One Thursday night in the next couple of years we could go to sleep knowing that, by Friday morning, neoliberalism in Britain will be over. If a left-led Labour party comes to power, leading a coalition determined to scrap free market economics, that will be a good day for working people. It will be a bad day for Virgin Care, Portland Communications and Saudi Arabia.
The very slight problem here being about Paul Mason’s dreams that free market economics works, not free market economics does not. That is, this is not an optional part of our universe, it’s just reality.
As I have pointed out endlessly this is not about cooperatives and worker ownership, socialism, v the capitalists, this is about the incompatibility of the complexity of a modern economy with detailed planning. Certainly, there are some things markets don’t deal with at all, things they need aid in dealing with – public goods and their mirror, externalities – but there are vast swathes of life where markets and their prices are the only tool we’ve got that actually works. To “scrap” this is not possible, this is just what is. We can fail to take note of it of course but that’s not going to work very well now, is it?
Because Chapman’s move illustrates where the real centre of gravity of a new centrist party would have to lie: it would be a liberal Tory party. The party of Notting Hill and Canary Wharf; the party of free market economics, globalised finance and social liberalism. And its major impact on British politics would be to split the Conservative party, not Labour.
That’s pretty hopeful too. For to most of the rest of us the split is over where Momentum starts, between those who acknowledge reality and those who don’t.
Paul Mason is a writer and broadcaster on economics and social justice
Amusing thought that one can combine those two…..