrogant little shiat who thinks she’s smarter than everybody else. How about you grow your brain a bit and then come back when you want a considered debate?

          • Abie Vee

            Hardly a budding Voltaire are you? My opinions, my views, are certainly as legitimate as anyone’s. Therefore, in this “free” country of ours, I have as much right as anyone to express them. Wouldn’t you say? Where’s my Knight in shining armour when I need him?

            What I try to do on here is to prod right-wing people out of their comfort zones (pop their mental bubblewrap, as it were) if only temporarily. I mean, if we all sat around in mutually smug agreement, telling ourselves what jolly good chaps we are, what would be the point of the exercise… confirmation bias? I believe that progress comes from conflict.

            I HATE to name drop. But, I subscribe to Sartre’s view that passivity, quietism, appeasement, are not viable modes of living; I share his view that fascism is always the likely outcome of doing nothing. Thus I have no option other than to engage!

            The future depends upon what you do today. Toodle-pip.

          • blandings

            “I HATE to name drop. But, I subscribe to Sartre’s view that passivity, quietism, appeasement, are not viable modes of living; I share his view that fascism is always the likely outcome of doing nothing. Thus I have no option other than to engage!”

            You haven’t read Sartre have you?
            You confuse “cut and paste” with understanding.

          • Abie Vee

            Indeed I have. Have you? So far it’s not apparent.

          • vieuxceps2

            These “recipients”,do they include me?

          • Abie Vee

            I don’t know. Don’t you know either? How odd.

        • Abie Vee

          It is EXACTLY the same thing. The net result is that you are £100 billion better-off than you could have been.

          • vieuxceps2

            Ah that funny socialist money which they give you by allowing you not to pay the tax they originally wanted from you. I believe it grows on trees in Marxlandia and in Abie’s garden.

          • Abie Vee

            Tax allowances, and direct grants. Follow the thread before so rudely interrupting.

          • Johnnydub

            You ignorant totalitarian. My money is my money, not the state’s for it to decide how much i get to keep, you evil witch.

          • Abie Vee

            It isn’t your money when you no longer have it. It is somebody else’s.

      • TomV

        This is Armenian Radio; our listeners asked us:

        “Is it possible to build communism in America?”

        We’re answering:

        “It’s possible, but who will we buy grain from?”

    • Jabez Foodbotham

      Mason’s reputation has deservedly grown in recent months through his interesting and animated reports from the epicentre.

      So writes Murray about Mason’s Greek reports. Is this sarcasm?
      They read like breathless and deranged tosh to me.

      • http://moraymint.wordpress.com/ moraymint

        … and to me.

      • Peter Grimes

        It’s not sarcasm, Mason’s Greek reporting could well have risen higher than his previous juvenile Marxist ramblings, but not to any great level.

    • wudyermucuss

      Expect him to join the unchallenged waffle roster at the BBC.

  • The_greyhound

    Accurate diagnosis of the unified world view (penultmate para.) According to the grauniad all their protected groups are moral imbeciles (including wimmin) – mere hapless and hopeless victims. Only white men can now be deemed responsible for their actions.

    My favourite idiocy from Mason was when he compared the recent quite generous treatment of the undeserving Syriza “government” to Guernica. An epic buffoon.

    • post_x_it

      Lefties love nothing more than a bit of hyperbole.
      Viz all the agit-prop around the reform of strike laws. Apparently it’s the same as when Hitler had all the union leaders executed.

  • Slater

    Paul Mason, the Channel 4 News Economics editor seems to have that programme over a barrel as he is allowed to report on, and from, Greece and nothing else. (His assured predecessor actually took some notice of what was going on in the UK).
    I suppose Athens is a bit like heaven for Paul with Trotskyite academics in government. It is also sunny.
    At least the BBC only allows John Humphreys to report from Athens for a couple of weeks at a time. Both however have the same limited run of shroud wavers and elderly Communists to interview.
    The danger is that C4 News, with Jon Snow ever in Gaza, is becoming a poor man’s ‘Russia Today’ whose licence to propagandise in Britain is surely running out.

    • Kennybhoy

      “…s becoming a poor man’s ‘Russia Today’ …”

      Ahem, “becoming”…? 🙂

    • Clive

      BBC News 24 had Tim Wilcox in Greece for at least a week

      • post_x_it

        Was he blaming the Jews again?

        • The Masked Marvel

          Willcox wasn’t blaming Jews, he was just saying that it was understandable to target Jews anywhere in the world for violence because of Israel’s sins. Yet it’s wrong to place collective blame on Muslims because of Islamic terrorism.

    • Blazeaway

      Do people realise that C4 News claims that, as it produced by a company other than C4 itself, it has no obligation to reply to viewers’ complaints?

      I had to write to the chairman of C4 before I could get the editor to respond!

    • Abie Vee

      What “licence” would that be? And how would it apply to the www?

      • UKSteve

        The TV licence. Look it up.

        • Abie Vee

          A TV licence is not needed for the internet unless you are watching live broadcasts.

          • UKSteve

            Typically imbecilic.

          • Abie Vee

            Isn’t it just. Nevertheless, it’s also true.

          • Catherine Allinson

            FFS – you need a tv licence in the UK (whose proceeds go to support the BBC) if you OWN a tv whether or not you watch it live. This is the problem

          • Alexsandr

            no you dont. if you dont watch or record live TV broadcasts, from an ariel or via the internet, you dont need a licence.
            but if you buy a TV they give your name and address to the licencing people. They think cos you have a TV you are watching live broadcasts. But if they cant prove it they cant do you for not having a licence. and they have no right of entry to your house.

          • Johnnydub

            The people chasing the money are Capita. Ignore them.

            Simply go on the TV Licensing website and tell them you only use your TV for DVD’s and games and they’ll leave you alone for two years.

            Then make the same statement and you get another two years. etc

            I haven’t watched live TV in over 10 years and my blood pressure is grateful.

  • JOhn Mackie

    Mason was paid for by the BBC Tax for over 10 years, as part of the hard left BBC propaganda outfit we have no choice to pay for if we wish to watch ANY television.

    This country is totally screwed.

    • post_x_it

      To be fair, he made an effort to take a more neutral line when he worked for Newsnight. Everyone knew he was a Marxist, but he never let on.
      No such restraint in his new job.

      • Coffee Connoisseur

        Its not being marxist. It is using technology to deliver outcomes in the place of ‘price’ and ‘the Market’ at a time where more and more people are struggling to afford the basic needs. To disagree with what Mason is saying is to either misunderstand the message completely or worse, to be a luddite.

        • Johnnydub

          The “price” and the “market” are sources of information and free exchange.

          Mason is talking “neo-marxist” cobblers.

          • Coffee Connoisseur

            actually he is talking RBE

  • Zed largo

    Written by a middle class, comfortable, secure, well educated professional who has a blind spot beyond his ability to understand the nature of the problems he thinks he’s addressing. This article is a guilt-driven attempt to support his lifestyle and its rational. Murray, in a jauntingly seductive piece that has his smug certainty weitten all over it, pays no attention to the fact that severe ruptures and fractures are appearing in the structures of capitalism and democracy, which have worked for the past two hundred and fifty years.

    There are some who are brave enough to ask important and fundamental questions about the way our systems of government and our economies are falling short of human needs. Murray is not even in the same ballpark as Pickety, or even Paul Mason; he is an intellectual lightweight who parades his shortcomings unbeknownst to himself, making him a second class mind. This article is a miserable effort to shore up a crumbling system that requires courageous people to face, understand and offer solutions. Murray does none of this. He is an apologist for incompetence and elitism.

    • JabbaTheCat

      “Murray is not even in the same ballpark as Pickety, or even Paul Mason”

      Lolz…no rational person would want to be placed anywhere near idiots like those two…

      • Zed largo

        Said by an intellectual giant? Only a redneck would make a remark like that.

        • JabbaTheCat

          As you seem to have a firm grasp on these matters, perhaps you could enlighten me where we’ve ever had a successful socialist, let alone marxist, based economy?

    • Clive

      Reading the first few lines of this comment, I thought you were talking about Paul Mason and I felt quite defensive for Mr Mason because I thought that could apply to any of the chatterati.

      Then I realised it was content-free invective.

      • Zed largo

        What do you expect in a blog, a tome on political economics? And what Murray wrote is contentless invective, a reactionary diatribe, which is why I responded with contempt.

    • global city

      er, his main point was that ‘capitalism’ is always adjusting, can do so and needs, currently, to do so. I see no ‘crumbling system’.

      • Zed largo

        I guess you are as blind as Murray then….or is it self deceit, wilful denial, repression or simply blindness you suffer from?

        • Peter Grimes

          And your response to JabbaThePussy was…?

        • global city

          Hey…you have just described the lefty view of the world to a tee!

          I am old enough now to have totted up a huge number of failed socialist utopias that end in the way that they all do, in abject failure, usually with a considerable amount of repression and misery for ‘the masses’ to boot.

    • The_greyhound

      What would you say if you could talk?

    • Fioler

      Show me your alternative. Soviet? Eastern Europe pre wall fall? Cuba? Did these economies not fall short of human needs?

  • JabbaTheCat

    The Guardian discussion is worth watching just to get a measure of the total disconnect of the lefties from reality and the complete twaddle they spout with all seriousness…

    • Johnnydub

      Also when you look at their circulation numbers – 175,000 and falling – you wonder why they have any influence at all.

