Posts Tagged ‘Noam Chomsky’

Ed Miliband should reclaim Adam Smith for the left

24/09/2013, 11:26:26 AM

by Rob Williams

Last year in his speech to the Labour conference in Manchester, Ed Miliband laid claim to rebuilding Britain as One Nation. The Labour leader cited as his inspiration a former Conservative Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, who made a famous speech on One Nation Conservatism in Manchester’s Free Trade Hall which, reflecting the spirit of the times, is now a luxury hotel.

Miliband has hit the nail on the head on a number of big ideas. He understands that the squeezed middle, as well as the low paid, are feeling increasingly insecure, whatever claims of economic recovery there may be.

So this year, Miliband should go further. It is time for the left to reclaim the economist Adam Smith as one of their own. Adam Smith, of course, is usually considered to be the founding father of right-wing free market economics. In the UK, the Adam Smith Institute is reliably one of the most outrageous think tanks, an outrider of Thatcherism before it was invented.

Adam Smith was born in Scotland in 1723, and is usually seen as the founder of modern economics. The usual modern conservative’s view of Adam Smith is similar to the average 1970s socialist’s approach to Karl Marx. They probably haven’t read any of his work, but simply regurgitate someone else’s description of his writings. There is a persuasive argument that the Right have stolen Adam Smith’s identity in an audacious coup.

An increasing number of thinkers believe that Smith was a radical critic of the establishment of his day. They argue that, for Smith, prosperity was measured by a rise in living standards for the working class which sets Smith apart from other free market advocates who believed a low-wage economy was the key to economic development. Smith believed that economic policy should be secondary to moral and ethical concerns such as equality.


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Governing for people; not property and profit

07/08/2011, 12:00:09 PM

by Robin Thorpe

In December last year, Neal Lawson and John Harrison presented an outline of their proposal for new socialism. With many European nations still circling the edge of the economic abyss and people starving to death in Africa is now a pertinent time to look again at the way in which we organise our world?

Each generation seemingly gets a chance to make a paradigm shift in the way in which their brand of civilisation is governed. Apart from a very few cases, they opt for evolution in the place of revolution. The consequence of this evolution is that despite the diminishing role of aristocracy and landed wealth, most world nations remain capitalist economies.

For the majority of the so-called civilised nations, the primary objective of governance has for centuries been as an enabler in the pursuit of profit and the expansion of capital. Historically this was because the ruler and the ruler’s peers were the primary holders of capital. More recently, because the professional political class are the acolytes of the wealthy and the preservers of the capitalist economy (particularly in the USA where election depends on the size of your marketing budget). Even our celebrated legal system only exists because of our forebear’s predilection to the preservation of private property rights. (more…)

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