Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

The 1% that Capitalists and Occupiers Agree On … Sort of

Two camps (metaphorically speaking, in one case) like the free market capitalists and OccupyLondon/Wall Street are unlikely to agree on anything. Diametrically opposed views on the nature of profit, business, property, the Rule of Law, and campaigning methods make it surprising that, regarding one particular issue surrounding the banking system, the two sides actually agree. That is, that the taxpayers’ bailout of the failing banks was wrong.

Soviet propaganda poster

You say "Resource Based Economy", I say "Communism Redux"

Even on this single point, though, the differences are clearly visible. It’s like looking at a sheet of paper edge-on, move just slightly left or right and you see it has quite different pictures drawn on each side.

Free marketeers opposed the bailouts on the grounds that such institutions, badly managed and destined for failure, should have been allowed to fail (though I suspect many might accept the case for some depositor protection). We would point out that those banks were not the sole cause of their own demise; irresponsible lending means irresponsible borrowing (by both individuals and states), and government played its own part in other ways too. However, bailing out a failing bank should be as much an anathema as keeping open uneconomic coal mines, or indeed propping up any other business; it is unsustainable. Iceland is frequently now being cited as a positive outcome to a refusal to flog the bank’s dead horse.

As for the Occupiers, any attempt to summarise their political wishes must be qualified by that fact that, typically, they are but a loose collection of vaguely coinciding viewpoints, and that’s when you can find any with a remotely clear idea of an ‘alternative’.

Some talk of a ‘Resourced Based Economy’ (16 min. video here, if you fancy a laugh) with it’s global resource system, central distribution points and central planning of, well, everything, is making the classic mistake of all collectivists. Such communal living may work within a household, cathedral courtyard or kibbutz, but the more you try to scale up such ideas, the more diverse and dispirate become the needs and aspirations of the participants, and so the system – in the absence of coercion and force – breaks down.

Even so, it’s probably fair to say that a general dissatisfaction does exist with ‘the current system’ stemming, in part, from an apparent lack of control over the banks, ‘excessive’ profits, bonuses, and lack of sharing the wealth. The solution implied by the Occupiers as regards banking would be to nationalise the banks (or subjecting them to such stifling state control that the effect would be much the same).

So while neither side is happy with the bailouts, free marketeers’ discontent is that the bailouts happened at all, whereas Occupiers would rather the government had gone the whole way and nationalised the entire sector.

So much for a ‘new’ system; it seems Occupiers simply want to try good old Communism again, and ignore the lessons of history. Those of us of an Austrian economic persuasion are still hoping for the first sighting of some genuine capitalism, instead of the various degrees of corporatism which the Left mistake for it.


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