      Then you listen to BBC TV and radio and hear all that nonsense being regurgitated.

      It’s no surprise the BBC won’t go near a subscription model.

  • Clive

    …This sees human beings in democracies not as people with free will and unimaginable potential, but as inanimate beings to whom things are done. If you have over-borrowed, then some mean lender made you borrow. If you are an individual, a loan company will have been to blame; if you are a nation, then the fault is Germany’s…

    That is very interesting and certainly true. It fits with the socialist philosophy of prescription. The socialist is the enlightened person who prescribes for the proletariat.

    That is retail socialism and it is its demise which is causing so much trouble with the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn wants to return to it completely.

    Jeremy Corbyn would have public sector workers – members of unions of course – prescribing all manner of things for the rest of the population. Managing means tests for benefits and ensuring that the NHS is overmanned and unmanageable

    Social services will become the arbiters of child management. Council house building will feed corruption between councils and developers. The days of Poulson and T. Dan Smith will return.

    This is a nomenklatura https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomenklatura in the making. That is the logical outcome of this prescriber / prescribee relationship. I doubt it is what Mr Mason intends but then, nor did the creators of soviet communism.

    I suppose, from Douglas Murray’s description, that Paul Mason is hoping for a new wholesale socialism through the offices of AirBnB; Uber, etc. The problem with that is that this wholesale socialism excludes the prescriber – so what is the role for the socialist in its function ?

    Jeremy Corbyn wants to maintain the socialist high street with its shop owners deciding what the population should get. Paul Mason sees a future for supermarkets – who would also decide what the population would get.

    The problem for both of them is that, once free of government constraint, humans compete.

  • rtj1211

    I read some blogs written by ‘real’ right wing capitalists who think a real crisis is coming.

    Wouldn’t you agree that if your own side is issuing warnings, then you look a prize wally blaming the Labour Party for scaremongering??

    • Clive

      I had no idea the Labour Party was suggesting a crisis of capitalism ?

      I see Jeremy Corbyn suggesting an alternative route through old-fashioned socialism but he is not suggesting capitalism is in any kind of crisis – quite the opposite http://jeremycorbyn.org.uk/articles/morning-star-challenging-capitalism/ – he is saying it is too rapacious and must be challenged

      If you wanted to make a case for capitalism in crisis the eurozone is a much better example. What have Labour said about that ?

  • BoiledCabbage

    Nikolai Kondratieff was hired by Stalin to conclude that Capitalism was finished, in the depression of the 1930s. Instead, Kondratieff found evidence of a long-cycle, probably behavioural in nature, that caused huge crises every third or fourth generation. He concluded that Capitalism was not finished, but re-invented itself with each cycle, new technologies etc giving a lead. For his insight, Stalin put him in the Gulag.

    We are now in the deflationary ‘crisis’ part of the long-cycle and bores like Paul Mason will argue that Capitailsm is finished.

    • Terry Field

      Kondi ‘found’ nothing! He surmised, without evidence, and told ‘The Boss’ what he said he wanted to hear. Read the dialogue between the two of them. If you can read the original it is more entertaining.

  • jim

    Mason is so hysterical on screen you wonder how he has any credence at all.The man gibbers.

  • Abie Vee

    Wow, all that analysis and not a mention of national debt.

    Obviously, you think this Ponzi scheme can go on for ever, seemingly oblivious to the fact that it nearly collapsed in 2008 only to be rescued by the working people of the world ( who are still disproportionately bearing the cost of that rescue).

    The Global recession isn’t proof of the enduring strength of capitalism, but a demonstration of it’s inherent weakness. The rescue we saw in 2008/09 wasn’t capitalism either, it was collectivism… Capitalism would have allowed the failing banks to fail.

    So thank god for state intervention, eh? UK government spending now accounts for a massive 50% of GDP! Yup, socialism’s just dandy when it saves your skin.

    • Tomahawk

      Pure capitalism and an unfettered free market economy would have let the banks fail thereby dealing with the moral hazard problem however we don’t live in such an economy and arguably never have. Wouldn’t really want to either.

      • Terry Field

        Idiot with no historical knowledge. Look at policy from 1929 to 34. Plonker.

        • Tomahawk

          youre a cnut

          • Terry Field

            English not your thing!- nor thinking, obviously.

          • Tomahawk

            Your original post managed to be gratuitously insulting, lacking in any detail or a point worth pursuing.
            Then trifecta of trolling, well-done. Now run along the grown ups are talking.

          • Terry Field

            You said nothing of any value, AND you murdered English.

          • Tomahawk

            At least I’ m grammatically correct unlike your drivel.

    • mohdanga

      Err, where does the gov’t get the money that it spends?

  • Blazeaway

    Interesting that The Guardian is mentioned in this context – and that Mr Mason is pictured decrying the ‘pensions robbery’.

    And very apposite. For I worked for Guardian Media Group when it did its own ‘pension robbery’.

    The company ended its own final salary pension scheme and replaced it with a defined-contribution scheme. Cunningly, it timed its conversion for a time when annuity rates were high -m so they could sidestep their obligations at minimal cost.

    I got my pension statement/forecast just this week. Funnily enough, my forecast is just one third what it would have been if they had kept their old pension scheme.

    Of course, the company had to save money to keep writers like Polly Toynbee in multi-house luxury.

    Perhaps Mr Mason needs to look closer to home than Gaza.

    • post_x_it

      Yes of course! Take a closer look at the Guardian and its trust arrangements, and they turn out to be first-rate hypocrites on pretty much everything they so criticise others for. Working practices, pensions, unpaid interns, tax avoidance… The only thing you can’t accuse them of is making excessive profits. Or any profits for that matter.

      • Blazeaway

        Interesting too that when we went on strike, the company derecognised the union.
        I’m sure the lefties would have decried that behaviour from any other company.

    • Anonymous

      Best laugh I’ve had all week haha

  • post_x_it

    “A whole left-wing literature of consolation and self-reassurance has tried to speak to this conundrum.”
    What’s the problem? Is the conundrum not picking up the phone?

  • A.M

    An answer for you. It is not from the Left.
    It is from Stratfor. It is a forecast, the actual will be worst.
    ” It is the crisis of the middle class. The problem is not inequality; the problem is the ability of the middle class to live a middle class life. Currently, the median household income in the United States is about $50,000. Depending on the state you live in, this is actually about $40,000. That allows the literal middle to buy a modest home and live frugally outside major metropolitan areas. For the lower middle class, the 25th percentile, this is almost impossible.

    There are two causes. One is the rise of the single-parent household. Having two households is twice as expensive. The other problem is that the same incentives that led to the badly needed re-engineering of the American corporation and vastly improved productivity also limited job security and income for the middle class. This is not a political crisis yet. It will become one toward the end of the next decade, but it will not be addressed until the elections of 2028 and 2032. It is a normal, cyclical crisis, but painful nonetheless..”
    Decade Forecast: 2015-2025 | Stratfor

    • Tomahawk

      Even if correct this does not predict the collapse of capitalism.

      • A.M

        Of course not. Neither Mason said about collapse .
        But it is an indication that the system is seriously sick.

        • Tomahawk

          I think that’s a very “of the moment” view. If you put today in the context of the last 100 years standards of living, health care, education, life expectancy and any indicator you choose are all significantly higher, even in the 3rd world. Pointing out a potential future middle class squeeze and job insecurity does not pass my definition of a mild cold never mind a sickness.

          • Terry Field

            Indeed. Globalising spreads wealth to those happy little brown faces our proletarian leaders would keep eating dirt if only they could.

        • Terry Field

          No, it is simply an indication that capital will go where it will – and it is not remaining in the West alone. Nothing more.

          • A.M

            No, you make mistake. The capital needs demand to sell their products. The lost demand of West is not equalized from Chinese workers. Besides, they we will have the same problems, worst actually.

          • Terry Field

            Oh God helpus!!! HOW can capital need demand first!!!! It is the supply of goods and services that creates demand, then improved by competitive supply that buries the inferior supplier. PRAT!

          • A.M

            Supply whatever you want. If your customer’s income is deteriorated, your company will be broken very soon.
            I hope you have your own company, as I have.

    • Terry Field

      Not to mention intelligent digital systems that will displace many millions of ‘skilled middle-class’ functions.
      The ‘sans-culottes’ will be – quite soon – the ‘sans – Brogues’

  • PeteCW

    “…a unified worldview. This sees human beings in democracies not as people with free will and unimaginable potential, but as inanimate beings to whom things are done.”

    This certainly sheds light on why significant parts of the Left are currently so very comfortable with – and actually admiring of – Islamist ‘philosophies’ of fatalistic victimhood and the petulant, adolescent fury which arises from such a worldview.

  • Commenthead

    Absolutely. Mason is an ex-Trot, just what we don’t need. The American professor Thomas Sowell has convinced me that the real reason leftist intellectuals loathe capitalism is that they are personally no good at it. They have no aptitude for business or making money and so all their “unused brilliance” is put into propaganda against the only form of economics which actually vaguely works.

    • Terry Field

      Mason trades on the greater stupidity and gullability of those who pay -one way or another – to listen to him.
      AND his voice sounds unattractive; like a milling machine that needs oil.

    • Johnnydub

      Short summation – lefties are bitter losers with daddy issues.

