Corbynism – Valve radios for the digital age

Food queues and violence - the logic of Marxism

Hungary 1956

It’s countdown to Corbyn. We shall not be kept waiting for long before we find ourselves living – if “living” is the right word here – under the most extreme left wing government Britain has ever seen. Corbyn’s plans make Michael Foot’s 1983 manifesto – called at the time “the longest suicide note in history” – read like a discussion paper produced by The Monday Club.

The Corbynistas are preaching “Socialism for the 21st century” – an oxymoron to rival “Valve radios for the digital age.”

There will be wholesale nationalisation, massive borrowing and spending, the abolition of all pay restraint and an expanded benefits system. Give Corbyn credit for one thing: he is a true prophet. He rightly predicts that his policies will lead to a run on the pound and a financial crisis.

What he does not foresee is that in this crisis investment will plummet as financiers put their money where it is likely to secure a return: they will not toss it into the stagnant and bottomless pit of Corbyn’s socialism. No investment means no real jobs but only a hugely-expanded and unproductive public sector paid for out of even more borrowing. All that borrowed money sloshing around will lead to high – and eventually hyper – inflation. Millions will be unemployed. People’s savings will be rendered worthless. Thus Corbyn’s foolish and wicked policies will most hurt those he claims to champion: the least well off throughout the country.

But this horrible dystopian nightmare won’t really come to pass, will it? The Tories under Theresa May will get their act together and mount a vigorous defence of capitalism and the free market.

Oh yes, and Ben Stokes will win The Polite Society’s Award for Gentlemanly Conduct.

Mrs May will not outline the virtues of capitalism and the free market – because she believes in neither. If she did, she would cut taxes and abolish strangulating business regulations. Instead since that terrible day she became prime minister, she has declared she is determined that the government will make even greater interventions in boardrooms, the minimum wage will be regularly increased and the cap on public sector pay will be scrapped.

Observing Corbyn’s army of snowflakes – all those innocent young people to whom he is promising the earth – May is promising today “to create a fairer society for the young.” But she can’t bribe them with a pint when Corbyn is offering them a firkin.

Why can’t she see that stealing the left’s political clothes will leave her dangerously undressed?

During last June’s election campaign a commentator remarked, only partly jesting, that Theresa May had “…adopted Ed Miliband’’s manifesto and moved it to the left.”

Is there any support for capitalism and the free market in today’s Conservative party? No, there is about as much capitalism among the Tories as logic in the editorial department of the Daily Telegraph.

Yesterday that newspaper shouted, “May must outline her capitalist policies.”

She doesn’t have any.

Followed by this ripe piece of idiocy: “The intellectual case for capitalism is easy to make. What of the moral one?”

But the intellectual case includes the moral case – otherwise there is nothing intelligent about it.

And if you think the Telegraph couldn’t get even stupider, how about this: “May’s vision is of a free market combined with sensible regulation.”

But if it’s regulated, it’s not free.

I’m probably not such a good prophet as Jeremy Corbyn, that great admirer of Chavez, Maduro and the state of Venezuela where there’s no food in the shops and people are stealing zoo animals to provide their next meal. But let me try my hand at prophecy nonetheless:

The days are coming when a wife shall leave a note for her husband saying: “Darling – I’ve gone to the Labour rally. Scavenge for your supper in the dustbin.”

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19 Comments on Corbynism – Valve radios for the digital age

  1. Offered a choice between Corbyn’s socialism and the idiotic laissez-faire rubbish advanced by Mullen I honestly don’t know which I would choose. Others will experience the same dilemma. Verity True has it about right, I think.

  2. Verity: yes, you do have something there. There are no doubt times when the capitalism over-reaches itself and fuels the socialist argument.

  3. The state-funded development of the computer (actually invented in the previous century by John Babbage) and the Soviet Union’s (fleeting) ascendancy in the Space Race were both achieved at a cost of shortages and rationing in the respective British and Russian economies. That’s fine if you prefer shiny machines to food but they are much less nutritious.

    • Robert: Which is why I’m not a Socialist, but I’m also not convinced by Randian Liberalism, which also has failings. Interestingly, these manifest as many of the issues that Conservatives writing for The Salisbury Review seem exercised by. They complain, for instance, that the political Left has an open door policy towards Islamic migration into Europe; something that the political Right (i.e. neo-liberalism/capitalism) will do nothing to discourage. The sooner we learn to identify the Liberal (Classical or Neo) colonization of Conservative politics the sooner we’ll be able to better argue for our own clear position on the threats to out traditional civilization coming from Left and Right.

