Friday, April 24, 2009

Putting the case

I went along, last night, to see Richard Headicar of the Socialist Party debating with John Meadowcroft an academic supporter of capitalism. Due to regent's Park football kick-about commitments, I missed the start.

What I was very interested to hear was the end. In his summation Meadowcroft basically abandoned defending capitalism, and resorted to the tried and tested "it's the least worst system we've got." A great rallying cry of conservatives throughout the ages.

Even more significantly, he ditched egalitarianism. It's often overlooked, that Adam Smith's strongest argument for the market was an egalitarian one. He argued that wages were equal (although they might command different money prices, the irksomeness or ease of the job would balance out over the cost, he claimed). More prosaically, his invisible hand was meant to indicate that pursuit of private trade could assist the general good (a useful selection of Smith quotes can be found here).

How could you look someone in the eye and ask them to be the poor part of society?

If that's the best that an ardent supporter of capitalism can muster now, they're in trouble. Let's hope for more opportunities to expose this weakness soon.

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