  • grutchyngfysch

    Fun citation to fire at Piketty-quoting lefties: the one and only Yanis Varoufakis pretty much ripping to shreds the basic and uncritical model of capital which forms the basis for the entire text (http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue69/Varoufakis69.pdf).

  • Singularis

    A very good read. I am poor, I know I am, atleast in relative terms living in a wealthy country and always aware that many around the world have it far, far worse than I.
    The only thing the Left has to offer me is benefits, handouts and sympathy, but I dont want those things, I dont want to be beholden to some state official to sustain my life, I just want to earn enough money to live by standing on my own two feet. I would also rather like the government to stop importing cheap labour to undercut me since it is not my dream in life to live in a shed in someones garden.
    The Left has nothing to offer me because I want to help myself. They would rather hold you down than see you get by without need of their ‘help’.

    • Terry Field

      You cannot build walls to stop life forcing you to change. Human beings will look to gain advantage, and they will use their poverty and energy to outcompete you.
      Unavoidable.
      And morally correct.

      • Singularis

        Perhaps people living in sheds is what you consider morally correct, I however would prefer rules to be applied universally. Illegality is advantage via shortcut, a habit of the terminally lazy, not those who wish to compete.

    • Coffee Connoisseur

      Then pay close attention to what Mason is talking about. He is talking about solutions that don’t involve massive wealth redistribution but solutions that use technology to deliver the required outcomes in society at a time where ‘price’ and ‘the Market’ are increasingly failing to deliver in a way that allows people to lead any semblance of a normal life.

      • Singularis

        I live within the barter economy, I left the ‘market’ some time ago for the most part. Technology costs money although well off journalists like Mason can afford to sweep such trivial issues aside as it doesnt affect them.

      • Alexsandr

        lets look at this internet sharing malarkey.
        lets look at peer to peer lending. Now that sounds like a nice idea. but really it is pure capitalism. the laws of supply and demand setting interest rates. and the market in ‘second hand’ loans is capitalist too.

  • Garnet Thesiger

    Mason’s part of the C4 news leftie lovefest – a Poundstretcher rival to the Today programme for snake-pit socialist broadcasters…

  • EnosBurrows

    I am reading Paul Mason’s book at the moment. He is correct, I think, in pointing to rapid technological innovation and adaptation as the core of the success of “capitalism.” Douglas Murray here seems to agree although with more optimistic conclusions about what it all means.

    I suggest that a problem here is that at some point if enough “adaptations” have occurred one is faced with the evolution of a new entity. It might still be called “capitalism” but it is only genealogically connected to “capitalism” as understood by Adam Smith, or Karl Marx or even Ayn Rand, or as practised in the real economies around those figures. Only by extreme reification or naive terminological essentialism can continue that some stable entity called “capitalism” has existed over the past 200+ years and will continue to exist.

    Mason suggests, without resorting to any claims of certainty about what will in fact occur, that the capitalism has reached the limits of adaptability. He discusses specific problems: national and international debt levels that have no connection with the real economy; already reached limits to growth in the West and rapidly approaching limits in China, India, etc; the suppression of popular democracy where populations object to corporate and central bank policies designed to preserve the current structure. He suggests that the international financial system now does not the resources to deal with another shock on the scale of 2008. And he argues that the current system will be unable to deal with future foreseeable problems such as a rapidly ageing worldwide population (including China, India, Mexico, etc), climate change, and the problems of pollution.

    I don’t that he is wrong in all this. His error, if it is there, will be if capitalism does indeed prove to be more adaptable than he thinks.

    • Terry Field

      Guff until the last sentence. He (Mason) simply refers to some of the transient symptoms of globalising activity, debt in the old world, credit in the new; the transfer of low-grade and intermediate – grade activity from the shores of the old world to the shores of the new. Big deal.
      So what???

  • Gavin Brown

    Music that soothes me in the midst of leftie babel !!!

  • Paul Matthews

    I love the hypocrisy of the self-righteous leftie writing a book about the end of capitalism, rehashing a load of old ideas, and cashing in at £16.99 a copy with a blaze of self-publicity. Similarly with Naomi Klein’s new book.

  • Fioler

    Douglas Murray, I love you.

  • The Masked Marvel

    Mason was BBC Newsnight’s economics editor. While Paxman was still there, before Ian Katz took over as editor. How can such an extremist such as this (who once said he approached reporting a murder investigation from the perspective of what it meant for the state of the working class.

    • Terry Field

      Any fruitcake leftie guru has a permanent pass to the BBC and its phalanx of Oxbridge super-keen ladies.

  • John welsh

    Excellent and lucid. Well done.

  • greggf

    Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism is the same state sponsored zombie-capitalism that destroyed the economy of the USSR, and although an example to us all, has been reincarnated in the West in Japan, Britain under Broon as well the US …..

  • ArashUK

    I just started this book and found it great like all other von Mises’ books.

    https://mises.org/library/anti-capitalistic-mentality

    It well explains why Capitalism as the most rational, objective and useful economic system which caused an economic miracle in 19th and early 20th century is so hated among the people especially intellectuals and university guys.

  • JEK68

    Can anyone think of another period of history when the left has contributed less knowledge, understanding, innovation, revelation or intelligence to society as the last 25 years (end of the cold war)? Even the quality of people that are left-wing seems worse than it has ever been.

    • Terry Field

      indeed. The barrel is scraped clean, and the drain is being syphoned for the slurry.

  • Benbecula

    I’d rather read the toilet paper than his book.

    • Terry Field

      You must be Dixel chick!

  • Dan O’Connor

    ” neo-liberalism ´” — which he characterises as an entity designed to destroy the working class and the welfare state.

    The Republican/ Tory parties are the pro- third world immigration, European race replacement anti-nationalist, anti-nativist / internationalist capitalist branch of globalism / internationalism

    The Democrat / Labour parties are the pro-third world , Euroepan race replacement anti-nationalist, anti-nativist Socialist branch of globalism / internationalism

    The system we live under now in the West would be best described as Left / Capitalism . Cultural Marxism in the cultural sphere, allied with Capitalism in the economic sphere. The New Left are a newly emerging Technocracy / intellectual aristocracy / ideological priesthood and the Left wing of the Capitalist / Corporatist plutocracy. This is why your multiculti sensitivities traning course goes hand in hand with Goldman Sachs and why Fortune 500 corporations donate to all of the Left’ / CultMarx favourite causes.

    Both result in globalism / internationalism , which for the historical peoples of the West means loss of control over their own cultures, social policies , national borders territory, demographics and destiny
    We are consumer livestock to be cattle prodded and herded in the right direction.

  • Terry Field

    I enjoyed reading Masons piece on the change from capitalism to a new world. It did everything it could not to refer to the hard reality of universal capital movements, globalising pressures on the old capitalist world, and the clearly understandable present and future that this vital blood supply of activity will generate.Mason’s stuff was the sort of windy, circumlocutory, ungrounded, and thus fundamentally unreal stuff that a free-writing economics or politics undergraduate might put to paper when trying to grasp the complex realities and ideas he or she is both becoming familiar with, as well as understand.
    I felt irritated that this wind-bag with no profundity to offer has the brass neck to appear on any public platform at all to infect our minds with his cotton-wool thinking.
    The guff on Mark was utterly toe-curling crap. Sorry to swear, but it warrants it.
    HE NEEDS TO CHANGE CAREER.

  • Dan O’Connor

    One thing that a champagne CultMarxist / Trot like Mason will never do is to refer to the mean and cynical campaign of psychological, cultural and demographic terrorism that the Left/ Capitalist alliance has been waging against its own historical populations in the West over the last 50 years using the power of the state and media and academia.
    For the middle upper class New Left who have no working class roots, third world immigrants are a new substitute ” revolutionary ” proletariat for the White working classes who the Left intellectuals always looked down on and despised for their social conservatisim and nativism and patriotism. Paradoxically , these third world immigrants the left swoon over are just as socially conservative and have no taste for the Left feminist ; gay pride, multiculti agenda and Muslim immigrants stand opposed to everything the Left stands for . This is double standard and moral inconsistence is clear evidence that Leftism, / Liberalism / Poltical Correcteness is in reality a poorly camouflaged and fanatical racist anti-White ideology and that the Left don’t give a crap about the values of African, Asian, Metizo and Muslim third world immigrants , but are a bilogical weapon against their own historical peoples who they hate with a religious zeal.
    For the Left, Life the Universe and Everything has to be explained in the inhuman terms of marxian economic materalism. This is why they never refer to ” people ” but ” the masses ” ” the proletariat “., and why they explain away people voting for right wing nationalist political parties as being the result right wing ” populist ” demogogues taking advantage of a down turn in the economy. Only Left motives can be morally pure
    They are fanatical control freaks.

  • Fioler

    English is not my mother language, so please bear with me. Today, post feudalism, the goal of the Left is best reached through the politics of the Right. A paradox, yes, but still.

  • Dan O’Connor

    When our biological / demographic survival as a culture, civilzation and race is at stake and the future of our extended family and our children , ” the economy ” economic gain and material aquisitions or any other issues always have to take second place.
    Money and finance have no motherland or culture or nation, people or patriotism. . It’s sole interest is gain. People like Mason think they are so clever because they get bogged down in the micro-management that passes for modern politics
    They refuse to debate that which will unaviodably become the burning issues of our age because they are oblivious to it, dismissive of it and in wishful denial of it, and wouldn’t know how to do so anyway.
    The coming battles, and they will be coming , will need to be fought on a meta-political level.