  4. Good grief, some nutty anti-capitalists on here, who wouldn’t be commenting using a computer if it wasn’t for capitalism, they’d be using a hammer and chisel and stone. Or hammer and sickle.

    • I don’t see any anti-capitalists on here. What I see is sensible support for regulated capitalism.
      The mention of a hammer and sickle reminds me that it was the Soviet Union who beat the capitalist USA and capitalist UK into space, albeit by exploiting the rocket science developed by National Socialist Germany.
      The computer, of course, was a state funded invention, developed by the U.K. government during it’s least capitalist stage (i.e. the heavily regulated economy of WW2). Why do Liberals always believe that only capitalism can drive human progress? All very Ayn Rand.
      As I’ve said before: It really is time to set aside slavish adherence to simplistic doctrine and try to think harder.

      • “I don’t see any anti-capitalists on here.”

        You evidently don’t see my comments! Of course, I don’t dislike capitalism as much as I dislike socialism, but I see both systems ending in disaster: socialism’s disastrous past, and capitalism’s disastrous future. Both systems are advocated by rival professional economists, but I treat professional economists the way I treat professional palm-readers.

        “It really is time to set aside slavish adherence to simplistic doctrine and try to think harder.”

        I agree completely, but where are we (you and I and Harry Black and a few others) to “think harder” collaboratively? The discussion thread arising from an interesting SR article about the awfulness of Jeremy Corbyn isn’t the best place.

        So where do we go to continue these potentially fruitful conversations?

        (If the SR were willing to set up a discussion forum, I’d be willing to help both financially and technically.)

  5. Harry Black has got nearer to the truth than most. Pure capitalism is as utopian an ideal as true socialism. The former always devolves into crony capitalism/fascism and the latter into authoritarian communism. So what’s the common cause that supports this devolution. It is democracy. Once 51% of the population, either through self interest, stupidity, or belief in propaganda give their votes to career politicians we begin the long march to hell.
    Beats me as to the solution to the above, but at least identifying the source of the problem must be a start.

    • John: I agree; democracy, and the need to pander that it promotes, is very clearly a key factor in creating the insane policy climate we now find ourselves caught up in. One of our many challenges is to identify ways to move beyond the problems that are inherent in this putatively superior system.

      • Democracy could work in Britain if not all the populace were allowed to vote.

        1. Start by raising the voting age to 21. Shamelessly bribe the over-21s in order to make them vote for such a policy. The indoctrinated kiddies can protest on Twitter and Instagram as much as they like, but they’ll lose the vote, just as they did on 23 June 2016.

        2. Next, require British voters to have two British parents. With the most ignorant element of the electorate already disenfranchised, not too many bribes would be required.

        3. Disenfranchise non-taxpayers. (Most of them will already have been disenfranchised in the previous three steps, so this should be easy.)

        After these three steps, we could start putting right everything that’s gone wrong in our country.

        But it will never happen, because the people who want anything like it to happen have no power. The new Dark Ages are coming, they’re coming soon, and we can’t do anything about it. We can only hope to be allowed to live our own lives quietly and die in peace. It’s our stupid children and grandchildren who’ll suffer.

    • Indeed John. Regarding the similarities between pure capitalism and pure socialism, I recommend the excellent book “The Servile State” by Hilaire Belloc.

  6. Excellent question, PJR.

    It might be in The Discourses rather than The Prince, that Machiavelli points out there are three kinds of people (my paraphrase):

    1. Those who, in any situation, see the challenges and opportunities and act accordingly to protect against the bad and to build the good.

    2. Those who, when the situation, challenges and opportunities are explained to them, will act to secure against threats and to work for and garner the benefits

    3. Those who cannot understand that acting against threats and working to build wealth are important human activities.

    And, Kind 1 is by far the smallest proportion in any selected human population.

    Kind 2 is a bigger proportion than 1, but still small

    And Kind 3 is, of course, the biggest sub-group by far.

    Leonidas clearly was a #1 kind of fellow.

    The 300 were examplary members of #2.

    Now also to be optimistic:

    In the early weeks of Aug 1914 and running up to Christmas of that year, and later too, the numbers of those pressing to join up was very high and very impressive.

