AT BOTTOM, the argument between the guys who quote Hayek and the guys who quote Marx is simple enough. It centres on capitalism’s ability to offer the things that people who very sensibly do not give a toss about ideology – and that’s the vast majority of the public, of course – seem most to want.
The neoliberal right stridently insists that the free market provides – or in more extremist readings, would provide if completely untrammelled – both a continual improvement in living standards and full employment. Moreover, free markets are positively correlated to political democracy, or even \’freedom\’.
The left’s interventionist proposals, in either Marxist or social democratic/Keynesian variants, are routinely castigated as a one-way ticket to North Korean Hell, by express or stopping train as appropriate.
It has, in truth, not always been an easy case to counter, especially at the popular level.
Well, yes, The bit I don\’t understand though is that Dave thinks this is a bad thing.
Galbraith did a good job of countering the guff Osler is criticising –
“At best (the right views) public services (as) a necessary evil; at worst they are a malign tendency against which an alert community must exercise eternal vigilance. Even when they serve the most important ends, such services are sterile…
“Such attitudes lead to some interesting contradictions. Cars have an importance greater than the roads on which they are driven. We welcome expansion of telephone services as improving the general well-being but accept curtailment of postal services as signifying necessary economy. We set great store by the increase in private wealth but regret the added outlay for the police force by which it is protected. Vacuum cleaners to ensure clean houses are praiseworthy and essential in our standard of living. Street cleaners to ensure clean streets are an unfortunate expense. Partly as a result, our houses are generally clean and our streets generally filthy” –
‘The Affluent Society’, page 116. Someone should send Simon Heffer and Janet Daley a copy.
er, because he is a socialist?