  • DennisMcScumbag

    Douglas Murray = Zionest Shill

  • ButcombeMan

    Does anyone take Mason seriously?

    Just another leftie reptile.

    Mandy Rice Davis applies

    • Abie Vee

      Does anyone take your verbal diarrhoea seriously, apart from the other Saloon Bar bores down at your local?

      • Standish79

        The Saloon Bar is closed because all the locals sit on the Internet commenting on articles like this, when they should be putting the world to rights over a pint. Look at the time stamp!

  • CheshireRed

    Great piece. Am I allowed to offer one further remark? I fucking HATE the political left.
    Ah, my. I feel SO much better for that.

    • Standish79

      I don’t hate anyone but I do pity the left and its own inward-looking tendency, as exemplified by the genre of books the author considers in this article.

  • Coffee Connoisseur

    Capitalisms problem is that the cost of basic needs have risen to the point where many struggle to afford them, Whether it is Communisms inability to supply basic needs through lack of production or Capitalisms inability to supply them based on price to a section of society that is increasing in size, both systems fail to deliver what they fundamentally need to deliver and this is the problem Capitalism faces right now. Yes the GFC played a huge part in this but it doesn’t change the fact that this is where we are. This is the problem that Capitalism needs to overcome or it will end up being replaced like every single system before it.

    The thing that most commentators miss when they defend Capitalism at the moment is that they take the approach of (and I will use an extreme example to illustrate the point), because some people can afford to buy a Rolls Royce and the Rolls Royce company is prepared to make them to meet the demand that hey presto Capitalism and ‘the Market’ still work. This is no different in many ways to say that prior to its collapse Communism still worked because it had the ability to produce Ladas. This is exactly what the author has done here with the example of his friend letting out her apartment in competition with Hotels. It is at best an incredibly shortsighted view of things.

    The further we continue with a system that is failing the worse things will become possibly to the point of total collapse. This may sound alarmist but then I have been working with building systems and fixing failing ones for over 20 years. I know the signs all too well and unfortunately It doesn’t matter what the size of the system is, the same rules apply.

    We have been sold that Austerity and privitization is the best way forward, yet the prices of the most basic needs are higher than they have ever been.
    This places an even larger section of society into a position where they struggle to afford the basic needs and this is the challenge that to survive that Capitalism needs to overcome. If it can’t it will fail just as Communism did.
    Consider that there were advocates of Communism saying that it worked even after it had failed and had been replaced.

    If Capitalism ‘works’ yet a larger and larger section of society struggle to afford the just basic needs, then the question that must be asked is just who exactly is the system working for? Because at that point, for many it is not working any longer.

    There are those who sit in Ivory towers who look down at the masses below gathering and say, I think we have a problem. Perhaps as the Author suggested Mason is one of them. Then there are those who sit in their Ivory towers saying that all is right with the world….I am sitting in an Ivory tower, what could possibly be wrong with with the world? I suspect that the author is one of those. The problem for people like that is that they don’t recognise the magnitude of the problem until the moment the masses break down the front door and drag them into the street.

    Some recommended reading for the author.
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories

    • Torybushhug

      ‘the prices of the most basic needs are higher than they have ever been.
      This places an even larger section of society into a position where they struggle to afford the basic needs and this is the challenge that to survive that Capitalism needs to overcome. If it can’t it will fail just as Communism did’.

      This assumes capitalism is some kind of static external entity, but in fact it is an ever shifting dynamic feedback loop. If as you assert things cannot be afforded then they wont be bought until price aligns with demand, hence for example the rise of Aldi at the expense of Tesco.

      Almost everyone benefits from corporate profits by way of their ISA’s ad Pensions. If we truly want to reduce profits we will accept lower ISA and pension returns (that will go down well with Unions!)

      You talk of ivory towers, yet these are the very lofty structures in which scribblers like Mason exist. What does he know of the trade comings and goings of Green Lanes? If kebab shops are too expensive, they will close and people will find new things to eat. If farmers cannot sell their crops, prices will drop and in turn they will pay less for fertiliser and oil.

      This simplistic notion of capitalism dying is so reminiscent of thousands of other epic sized predictions we’ve had for a century. The 1977 state of the nation address was grave indeed. Jimmy Carter had been persuaded by eminent experts that peak oil was an absolute dead cert to happen by 1980. Carter repeated this the following 2 years urging Americans prepare.
      This is the pattern over and again.

      Experts need to have an impact at some point in their lives, something to truly underscore and validate all those years of study, something to present that underlines the relevance of their brief existence on Earth just as do cults leaders and authors, song writers and architects, they want their day in the sun.

      • Coffee Connoisseur

        The point you and most miss because they focus on theory rather than reality is that for the market to appear to work you just need a willing buyer and a willing seller. To give an extreme example to illustrate the point – because a Saudi Businessman can buy z Rolls Royce and Rolls Royce has one to sell him does not mean that capitalism is working as it needs to. You can have that scenario and at the same time have millions in a position where they cannot afford enough food or the market rent at the exact same time as there are enough people able to afford the market rent and enough food. So your kebab shop stays in business and the market still has the appearance of working. This is the case despite millions not being able to afford the kebab and this where the problem lies. The warning for you and others is that Communism worked for many in the same way (in that many in the ‘right’ positions in communism could still access the goods and services needed whilst millions could not. For them Communism appeared to be working) right up until it was overthrown.

  • huw

    hmm 5/10

  • Sean L

    You seem to be confusing capitalism with markets. But owners of capital can destroy markets. Concentrations of capital are inimical to competitive markets. Thus uniformly identikit high streets. As Adam Smith observed, the interest of merchants and manufacturers is always different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. (Roger Scruton is good on this in respect of the food industry, in his excellent book Green Philosophy.) This “capitalism” that is beneficent, as opposed to malign “socialism” is a false and reductive opposition. Little more than slogans for political prejudices; idealisations of economic activity that obscure more than enlighten. It derives from a Marxist conception of politics that reduces all political values to economic theories. Also convenient for the ruling politcal class, as what both “socialism” and “capitalism” signify is globalist in tendency and thus inimical to local attachments such as family or nation, passing over the affections and allegiances of ordinary people as much as their fears and prejudices, which at one time it was regarded as the politician’s duty to articulate. “I do not have the right not to do so.” as the former Member for Wolverhampton once put it, meaning not to voice the views of the people he was supposed to represent, which had nothing to do with capitalism or socialism, terms which scarcely pass the lips of most people anyway, and which are never meaningfully defined by those that do use them, as is the case here.

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  • grimm

    Are the left stealthily infiltrating The Spectator? Paul Mason, Nick Cohen already here. Who’s next – Polly Toynbee, Owen Jones, Seumas Milne?

    • new_number_2

      Nick Cohen is actually a right winger.

      • grimm

        Oh really? Try reading his pieces in the Observer. Actually he does try to have it both ways. As a result the Left see him as a Neocon and the Right as a Left wing apologist. Ultimately I think his sympathies are with Labour rather than the Tories. In his book “What’s Left” he tried to show where the Left have gone astray rather than opposing their basic beliefs.

  • Ann O Donnell

    Article high on whataboutery and low on substantial and reasoned refutations.

  • davidofkent

    Have you noticed how rich these Lefties are who constantly tell us that we are all evil and capitalism is dying?

    • Torybushhug

      Akin to those end of times cults where the head persuades his flock to sell everything whilst he himself grows rich.

      Just shows how ludicrous the left has become. Modern day Puritans predicting a just judgement day punishment on Mankind.

  • sidor

    It is absolutely obvious that capitalism as a form of market economy that was first described by Marx cannot exist anymore. Indeed, Marx assumed that a rich minority exploits the rest of the population while the latter produces all the goods the society consumes. Now, due to the technological development, those who produce all the goods consumed by the society are in minority. The rest are absolute or relative parasites which form two separate classes: reach parasitic minority and poor parasitic majority. These two classes perform a class struggle about distribution of goods which neither of them have produced. The situation closely resembles Rome in the 5th century.

    • Torybushhug

      ‘It is absolutely obvious that capitalism as a form of market economy that was first described by Marx cannot exist anymore’
      Been hearing this for 40 years. Minds me of all those crackpots that told us world famine, peak oil and the collapse of the west was inevitable by 1980. Population Bomb was a multi million seller that made this prediction.
      As ever the muppet economists completely forgot to factor in the billions of thoughts per second that result in innovation.

      I wonder if Mason will stop his pension and ISA contributions given the inevitable collapse is upon us?

      Just another vocal Puritan preaching the world is gonna end thanks to Human excess. Been going on for centuries.

      • sidor

        “the billions of thoughts per second that result in innovation.”

        Take the 3 mln employed in the British financial sector. What kind of “innovations” did their thoughts result in within, say, the last 40 years? Innovations in accounting?

        • Torybushhug

          That’s not relevant to the discussion of whether capitalism is finished.

          What is relevant is the fact time and again these end of times economic predictions fail because they extrapolate from a current scene and fail always to factor in the innovations that result from a billion thoughts a second.

          POPULATION BOMB, the best selling socio / economic prediction book of the 1970’s, told us without doubt anyone that could not see the impending world disaster (by way of global famine, over population and the collapse of the west) had their head in the sand.