    SJR, you ask if they exist today.

    Let us, taking Verity’s lead, think harder:

    How to get very large numbers of Good Folk to join up.

    • Thanks for your thought-provoking reply, Mr Black. Here are some random notes and questions.

      1. Leonidas and the Three Hundred weren’t hampered from defending Greek civilisation by numerous Persian colonies established in Laconia, and Simonides wasn’t prevented from writing their beautiful epitaphs by being killed by a Persian “refugee” archer. Times have changed.

      2. Much as I respect Machiavelli’s practical wisdom, I don’t think that working to build wealth is an important human activity in our time and place. We’ve got wealth coming out of our ears! It’s time to choose to become less wealthy, in order to defend those things that are more important than wealth.

      3. There’s a fourth kind of people, mostly young: those who are potentially what you call “good folk”, but have been indoctrinated all their lives to side with the enemies of everything we hold dear. What are we to do about them, when the indoctrinators have almost complete control over our schools, our universities, our newspapers, our broadcasters and, above all, the Internet?

      4. And what are the “good folk” joining up for? Civil war? I think urgent action is needed to prevent a civil war, not to start one.

      5. I can read Italian just well enough to stumble usefully through Dante with help from a crib and a lexicon, and thirty years ago I did the same with “Il Principe”, but the “Discorsi” is a big book. Can you recommend an English translation?

  7. Your last paragraph deserves repeating:

    “My purpose in pointing out these matters is to illustrate the kinds and degrees of difficulty we face in establishing and maintaining a quite good civil society, and to suggest we think harder about the big work and sacrifice required from a critical mass of Good Folk working at local political levels to influence what the higher-ups think about and spend our money on.”

    That’s a well-expressed call to arms. Fr Mullen is the Leonidas de nos jours. But does our once-great country contain even 300 Spartiates who will answer the call?

  8. Agreed Verity, let’s think harder to go beyond the child-like idealism of many on both L&R.

    One important matter is this:

    Idealists, once they move beyond their own bedrooms and private dinner parties, and into the public domain, become puppets used by others.

    Who are these others?

    People whose desire for -and abilities to gain- power and personal wealth exceed by orders of magnitude than that imaginable by just plain folk, like you, me and almost all readers of SR.

    One example is the Prohibition era in the USA when the anti-alcohol folk created extraordinary opportunities for a huge underground non-taxable industry, with much corruption also spreading into the police and politicians.

    Today, we have similar and even greater magnitude phenomena created by the Climate/CO2 people.

    Obama and Corbyn and Co. are excellent cases of people rising to high power by promising free everything to all those who do not possess the abilities and work ethic to buy their own stuff.

    And chaps like Soros are in the mix, enjoying themselves immensely at the expense of the middle-classes, and most other folk too, actually.

    My purpose in pointing out these matters is to illustrate the kinds and degrees of difficulty we face in establishing and maintaining a quite good civil society, and to suggest we think harder about the big work and sacrifice required from a critical mass of Good Folk working at local political levels to influence what the higher-ups think about and spend our money on.

  9. I think we need to be clear: Capitalism lies at the heart of Classical and Neo-Liberal ideology, but not at the heart of Conservatism. The near wholesale hijacking of the Conservative Party by Liberals (of the Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek ilk) are what led to it becoming seen as ‘The Nasty Party’, creating a mass of victims just waiting for ‘rescue’ by someone like Corbyn. As Conservatives our challenge is to harness the benefits of a wisely regulated Capitalism, whilst protecting the many, many things of value that unfettered Capitalism will readily destroy. Applauding the merits of Socialism or Liberalism (that is ‘proper’ Liberalism, i.e. Capitalism) is easy. It is an unthinking, intellectually lazy thing to do. The Conservative, however, faces a much more difficult challenge: The need to think harder and find ways of transcending the naïve fixes proposed by Left and Right, in pursuit of creating/preserving a civilization that promotes genuine human flourishing.

    • I’m pleased to see that I’m not the only SR reader who’s suspicious of capitalism. Capitalism is a positive-feedback bubble that will burst as soon as everybody notices that the stock-market emperor has no clothes.

      Myself, I’m something between a feudalist and a distributist. I want to own my own little plot of land, but I’m willing to pay tithes to earls and abbots in exchange for their temporal and spiritual protection.

      I’d be reasonably happy if Chesterton and Belloc were brought back to life as law-givers.