"I'm starting to think that the Left might actually be right" - U2 Feedback

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Old 07-22-2011, 06:33 PM   #1
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"I'm starting to think that the Left might actually be right"

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It has taken me more than 30 years as a journalist to ask myself this question, but this week I find that I must: is the Left right after all? You see, one of the great arguments of the Left is that what the Right calls “the free market” is actually a set-up.

The rich run a global system that allows them to accumulate capital and pay the lowest possible price for labour. The freedom that results applies only to them. The many simply have to work harder, in conditions that grow ever more insecure, to enrich the few. Democratic politics, which purports to enrich the many, is actually in the pocket of those bankers, media barons and other moguls who run and own everything.

In the 1970s and 1980s, it was easy to refute this line of reasoning because it was obvious, particularly in Britain, that it was the trade unions that were holding people back. Bad jobs were protected and good ones could not be created. “Industrial action” did not mean producing goods and services that people wanted to buy, it meant going on strike. The most visible form of worker oppression was picketing. The most important thing about Arthur Scargill’s disastrous miners’ strike was that he always refused to hold a ballot on it.
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It has surprised me to read fellow defenders of the free press saying how sad they are that the News of the World closed. In its stupidity, narrowness and cruelty, and in its methods, the paper was a disgrace to the free press. No one should ever have banned it, of course, but nor should anyone mourn its passing. It is rather as if supporters of parliamentary democracy were to lament the collapse of the BNP. It was a great day for newspapers when, 25 years ago, Mr Murdoch beat the print unions at Wapping, but much of what he chose to print on those presses has been a great disappointment to those of us who believe in free markets because they emancipate people. The Right has done itself harm by covering up for so much brutality.

The credit crunch has exposed a similar process of how emancipation can be hijacked. The greater freedom to borrow which began in the 1980s was good for most people. A society in which credit is very restricted is one in which new people cannot rise. How many small businesses could start or first homes be bought without a loan? But when loans become the means by which millions finance mere consumption, that is different.

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Last week, I happened to be in America, mainly in the company of intelligent conservatives. Their critique of President Obama’s astonishing spending and record-breaking deficits seemed right. But I was struck by how the optimistic message of the Reagan era has now become a shrill one. On Fox News (another Murdoch property, and one which, while I was there, did not breathe a word of his difficulties), Republicans lined up for hours to threaten to wreck the President’s attempt to raise the debt ceiling. They seemed to take for granted the underlying robustness of their country’s economic and political arrangements. This is a mistake. The greatest capitalist country in history is now dependent on other people’s capital to survive. In such circumstances, Western democracy starts to feel like a threatened luxury. We can wave banners about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, but they tend to say, in smaller print, “Made in China”.

As for the plight of the eurozone, this could have been designed by a Left-wing propagandist as a satire of how money-power works. A single currency is created. A single bank controls it. No democratic institution with any authority watches over it, and when the zone’s borrowings run into trouble, elected governments must submit to almost any indignity rather than let bankers get hurt. What about the workers? They must lose their jobs in Porto and Piraeus and Punchestown and Poggibonsi so that bankers in Frankfurt and bureaucrats in Brussels may sleep easily in their beds.
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One must always pray that conservatism will be saved, as has so often been the case in the past, by the stupidity of the Left. The Left’s blind faith in the state makes its remedies worse than useless. But the first step is to realise how much ground we have lost, and that there may not be much time left to make it up.
I'm starting to think that the Left might actually be right - Telegraph
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Old 07-23-2011, 06:40 PM   #2
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I think Aristotle's thoughts on "moderation" best apply here. The extreme right and left horrify me, whilst discovering what's properly "moderate" should be the prime exercise of a healthy democracy. Unfortunately, there's very little that's healthy in American politics today.
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Old 07-24-2011, 04:59 PM   #3
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What's needed is a better fiscal policy (duh! you have to pay for what you borrow) and a monetary policy that doesn't punish saving. Capitalism is supposed to be about CAPITAL!!!!, NOT EXCESS DEBT. If balanced budgets and reasonable control of inflation isn't pursued I don't think the U.S. currency can really be the main currency anymore. Relying on China (a dictatorship) is hardly a winning proposition either. I would also like to see corporate taxes to be competitive with the world. Sweden is able to get away with high taxes because they are high personal taxes and corporations don't have to run away because their burden is less. I would also like to see a system that doesn't reward CEOs with no real track record. Bonuses are supposed to be for merit and not an entitlement.