          And why did this and many other similar theorists get it so wrong? They forgot to notice the quiet German lead innovations which amounted to what became known as the green revolution whereby yields were massively increased.

          • sidor

            “What is relevant is the fact time and again these end of times economic predictions fail”

            The number of employed in the US production sector is just 12 mlns. This is a medical fact. They produce all the wealth that is consumed by 300 mlns.

  • new_number_2

    “Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism is proof that the left is out of ideas”

    Says the man who does nothing but rant about Muslims all the time, ironically.

  • Ambientereal

    Capitalism is a great system, but unfortunately it cannot change the behavior of man. Like modern cars that have a lot of systems to protect human life but cannot avoid completely the killings in car accidents.

    • sidor

      Any social system dramatically change the human behaviour in terms of moral standards and principles. The behaviour of a samurai in the feudal Japan of Tokugawa period is quite different from that of a dealer at NYSE.

  • The Great Cornholio

    “Capitalism remains the only financial system in history so benevolent that it makes even its most feverish critics rich”

    Excellent. Deserves to be in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

  • Torybushhug

    Experts on capitalism that have never created a business in their entire lives.

  • Dan O’Connor

    Would that be nationalist capitalism Mr Murray or globalist / international capitalism ?
    Would it be national socialism or globalist / international socialism ?
    Should it be an economic system that exist to preserve its own historical peoples or an economic system that is morally nihilistic ,exists purely for itself , and feels no links, solidarity, identity or affinity´or love for its own historical peoples and culture or wish to preserve them´?

    • Torybushhug

      This reads like a Yvette Cooper abstraction.

      • Dan O’Connor

        Eh ?

        Check out the following ” abstraction ” I’ll be posting in a few minutes .

        • Torybushhug

          Probably my bad, I just cannot get a handle on the point you are making.

          • Dan O’Connor

            Perhaps my new comment posted just above will clarify the principals I am referring to.

  • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

    “Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism is proof that the left is out of ideas”

    No, it’s proof that the left and right are Marxists…

    All the major central banks (Federal Reserve, Bank of England, European Central Bank, and Bank of Japan) are following the same low interest rates economic sabotage policy, effectively (1) on the supply side, preventing capital formation for new highly capitalized business ventures that depend on loans for start up, since the interest rate on the loan, as ultimately determined by a central bank’s interest rates, is too low to cover the large capital expenditure; and (2) on the demand side, there can be no demand for the commodities from such aforementioned investments, because people aren’t saving for such long-term investments, because the lure for such investments, higher, market-based, interest rates are non-existent, thanks to central banks’ low interest rate policies; this is where recession/depressions make their appearance, since there is no demand for the mis-allocated central bank induced fake “investments”.

    This sabotage policy is directed by Marxists within the central banks, who are placed into their positions at the central banks by their Marxist co-opted political parties.*

    The following is a discovery I made in May regarding the fake collapse of the USSR…

    When Soviet citizens were liberated from 74 years of Marxist horror on December 26, 1991 there were ZERO celebrations throughout the USSR, proving (1) the “collapse” of the USSR was a strategic ruse; and (2) the political parties of the West were already co-opted by Marxists, otherwise the USSR (and East Bloc nations) couldn’t have gotten away with the ruse.

    In fact, there would have been no though of even attempting such a ruse in the first place, since its failure was guaranteed, UNLESS the political parties of the West were already co-opted by Marxists.

    The West will form new political parties where candidates are vetted for Marxist ideology, the use of the polygraph to be an important tool for such vetting. Then the West can finally liberate the globe of vanguard Communism.

    For more on this discovery, see my blog…

    https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home
    ————————–
    *The failed socialist inspired and controlled pan-European revolutions that swept the continent in 1848 thought Marxists and socialists a powerful lesson, that lesson being they couldn’t win overtly, so they adopted the tactic of infiltration of the West’s political parties/institutions. In the case of the United States…(continue reading at DNotice)…

    https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/now-you-see-me-now-you-don-t

    Now you know why not one political party in the West requested verification of the collapse of the USSR, and the media failed to alert your attention to this fact, including the “alternative” media. When determining whether the “former” USSR is complying with arms control treaties, what does the United States do to confirm compliance? Right, the United States sends into the “former” USSR investigative teams to VERIFY compliance, yet when it’s the fate of the West that’s at stake should the collapse of the USSR be a ruse, what does the United States do to confirm the collapse? Nothing!

    The fraudulent “collapse” of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn’t have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Marxists, which explains why verification of the “collapse” was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan’s favorite phrase, “Trust, but verify”.

    It gets worse–the “freed” Soviets and West also never (1) de-Communized the Soviet Armed Forces of its Communist Party officer corps, which was 90% officered by Communist Party members; and (2) arrested/de-mobilized the 6-million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Union’s Ministry of the Interior and police control the populations of the larger cities during the period of “Perestroika” (1986-1991)!

    There can be no collapse of the USSR (or East Bloc nations) without…

    Verification, De-Communization and De-mobilization.

    The West never verified the collapse of the USSR because no collapse occurred, since if a real collapse had occurred the West would have verified it, since the survival of the West depends on verification. Conversely, this proves that the political parties of the West were co-opted by Marxists long before the fraudulent collapse of the USSR, since the survival of the West depends on verification.

    The above means that the so-called “War on Terror” is an operation being carried out by the Marxist co-opted governments of the West in alliance with the USSR and other Communist nations, the purpose being to (1) destroy the prominence of the West in the eyes of the world, where the West is seen (i) invading nations without cause; (ii) causing chaos around the globe; and (iii) killing over one-million civilians and boasting of torture; (2) close off non-Russian supplies of oil for export, thereby increasing the price of oil, the higher price allowing oil exporting Russia to maintain economic stability while she modernizes and increases her military forces; (3) destroy the United States Armed Forces via the never-ending “War on Terror”; the ultimate purpose of the aforementioned to (4) bring about the demise of the United States in the world, opening up a political void to be filled by a new pan-national entity composed of Europe and Russia (replacing the European Union), a union “From the Atlantic to Vladivostok”; which will (5) see the end of NATO.

    Now you know how Bolshevik Russia survived in 1917; how the West “lost” China to the Communists in 1949; why the Eisenhower administration turned a deaf ear to the anti-Communist Hungarian uprising in 1956; why the Eisenhower administration in 1959 was indifferent to the Castro brothers’ Communist fidelity, actually used the CIA to overthrow the Batista government; why the Nixon administration abandoned Taiwan for Communist China, and signed treaties/provided economic aid to the USSR; why the Nixon administration refused to tell the American People that over 50% of North Vietnamese NVA regiments were actually Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers (attired in NVA uniforms, and proving that the Sino/Soviet Split was a ruse, as KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn told the West back in 1962), thereby (1) ensuring the Vietnam War would be lost; (2) destroying the prominence of the United States abroad and at home; (3) breeding distrust between the American people and their government; and (4) securing Communist victories in Southeast Asia. Working in the background within the political parties of the United States and Great Britain were Marxist agents doing their best to (1) ensure the survival of Communist nations when they popped up; and (2) sabotage any policies that would bring down a Communist nation. That’s why after the fake collapses of the East Bloc nations and USSR there was no mandatory Western verification process to ensure the Communists weren’t still in control.

    • Torybushhug

      ‘(1) on the supply side, preventing capital formation for new highly capitalized business ventures that depend on loans for start up, since the interest rate on the loan, as ultimately determined by a central bank’s interest rates, is too low to cover the large capital expenditure’

      This is pretty much where it falls apart.

      Back in the real world away from academic hoxus pokus, lenders can charge far higher interest rates on business loans than the BOE rate.
      Real world secured loan examples right now;

      Shawbrook Bank have business loan rates from between around 4.5 and 10%
      Handelsbanken (UK) – typical rates around 7.5%
      In addition lenders charge fairly chunky loan fees.
      Unsecured loan rates can be a lot higher.

      I could list plenty more.
      There is ample profit in lending to business.

      • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

        “Back in the real world away from academic hoxus pokus, lenders can charge far higher interest rates on business loans than the BOE rate.”

        I said “as ultimately determined by a central bank’s interest rates”. See the word “ultimately”? Of course real world interest rates are higher than the central bank’s, but they are lower than they would otherwise be and therefore lower than they need to be in order to attract the huge startup capital that will take years to see fruition.

        • Torybushhug

          No they are not, commercial lending spreads are above 5%, a decent enough return on lending, and indeed if companies so wish, they can issue shares in order to raise capital and the shareholders will hope to receive an investment income.

          Main reason less business lending has been transacted since 2008 is because regulators insist on far higher capital adequacy (money in coffers) and the general ant lending landscape that pervaded for a time until things settled.

          Central Bank rates are not stopping commercial lending in any way.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “No they are not, commercial lending spreads are above 5%, a decent enough return on lending…”

            Lending for quick turnarounds, not for lending that requires years for a payout. If a NEW business venture requires a loan, and the huge capital outlay requires a 10% loan, then a 5% loan that’s currently being offered for for shorter, non-productive, investments won’t be enough.

            “and indeed if companies whish to raise capital they can issue shares and the shareholders will hope to receive an investment income.”

            You didn’t read my initial comment carefully! I said NEW business ventures that require loans for the startup.

