Neal Lawson

Market socialism is impossible he says. Well, that puts paid to a large and entirely respectable set of philosophic musings, doesn\’t it?

Oooooh, Look! John Lewis just disappeared, winked out of existence, the mission entirely frustrated by the philosophical conundrum of a worker owned firm competing successfully in a free (ish) market.


Markets, the mechanism of choice, are designed to allocate the spoils to the winner. That\’s OK with supermarkets and car makers – it\’s not OK for the state. We can\’t have and can\’t allow schools and hospitals to fail and be replaced by the fittest. Second, what middle-class people are choosing is a better position than others. If we try to sharpen up the elbows of the poor then unless we change the terms of debate the middle classes just push harder for their health and education – because what matters is not whether the service is good enough but getting something better than those around you. We just go on ratcheting up and up, trying to gain a superior position.

He has, marvellously, incomparably, managed to miss the point, hasn\’t he? This is in fact what we actually want, a continual ratcheting up of quality in pursuit of the discerning consumer so that the spoils do indeed go to those who are providing the goods or services better than those others around them.

Lawson is, amazingly, trying to use the one thing that markets are seriously good at, improving goods and services, as a reason to insist that we shouldn\’t use markets.

My word the man\’s a numpty.

Please tell me that this campaigning organisation he runs, Compass: it does only have him and a couple of window-lickers in it doesn\’t it? It doesn\’t contain anyone capable of rational thought or anything like that does it?

2 thoughts on “Neal Lawson”

  1. The real problem with his argument is equating schools and hospitals with state, they might be owned or funded by the state but they certainly aren’t the state. Besides, we’ve seen lots of times in the past how stateowned things have been privatised and it’s gone perfectly well…

  2. “We can’t have and can’t allow schools and hospitals to fail and be replaced by the fittest.”

    Isn’t this the real problem? Private industry is probably no better or worse at picking winners than bureacrats, but is certainly more brutal at closing down failures and looking for better solutions, rather than throwing good money after bad.

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