Maybe a major crisis like a U.S. default will actually get people to realise mathematical/fiscal laws apply to everyone.
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Old 07-24-2011, 06:11 PM   #4
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Relying on China (a dictatorship) is hardly a winning proposition either..
China has yet to produce innovative products and world renowned brands. Where is their Sony, their Microsoft, their Google, their BMW? Perhaps the way their society is structured inhibits innovation. It will be interesting how much of the Chinese growth is sustainable and how much is attributable to a consumer and asset price bubble. I guess we will find out soon, over the next few years probably.
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Old 07-25-2011, 09:35 AM   #5
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It's ironic seeing China (a communist country) telling the U.S. to get it's act together on a budget. It's embarrassing! They have so much money tied up in U.S. treasuries that they don't want to see a default.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:22 AM   #6
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It is embarrassing when you see supposed adults who can't understand compromise. Extremism will kill us.
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:44 PM   #7
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It's all about 2012 elections and positioning on that.
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:48 PM   #8
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It's ironic seeing China (a communist country) telling the U.S. to get it's act together on a budget. It's embarrassing! They have so much money tied up in U.S. treasuries that they don't want to see a default.
Uhm, yes, but China is not a communist country, has not been for years. Actually, Marxists would argue that it never was.
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:52 PM   #9
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Uhm, yes, but China is not a communist country, has not been for years. Actually, Marxists would argue that it never was.
No not like North Korea but parts are communist and obviously the zones where markets are allowed is where many rural families are trying to move to.

It's just lame to see a country that wouldn't mind (to put it lightly) to surpass the U.S. as the major military superpower telling the U.S. to shape up. Of course they are looking at their mass of U.S. investments losing value in a default.
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Old 07-25-2011, 11:21 PM   #10
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Uhm, yes, but China is not a communist country, has not been for years. Actually, Marxists would argue that it never was.
Ever since I've been alive there's only been one political party in China, The Communist Party of China (CPC).



I don't think they've gone anywhere.
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Old 07-26-2011, 06:53 AM   #11
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Uhm, yes, but China is not a communist country, has not been for years. Actually, Marxists would argue that it never was.
This is correct.

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No not like North Korea but parts are communist and obviously the zones where markets are allowed is where many rural families are trying to move to.
North Korea is not communist either. No country has ever achieved communism.
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Old 07-26-2011, 08:10 AM   #12
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Ever since I've been alive there's only been one political party in China, The Communist Party of China (CPC).

I don't think they've gone anywhere.
Au contraire:

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Old 07-26-2011, 11:44 AM   #13
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If not communist, how exactly would one describe China's authoratarian (perhaps not so much economically, but socially) government?
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Old 07-26-2011, 11:49 AM   #14
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To me, if China thinks of itself as a communist nation then that's enough for me. It may not be practiced as intended, but I dunno. . .to me they are communist.

What's the big deal?
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Old 07-26-2011, 02:08 PM   #15
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^ I guess if by "itself" you're referring primarily to certain CCP petty intelligentsia with guaranteed jobs for life thanks to loyal Party service (granted, there are still lots of those). The CCP really does retain its longstanding title of "Communist" (gong chan) party, though their stated economic philosophy post-Deng is she hui zhu yi shi chang jing ji ("the socialist market economy")--more officially and grandiosely known as Zhongguo Te Se She Hui ("Socialism With Chinese Characteristics"). In fact, in everyday conversation, you'll often hear ordinary Chinese people sarcastically appending "Zhongguo Te Se" ("With Chinese Characteristics") to some noun in order to convey, "No, of course [this thing in question] is not at all what it calls itself, but whaddya expect--this is China." And a common wry saying, translated, is "Black, 'With Chinese Characteristics,' is white." So at the popular level there's great cynicism and disregard towards the CCP's rhetoric and terminology, while meanwhile the CCP itself subscribes to very different economic doctrines than it once did. Obviously, it's still an authoritarian state regardless of its mixed-market economic structure, but historically authoritarianism has a way of making itself compatible with most any political economy type.

When working with various mainland universities last year, I quickly discovered that with the exception of schools in designated "Higher Education Zones" where extensive curriculum innovation (including on the 'Western model') is permitted, most Chinese universities are still required to subject their students to an absurd number of credit hours spent listening to aging CCP intelligentsia drone on about classic Maoist orthodoxy (loyal lifetime Party servants being rewarded with good jobs). Other faculty and students will frankly and openly voice their cynicism and disdain towards this policy, though politically there's nothing they can do about it. Career preparation "Zhongguo Te Se"--bearing no relationship to the economy they'll actually find themselves working in upon graduation.
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