          • Torybushhug

            The 5% spreads are long term commercial loan spreads, and usually they are higher than this.
            Short term finance such as bridging is vastly more expensive.
            I should confess I own my own business, we provide commercial finance!
            Do a bit of Googling if you doubt me on the rates.
            This is the issue I find with economists, they all too often build complex narratives on unsound assumptions.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “The 5% spreads are long term commercial loan spreads, and usually they are higher than this.”

            Not long enough, obviously, since the West is experiencing a dearth in productivity thanks to central bank interest rates that are too low.

            “This is the issue I find with economists, they all too often build complex narratives on unsound assumptions.”

            There’s nothing complex about the fact that it’s central bank interest rates that influences real business world interest rates. That means real world business interest rates are lower than they would otherwise be. That’s very simple to comprehend, following the law of supply and demand for money. Central banks lower interest rates by increasing the money supply, which places a downward pressure on interest rates.

          • Torybushhug

            ‘Not long enough, obviously, since the West is experiencing a dearth in productivity’.

            I would think that was more to do with lack of business’ wanting to invest in innovation / for the long term and this is because firms shares are owned by pension and ISA FUNDS what HAVE to perform well in order to win new customers (people like you shopping around for pensions), and so long term ‘airey fairey’ investing is often not a viable proposition.
            Also I question whether we are ‘suffering’ a dearth of productivity, why do we assume boundless productivity is to be expected / the norm?

            Past productivity was easier to achieve as the world came out of years of war, and was hungry to modernise. We cannot compare the 1960’s to now.

            Also many people I know operate in cash to one extent or another, I believe this is masking genuine activity.

            I get an endless stream of new enquiries from people in business, even large ones, that operate in cash to some considerable extent. Somehow the BOE are missing this.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “I would think that was more to do with lack of business’ wanting to invest in innovation…”

            There would be no dearth if interest rates were higher! What do people do when interest rates rise? Do they tend to consume more or save more for investment? People consume less and save more (for investment) thanks to the lure for a higher payout thanks to the higher interest rate.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            Here’s a quick remedial tutorial you can catch up on over the weekend…

            A Pictorial Presentation Of The Fraudulent Collapse Of The USSR…

            (1) The Emblem of the Soviet Union atop the Russian State Duma building…

            http://footage.framepool.com/shotimg/qf/544004264-duma-kremlin-palace-russian-flag-red-square.jpg

            Notice that the State Emblem of the Soviet Union is illuminated at night for clear viewing by Muscovites…

            http://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-3345878-stock-footage-street-traffic-on-okhotny-ryad-and-state-duma-at-evening-in-moscow.html

            …however the coat of arms of the Russian Federation, situated above the door between the fourth and fifth floors, isn’t illuminated, though either side of the heraldic design is illuminated for no apparent purpose other than to highlight the heraldic design’s obsolescence.

            (2) High atop the facade of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, the State Emblem of the Soviet Union is Illuminated with pinpoint precision at night…

            http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4149/5168126126_02c5505a79_m.jpg

            (3) The State Emblem of the Soviet Union atop the Russian Ministry of Defense building, including other Soviet era iconography…

            http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/51802114.jpg

            (4) Soviet Red Stars atop Kremlin towers remain where Stalin placed them in 1935…

            http://rt.com/files/news/37/3d/30/00/russia-ukraine-dialogue-peskov.si.jpg

            (5) Moscow’s Central Post Office employees are still in the dark as to the “collapse” of the USSR in late 1991..

            http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/dangerroom/2012/10/Central_telegraph_Moscow.jpg

            Why, you ask? Click the following link for the answer…

            https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSWwliNXIZONPNidfnkRh6BxX75JS3mQB5Qp0PCgGiYzNI61EF2

            (6) Headquarters of the Russian Federal Security Service, and the Soviet Union’s security service, the KGB…

            https://worldsgreatesttravelblog.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/russia-1021.jpg

            Note the State Emblem of the Soviet Union still over the main door (click picture to enlarge), and hammer and sickle logo still above the clock. And here’s the Lubyanka at nightime…

            http://vindenes.nu/gallery/wp-content/gallery/m419.jpg

            Note illumination of hammer & sickle, and enhanced illumination of area above the main door, where the office of the KGB chief was located (third floor).

            (7) Satellite image of the Volga River cities of Engels, (right), and Saratov (left)…

            http://img-fotki.yandex.ru/get/9504/190708966.8/0_8a367_1ca2f18f_L.jpg

            Engels Air Force Base is east of Engels city, where the two long parallel lines are located…

            http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-w6rMlJAPFXU/UJ7KEuTD1FI/AAAAAAAABnE/9JkaNrXYY28/s1600/RUSSIA-ENGEL.jpg

            Notice that Engels city and adjacent air base were named after Marxist “hero” Friedrich Engels, but the names were never changed after Russians were “liberated” from Soviet tyranny in December 1991 with the “collapse” of the USSR.

            (8) The province of Leningrad Oblast is still named in honor of the great Russian persecutor (and Marxist “hero”), who despised and cruelly stamped out Russian culture…

            http://www.russianlessons.net/russia/leningrad/russia-leningrad.gif

            (9) The province of Kaliningrad Oblast is still named after Marxist “hero” Mikhail Kalinin, nominal head of the USSR, 1922-1946…

            http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/59/Kaliningrad_in_Russia.svg/1181px-Kaliningrad_in_Russia.svg.png

            (10) Red Star, the Official newspaper of the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Defense…

            http://cdn3.img22.ria.ru/images/98392/32/983923224.jpg

            Note the Soviet era title (Red Star) and the four Soviet emblems (representing awards) to the left of the masthead, the outer emblem displaying Vladimir Lenin. Now, click the following link to view the official newspaper of the Russian Ministry of Defense…

            http://www.redstar.ru/

            The newspaper is still called Red Star(!) and still has the four Soviet emblems with Vladimir Lenin still present!

            (11) Soviet roundel still on Russian military aircraft…

            http://theuspatriot.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Russian-fighter-jets1.jpg

            (12) Soviet era Communist emblem (the Soviet red star) still attached to the bows of Russian naval vessels…

            http://global.fncstatic.com/static/managed/img/fn-latino/news/Russian%20Naval%20Ship.jpg

            (13) The hated hammer & sickle logo still used by Aeroflot, purpose being to remind Russians when they travel abroad to be careful what they say to foreigners concerning the “collapse” of the USSR and who’s still in control of the “former” USSR…

            https://web.archive.org/web/20150329150207im_/http://www.airplane-pictures.net/images/uploaded-images/2013-8/31/316500.jpg

            (14) The brigades of the Armed Forces of Ukraine never destroyed their detested Soviet banners, nor did Kiev order the armed forces to destroy the reviled Soviet era banners …

            http://blouinnews.com/sites/default/files/styles/640×432/public/images/story/2014_03_04/7f095050f5b1431d027e102cb4b5d681.jpeg

            …and the left side of the Soviet banner…

            http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/cms/binary/9577387.jpg?size=640×420

            See my blog for more…

            https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/

  • Dan O’Connor

    The highest main duty above all others of the state, the law, religion, or any economic system , must be first and foremost to uphold and enforce the highest nature ordained imperitive known to mankind, which is natural law.
    This means the preservation, the survival and security of the society itself as a unique and distinct peoples,…. economically, culturally, politically spiritually, territorially and demographically .
    Economic gain and material aquisitions are the lowest state of existence and the lowest values and take second place.

    • Torybushhug

      ‘material aquisitions are the lowest state of existence and the lowest values and take second place’

      You mean like a spear, a flint, a hut, warm boots, fishing hooks, a boat, a knife, a patch of crop / pigs, medicines? Cant see the society being preserved too long without possessions.

      • Dan O’Connor

        I am going to ignore your flippant and oversimplistic misinterpretation of the substance of my post. I did not suggest we destroy our economy and infrastructure, only that it should work to serve our interests , not destroy us.

        ” Pretty much every organism on the planet defends…… ”

        Come on now , White people have been wickedly and cynically hoodwinked into embracing a Darwinian express ticket to the scrap heap of history in every way possible –economically, culturally, politically, spiritually, philosophically, morally territorially and demographically–as the greatest act of humantarianism altruism and virtue one can aspire to.
        This is the West’s secular religion and pursued with religious zealotry.
        No other group in human history has been duped into collaborating in handing over its lands , children’s heritage, social capital and identities to competing alien peoples and cultures who think along racial identity lines and will take full advantage of our pathological altruism.
        Whites have been so emasculated and paralysed by decades of deliberate Pavlovian behavioural manipulation that they have been abnormally and unnaturally under-reacting for the last 50 years to their own mission creep / incremental territorial, cultural and demographic eradication. ( The Great Unlearning )

  • ArtieHarris

    Great piece!

  • Roger Sutherland

    “Yet from Marx to Mason, the most striking thing about this seam of literature is that it always underestimates its opponents while overestimating its own increasingly byzantine theories.”

    I agree about the second claim, but not to much the first, at least in the case of Marx. He was not a great economist, but I think his analysis of capitalism’s development is quite fair – particularly his praise for the way in which capitalism successfully liberated people from the hegemony of the crown and landed gentry, allowing individuals to live as independent entities with true self-ownsership, rather than as serfs. The bourgeoisie itself was a revolutionary force in the rise of modernity, industry, and free democratic societies. He was not a kneejerk anti-capitalist, unlike the demagogues from crackpot groups like the SWP and the Greek Communist Party.

