Thursday, 19 January 2017

Utopian Dreams Begin to Fade

When Big Money Stops Talking

It's ironic that the standard, classical Marxist indictment of capitalists is that money rigs the political system and political power in favour of the monied.  The classes are at war, and capitalists will always exploit their position at the expense of the working stiff.

We should remember that whilst ubiquitous class warfare is an ideological scam--a simplistic view of history's dynamics--that is not to say that capitalists are never perverse when it comes to their interests.  We need to remember Adam Smith's timely warning: put a dozen industrialists and capitalists in a room and within minutes they will be engaged in conspiring against the free market.  They will be looking to control supply and demand so as to maximise their own collective interests and profits as a group. Smith's answer to this problem of human self-centeredneess was to resist the desire (and conspiracy) to control the system to the advantage of their class by maintaining an open, free, competitive market.  Competition is the best regulator of capitalist greed and perversions.

It was always understood that in the matter of Brexit, there would be "winners and losers".  For some businesses, it would mean commercial hardship and the need for adjustments.  But for others there would be new commercial advantages to be exploited.  It seems now that some of the biggest monied donors (that is, owners and deployers of capital) to the Conservative UK government are pushing back against Brexit.  It does not accord with their own monied interests.

This boils down to a classic case of who ultimately controls the UK government and its actions: the crony capitalists, or the voters.
 For far too long there have been rumours and allegations of the undue influence of the cronies upon the directions and policies of the UK government.  Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron were all cut from the same Savile Row cloth.
A major Conservative party donor with big business interests is threatening to withdraw funding unless the Prime Minister bows to his demands for a so-called ‘soft Brexit’.  Sir Andrew Cook, the ‘Remain’-backing millionaire steel industry chairman has funnelled more than £1.2 million into the party, said he would stop supporting Theresa May’s party unless she kept the country inside the single market with open borders.

The industrialist, 67, donated to the party less than a year ago and his family wealth was estimated in 2015 to be £80 million. He also gave more that £300,000 to the ConservativesIN campaign and was rewarded with a knighthood in David Cameron’s resignation honours list.  He told The Times that the country would “sleepwalk to disaster” if it pulled out of the single-market membership to regain control European Union (EU) migration.

“The economic arguments of staying in the single market are overwhelming and I have yet to see any plausible alternative arguments being put forward to leaving the single market,” he said. “It seems to me the political tail is wagging the economic dog.  There appears to be a willingness to consider the sacrifice of withdrawal from the single market, which I believe will be a catastrophe.”

He claimed that at least one of his factories was almost “entirely dependent” on access to the European market, adding:  “I would find it impossible under those circumstances [to keep donating to the Conservative Party should it back leaving the single market]… It is very difficult to make a political donation to a party when, although I support it ideologically, I do not believe that my interests and my ideology are ad idem with the principal Brexiteers.”  [Lliam Deacon, BreitbartLondon]
Mmmm.  The political tail wagging the economic dog.  What he really means is the voters' tail wagging the economic dog.

But as with all such situations, other sectors of the economy will benefit from Brexit.
However, Lord Farmer, a former Conservative treasurer and Leave supporter, said that the financial sector would cope.  “Regarding the City, it is in quite a powerful position,” he said. “It has the expertise, the legal background, the infrastructure, the basic cabling throughout the Square Mile, Canary Wharf and Berkeley Square. Frankfurt at the moment does not even compete with Canary Wharf.”
The most compelling aspect of Brexit is not the economic advantages or disadvantages, one way or the other.  The real principle at stake is one of sovereignty--in particular, the re-establishment of the UK as a sovereign, self-governing  nation.  The conspiracies of self-interested capitalists have been somewhat nullified.  Pay-to-play has taken a hit.  May it be the beginning of many.

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