How Does Capitalism Survive?

Posted: November 22, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Jon Snow asks an increasingly pertinent question:

Today I find myself asking what is being done in our globalised world to sort the parking of vast quantities of cash off-shore in tax havens over which the British, in particular, have so much influence? Is it a coincidence that Britain also hosts one of the three biggest financial trading centres in the world?

Can capitalism survive without opaque, sometimes criminal, activity? Can it survive without allowing the very richest to avoid tax in such a way that the gulf with the poor grows ever wider?

It certainly makes you wonder. It is a fact that while the Tories would have you believe we’re all going to hell because of the long-term sick, the disabled or ‘benefits scroungers‘, that total is a drop in the ocean compared to the amount lost through tax avoidance. Even so this narrative keeps returning again and again from both sides of the political divide, so much so that it seems a fundamental building block of the system itself, despite these figures putting paid to the outrageous claims of the Tories that there’s ‘no other way’ back from the economic crash other than through austerity. Is the neoliberal order underpinned by economic crime and outright lies?

The other argument you also hear is that you mustn’t piss these ‘captains of industry’ off, otherwise they’ll just go to the very tax havens they hide their money in. I’ve never understood that one either – holding the super rich to the same legal expectations as the poor will damage the poor how exactly? Check out the Guardian’s analysis of how America arrived at austerity:

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What would happen if the people most adversely affected by neoliberal capitalism, who bizarrely are simultaneously its most ardent defenders, actually stood up to this system? The Occupy mini revolts may be facing appalling police brutality across the US, and are inevitably likely to face the same here (another fundamental building block to our economic and social order), but what if enough people were convinced that reality a-la Faux News was a lie? What if Murdoch & Dacre’s lies weren’t accepted unquestioningly by those perversely giving the Tories all the support they need to destroy their livelihoods?

Of course we’re not going to find out any time soon. All three main political parties in the UK are utterly wedded to neoliberalism and its super rich benefactors and beneficiaries – not a single one has any interest in shutting down tax havens, government agencies knowingly let large corporations off ridiculous levels of tax, regardless of which party/ies they’re comprised of, and all remain equally unafraid of using the police to suppress dissent with violence. The system has never seriously been challenged because neoliberal capitalism builds up and buys off the middle classes, whose support neoliberal administrations need in order to govern. Yet with the system utterly broken and resorting to punishing those who misguidedly support it the most, I have to ask how much longer that pact can hold.


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