    His answers are total rot, of course, but the original analysis is not. I get the impression that many of the people decrying the evils of capitalism, and even comparing welfare cuts with feudalism (huh?), do not understand Marx’s point in the first place, even though they would probably cite him as an “influence”. I don’t think it is coincidental that a lot of thinkers in the 20th century who *did* understand Marx ended up abandoning madcap socialism after observing its failure in the Eastern Europe, China, Korea, Vietnam, and so many other places. It is logical for forward-thinking advocates of modern, industrial societies, who believe in the materialist conception of history, to embrace the idea which has been more innovative, more successful, and has actually continued to sustain itself after numerous crises.

  • Mc

    “from those of Russell Brand and Owen Jones to the more serious and informed Mason”
    The arguments are exactly the same for all three. Mason just sounds more serious because he uses more conventional economics jargon and he’s a bit older.

    • WTF

      Spot on. Brand I would turn off in 10 seconds at most but I stuck it for 15 minutes with Mason before saying to myself, what on earth is he rambling on about as he hasn’t proved anything and certainly hasn’t offered any fix.

  • ohforheavensake

    I saw you debating Postcapitalism in that Guardian panel, Douglas. You looked completely out of your depth: a child amongst the grown-ups. It was really rather sad.

    • Harry

      Can you explain why?

      • ohforheavensake

        Yep. LInk to the debate is above. He flounders, as he does in this review; he’s very unclear on facts and figures- same as he is in this review; and he has no idea how debt works in a capitalist economy- same as in this review.

        If Douglas is an example of a right-wing intellectual, then the right’s in a lot of trouble.

        • WTF

          Paul Mason started off fine but after 10 minutes or so he was hesitating, full of fluff and like most on the left tell us what we already know but offering no clear solution.

    • Freddythreepwood

      Still waiting for your reply to Harry. What did Douglas say that was wrong, here or on the Guardian panel? Or maybe you didn’t watch it at all. Surely not another leftie telling porkies?

    • WTF

      Douglas, although outnumbered on political views spoke the truth about people have to be responsible for self created debt. I’m the last person who is a friend of the banking sector and in fact I despise the tricks that banking spivs play on us but that doesn’t let those who spend beyond their means off the hook.

      There’s only two things inherently wrong with banking today and that’s the regulation & penalties for illegal behavior or acts carried out by bankers and equality over customer service. Make bankers personally responsible for criminal acts both in sentencing, serving time and asset stripping and banking criminality would vanish overnight. On the other point, make banks as responsible for their mistakes as we are held accountable for ours by penalizing them as they currently penalize us. A level playing field would be achieved and banks could be respected in 20 or so years.

  • Erebus Black

    Gary North has completely demolished Mason’s excuse for an article.

    http://www.garynorth.com/public/14073.cfm

  • Newmania1

    Mason may be a complete idiot but he did do a good documentray on Northern Soul . Just saying he can`t dance

  • ferryroman

    there will Read More

  • Frank

    Can we just sum this article up with “mostly lefties over the age of (say) 25 are probably morons”. Sad but true. Mind you, the reverse is not true, ie that conservatives are highly intelligent as they are manifestly not. However modern capitalists (apart from the spivs who seem to infect our banks, insurance companies, utilities, property market and supermarkets) may well be excellent examples of a species able to quickly adapt and profit from changing circumstances? The worst problem caused by the socialists is that they are a massive drag and penalty for all the rest of us who don’t want to be shown the way by anyone who thinks Marx has anything relevant to say about this century.

  • WTF

    If you have over-borrowed, then some mean lender made you borrow. – So untrue as I can attest to.

    30 or so years ago I got in the habit of spending my expense claims ahead of having to pay them off and when I stopped travelling for a while, they all caught me up. Off to the bank, got a bridging loan, paid it off in 2 years and NEVER let my credit cards catch me out again. It was my fault completely and no one else but it taught me a great lesson as from that moment on I paid my credit card bill off in full every month. The banks hate me now as the only money they can make from my purchases is mark up in the stores but not a penny in interest !

  • sidor

    A great Chinese statesman Shang Yang gave three basic principles for the government’s regulation of the economy:

    1. Reduce the number of parasites.

    2. The rich people must get poor and the poor get rich (to maximise the economy’s dynamics).

    3. He divided the population in three categories: farmers (producers), traders and civil servants. If the traders become to many, farmers get poor, civil servants get poor, and, eventually, the traders get poor. Therefore, the government has to reduce the number of (nonproductive) traders.

    It is remarkable how these simple principles suggested 24 centuries ago are still valid, when Marx or Adam Smith are not anymore.

  • mikewaller

    I have long believed that rather than capitalism failing societies, societies usually fail at capitalism. By this I mean that they start to build up market inefficiencies which result in others not so encumbered supplanting them in the global market place. This has already happened to great swathes of the industrial work forces in the Western world and now, not least due to modern computing power, the white collar jobs are going the same way. Add to that the obscene levels of remuneration being paid to the upper levels of what remains of the managerial class, and the potential for social breakdown seems to be very real. In a democracy, this could well be preceded by the election of heavily re-distributive parties. Although I agree that ultimately there are no real answers in that direction, it is very hard to see how capitalism can solve the problem of declining living standards given that the West has largely lost/given away the technological edge it formally enjoyed and the cost-base of so many of the new competitor countries is so much lower than ours.

  • WTF

    I just loved that classic line “We must help the poor but hoodwink the not so poor into helping the poor.” Says it all about Socialism whether run by Blair or Cameron !

  • Zionist lackey

    Socialists of a Marxist bent believe that their 19th century grand master had given them a formula through the use of his philosophical dialectic, which was meant to spell the end of capitalism. The Marxist philosophical dialectic which purports to have turned it’s Hegelian version on its head in the 19th century which Marx, considered to be little more than an idealistic construct.

    But when the tide of history allowed it to be put into practice, Marxism became dystopian; it turned into a nightmare; a nightmare where countless millions of people were sent to be re-educated (in China) or to Siberia were education of any kind played no part – and these were the lucky ones. Under the Marxist paradigm countless millions of citizens were put to their deaths by such Marxist regimes.

    Socialism in all of its manifestations seeks to corral human nature into its socialist paradigm. A paradigm where failure upon failure; and human misery upon human misery is the only accomplishment of socialism; as the history of socialism demonstrates.

    • tcjock

      We live in a post-social – democrat world that requires socialism to slow the rate of growth thus preventing global environmental degradation.

      • Zionist lackey

        tcjock: Socialism will not only slow growth but abandon it all together; I am assuming you to be a of a youthful bent and will treat you as such. First of all you do not go into any detail of what you mean by a ‘post-social -democratic world’. What however I chance you to mean; and I am open criticism, is that social democracy has failed and that the real thing; that full blooded socialism should be tried once more

        Socialism in all its forms, including socialism light (social democracy) have failed. Not only has socialism failed but has left countless millions of deaths in its wake. Socialism has never lived up to its promises simply because it applies a romantic view to human nature.

        The latest Venezuelan socialist test-bed has met with the same misery for its citizens that socialism always brings. Yet the Left still cling to it, while ignoring its perpetual failings by abandoning human incentive and ambition as aspects of capitalist greed.

        Socialism will, if once more resurrected, only present a further round of human misery. As for tcjock’s reference to this pernicious ideology being the agent for ‘preventing global environmental degradation’; then I suggest you are living in a dream world. Socialism, throughout its whole history, has never cared for the environment. Indeed the environment mattered little when it came to industrialisation and the employment of millions of what were to become known as the working class – a breed now forgotten by the modern Labour Party. Socialism has never cared for the environment. Socialism historically cared for the working conditions of those employed under capitalism within the industrial environment. So how you can conclude that this ideology is the only option for containing the prevention of ‘global environmental degradation’ is beyond human reason given socialisms history.

        I disagree with you about ‘environmental degeneration’; but not that this is happening, it always has; the environment has always changed. But that this ‘degeneration’ has been human made, is still open to question.

      • Zionist lackey

        I am sorry tcjock in replying to your minimalist contribution to my posting (because I was drawn away temporarily). But I am now fighting fit and ready to engage once more in this debate. First of all your response to my contribution makes little sense in response to what I contributed.

        First of all; what do you mean by a ‘post-social-democratic world’? The idea of all ideas is to advance civilisation whether in politics, art or science.

      • Zionist lackey

        What the hell are you talking about. What the hell is a ‘post-social-democratic world’. Socialism has never prevented ‘global environmental degradation.’ On the contrary,socialism has contributed far more to ‘global degradation’ than has the Western democracies. In China today they are pouring millions of pulutents

  • WTF

    The more I watched this the more it became a tale of woe from the left about the wicked capitalists causing all the ills of the world against the oppressed worker. The blame game was there in abundance with people being blameless for getting into debt or at a country level with Greece where you could retire at 50 on almost full salary without it being funded. Clearly people at a personal level and at government level should be responsible with debt rather than blaming others for their predicament.

    As a kid when I got caught doing something dumb by my parents they’d say if I told you to jump in a lake would you do it because I blamed someone else for a self created problem. People need to take responsibility for their own actions and learn from early mistakes. All prudent people like Douglas or myself learned the hard way about prudence but those that cant or wont learn from their mistakes due to arrogance or stupidity should NOT be given life lines paid for others every time the scr~~ew up.

  • http://andybrice.net Andy Brice

    Ideas like Basic Income aren’t necessarily left-wing though. Even Milton Friedman was in favour of it. It’d be far less bureaucratic than our current welfare system, and wouldn’t create disincentives to work.

    Both the traditional left and right need to reconsider their policies in light of the new industrial revolution, or they’ll become anachronisms.

  • Mr.Johnson Brown

    How to Fix a Broken Relationship,My name is Mr.Johnson Brown from France and I am a 59 years old man. I was married to Mrs.Helen Baines Johnson and I’m happily married to a lovely and caring wife,with two kids.A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my wife.so terrible that she took the case to court for a divorce.she said that she never wanted to stay with me again,and that she didn’t love me anymore.So she packed out of my house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail.and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my wife.So i explained every thing to her,so she told me that the only way i can get my wife back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for her too.So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow her advice. Then she gave me the email address of the spell caster whom she visited.{salvationlovetemple@gmail.com}. So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address she gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my wife back the next day.What an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my wife who didn’t call me for the past seven {7}months,gave me a call to inform me that she was coming back.So Amazing!! So that was how she came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and she apologized for her mistake,and for the pain she caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster. So, i will advice you out there if you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to “bringing your ex back. So thanks to the Dr Sam for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family once again. salvationlovetemple@gmail.com, Thanks……

  • John Smith

    Churchill did not state democracy was the worst system, he stated it was the best form of government and implied that was it’s value. I think democracy proves itself and is the best form of government, but polotics is fraught with struggle for power, control, those who wish to dominate and fighting. No government has been able to alter human nature and thus all forms of government are imperfect.

    What always has struck me regarding those who are opposed to capitalism, usually part of a new left/pro socialism belief; is their adamant and ardent effort towards it. Many seem to spend their entire life dedicated towards advancing socailism and opposing capitalism? Their passion, their energy, their purpose? Is it really how you wish to spend your life/ The magic of government and economics when it works well, is that it works in the background and provides a structure for society that enables us to exist beyond conflict and meeting our needs.(Well I am sure that thought will provoke contention in many)>

    I wonder if there is a postcapitalism although. Will there be a global economy as opposed to nations who conduct international trade in a globally somewhat interconnected world. Will that economy take a new shape? Will technology change the economy. The economic model for IT companies is not purely capitalist; start-up companies have a model entirely based upon debt and do not primarily seek profit; some despite staying solvent like zipcar and twitter never post a profit. Also IT companies need far less employees than tradational firms, infuse “values” and “influence” into society as well as polotical influence where otherwise corporations limited to business issues pertaining to their benefit only. IT companies also seek to alter the entire shape of economy; although a society or economy can’t exist digitally.

    Also if we look at capitalism in the US; it’s largely reached I would say it’s peak, maximum prosperity in terms of national development made possible by capitalism and at this point futher economic growth surpasses capital that can be distributed broadly throughout society and perhaps has began to concentrate at least in terms of income, individually.

    I myself at least within the argument capitalism was proposed for, to increase the prosperity of society and one which operates in utilitarian fashion has fulfilled it’s end and therefore what comes next? Perhaps marginal infinite growth annually and swings between recessions and recoveries.

  • Mr.Johnson Brown

    How to Fix a Broken Relationship” My name is Mr.Johnson Brown from France and I am a 59 years old. I was married to Mrs.Helen Baines Johnson and I’m happily married to a lovely and caring wife,with two kids.A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my wife.so terrible that she took the case to court for a divorce.she said that she never wanted to stay with me again,and that she didn’t love me anymore.So she packed out of my house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail.and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my wife.So i explained every thing to her,so she told me that the only way i can get my wife back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for her too.So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow her advice. Then she gave me the email address of the spell caster whom she visited.{salvationlovetemple@gmail.com}. So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address she gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my wife back the next day.What an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my wife who didn’t call me for the past seven {7}months,gave me a call to inform me that she was coming back.So Amazing!! So that was how she came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and she apologized for her mistake,and for the pain she caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster. So, i will advice you out there if you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to “bringing your ex back. So thanks to the Dr Sam for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family once again. salvationlovetemple@gmail.com, Thanks…..,,..,.,

  • Pacificweather

    Journalist criticises fellow journalist for publishing a journalist’s book. When is your book coming out Douglas?

  • evad666

    The left populated by empty headed narcissists.

  • marc biff

    Supply and demand will soon see his tome in the bargain bucket proving capitalism works.

  • B_B

    I feel this review is unfair because it fails to set out Mason’s central thesis, and then offer criticism, and instead criticizes the more general concept of left-wing arguments for post-capitalism. By failing to set out Mason’s main points you make it impossible to assess the book. A much fairer review can be found on the FT, which while critical highlights the worth of the book from right and left perspectives: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/adfaf156-39cb-11e5-8613-07d16aad2152.html

  • Ipsmick

    Interesting that the right always critiques ideas not by dismantling but by rubbishing them. And if neoliberalism is the only way, and Osborne is putting in place a thousand-year reich, then it’s a good time to be old.

  • Terry Flaxton

    Unfortunately this writer exhibits the same blind spots he criticizes Mason for. Hard to take seriously really. In noting Mason’s missing information (Hamas Rockets for instance) he slights Mason”s argument with an absence of argument. The fact that there are things unmentioned do not eradicate an argument – ‘everyone knows that’ (argumentum ad populum and the false argument this writer is using) – So it’s not intellectually rigorous enough to take seriously. I wish both right and left would stop grandstanding – until that date we look on and smile.

  • Mitchell

    I like Douglas on many foreign policy issues, but he is clearly economically illiterate. When the Guardian invited Douglas to the talk about Mason’s book, he really couldn’t offer a critique other than saying he didn’t know and uttered some drivel about trickle down economics -with the blindest faith in Victorian Capitalism. Moreover, Joness’ “The Establishment and How They Get Away With It” is by no means a conspiracy book. It is simply an outline of the lack of representation of the working class and the failure of successive governments to deal with this. Douglas still seems to believe Meritocracy exists, his private school to oxbridge upbringing seems to have instilled this lie in him…

  • george

    There is no such thing as ‘pure’ capitalism or ‘pure’ socialism in reality, not unless you go to Cuba or North Korea. Even America with a very liberated market system does not have truly ‘free market’ the state intervenes in the market constantly, debts are socialized when financial errors are made, and even in america there are publicly owned bodies that operate within the economy.

    So when the writer of this piece says that capitalism has brought more people out of poverty than any other economic system in history, he’s being incredibly vague to the point that the statement means very little. Venezuela for example saw the highest reduction in inequality, and high growth figures under Chavez, particularly in his early years (1999-2007), was this because of captialist, or socialist economic policy? The answer is of course it was a result of a combination of the two.

    Capitalism has certainly seen the largest periods of economic growth in modern history, but much of this growth happened in times where the economic system was totally different to the present day, with large state owned monopolies in industry and business, with 90% corporation tax, and protective measures in the workforce and also with trade regulation.

    I have not read Paul Masons book, but this critique is pretty useless, it would be best to first define the terms of capitalism, and neoliberal capitalism and the alternatives, more regulated capitalism, socialism, communism. Then you could have a proper discussion.

  • Richard Alan

    I notice The Guardian and it’s fellow travellers have stopped cheering Venezuela.

    The Venezuelan government has food price controls. Subsequently there are massive shortages as companies go bankrupt and a massive black market. Food is being smuggled out of the country to Colombia to be resold at higher prices.

    Venezuela was the richest country in Latin America 40 years ago. They have the world second largest oil reserves. Now they have socialism and they are ****ed.

    But I’m sure it’ll be overlooked in Mason’s book.

  • Eibriel

    Capitalism has adapted to changes in the past, then it will adapt to changes in the future. That is inductive reasoning, and don’t show a truth, but just a high possibility. Therefore there is a (low) possibility that capitalism will not adapt to current changes.
    I’m not an statist, I learned this on school, but since the possibility is always 50/50 (we don’t know the adaptability mechanisms), the chance of capitalism to fail are increasing.

  • Rabbi Burns

    Mason’s writing is driven primarily by a mid-life crisis. He knows he is talking bollocks but all those young ladies don’t – yet.

  • marco van heugten

    so we’ll see who will sell the last drop of oil, sided by his lawyer before the magistrate. or the machine stops than, or it is already closed, in a for humans dying biosphere, the three above, with the oil(wo)man selling to the other two and himself.. and attacking them all.., the last capitalists last standing. maybe there are better options.

  • http://tech-zilla.com/ TechZilla

    Bad banks aided by bad government, that simple huh? How we would stop either from reoccurring is suspiciously lacking from your “analysis”. All the western governments are clear soft authoritarian systems, and the ones that have democratic outbursts are kept in check by authoritarian structures above. So with our reality, no system is capable of doing anything except more “bad”. Lets get deeper on that “bad”, “bad” for whom exactly? In fact established wealth cruised through their own disasters quite well, when you compare them to the working class…. as usual. Created by the capitalist class, and then used as a bludgeon against working class people, and no other possibility remotely exists in our future except revolution. You should be praising nonsense ideas about post-capitalism, because the actual left has ideas that don’t have either post- or capitalism in their names. Now that capitalism has ripped out all shreds of democracy, our future conflict is now inevitable.

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